As NaNoWriMo trundles on, with greater and lesser success for the many involved, and as other writers simply write, because that’s what they do, I reflect on the statement I would most like to repeat to aspiring writers. And to myself, because it never gets obsolete and yet I do need to remind myself periodically that it is true and bears repeating (although most of you already know).
There is no One True Method or one Best Method or Preferred Method.
There is just the method that works best for you.
And furthermore, the method that works best for you on Project A may not be the method that works best for you on Project B, because different projects may demand different methods.
Talking about process and method is valuable because it helps me/you/us think about how and why I/you/we write. It creates a sense of community, and shared difficulty and triumph. It helps unveil tricks and methods and processes that may work for you, or may help resolve your own realization that you do (or do not) have a process that is working well for you.
Writing is a constant pattern of learning and re-nogotiating with creativity, of challenge, retreat, doubt, and those times when the flow runs unimpeded.
The secret is not in learning what works for others. It’s in learning what works for you.
Each character will have an individual way of reacting to and observing the world. These are the details you as the writer can use to reveal both your world and your character.
The details any character will notice depend on that character’s personality, interests, needs, relationship with other characters, and their cultural landscape, the way they look at the world.
If Cat is hungry (and she’s always hungry), she will notice food, describe food, and be interested in the presence or absence of food. If Mai is shopping, she will notice silk, its quality and weave and its color and the quality of its dye. Anji will always be aware of where people are standing in relation to him and his people, and whether those others present a threat.
Another character may not notice those very same things even if they are at the first character’s side, or they may register them in the most cursory sense.
Another character might be more of a listener, attuned to sounds. Another might only really notice people and their reactions rather than noticing space and setting. Another might not notice much of anything, being more involved in their own thoughts. A character who lives within a culture will notice different things about what’s going on around them than a traveler new to the culture.
When you as the writer start thinking about filtering details through the characters’ point of view, it becomes easier to decide which details are necessary to the story and which you don’t need.
I’m going to participate on a parallel track in NaNoWriMo (more on that later) and also try to post something about writing every day in this blog, answering questions I haven’t gotten to yet, discussing world building, or just a short snippet of something I’ve been thinking about regarding the art and craft of writing.
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them here, now, or later, or on Twitter or Facebook or via email.
FYI: While at World Fantasy Convention in San Diego, I signed copies of both Cold Magic and Cold Fire as well as rare copies of a printed pamphlet version of Bonus Chapter 31.5 (there aren’t many of these). So if you want, contact Mysterious Galaxy Books, Borderlands Books, or Larry Smith Bookseller.