As I pound away on my NaNoWriMo piece, I keep hearing a voice in my head. Not surprisingly, it’s Diana Gabaldon’s <g> but it’s not the advice I thought I was taking from my blue pencil or all the workshops I attended at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference.
At my blue pencil, Diana and I discussed historical language, dialogue, and whatnot, and while that was important, what I keep hearing in my head is her laughing voice summarizing, “You need to have something happen … And it needs to be something fairly interesting.”
I mean, that’s not news. That’s so obvious that it’s painful. She was specifically saying that if the section of my historical novel that she read was going to end up as the beginning, then something intense had to happen. However, the line is turning into a mantra when ever I sit down to write. I suspect that is what makes Diana’s books so engaging. On EVERY page, something happens. It’s good advice. Don’t explain. Make things happen.
As I write, I can clearly hear Diana’s voice, chuckling with me, just as my time with her was running out, and I think that basic though this comment might be, it might be the most important thing I took away from SIWC this year.
Something has to happen.
I intend to ponder it a lot. We are authors. We make things happen. All these NaNoWriMo words are created from nothing. We’re making things happen. When I’m typing away I need to keep making things happen.
In my life, I need to make things happen.
NaNoWriMo count day 7: 1651 (Total 10,664)
I was out of town (and out of touch) for the first ten days of November, so I’m just now beginning to catch up with my blog reading. I came home with 18,000+ NaNoWriMo words. I was ahead of the game at that point, but have had a slow weekend.
My blue pencil appointment at Surrey was also with Diana. She has such an honest but encouraging approach. I remember her saying about my protagonist’s husband, after reading the first page, “I already don’t like him.” It was a fist-bumping moment for me (he’s definitely not supposed to be likable). But she also provided some excellent insight into the manuscript’s shortcomings.
Good for you on keeping up with NaNo while out of town! It is hard work staying on track.
I was very glad to have recorded my blue pencil, I would not have remembered the very important fine points.
What a hard thing it must be to provide those blue pencils, walking the fine line of encouragement and criticism, especially when you know that the person on the other side of the desk is someone who adores your own work! You’re right, she’s very good at it!