Novel Writing without Thomas Hardy

It’s been a long time coming.

Ten years, in fact, since I first formulated the idea for Fusion Patrol: 1999 as a Public Access TV series.

Sadly, due to significant logistical problems that proved to be our undoing, we only got as far as producing the pilot episode, The Last Pizza and about 60% of principal photography on the second episode, Feng Shui.

Nonetheless, I have a significant pile (that’s the technical term) of material associated with it. Scripts, scraps of ideas and snippets of dialog all litter (that’s also the technical term) my hard drives. From time to time I dust them off and say, “I really need to do something with this.” I re-adapted them as radio plays, tried to storyboard them as comic books and even toyed with the idea of generating them in a CGI form, but all to no avail.

Two weeks ago, I undertook my latest effort, the novelization.

This is quite an interesting project. I’ve set a target of about 75,000-85,000 words, which is typical of the accepted publishing size of a new author, and am currently seven chapters into the book at about the 16,000 word mark. What’s interesting is the discipline of writing.

Writers are funny birds.

I used to know this guy who owned a bookstore, and then he decided to write novels. I certainly don’t claim him as more than an acquaintance, and although he’s a nice guy, he’s not the type I’d hang out with. (He’s the chain-smoking, hard-drinking, hard-liquor type.) Anyway, I was talking to him one day before his first book was published, and we came across the topic of writer’s discipline. He explained his system to me.

Every day I get up, I go to my typewriter and I write one chapter of my book before I allow myself a cigarette or a bourbon.

Now, neither of those appeals to me, so they wouldn’t work for me, but I thought to myself, “Wow, that’s one way to force yourself to write.” Then his book came out and I was comped a copy. I sat down to read the first chapter, hearing his words in my mind, as I read the first page. I turned the page and I was now reading Chapter 2. So much for discipline. 🙂

On the other hand, I’ve read of the habits of other authors, such as Leslie Charteris and Ian Flemming, both had disciplined systems, treating their writing as (shock and awe) their job. They had set routines that they stuck to each day.

I’m afraid that doesn’t work for me, I find my writing to be very similar to the way I program. I’m a very fast programmer when I’m in the zone as it were, but I’m easily distracted. It helps when I turn up music really loud to drown out the rest of the world (Often, 007 or Star Trek soundtracks, or the Beatles or Herb Alpert). I can’t sleep with music on, it keeps my mind too active, but I can write because it seems to keep me on track. I never had understood that.

Still, I find myself plowing through a certain portion of the novel or a program and then, I must get up, pace dramatically around the room and go over in mind where I’ve been and where I’m going.

Any other writers out there have their quirky systems to share?