Writing and Learning
Writing a book is a long learning process. There is lots to discover when a writer transforms an idea in their head into structured lines of words. Writing transforms a multidimensional imaginary story into a physical two-dimensional page so a reader can recreate that multidimensional world. It takes skill to do so.
Sābanto led me down an interesting new learning path that I had not explored before, and I had lots of fun doing it.
I was always an avid reader, and I could always read a book in one day if it was engaging. The story flies by fast, as you are impatient to learn more about the plot and characters. Writing is slow. It’s like comparing a turtle with a jet. Writing means crawling through a story you think you already know.
I have seen a lot of advice on the internet telling writers to write a thousand words a day. If this is the initial draft, then that is simple to achieve, because the first version of the manuscript is just a brain dump. During this stage, the writer puts as much as they have already imagined in their head down onto the paper, disregarding any possible errors.
Then comes editing. The endless hours spent improving the manuscript into something the writer won’t be embarrassed to show anyone. Word counts no longer matter, as sentences are re-written, information added, scenes removed, etc. Most of the learning happens here. For this phase, I had to do a lot of research on the history, psychology, technology, location (geography, fauna, flora), politics, social issues, book plot development, conflicts and arcs, timelines, flashbacks, foreshadowing, chapter and scene structures, POV implications, grammar, and punctuation.
What did you learn when writing the book?
Patience. I think that’s the most important lesson of book writing. Rome wasn’t built in a day. A book won’t be written in a month.
I also learned that no matter what I do, the book will never be perfect. There will always be something to fix and something to update, but there will be a time when I must call it quits and publish.
Did anything surprise you?
I set Sābanto many years into the future because I didn’t want to tie the events in the book too closely to the present world. The fifty-year war which separates us from the time the book starts is intentional. I also needed to give the main character a way to get a hold of some fortune, and the chaos of war seemed like an excellent opportunity. Drawing a firm, identifiable line to connect current events with the world of Sābanto prevents it from being read as a documentary or prediction. While editing, it surprised me that the world of Sābanto is not that far away. It scares me how quickly our society can turn around and be in that world (war or not). Maybe we are already there, but I want the readers to be the judges of that.
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