Solutions not Resolutions – Tackling the Plateau

January 8, 2013 at 11:25 pm (Links, writing) (, , , , , , , , , )

As I work on one rewrite with another small one to do and a huge editing/formatting job ahead of me, I have to wonder what else I can do to rise above my current plateau – this while trying to make up my mind what, if any, writing projects I’m going to attempt next. I’ve considered a few things that might be worth a shot. I’ve tried writing things outside my comfort zone and I could attempt to adhere strictly to the norms of a genre for a change but that just isn’t me. It kind of feels like I’d be selling my soul because I’ve made a point not to conform…I don’t even conform with the typical non-conformists. I had a management professor, one who took me aside and told me she really thought I should be majoring in management, who used to openly refer to me as her class non-conformist. I’m not eve

I could also look into studying current accepted stylistic trends, but that’s not me either. Besides, as Brendan Sanderson said during his lecture on story plotting, you can easily find two separate style manuals from two separate established writers giving completely opposite advice. He gave Stephen King and Orson Scott Card as examples. Not to mention you’ll hear popular writer folks complaining about “said-isms” on one hand and talk of editors, especially young adult ones demanding an assortment of dialogue tags as opposed to just “said.” Truth is, style preferences are very much dependent on a particular publisher/editor.

I’ve decided instead to turn to studying classic authors I love, ones who are recognized for their contributions to the literary world, and I will spend a month looking very closely at their work, stripping it down and trying to figure out what made it tick. I figure I can put in a month or two breaking things down for each one until October, when my attention will turn, of course, to Halloween. I’m going to start with Nathaniel Hawthorne, one of my favourites, and go from there – trying to pick some writers that weren’t exclusively genre writers (although I might pick a couple of my favourite ones of those as well). I have so many to choose from: Kurt Vonnegut, Stephen Crane, George Orwell, Ken Kesey, Aldous Huxley, Ray Bradbury, Theodore Sturgeon, Tanith Lee, Isaac Asimov, etc. I may not get to everyone I have in mind.

This means I’ll be spending most of the year concentrating on reading and analyzing which means I won’t be very prolific when it comes to writing. Then again, if I can’t keep improving on my writing, what’s the point, right? I want to produce both quality and quantity at some point, if I can.


  1. theleagueofelder said,

    I love Hawthorne, or do I?? I love his subject matter, his atmosphere and how it makes me feel. I’ve been to the House of 7 Gables in Salem. Still–I’ve never been able to finish a Hawthorne book outside of the classroom. I find I’m a picky reader and easily distracted … which says something as I was able to read Fervor and Elevation without issue. As I like to do with my standbys, like Dracula and Neuromancer, I find myself thumbing through Fervor and re-reading my favorite parts.

  2. chantellyb said,

    Wow – glad to hear you feel that way about Fervor and Elevation. I love League of Elder but you are putting them out so fast I have a hard enough time keeping up with you going forward, let alone getting any opportunity to go back over what I’ve read. I do especially enjoy the parts with Carahil, but he seems to be everyone’s favourite.

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