Monday, October 11, 2010


So this past weekend I was invited to The Southern Festival of Books In Nashville. Thank you SFB. Nashville’s a wonderful town. I was on a panel with Palo Bacigalupi and I got to have dinner with Louis Sachar (okay, it wasn’t just he and I; there were a few hundred other people there, but we sat at the same table) and it was interesting and fun.

He had a lot to say about writing and bridge. Maybe more about bridge to be honest. The guy is a total bridge fanatic. I am blissfully ignorant when it comes to bridge but he made it interesting. He actually has a new YA novel out that is just about bridge called THE CARDTURNER.

Anyway, he said he always just writes out a rough, rough first draft of his novels and never outlines. That is interesting to me because HOLES is one of those novels whose structure seems perfect. If you’re looking for a novel to study structure, that’s one I would look at.

Not outlined. He found the shape of the novel in rewrites.

I know everyone works differently, but I’m a big believer in writing a quick first draft because so much will change in the novel anyway. As long as I have my first few sentences and feel like I know where I’m going, I’m ready to write fast and just try to get black on white. The “knowing where I’m going” part is an illusion of course. I don’t have a clue. And in the end I will have one big mess, but it will be my mess. It will be my beginning. For a lot of people just getting that first draft down is the hardest part of the process.

Another thing he said was that he always came, in all of his novels, to a point where he thought the whole piece of work sucked (not his words exactly but…) and he felt like throwing it out. I come to that point too and don’t be surprised if you do. You just have to keep going and work through it.

Or so I think today.

In ALIEN news:
I was interviewed here today:


Anna Staniszewski said...

How funny, I actually do use Holes in my writing class when we talk about structure. I'm sure it will drive my students crazy to find out he didn't plan it ahead of time! Thanks for the recap (and I am SO jealous you got to chat with Louis Sachar).

Brian Yansky said...

Hi Anna,

Really--very cool. I think it's a great choice and a great book. It was a fun weekend.