Piecing It All Together
There's a little known secret we writers like to keep to ourselves, because we fear that if word got out, readers would immediately become disillusioned and abandon us. It's not as bad as a reviewer spoiling a twist in the plot of a book, I suppose. Those people should be tarred with onion dip, feathered with potato chips and released to a crowd of hungry football fans on the day of the Super Bowl. But it is a little like the magician showing you how he fooled you.
Here's the secret: stories are rarely written from beginning to end without rough spots along the way.
This might sound obvious, but if you're a good writer it should never be obvious to the reader. Your stories should read seamlessly. I know the process is anything but seamless. Piecing Frankenstein's monster together was less daunting. You've got stitches all over the page. Scotch tape. Different colored inks. Scribbles in the margins. Stop and goes. And this is your third draft. But after that final draft, all of this must be invisible to the reader.
What you should take away from this is the understanding that you have incredible freedom as a writer. No one has to ever see your early drafts, your wastepaper basket full of crumpled paper, that climax that was so ingenious when you first thought of it but turned out to be a cliché on the page. Those are yours to keep. No one need ever read them.
The process doesn't have to be painful, either. In fact, if you remove some of the constraints you place on yourself as a writer, it can be down right enjoyable. For instance, you don't always have to write a story from beginning to end. Connie Willis likes to write her endings first, then write the story back toward the beginning. Jeffrey Deaver prefers to spend months working out every detail of his story in an outline, with specific places for twists. Dean Koontz, who used to outline his stories, now lets his characters provide the impetus for his books. He follows along behind and lets himself experience surprise much as his readers will.
Every writer has to find what works best for him. And every writer has to understand that what works best for this story might not work best for the next. Don't be afraid to experiment. Don't be afraid to let go and see where it takes you. (This will, of course, be easier if you stuff a dirty sock into the mouth of that little editor sitting on your shoulder. You know who I'm talking about. He's the one who never has anything nice to say. So do that now. Dig out a dirty sock and use it.)
What I'd like you to take away from this is the comfort that a word on a piece of paper (or on a computer screen, for that matter) is not the same as a word etched in stone. It's okay to work on the description of a character until you get restless, then toy with the opening sentence or try reworking the dialogue in that early scene. It's okay to toss out pages, try different words, add scenes. Tinkering goes hand-in-hand with creativity.
And again ? no one will ever know.
It may resemble Frankenstein's monster to you, but all the reader will see is a living, breathing story.
Just don't forget to pull the stitches before you're finished.
David B. Silva
In Praise of Personal Pronouns
Rudolph Flesch, a pioneering advocate of readability, put great stock in the liveliness of the written word.
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People can't believe I did it, but I did. I wrote my first novel, The League, in about 30 days. I never spent more than two hours on any given day, unless I wrote then went back to edit. I also found and signed with a publisher in one month (see my article, Whatever It Is, Publish It Now, for details on this). Friends, family, and colleagues are fascinated when I tell them this. It's not possible, they say. Then, I enlighten them.
The Blank Mind
Many writers stare at the blank page or clean computer screen and wait for inspiration with a feeling of hopelessness. That white page or screen is always a struggle to fill, and it probably will always be for most writers.
The Unwritten World Of The Reality Of Letterwriting
You may wonder why I have chosen this title of this post. Well from my experience is that it is really hard to put the feeling into words about what letter writing means to me. Letter writing is becoming a lost art on many levels. It is fading into the background of society. It is still practised by many people. It is those people that I am looking to connect with. I have been told by many people whom have read my posts that they feel the same way about letter writing as I do. I want to hear from those people what they feel; I want to hear their words.
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With the advent of email communications in the workplace, it's not uncommon to exchange dozens of messages daily. Sometimes, I sense a writer's "voice" in such messages. Occasionally, I ask if they've done any writing. A year ago, a colleague answered, "I loved to write in high school, but I just don't have time anymore! " She was extraordinarily busy, mothering an active two-year-old, commuting over an hour a day, managing the house, and holding a full-time managerial job. In spite of the fact that I knew she was overloaded, I sensed a unique talent in her words and didn't hesitate to encourage her.
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In the current job market, many editorial freelancers have turned to freelance work as a matter of survival. I receive many queries from applicants regarding this part of the market. Addressed here are the key building blocks necessary for a successful freelance career.
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Writing can be more difficult that just compiling your thoughts on a few pieces of paper. In fact, it can be a challenge to find something new, interesting, and publishable to write about. Even if you have the basic designs for a book, you still need to fill the pages in with creative, flowing words to convey your thoughts or the actions within the book. What you need is to find book writing resources, tips, and help to get you through the more difficult areas. Even when the words are flowing through the keys or the pen, you may need some additional book writing resources, tips, and help to get you a final product that can be published!
The self-indulgent writer listens only to the mumblings of sycophants, toadies, and flatterers, thus failing to heed the valid criticisms of editors, critiquers, and reviewers.
A Writers Personal Cheer Squad
We all need a cheer squad.
Its All About YOU!
The Hottest Word on the Web
Tell the World About You
You have a new website, or a new business, or both ? or your site isn't getting the kind of traffic you want and need. How are you going to tell the world about what you have to offer and where to find it?
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Working on my first humorous novel, I started with a single character. I followed suggestions in writers' reference books for developing story characters. Then, still dissatisfied with my results, I began to explore other ways to make my characters more lifelike and included those strategies below.
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Beyond three and four act story structure, lies the Hero's Journey.
Using Metaphor Effectively
We've all heard a politician on their soapbox, pushing for some policy change or cleaning up after a scandal. Some will cut out a sharp point, while others leave the audience in bewilderment. You can often thank - or blame - the use of metaphor for the outcome of a speech.
Writing and Self-examination
Good writing requires self-examination. Why is one writing? What part of the writer will be shared with readers? Will it be only information or will it include the essence of the writer? This, then determines what will be written: poetry, essays, articles, short stories, novels, or any other genre of writing.
Story Structure - Final Conflict
Beyond three and four act story structure, lies the Hero's Journey.
You Can Be An Author
"You should write a book." For years, I had been hearing this comment. Writing an entire book seemed completely overwhelming, and so, for a long time, I contented myself with writing short articles. One day, inspiration for an article hit me and, as I started writing, paragraphs began flowing out at an enormous rate. Before I knew it, a rather lengthy piece was developing. It was too long to be an article, so, I decided it would not hurt to try self-publishing a little booklet. Was I ever surprised! The first printing of this 32-page black and white booklet sold out within a week.
How to Build Your Site with Other Peoples Content -- Part 1
Building a new website can be extremely exciting. Seeing your words in "print"--maybe for the first time... what a thrill! At least that's how I feel...
On Writing and Poetry: Harry Calhoun in Conversation
"This is just brilliant. The whole interview is incredible? I'm? REALLY appreciative of some seriously good advice from a fellow writer." Mark Howell, Senior Writer, Solares Hill
How To Write to a Word Count
You've finished your story, and you're pretty happy with it. The plot is gripping, the characters are lively, and the pace zooms along. Great! You've done it!
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