Working at a book table during a recent Con set me thinking. You get to meet and talk with a lot of new or developing writers at these busy events. Some come looking for hints, or just want to talk about the writing world in general.
One young gentleman’s comment that he only writes in longhand in a notebook got me thinking. When I mentioned using computers he was dead set against them. Pen to paper was the only way for him. He intended to work that way until he had his final draft of his manuscript completed.
I too started out writing in a notebook. I still have them buried in my office somewhere. Then I graduated to a manual typewriter. (I’m a two-fingered typist and I like it that way.) The typewriter certainly made for easier-to-read work. I also went through large reams of paper and whiteout by the jar or strip.
Then I graduated to a Commodore 64 computer and 5 inch floppy discs. I was in my glory. Unfortunately, I still have two novels that never escaped from the floppy discs. Fortunately, I do have hard copies buried around the office somewhere, if I ever get the ambition to transcribe them on to my latest computer while editing out all those beginner errors at the same time.
Now I have three laptops, numerous thumb drives, and an external hard drive. Which brings me to the moral of this lengthy tale and why I’m quite happy I kept moving on up through the equipment in search of something better.
I was wrestling with my latest epic recently. My Beta reader was working me over. I decided she was correct, again. I needed to make some important changes. First, was completely re-writing the opening. Then, I needed to make several changes through the manuscript. Next I had to add some new scenes to make sense out of the revised opening. I shudder to think of doing this amount of revision work on a typewriter or even the trusty Commodore. Never mind scratching around in a notebook!
I can give another better example. A couple of years ago I turned in a manuscript that came to somewhere north of 100,000 words. That particular publisher decided it was a bit long for them when they brought out the print editions. Their request, cut the manuscript into two, flesh those two out to a decent length of somewhere over 80,000 words each, and then write a third novel to turn the whole project into a trilogy.
I can imagine doing the above using a handwritten notebook. One final thought on the subject. I keep a separate file on the computer of notes for each project that I can call upon and bring up as I am working. Useful stuff such as, “How did I spell that character’s name?” or “What did I say was the color of her eyes?”
Experience is a good teacher. Bottom line, writing is a very personal exercise. Write in the way that suits you best, and take all the advice from us old timers with a grain of sea-salt.
The Dark Lady Trilogy (Volume 1,2,3)
The Queen’s Pawn (Volume 1,2,3)
The Housetrap Chronicles (Volumes 1 to 8)
Alex in Wanderland,
We’re Not in Kansas
Toltec Dawn Trilogy (Volume 1, 2, 3)5