There’s an amount of meta in writing. If you’re trying to get in, if you’re trying to understand the requirements of your publisher so you can supply what they want to sell, then an amount of study is involved.
The most obvious – and oft-ignored, if I’m anything to go by – piece of advice to any aspiring writer is to just write. If you seek advice, people will suggest you read a lot – bad and good, so you can tell the difference; do your research, but don’t overload the reader with it; analyse the publisher, learn how to write a cover letter and a synopsis and so on… but write, primarily.
I was at a lunch with Dan Abnett in February. I was hanging around; it was an event we were both invited to, and I figure if I listen to people I might learn something. One of the subjects was Doctor Who, because Dan’s written tie-in stories for the new series, and the story in question was The Story of Martha, set during a missing year inbetween two episodes of the 2007 series. Why the Doctor Who writers thought that was a good idea, I didn’t know then; Dan was tasked with writing the story of that year.
I like to hear about the intent of a story. What appealed to the writer; what their vision is; why they try to do things. The new series of Doctor Who has been more overtly pitched as a fairytale – not changed, not revamped, just tilted slightly for a particular vision. A universe which can withstand being seen from so many angles is pretty robust I think.
So I was surprised to learn that while I’ve been watching Doctor Who Confidential, trying to learn this stuff, Dan, who actively works with it, doesn’t.
Now, maybe he already knows. He talks with the people involved. He’s Established. I don’t think that means he doesn’t get rejection letters any more, though I’m not privy to that. I’ve just received my latest notifications of rejection, so I’m trying to re-establish what’s important and focus on it.
Here’s my other theory. Dan doesn’t watch Confidential so he only focuses on the programme. Don’t go meta. Don’t focus on ‘what if?’. Concentrate on what the characters actually do, and make them do more of it, rather than on what they do when they’re not doing that.
At least for now. I’m only a beginner. And I should call him Mr. Abnett until I get it right. Hence a new blog entry. Write, write, write. It’s all practice. The choice between write and wrong.