The Fun of writing
The VIKINGS! Trilogy


Writing takes 3 stages: plotting, writing, and editing.

Plotting can be skipped if you have a good opening (and an idea), but when required, plotting can be intensely stressful. You can plan what your characters should be doing, but as every writer know, your characters won't always go along with your plans.

Plotting must make sense, and define a series of scenes which are required to get to your conclusion, but the best of plans go awry. If the 'big secret' that you needed to save for chapter 12 must unexpectedly be dropped in chapter 9, then what do you do?

Plotting is like planning a drive across America using only backroads; you can never tell when or where a detour may appear.

The VIKINGS! Trilogy was plotted only in the most general terms. Of all of the scenes I planned, about half of them never happened. For example, those companions who rode out of Castle Bristlen were the only characters I planned. Also, it was only supposed to be 1 book.

Writing is the fun part. In writing, you can create and experience and enjoy the novelty of who your characters are and what they are doing. You can write freely, since when something violates your original plot, you can change course, and sometimes come up with things that are better. Writing is a writer's pure joy.

All of those fun rides that the characters go on; during the writing phase, you get to be a part of those. The sensations that they feel, the loves that they develop, and the triumphs that they achieve; you feel, love, and triumph.

When bad things happen, you can jump from the mind of the hero into the villain, and laugh maniacally as the puny heroes must flee from your diabolical inventions which prove your ultimate worthiness to be the master of everything.

The VIKINGS! Trilogy was a delight to write, as so many extremes occurred; glorious successes and horrible failures. The last draft was especially enriching, as I got to be in the minds of so many different characters, each so unique that they are real people to me.

I love history and Norse mythology, and I got to weave them into the worlds that my characters were striving to survive in (against all odds!). I got to add all of the parts of medieval sciences and culture that I loved, from metalsmithing to plumbing to navigation with Norse sunstones.

Editing is the pain of writing. Editing is where the writer works, and the part that consumes the majority of the writer's time. Editing is where you have to cut out everything this isn't relevant to your story, including subplots, evil secondary characters, romances that you liked but which never should have happened, impressive monsters, and all of those medieval sciences and culture references that you love, from metalsmithing to plumbing to navigation with Norse sunstones: all of these were deleted from the original version.

And as a writer, you feel like you are performing surgery upon yourself.

Then you have to edit your remaining text (this part is excruciating!).

For example, every sentence must have the right verb. Look at this sentence and choose the right verb:

                He ________ down the hall.

Now choose the correct verb:

     walked           ran           danced           skipped     
     dashed           slid           frolicked           charged     
     tiptoed           crept           slipped           sauntered     
     crawled           moseyed           stomped           sneaked     
     wandered           tramped           stormed           staggered     
     tumbled           creeped           flew           snuck     
     pranced           oozed           tripped           rolled     

Rule of Writing: Each verb must be the correct one (and only one!) to describe the action, the mood, and the setting.

Which verb would you choose?

Now imagine doing this for every verb, adverb, adjective, pronown, and nown in every sentence in your novel; that is the pain of editing.

Then you get to the hardest part; is it ready for others to read? There's only one way to really know that: let others read it. Then, and only then, must you do the hardest part of editing: KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT!

When receiving a critique, you don't talk back. You don't make excuses or explain; if your writing needs excuses or explanations, then it needs fixing.

Do you disagree with the critique? Get another opinion. If possible, get several. If you need convincing, get a lot. Reviews from anyone helps, but if they are a writer, or at least frequently read the genre that you write, then their opinion may be worth more.

If only one person has a comment that you don't like, then you may choose to ignore it. If three people say the same thing, then swallow your pride and fix the text.

I got numerous critiques of The VIKINGS! Trilogy and heard every review possible; what I listened for was what multiple people said, or what experts in some field, such as history, said. Then I started from the beginning and made the required corrections. It was hard work, and very unpleasant, but I can't argue with the results, the best of which was the confidence that most people understood and liked each part.

The fun part is the writing, the not-fun part is the editing, and the excruciating part is getting critiques; all are required to get to the best part: a finished novel.

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