writeafirstnovel

follow a rookie writing his first novel

Archive for the month “May, 2013”

Healthy body, healthy mind

I know, the title sounds like some dodgy fitness slogan from the 1960’s (the image in my mind is of some moralistic teacher banging on to us kids about the dangers of masturbation, but then that might just be me). The context here though is the health implications of the writing life. Let’s face it, sitting in front of a computer screen, frantically tapping away at the keyboard for hours on end is not a prescription for good health.

I have to then wonder, does it matter? Do I need to be in rude health to write well. Is there any link at all between health and writing output? There are plenty of examples of great writers who had debilitating illnesses but that does not necessarily mean that it enhanced their writing – we can never really know what they might have achieved otherwise.

There is a myth that great art has to come from angst and suffering, but it is a myth (see work by Richard Bandler if you won’t take my word for it). So what I would like to know is can enhanced health improve output? My initial thoughts are that yes, it probably does, if for no other reason than there must be improved concentration, stamina and general alertness. That being the case, do we as writers need to build in time for exercise in our lives, would it make a difference?

I would be interested to hear anyone else’s experiences regarding this. Are you a writing ninja or a creative couch potato – do let me know…

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a word on inner consistency

When we first start to tell a story keeping the events in the right order is no big deal. However as the word count rises so does the probability of getting events or conversations out-of-order. Even one of my literary heroes Carlos Castaneda fell foul of this when he invented the mythos surrounding his meetings with the enigmatic shaman Down Juan Mathus. It was DeMille who first pointed out that his diary dates and events did not hold true. So how can this happen?

I think part of the problem stems from having an overall idea of the story which while not fully defined, we carry round in our head while writing. It can be all to easy then to allow a character knowledge of an event which either has not happened yet, or more subtly, which they could not yet know about.

Then again, inconsistency might creep in if we have a couple of weeks rest from the story. It is not all that easy to pick up all the threads straight away (especially with my aging brain). I’m sure there are lots of other reasons just waiting to trip me up in the months to come.

As I get further into the novel I find this a growing problem. I just noticed a bit part character which I started off by calling Kevin has miraculously turned into Steve! Now I shall have to go back to find out where this name change happened.

I have thought of other measures I might take, such as background notes giving more detail to the locations, characters and events. I might also construct a timeline of events with times and dates. Although Writeitnow4 supports this, it all seems like a lot of work but at the moment I cannot think of a viable alternative.

So, what do you do on works of over 30,000 words? How do you avoid these inconsistencies?

 

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