Write Big!

When it comes to writing there's lots of advice on "how-to". There's advice on how to plot your stories. Graph out the major details. Storyboards. Branches from trees. Circles with lines lancing each other in a perpetual stabfest. Whether you're searching the library, book stores, or the internet, you're going to find some great advice.

The only problem is that not every suggestion works for every person. Well, it's not a problem but more of a reality. You can't expect a little advice to be the missing piece of a lengthy puzzle. But we toss out our ideas in hopes of helping another writer get past the obstacles that slow us down. So now here's mine:

Write Big.

Yep. That's it. That's my helpful thought for the day.

And no, I don't expect anyone to read this and V-8 slap the shit out of themselves. Hell, I did that enough on my own for the rest of you. Rather than say, "Eureka!" and hope I've turned the world on its side I just want to share something that I learned and is helping me out of many jams.

So what is Write Big?

Here's my take:

When I was writing Frenzy I spent a lot of time trying to produce some solid prose. I wanted each and every word to stand out. I was going all Edgar Allen on that bitch. But in the process I missed opportunities to broaden the scenes, the characters, and overall plot. In my quest for the perfect words/sentences I narrowed in my focus rather than pulling it back to gather in the big picture. I went back multiple times to clean up the pile of crap that resulted. Tried to squeeze in some gems along the way to freshen up the slag pile. It took forever. Seriously stupid on my part. It was almost like I spent twice or three times as long writing the same story. All that time was wasted searching for a better word or phrase to liven up what was laying stagnant on the page.

Then I had an epiphany. Well, I read some advice from an old copy of Writer's Digest (and sadly, can't recall who brought it to my attention). Simply put, someone said that it's much easier to remove the clutter and crap from an over-blown chunk of prose instead of trying to cram in something to clean it up. Thus, Write Big.

That's it? Nothing else to it?

Yep, that's my secret. Two simple words. So what the hell does it mean?

I found that when I'm writing anything from a simple passage of dialogue or a narrating a scene my initial words may or may not hit home. That goes without saying with most writers but I felt I had to point it out. Sure the words are coming but are they the right words? Are they the perfect words? Don't know and at the time I don't really care. And I shouldn't. My focus needs to be on getting the story out and later I can fiddle with it to make it prettier. To make this easier for a lunkhead like me, I started spitting out more than was necessary.

I'd write dialogue that doubled up on itself. I'd write out sentences that repeated each other but used different words to say the same thing. If I was describing a scene I'd come in at many angles and write about the sun or the activity or the smells in the air. Anything and everything that came to mind I'd put it down. It bulked up the manuscript big time but when I came back to edit the piece it became less a chore and more fun. I approached it like a sculptor chiseling away bits of marble to reveal the art trapped within.

Going over the massive amounts of run-on sentences often revealed some spicy fragments that I could clip and stitch together. I wasn't sitting with a thesaurus in one hand and a stiff drink in the other praying that the cosmic equivalent to the Big Bang would leap out at me... I had something already on the page that felt damned good.

Each time I would go back and re-read a passage I felt less like the rank amateur I still am and more like a budding author. Less and less head banging. More and more clipping and stitching. And in the process the manuscript tightened up. Thousands of unnecessary words were tossed out and I didn't fall over backwards and start frothing at the mouth from it. The process was satisfying.

So I say to all whom read this; if you want to try something a little different... Write Big. Fill your pages with so much fluff it would gag a Sand Worm. Over load the manuscript then go back and pick up the clutter. Align the words already there. Put down the reference books and focus on the diamond in the rough. Hopefully, you'll come out of it with less an indentation on your forehead. Mine is getting better.


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