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Monday, April 29, 2013

How a Writer Thinks OR How This Writer Thinks

I've had a lot of questions from fans and readers this month.  How do you get your ideas?  How do you write?  How do you make yourself write?  What color underwear do you prefer?  (Well, it was implied.)  (Maybe just in my head.  That is the problem, after all.)

Therefore, the reader's guide to C.L. Bevill AKA Fat Woman AKA the strange writer in that one house that badly needs its front yard landscaped AKA Six-Gun Meg (Also only in my head in the really good dreams.)

1.  My ideas come from very odd places.  I might be reading something and shoot off on a tangent.  For example, I'm reading about Greek mythology right now and strange little tidbits keep popping into my head.  Especially since the one Titan whose mom was Mother Earth started eating all his children to keep them from being too powerful.  His wife tricked him on number six and gave him a baby sized rock.  (Which says something about his omniscience, doesn't it?)  Consequently, baby no. 6, Zeus, got away to conquer the gods another day.  Anyway, the point being I read a lot.  I watch a lot of things and everything in my life is constant grist for my mill.  Occasionally people suggest scenarios for some of my characters and who knows what will happen in a Bubba book.  As I live in the deep south now, I have lots of ammunition.  Here's another example.  A month ago, a rescue worker was interviewed about a drowning victim on television.  I'll quote the words because they're pretty much the most important part.  (Funniest.)  "Next, we're gonna look in the direction of down under the bridge."  (Do I have to explain why I think that's funny?)  I didn't make that up.  It was on a news station.  I swear.  Also every month someone dies in a manner that's befitting a Bubba book.  You know, man gored to death by a rack of antlers in his living room.  "Billy Joe said to hold his beer and watch this," his wife lamented sadly.  I'm inspired by everything.  (My family knows this and I have been officially prevented into blogging about specific familial events.)  Even HIM, the man to whom I'm married, does stuff that makes me laugh and then write about it.  (There's a lot I don't make up in my blogs.  In fact, I only heap on the story telling in an amusing way because that's the way I see it.)  By the way I saw this from James Rollins about where authors get our ideas and thought it was funny.

2.  How do I write?  I'm assuming that they mean what my schedule is.  When I'm writing a book, I usually set a quota per day and write to that quota.  (I do 2000 words a day now.  Any more than that and my brain short circuits.)  Very rarely do I not meet my quota, but occasionally shizz happens and I get discombobulated.  My sister got very ill in February and went into the hospital for a month and messed me up.  (Not that she did it on purpose.)  I was so stressed out I couldn't write a word.  I think I put out one whole blog the entire month of March.  Anyway, I write up an outline, which usually goes in the garbage a few weeks later, and I attempt to follow it, but then I end up writing another outline, and I write a few more weeks.  I can write up to three or four outlines depending on the book.  For example, I'm on chapter eleven of Mountains of Dreams and I think the outline is on chapter five.  (That's some messed up writer shizz.  Good thing I'm not answering to an editor or I'd be hosed.)  That's called literary elephantitus according to Stephen King.  The short answer (I am capable of succinct answers but not in this blog.) is that I write x words a day and follow an outline, until I have to rewrite the outline.  As I get toward the end of the book, I usually write a little faster.  When I'm done with the first rough draft, I collapse for a week, then I reread the novel.  Corrections in plot and pacing are usually made.  I go back and beef up parts of the novel that I felt were weak or that I didn't support the plot properly.  I look carefully for errors.  Then I give the book to HIM.  HIM gets to read it first.  HIM usually points out a few errors and then says, "It's good," whereupon I slug HIM upside the head because I want a little more input than that.  ("It's wondrous capabilities of story telling amuse my senses and titillate my soul, but only in a good way."  Would that be too much to expect?  I guess so.)  I go back over the book.  Then I send it to the editor/proofreader, Mary.  Mary works on it and sends it back when she's done.  I make corrections.  Then I reread it again.  By the time I'm done, I've probably read it a dozen times and my mind is a pile of grayish oatmeal.  Somewhere in the time that Mary has it, I get the cover done, I write the trailer, and I plan my marketing strategies.  Then I send it to the formatter.  When they give it back I put it out on Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords.  Then I collapse again.  (And you thought writing was easy.)

3.  How do I make myself write?  Occasionally I don't want to write.  This happens because I'm very tired or sick or stressed.  Usually I do something else and let things just percolate in my head.  It's like watching a movie.  If I'm stuck at a certain point in the novel, I just kind of let my mind wander and scenarios roll through my head.  They're kind of like mental what-if-this-happened-then-what-would-happen?  I can work out all kinds of things in my mind.  Remember it's telling a story and telling a story shouldn't always be predictable, so when I run through ideas in my head, sometimes it's the bizarre ones that really get my attention.  Playing those kind of games usually gets me right back on schedule again.  What if...?  How many what if questions can you think of in five minutes?  What if the sky was green?  What if I was a man?  What if I had four arms?  What if we all walked on our hands?  What if Henry XIII's wives all got together and chopped off his head?  You're basically teaching your brain to go down different paths.  It works for me.

4.  Underwear.  Anything but white.
I do not wear this, but thought it needed to be included.


Nina said...

Lmao. You make me laugh. I lived in TN for awhile and those folks had some very funny's pouring down rain-Duh! going down yonder, never did figure where yonder was!

R. Mac Wheeler said...

I'll never look at goldfish the same way.