Thursday, June 30, 2011

Garth Nix's Creating a Book

I love Garth Nix. Like, he is my absolute favorite author of all time. His website is pretty great if you haven't checked it out. It is easy to find: On his site, you'll find a list of his favorite books, a Q&A, bio, book plugs and two little gems: The 9 Stages of a Garth Nix Novel, and How I Write: The Process of Creating a Book. 9 Stages is funny and worth the read. However, I am all about the Process of Creating a Book page. It is an incredible look into the way my favorite author writes. Check it out! Read on after the jump.

So Garth starts out with handwritten brainstorming. Is it bad that I'm such a fangirl that I poured over the handwritten samples so I could memorize his physical writing style? Yeah, maybe that shouldn't be public knowledge. Oh well... He usually spends over a year bulleting ideas in his handy dandy notebook before even attempting to connect the dots. That just goes to show the dedication and care he puts into his stories.

He goes on to outline chapters for his novels so that he can deviate from the plan later. I like that idea! Outlines make me pissy. For some reason, once something is committed to paper I feel like it was carved into stone. So yeah, no outlining for me. I had an "Aha!" moment when I read that he writes his prologues before anything else. I do that too. It all starts from the prologue for me. I've never tried writing an outline after writing the prologue so maybe I'll try it. Or not. The idea of outlining still makes me cranky.

Then comes the writing. Garth types everything short of novels on his Mac/PC. Novels are written out long hand. I'm still shaking my head at this. My hand is cramping just thinking about it. I can see his points though. If you write long hand, a notebook is more portable than any computer. Also, once the story is written and is being typed up, it is easier to edit as you transcribe, basically giving you a 2nd draft.

Revision is the next logical step. He prints out single chapters and edits in ink, making changes to entire chapters. He revises a second time once all chapters are finished. Sometimes, he revises a 3rd time for good measure. That sounds familiar. After leaving the entire manuscript alone for a few weeks, he returns for a read-through and final edit. Sound advice that I am finding everywhere. I assume he bundles editing and revising in a single process. Some people can do that. I find it incredible difficult.

The best part of the entire document is the bit on keeping motivated. Apparently, Garth writes much like a NaNo writer, based on words per day. His goals are to "write a chapter today" or "revise a chapter" today, instead of a goal to write a whole novel. A chapter or select amount of words is much less daunting than looking at the entire project. I loved seeing the picture of his word count list. He records the date, word count for the section, total word count for the project, music during the writing, and anything else that could be interesting to recall later on. I love this. I keep track of how much I write during the NaNo since the website tracks it all for you if you update daily. I keep a folder of music to listen to for specific kinds of scenes. A sailing chapter would be written while listening to sea shanties. A lovey chapter would be written while listening to ballads.

I had four hours sleep last night and I'm slightly delirious. This post is way too long now so I'm going to shut up.

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