It was a dark and stormy night: some words for NaNoWriMo from Asimov

Many thanks to everyone who came to my NaNoWriMo workshop at Milk Wood last night.  In case you missed it, here are some words from the great Isaac Asimov speaking in 1974 about how it was he’d managed to write nearly 150 books in just under 25 years:

“I’m constantly asked, “How do you manage to write all those books?”  And the answer is very simple.  First, you tell them the truth – I work very hard – but that’s not glamorous.  And so I dig deeper, and I come up with something which is surprisingly true: I cut out the frills like thinking. 

“You realise how many books don’t get written because of thinking?  That is, you write the first sentence, It was a dark and stormy night… and that’s fine if you’ll keep on, but you don’t: you commit the fatal error of thinking and you say, “not sufficiently dramatic.”  You cross it out and write, A dark and stormy night: that’s what it was.  And then you say, “No – it’s too dramatic.  Perhaps we ought to open on an air of uncertainty”. Was the night dark and stormy?  And then you think some more and you say, “No no I’m ruining it, it’s anti-climactic.”  And you say, “It was a stormy and dark night.” 

“Well this goes on forever and you never write the book, see?  Now I don’t do that.  I start with the assumption that the way I say it the first time is right.”

Pretty sound advice for NaNoWriMo, huh?



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