Writing as surgery

Everyone has their own novel-writing technique, and mine (at least for my most recent novel, The Decline and Fall of Taran Elember) has remarkable similarities to one of my other favorite things: surgery.

So, Angie’s Special Novel Writing Plan (based on my veterinary surgical training):

  • Surgical Exploratory Phase–rambling first draft, lots of looking around and trying things
  • Regrouping Phase–chat with surgical staff, re-order instruments, ask for suture/sponges/clamps as needed; chill a little while you decide how to approach the problem at hand
  • Evisceration Phase–back to cutting, removing entire organs as necessary, occasionally transplanting
  • Surgical Phase–reconstructing and suturing as needed for structure, character, scene goals, etc.
  • Laser Phase–tightly focused fine edits for voice, personality, etc.
  • Micro-surgery–multiple tedious drafts to eliminate adverbs, passive voice, words I always use but shouldn’t, clichés that have managed to persist…
  • Recovery–the patient is turned over to the ICU staff (critique partners/first readers) so I can scrub out for a while and check on my next patient

 

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