Jack Remick – Some Techniques and Tips

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Some Techniques and Tips - Writing Tips for the Committed Novelist

by Jack Remick

I want to share with you a few words about how I write. Every Tuesday and Friday, I sit down with a bunch of writers at Louisa’s Bakery Café in Seattle. We write for forty-five minutes under the clock. For years I wrote alone until Robert Ray introduced me to Natalie Goldberg and timed writing. Working with other writers—especially writers who know more than you do—gets you outside your head. You get feedback faster, you get to the rewrite quicker. The way I see it, the art is in the rewrite so the sooner you get a working draft the better you’ll write. With timed writing you don’t die in Act Two.

Timed writing—what Natalie Goldberg calls “Writing Practice”—is either the devil’s design to stifle your creativity or the gateway to a paradise of writing. For me, timed writing is liberation. Timed writing is easy: you get a kitchen timer, set it for five, ten, fifteen minutes and write as deep and rich as your hand will let you. I like the physical connection of the fountain pen on paper, so I write longhand. Some writers at Louisa’s write on laptops. That’s okay. The idea is to finish what you start—that’s the major discipline. Finish what you start.

I use “start lines” to get going. If I’m working on a novel, I might use—“Today I rewrite the scene called…

If I’m with my group at Louisa’s and I’m not locked into a novel or a story, the start line “today I’m writing about…” gives me plenty of room to explode. I use timed writing to write treatments, scene summaries, memoir moments, short stories, screenplay scenes. The big thing with timed writing is that you can use it to go nuts on the page, or you can use it in a very structured way to create tight, hard, clear, clean sentences, scenes, stories. I don’t think in terms of paragraphs, but I do think in terms of “action” and “image.” When I’m writing in a more structured way, I use a directed set of start lines. For instance, to write a three-act treatment for a novel here’s a set of start lines you can use:

  • Act One opens when….
  • Act One ends when….
  • Act Two opens in a scene called….
  • At the middle of my story, my protagonist….
  • Act Two ends when….
  • Act Three opens when….
  • My story climaxes in a scene called….
  • My story ends with this final image….

I keep a blog with Robert J Ray, author of the Matt Murdock detective novels. We’ve posted everything we know about writing there—http://bobandjackswritingblog.com. Take a look. It’s there for the asking.

The Widow (La Viuda) is ninety-two years old. She lives in a house filled with photos and coins, jewels and a sable coat. Aware that her memory is failing but burning with desire to record the story of her life on paper, she hires Gabriela, a nineteen-year-old Mixteca from Mexico. Gabriela is one of the few survivors of a massacre and treacherous journey to El Norte. Gabriela and the Widow is a story of chaos, revenge, and change: death and love, love and sex, and sex and death. Gabriela seeks revenge for the destruction of her village. The Widow craves balance for the betrayals in her life. In the end, the Widow gives Gabriela the secret of immortality.

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Genre – Women’s Fiction

Rating – PG

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Website http://jackremick.com/

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