Saturday, 5 April 2014
Are 'how to' guides helpful, or a hindrance? by Jenny Harper
Here are links to a few.
The secret to crafting high stakes
Writing the perfect scene
First or third and how to decide
How to plot a novel
Some of them are great, there's no doubt about that. My problem is, I've found that I simply cannot adjust my thinking to such formats. Take Randy Ingermanson's blog on scenes, for example. Each has to set out the Goal, Conflict, Disaster. Sounds simple, doesn't it? I try. I then spend hours trying to decide if I have included all three elements successfully, and what I should do if I haven't.
Or again, take Suzanne Lakin's analysis of how to up the stakes. It's perfectly clearly explained – but how can I get my heroine's stakes to rise as high as Amy's in Fly Away Home? And if I can't, how can I possibly move forward?
I love this map of the relationships between characters in Pride and Prejudice. Boy, could I waste hours drawing a similar one for my books! Or then again, I might just get depressed about how inadequate mine looks in comparison.
I've tried every method known to writers: plotting and panstering (or writing into the mist), but experience has taught me that if I try to get too analytical it seems to kill my creativity stone dead.
I look at the lovely Vermeer portrait of the lady writing (top) and rather envy writers who sat with a pen and paper and produced, well, books. Without the aid of 'how to' books and blogs. But then again, they must have been very gifted people – I need aids. Or do I?
I'd better poke around on a few more blog sites and see if I can find the perfect answer to my needs. ... Or maybe it would be better just to get on with some writing!
Do you learn from blogs or books, or do you think just getting on with it is best? Please let me know!