Structure is king

Writing a novel is a gruelling process. Having written novels is great, but having written novels is a great deal like having taken a dump — you do it, you feel relief, and then the pressure builds up and you have to do it again. (Remember this the next time you think of writing as art.)

And then you’re back to writing novels, which is a gruelling process. I’m in the middle of gruelling now, which does not involve doing obscene things with oats, though from the sound of it, it should. I have a very nice central conflict outlined for this book (still working on the proposal for Talyn) and I have a central character who is, though she does not know it, on the fast track to heartache and near-death experiences. I have a good, strong villain, an interesting social structure, a nice magic system quite different from the things I’ve used in previous novels. I have a theme, I have a story, I have a direction and a vision of what this thing can be.

What I do not have right now is some goddamned structure. I’m tempted to sit down with a long sheet of graph paper and try figuring this thing out like a math equation. I wish I were a more seat-of-the-pants writer. I really, truly, deeply wish that I could just leap in and write and to hell with the doubts, self-assessments, and nagging certainty that I could be doing it better. Or the realization that this thing is, if it sells going to be paying the bills for the next couple of years, and what I do now is the difference between fresh fruit and canned, and maybe some Christmas presents for everyone next year. Pressures like that do not in any way make the process of writing easier or more fun.

But writing while holding down a day job sucks, and after eight day-job-less years … well … screw that.

Back to structure. I need some. And Schenectady is fresh out.

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About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and self-publish my new ones.