Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Wisdom of Ian Fleming, or: The Best Writing Advice EVER

As I said in the previous post, I have finished the first draft of my spy novel, the working title of which is "The Lassen Agenda". I'm trying for a Ludlum-style title, but, frankly, I think my title bites and sucks rocks, but nothing else has come to mind other than a two- or three-word generic title like "Dead On Target" or "High Risk" which also don't do anything for me. But the title is not my concern right now.

With the first draft done, my mind is free to generate more material to flesh out the manuscript. I'm pleased with what's come to mind so far and a practice outline has proven that the new stuff works well with what's already in place, but the bad side to being done with a first draft is also coming into play, where I doubt every single word on the page. At times like this, I reach for the strongest bottle of rum I can find.... kidding! Actually, I pick up "Ian Fleming: The Man Behind James Bond" by Andrew Lycett. On page 216 (of the hardcover version) there is a passage that I think all writers, at whatever stage of their career, should memorize and recall often, and I am grateful to Lycett for including it in the book:

You will be constantly depressed by the progress of the opus and feel it is all nonsense and that nobody will be interested. Those are the moments when you must all the more obstinately stick to your schedule and do your daily stint...Never mind about the brilliant phrase or the golden word, once the typescript is there you can fiddle, correct and embellish as much as you please. So don't be depressed if the first draft seems a bit raw, all first drafts do. Try and remember the weather and smells and sensations and pile in every kind of contemporary detail. Don't let anyone see the manuscript until you are very well on with it and above all don't allow anything to interfere with your routine. Don't worry about what you put in, it can always be cut out on re-reading....

This advice is righteous. With that in mind, to quote Harry Whittington again, I persist.

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