Sunday, October 17, 2010


I've been writing quite a long time now and time and distance have given me the opportunity to look back--

T. S. Eliot -
- We shall not cease from our exploration
And at the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time

I'm not going to be arriving where I started anytime soon but I sure can know that place better than when I was there.

I wrote very fast.  Which did me in good stead in television, where you wouldn't be at all if you couldn't write really really fast.  The problem with writing fast is that most people don't think that fast.  I don't think I think fast at all. 

Some people, and I've written with them so I see how they do it, can write mechanically.  They say "Vicki becomes Niki and then Mitch Laurence shows up and we have them..."  And they'll mechanically move the pieces around until they have story.  I do very poorly at that.  I need things to come to me and often it's not on schedule.  Things come to you when they come to you, unbidden, a surprise.  Not good for television.

The real problem with speed is that like a speed skater, you're flying over the ice 1/16th of an inch deep.  There's no time to reflect.  You neglect the texture, the implications, the coloration, and the specificity in order to be done.

This works for an awful lot of writers, and many readers don't mind.  These days, people don't miss complications.  You don't have it in television or film.  You don't have it in music.  Why should it be in books.
I had to explain a shallow little love story to someone involved in the project.  She couldn't imbue the dialog with the meaning that was on the page.  (I wasn't specific enough!)
So my advice of the day is to take the time to be specific with your characters, make them complicated, make them detailed, make it possible to understand them. 

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