Questions from Book Clubs – Part 1

03/07/12 6:00 AM

I’ve been doing more book club visits, and I absolutely LOVE the questions that members ask me. I thought I’d do a roundup of some of the most popular questions and answer them in a couple of blog posts. Here are the first three:

Q: Do I outline?

A: Not in the traditional sense. I don’t start with an outline. But with Granite Creek, after getting 80 percent of the draft done, I went back and did a chapter-by-chapter outline so I could see what happened, where the gaps were, and double check the timeline (dates, ages, etc). I didn’t do this for Forgotten April.

However, at 23,000 words into my current WIP, I’ve stopped and I have started a skeleton chapter-by-chapter outline, because it’s clear that I need to move things around, and I feel ready now to write things in order. Most of the 23K words I’ve written so far are necessary, but I’ll be gutting, deepening, and revising. The outline is helping me map it out.

Q: Do I ever suffer from writer’s block?

A: I don’t believe in writer’s block. That doesn’t mean a writer won’t have tough writing days or pain-in-the-ass scenes that require some distance or moments when the prose isn’t coming out as easily as other times. But that’s not a block. Usually, for me anyway, it’s a sign I need to walk away and take a break. Often, just a mere 24 hours away from my desk provides the distance or the rest my noggin needs.

Q: Do I ever read something after it’s published and wish I’d chosen a different word or used a different phrase?

A: Absolutely! And I know I’m not alone. I’ve attended readings where the author is reading from his or her printed, bound, published book, and the author is making notes/changes in the margins as he/she reads. Perfection is the goal, but impossible to achieve.

I’ll have more Q&A next week. If you have any specific questions for me, feel free to leave them in the comments or email me directly.

Writers, how ’bout you? How would you answer some of these questions? Share in the comments.

Posted by Robyn | in Book clubs, Creative Writing | 3 Comments »

3 Comments on “Questions from Book Clubs – Part 1”

  1. Dina Santorelli Says:

    What a great idea! These are great questions. I’m with you on two of them. I also don’t outline until I’m about one-third to one-half into my manuscript — when I feel myself starting to flounder. And I constantly read my stuff and think, Dang, I should have used a different word! But writer’s block? I’m a believer! I do suffer from it from time to time, when I’ll just sit there in front of the computer screen and go blank or have so many ideas swirling around my head that there’s a bottleneck. My remedy is do to some of the things you mention — a quick shower, or a walk around the block, or a nap, or working on other writing, or just barreling through. What does the trick depends on the day.

  2. Robyn Says:

    @Dina – Oh, yeah! Showers and walking are two of my favorite activities for wrestling through tough spots. I need to get one of those waterproof writing pads for the shower! 🙂

  3. Dina Santorelli Says:

    Robyn, I have one! I don’t know what I would do without it! I can’t tell you how many showers used to have to be cut short so that I wouldn’t forget an idea. Now I come out of the shower totally pruny — and stress-free! 🙂 Happy Fourth!