How about the problem of "legacy code" in projects on which you've been working for years or decades? I'm working yet again on a novel that I originally started writing when I was in Jr. High. Considering that next year it will be 25 years since I graduated from high school, that's been a lot of years of writing, in which I've learned a lot both from book research and from life. Still, I think fondly to the first time when my Jr. High self glimpsed Tsar Joseph and Tsaritsa Olga, bringing down the Soviet Union in flames -- but there's very little of the actual specifics that I've been able to keep now that I've actually studied Russian (BA from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, 1989) and got to watch the Soviet Union go down for real, if not nearly so hard as in my writing. And even so, as I'm writing this time around, I keep coming to points where I've assumed things would happen a certain way, and I'm finding that I've got to think about whether this really works with my mature vision or whether it's just legacy code that may well need to go.
How do you deal with the legacy code problem when you're writing on projects that are near and dear to your heart like this?
Interesting. Since I started the Prospero Books in 1992, I have a few things I can say on that or at least a similar topic. ;-)
Maybe I'll start with that.
What do you think about the standard advice given writers? Eg:
- show not tell,
- avoid purple prose,
- delete unnecessary words
- write in a simple, direct style
- Write what you know.
And where can you find really useful advice, eg how to build a plot?
And a third question: what do you think of originality in writing? Is it really valuable, or possible?