Sunday, December 11, 2011

On Swimming With The Flow

In her collection of short stories and essays, Dreamweaver’s Dilemma, Lois McMaster Bujold writes about her writing schedule:
I do not have a typical writing schedule because writing is a rare privilege that I can’t always arrange to have happen. I do not write every day. I wish I could...
And how she finds names for her characters:
Names are such a pain. I work on them. I comb the telephone directories. I stare into my refrigerator at brand names and try to do permutations on them. I wander around the house mumbling, “What should I call these people?
And she offers these insights into writing dialogue:
Dialogue is very much like writing a drama or a screenplay. It’s a very fast form of action and very subtle. Tones of voice and odd things that people say can alter the course of how the action flows. It’s tricky. It’s the trickiest bit to write and the most challenging. I’ll make several passes through it before I get everything in the right order, all the good bits that I’ve come up with will be arranged properly to flow one into another.
And this--perhaps the most intriguing--on the way writing is a non-linear process:
Sometimes the characters will come up with some comment or something that I hadn’t planned at all. It just falls out onto the page and there it is. It works much better that way. I love it when it’s coming straight out of the back brain. Then it’s almost always right. The part of my mind that writes is not linear, although it has to go through this linear process and be put down line by line. It’s something really global and complex and chaotic that pops that stuff out of apparently nowhere, but it’s not really nowhere. I think Marvin Minsky is onto something with his mentation model of different actors that go off and process, generate things and present their results to the mainstream every once in a while. He’s a very bright person. People’s heads do not work in a linear fashion. It’s more complicated and interesting and fun than that.
For more info on Lois McMaster Bujold’s work, visit:
For info about Marvin Minsky and mentation, visit:

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