Monday, March 26, 2018

What Scrupulous Writers Do

Stephanie here! I'm taking today off from blogging, because I have edits due back on Wednesday, and my focus right now is doing my best to be the scrupulous writer George Orwell describes in this quote about writing:

"A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: What am I trying to say? What words will express it? What image or idiom will make it clearer? Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?”

I will be back next Monday!


  1. Great quote! Hope your edits go well :)

  2. I hope everything goes well with the edits!! Have an awesome week! <3

    ~Ivie| Ivie Writes

  3. Good luck on edits!

  4. Best of luck on your edits! =)

  5. Go get those edits! You can do this! You need to because I NEED this book in my life.

  6. Hello! I hope your edits go well! :)
    When you do return, I was wondering if you could answer a few questions I have about writing.
    My first question is, when does one know when their story premise and plot is “enough” for a story to take place? I like the idea I’ve come up with for my story, but I’m not sure if it is even enough for one book or, on the opposite end, should be split into two books.

    Additionally, I’m really passionate about this idea and excited to write it, but I’m having trouble fully planning out the plot–such as what happens in the middle of the book, what the rising action and falling action would be, etc. Do authors generally plot each chapter out specifically in this manner or do they write this as they go?

    And, finally, how does one fully build a world in which their character lives? Do most authors world-build before they write, or again decide the culture of the world, natural laws, etc. as they write (in regards to young adult fantasy novels)? This is something that I’m having a little bit of trouble with.

    I hope you can consider my questions. Thank you so much in advance!


    1. Clearly I'm not Mrs. Morrill, but I do have a few bits of advice that you might find useful, Marianne. These are really great questions. In regards to the first, my first reaction is that it's an innate "knowledge" to know that your plot is "enough," but obviously that doesn't help, so I'll try to quantify it as best I can. I think there are several ways you could judge whether the plot/premise is "enough." Consider (1) if the plot takes a while to play out, as in, it literally requires a good number of chronological days in the story--if it does, it will likely be enough for a book of decent size. This doesn't necessarily mean the plot has to take a long time, but it is easier for more stuff to happen (and thus create more material to fill the book) over a longer period. Think also if (2) the plot is particularly meaningful in any way. "Meaningful" can be taken to mean impactful (what does it make the readers feel?) or perhaps important (to the characters in the story). If the plot is not meaningful, whether to the readers or the characters, then it is not enough for a story to take place no matter how long it takes to play out. In the end, however, a story premise is merely that--a premise, which means it is not the only thing that the book includes. How the premise is executed takes up most of the words, which is what your second question addresses.

      Regarding that second question: first of all, it is so good that you're excited to write your idea (that's another way to tell if it's "enough"--if you're willing to carry it out to the end). As for if authors plan each chapter specifically, it differs for each different author. I, for one, don't plan the story out much at all but write it as I go, jotting down interesting ideas to be incorporated later but almost always keeping them vague. I also know that some people make detailed outlines. Both of us write books, so both ways work. If you want to specifically plan out chapters and think it will help, go for it. If it becomes too troublesome and stops you from writing the actual story, I would recommend you leave the outline and write the book itself for a time and see if that helps you figure out the middle of the book.

      Regarding your third question: the short answer is that one fully builds a world with a whole lot of effort. The long answer begins, again, with the assertion that the process is different for each author. I write epic fantasy, and once more, I do not world-build before I write but while I write, both in the actual story and in random notes on the side. Some people probably have much more detailed ideas of their worlds before writing a word. I do like to have at least some conception of the world and the cultures I'll be writing about before I start, because otherwise I have no framework to go off of, so I do recommend at least getting a general idea of the world and culture. For the details (which if you're "fully" building the world you will definitely need), I suggest simply leaving it to your imagination as you write. Trying to come up with all the details beforehand will not only cost you a lot of time that could have been spent actually writing but also may prove to be only half-useful, as you may change the details as the story and plot evolve.

      I hope this helps a bit. :)

    2. Wow, thank you so much for all of this helpful advice! :)