Friday, August 20, 2010

Paul Fleischman - Surviving the Novel

Paul Fleischman

PF uses DEVONthink software – helps to organise disparate pieces of information, separate chapters etc. Software that helps you make lists, make decisions, problem solve, brain storm, find solutions, think about your cast and scenes etc. Store details of research, unused lines (save them, move them somewhere else), back matter (lists of names, possible scenes, characters/their appearance, acknowledgements, possible titles).

You can mentally walk through the whole book. Which route will it take? Paul's father was an improviser – it came from his acting background. It has a level of excitement, like riding a wave. However, having a surfboard under you is handy.


- Bookmarks are handy. You can save versions of the document in Microsoft. Email documents to yourself. Keep a list for continuity, like in movies. Keep your facts straight. Write down descriptive words used so as not to repeat yourself. They can become like a 'tic'. The use of a colon was like a tic for Paul at one point.

- Have a running list of research questions (eg. I must find out more about...)

- When you revise, make notes on what you did in that edit.

- You always need to research for novels – even when set in the present day.

- Highlight things


-Study your settings, characters etc. Use Google street view to describe the look of the environment, streets etc. PF gave the example of perusing a monthly newsletter for a retirement home as research about what elderly people may do.

- Podcasts.

Need at least a half-day at your disposal when writing a novel. It will feel easier than writing smaller chunks here and there.

Every word should be there for a reason. Weigh each word.

Scenes are not just there because you like them – they are not just to show off your research.

Read straight through – highlight but don't fix so that you read quickly through and get a sense of what you've done.

Be prepared to do major rewriting. There's no way around, but through.

Every book teaches me to write it, but not the next book.”

The years pile up … writing is not for the impatient.

The Novelist and the Nunn” - a book about writer's block.

Lying Awake” by Mark Saltzman

Laughter gives you a sense of control. Optimism and view of life.

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