I know what you’re probably thinking. When you see a title for an article like this, it is easy to assume that I am referring to procrastination or putting your novel aside because you don’t feel like it today. Something like the wolf picture above.
No. That’s not what I am referring to, otherwise I would have said “Don’t be lazy”. I am specifically referring to being lazy in the process of writing. This was something I suddenly picked up I was doing last night when working on ‘Silent Hill: Betrayal’ (SH:B).
I once indicated that I am very much an obsessive planner when it comes to working on my novels. I do so much preparation before I write the first line of the book that the novel is basically finished already. All I have to do is put the ideas, concepts and breakdowns into story form.
And therein lies the trap, if you are not vigilant. When I started work in SH:B, I first did some research on how to add suspense and build up the thrill towards events. I even obtained secrets from Stephen King on how to enhance the horror element of my novel so that the reader might fear what’s coming. With this novel it is especially needed, as that is what the atmosphere and excitement from the games stem from. And as an autodidact, this was easy for me to learn and apply.
Act 1 was great! I even got some excitement myself by adding parts that would thrill the reader for things to come or something that might just pop out. It made the writing experience so much more exhilarating. When I started Act 2, I went through my notes for the entire Act and then the first chapters to set my mind for the task at hand.
What it evolved into was simply story telling. I was rehearsing what I had planned to write and making sure the pieces simply fell into place. It was easy simply to write down the events as they were meant to follow with no deviation.
And that’s when I realised I was being a lazy writer. With most of the work already done, I lapsed into simply doing the easy part and let my hands and brain run in auto-pilot. Gone was the suspense, the build-up to events, the foreshadowing of things to come in future Acts.
Of course, it was easy to remedy, which I did, following King’s successful formulas and the other things I had learnt. It didn’t take anything away from what I had already written… as a matter of fact it simply enhanced it! Now all I need to do is continue to apply suspense and mystery to the rest of the novel while maintaining my storyline and things will go well.
There was another thing I had done. In the novel, the protagonist picks up items and ammunition for his weapons that assists him in achieving his goals. I had thought it would suffice if I just said he shot the weapons and used the items when needed. When I went through Act 1 again as a general walk-through, I realised that how terrible this had become. He had used his pistol so many times without reloading once that I am sure some readers would have wondered just how huge the magazine was.
This has now added a step to my writing, as I need to record in a notebook just when ammo or items are used, when more are obtained and when the reloads need to happen. I know this may sound ridiculously pedantic, but you’d be surprised how realising you need to reload when something attacks you adds to the drama.
The final thing I had done was not add enough descriptions, specifically of characters, locations and creatures. I give brief notes on them, but as the journey continues I fail to express clearly how things look and only focus on what the protagonist is doing. Everything that is happening in the novel is visually occurring in my mind as I write, so I sometimes forget that the reader will not see it as clearly as I am. This is not such a train smash though, as most of these can be added in the end when I work through the editing phase and when I can decide just how much description is enough and where is it really needed as a key element to the story (and not just for the sake of description).
Writing takes more effort than we sometimes would like. But quality should always come first.
So yes, learn from my mistakes: Don’t take shortcuts or simply just write to get to the end of your novel. As Miley Cyrus sang: It’s all about the climb…..
In love and Grace
The Count of Celenic Earth