Posted on October 11, 2008 by Tom Angleberger
I haven’t offered writing advice in a long time, possibly because I’m personally floundering in that area.
Here, then, is advice from Anthony Trollope to George Eliot regarding the book “Romola.”
From wikipedia: The attention to detail exhibited in the novel was a focus of both praise and criticism. Anthony Trollope, having read the first instalment of Romola, expressed wonder at the toil Eliot must have “endured in getting up the work”, but also cautioned her against excessive erudition, urging her not to “fire too much over the heads of her readers”.
It was good advice, because I just gave up on Romola. Too much! First she researched too much then she notebook-dumped. Too much architecture, too much Florence goings on, too much authentic conversation, too much scholarly wisdom. I had read for quite some time and only received a hint of a plot. Sorry, George, you’re one of the all-time greats, but Romola won’t do.
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Posted on April 17, 2008 by Tom Angleberger
You always hear about writers that force themselves to work a certain number of hours (or words) a day. I’m not knocking it – Trollope and Moorcock spring to mind as shining examples.
But that doesn’t work for me. I go in waves. Especially when it comes to the plots and themes of a story. So I can easily go a couple of months without accomplishing much.
And then one morning I wake up at 3:30 and without really deciding to think about it, the way becomes clear. By 3:45 I knew I would have to get out of bed and get it all down. By 4:15 or so I was sending my notes to my co-author, with the caveat that it might not make sense in the morning.
But it does make sense. It’s the breakthrough we’ve been waiting for, hopefully. The major problem — which was of my own making, of course — was dissolved, making way for a much more satisfying plot.
This is for the SciFi mid-grade I’m writing with real-life Sci-Fi author Paul Dellinger. I had been focused on creating a government conspiracy, complete with some sort of Shadow Ops police force wanting to hunt down the main character.
That was way too much baggage. By making the problem an intimate one — home-brewed corruption, rather than gov. conspiracy — the action can flow better, with less exposition and a more satisfying personal, one-on-one final showdown against the Corrupt One, who I think will be named Barbara.
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