In today’s Journal
* Quotes of the Day
* Mostly Dean Koontz
* Cuts Are Ugly
* Of Interest
Quotes of the Day
“I used to write from outlines. But when I wrote Strangers, which ended up having an enormous cast and being about a quarter of a million words, I decided not to do an outline and just start with the premise and a couple of interesting characters. I decided to wing it, and it was the best decision. I’ve never used an outline since.” Dean Koontz
“If the character doesn’t work in the first 20 pages, you might as well quit. If a character comes alive, I let the character move the story along. This is the hardest thing to explain to young writers. … If you give the character free will, the character becomes richer, more layered, more interesting.” Dean Koontz
“Trust in your ability to be original.” PJ Parrish
In other words, “Dare to be bad.” Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Dean Wesley Smith
Mostly Dean Koontz
Matt P, a writer and reader of the Journal, sent me a link to Matt Cardin’s Substack, which is titled Living Into the Dark. Sound familiar? (grin) But of course, the connotation for Cardin’s “living into the dark” is much broader than for writing into the dark, though it apparently includes the latter. Part of thepost is aimed at Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and when you click the link and scroll down, you’ll see other posts that have to do with the odd relationship between religion and horror and other mystical, dark topics.
Anyway, in the post are three excerpts, each from a different post. I encourage you to read the excerpts, then click through if the content seems appealing to you.
But I’ll take that a step further. If you read nothing else today about writing, read “Life’s Work: An Interview with Dean Koontz”. The link is in “Of Interest.” The section titled “Tell me about your process…” alone is gem-filled, as are some other sections.
There’s a section on rewriting too. Koontz doesn’t mention whether he works from the critical mind or the creative subconscious, but he does have an interesting take. And he admits “I always have been in love with language.” As one who has always felt his mother pinched his heel and dipped him into the river of language at birth, I can attest that being in love with the language definitely helps.
I find myself wishing Stephen King and Dean Koontz would take over writing this Journal. Dude, even I would read that.
Cuts Are Ugly
but clearing away clutter so you can start again is priceless. When I cut something from a story, I typically append it to the end of the story under CUTS so I can still count the words. After all, I wrote them.
With this novel, ironically, I haven’t done that. When I cut something, I just deleted it and kept typing.
But now the dust and smoke from the purge have cleared. In getting rid of the critical mind insertion that I initially (and foolishly) tried to make work, I deleted just under 7,000 words during a grueling 3-day process. I cut the word count for the novel from 44,555 to 37,750.
As I mentioned a day or two ago, my characters are helpful. They occasionally took over as I read through the manuscript. They added almost 2000 more words, so the current word count is nearing 40,000 again.
That’s where I started with the adjusted numbers for the novel. Yesterday, right at the end of the day, I wrote just under 1000 words. Now I’m hoping the characters will wrap this thing in the next few to several days.
Talk with you again soon.
See “Life’s Work: An Interview with Dean Koontz” at https://hbr.org/2020/03/lifes-work-an-interview-with-dean-koontz.
See “Imagining the International Space Station flying at 10,000 feet” (short video) at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9QHSGpTEkY.
See “What We Can Learn About Writing From Reading On Vacation” at https://killzoneblog.com/2022/11/what-we-can-learn-about-writing-from-reading-on-vacation.html.
The Journal…………………………………… 650 words
Writing of The Stirchians (novel, tentative title)
Day 16… 2532 words. Total words to date…… 40056
Day 17… 2759 words. Total words to date…… 42815
Day 18… 1740 words. Total words to date…… 44555
CUTS……… 6805 words. Total words to date…… 37750
ADDS……… 1928 words. Total words to date…… 39678
Day 19… 0982 words. Total words to date…… 40660
Total fiction words for November……… 12586
Total fiction words for the year………… 174111
Total nonfiction words for November… 11160
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 186790
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 360901
Calendar Year 2022 Novels to Date…………………… 2
Calendar Year 2022 Novellas to Date……………… 0
Calendar Year 2022 Short Stories to Date… 0
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 68
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 217
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31
Disclaimer: Because It Makes Sense, I preach trusting your characters to tell the story that they, not you, are living. Duh. This practice greatly increases your productivity and provides a rapid ascension along the learning curve of Craft because you get a great deal more practice at actually writing. This is not opinion. It is all numbers and facts.
3 thoughts on “Mostly Dean Koontz”
Thanks for the link to the Koontz interview
So, I’ve been pondering since I read this entry yesterday, and I’ve come up with no answer on my own, so here we go…
A couple of posts back I commented to the effect that sometimes my Creative Voice says, um, we made a wrong turn here. You responded back (paraphrasing again) that “we made a wrong turn” is negative and therefore Critical Voice.
My question is, how is the decision to cut 7,000 words (or any other decision, really) different? It seems to me that if I follow my Creative Voice’s “wrong turn” nudge, I’ll drop back and cut everything after that wrong turn, so I’m a little confused. *grin*
Are we just using different terms for the same feeling?
First, thanks for the excellent question.
Possibly, but I don’t think so. The critical voice is always negative. That’s the key. Any little voice that talks about a “wrong (negative) turn” has to be from the conscious, critical mind. Your characters will never tell you you made a wrong turn.
Think about it: Such a thought can only come through your own doubt about where the story’s going. So again, the source has to be the conscious, critical mind. Also remember, the characters are pure. They’re just living the story. They don’t think about where it’s going or what will happen next. They’re actually going through it and whatever happens, happens.
Consider this: If you sit on your porch and watch three children playing acoss the street, you’re an observer, looking in on the small part of their story that’s unfolding before your eyes. If you decide to write that story down, you’d probably never even consider fretting over what’s going to happen next. You’d just keep writing.
Back to my moronicity—In the first place, I should never have written the 7,000 words I cut. Why? Because the source of those words was a conscious ‘thought’ about one aspect of a novel I edited long ago.
It crept in, seemed like a good idea at the time (in other words I was weak and not on guard), so I took off in that direction. I probably thought it would speed up writing the novel. Instead, as I should have anticipated, the writing immediately bogged down and moved only haltingly because it wasn’t the characters’ story anymore.
The halting writing made me wonder what was going on, and that’s when I finally caught up with myself and realized what I’d done. So to correct course and get back on the straight and narrow to write only the characters’ story, I deleted that conscious-mind premise and everything that sprang from it.
You have to remember, too, this is only maybe the third time anything resembling this has happened out of 69 novels and well over 200 short stories. Last year alone, I wrote 13 novels in 7 months, and you can’t write a novel roughtly every two weeks if you’re battling with your critical mind like I have with this novel.
To be honest, at the moment, I’m fighting my way back to the authentic story. It isn’t easy, as you can see from my numbers. My critical mind (following such a huge success) is tugging at me whenever it can. I’m determined to Just Write the Story and get through this one, then start something clean and fresh and new. And since most Journal readers probably don’t read the comments, I’m going to use your question and this response in the Journal for November 17. Thanks!
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