Break rules and be inspired


I wanted to write a post about something that I felt inspired by; usually that has to do with something about the craft of writing. As habit would prove, I’ve dug up a YouTube video revolving around a TIME interview that fit the bill.

I’ve been attempting to broaden my horizons, both as an author and as a reader, by digging into books, and authors that ordinarily wouldn’t be my cup of tea. Most recently I’ve sank my teeth into the Twilight saga. Thus far, I have only downed the first book, which I am happy to discover turned out to be better than the movie series, (which was partially to blame for my skepticism towards the book series.) But if I paid more attention to film adaptations than the books, I’d be missing out on some true learning experiences.

When I find an author that intrigues my interest, I generally like to hear their stories on their the literary craft. How writing inspires them? What interested them in writing the kinds of stories that they write? Etcetera. Well, what else can I say except, break the rules, and let your imagination run wild. Seem a bit odd? The video below shall help.

 

Blank


Fill in the blank sheet of paper, or fill the blank page of a Word Doc. Either task can terrify even the most skilled writer. But what’s even more terrifying than seeing a blank page? Seeing a blank page remain empty, because the writer behind the pen or keyboard may be uncertain. Uncertain of their direction, of the piece once the work has commenced, and even uncertain when the story is laid out in front of him/her, like a road map.

There are a lot of uncertainties when it comes to the entire writing process, the one reliable tool that we do have to our advantage is our imagination. Which is stronger than those irrational fears that we come face to face with on a daily basis. Fear not the blank page, fear not the writer’s block, but fear the lack of imagination; for it’s when that wonderful gift is no longer present, that we’ll have plenty of reason to worry when the blank page is presented.

Read aloud, and your book will thank you


For aspiring authors, there’s loads to be nervous about as we chisel away at, what we hope will become a masterpiece loved by all. However, one of the biggest worries at least for me is, does what I’m writing sound like an actual story? Or is it bullshit that will never find it’s way to bookshelves?

Those questions pop up more than I care to admit. I pretty much think of them as reoccurring nightmares, that haunt my subconscious on a nightly basis.

Tonight however, I think that I may have stumbled on a tool that is essential to every  writer’s toolbox. At the bottom, hidden, or so I thought, of my little toolbox I found an all important tool. An author’s voice – my voice, a voice that I can hear coming through, with perfect clarity in every sentence.

It was crazy, it was wonderful, it’s progress made, or rather progress in the making.  How did I find this tool? you’re probably wondering. Oddly enough it was by reading a working chapter in progress, aloud. Something I’ve been unable/unwilling to try, for fear that the writing itself would be or sound god awful. It didn’t and for the first time I could hear the author’s voice coming through within the words.

If you’re an aspiring author I would recommend giving this exercise a go, especially if you’re unsure of the writing you’re producing. Saying sentences, dialogue, phrases, and paragraphs out loud can help. If your ears don’t like the sound of a sentence or a piece of dialogue, then you can edit the piece until it becomes music to your ears.

I should kick myself for not doing this sooner, but at least now I know how much this can aid me, as I continue on with Jenny Mac.

Stephen King: On writing


 “Long live the King” hailed Entertainment Weekly upon publication of Stephen King’s On Writing. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999—and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it—fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.

Inspiring is a brilliant way to describe this memoir. As an aspiring author I’ve read a few different books on the subject of the craft and all of them fail miserably in comparison to this book. As Mr King is quoted to say in his memoir of the craft, “There are a lot of books on the subject of the craft, and most I’ve found to be filled with bullshit.” What I like most in this book is that he doesn’t overwhelm you with his knowledge of the craft, whereas most others that I’ve read can overwhelm you within the first chapter alone.

The tips – the advice I’ve received in this book is better than most advice given to me by anyone else, except to read, which is a piece of advice that Stephen also covers in this book. I want to share a few of those tips that I’ve found helpful.

The first that comes to mind is a trick that should be used after the first draft is written. Once you’ve written the first draft of your story, put it in your desk drawer and don’t come back to it for four to six weeks. It’s important to forget about everything to do with the story that you’ve just spent months writing; because when you go in to commence work on your second draft you want to be able to look at your story as if it were a book that you just pulled from the shelf at a book store.

This tip was something that I didn’t fully grasp until one night when I decided to go over Dreamer a first draft to a story that I hadn’t touched in about a year. When I read the first paragraph I was horrified and I had to close the word doc swiftly, because the writing was so fucking awful. You want to be able to be objective when you go over your first draft, so do whatever you must to forget about your book until you feel that you’re ready to read the first draft, be prepared to murder your darlings, with this in mind, I’ll move on to the next tip.

(Murder your darlings.) Even when you think that you’ve written the most brilliant line, or an amazing piece of the main character’s backstory. You must be prepared to press that delete button on your keyboard.  If you’re unable to see where your story might have a chink in its chain, then it’s a good idea to have an IR (Ideal Reader.) Who can point out where your story might be dragging; this usually has to do with over attention to details that aren’t important to the story’s development. Which if you’re not careful might turn the reader off completely. Your IR can help you weed out the unnecessary so that your story can live up to its fullest potential.

Obviously if you’d like to know the rest of his advice you’ll have to pick up your own copy of On Writing, and believe me there’s plenty more, not to mention that Mr King explains these tips in a far more eloquent and better detailed manner, than I can.

Once you get past his childhood memories, the toolbox, and tricks of the trade, there’s the absolutely astonishing story of his near-death encounter with the minivan driver. After reading the details of the accident I don’t even know how he came back from something so traumatic, talk about a living, breathing survivor.

I would recommend this book to all aspiring writers out there, it’s taught me so much, and has given me a major confidence boost in my writing abilities. If you pick up any book on the subject of the craft, let it be without question On Writing.

Thanks Mr King, from a writer who had a lot to learn on the subject.

Post holiday (Pressure)


Hey all,

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. I can say with the utmost joy that my family and experienced one of the best Christmases that we’ve had in a long while; being in the new house to spend the holiday together made the season even more special. If I did have one wish it would’ve been that we’d been able to share it with our family and friends, but at least we had each other, and that’s something.

I find myself wanting to get back into writing now that the holiday madness is thru, however this afternoon when I went to continue on with Jenny Mac I found myself hanging around the wall once again. I think when it comes to re-writing this story the thing that I’ve found most difficult thus far is not knowing. When I started working around with ideas for Jenny I mainly worked on backstory for Joseph, the WIA, and the whole universe that the story’s geographical points revolve around, which isn’t a bad place to start. At this moment however- I find myself yearning to know where exactly this story is headed, because at this point there’s this crucial moment in the story where the book could go in one of two directions. A. It take a left at the fork in the road and get lost, so lost that I might find myself doubting why in the hell I started up with this story again, or B. It could take a right at the fork and get to it’s proper destination without incident. If I were to take the left I just hope that I’ll catch the error made before it goes too far. Then again based on how anal I’ve been and am being with the story so far the left turn might already have a barricade up.

I feel that if I continue to keep the pressure on it can only benefit me, as Mr Stephen King has pointed out in his memoir On writing. It’s better to keep going and to keep the pressure on otherwise you might lose track of the story all together. So I guess a bit of pressure never hurt anybody and if their were anybody out there who needed to keep the pressure on it’s a writer.

So let there be pressure as I attempt to press on once more.

Why going by the book can be a better route


There are many different methods as to how a writer goes about writing a book. Some fit under the category of a seat of the pants author, some go through the entire book writing process by the book, and others go their own route. With each of these strategies you can find success; however I myself have come to find that the most successful strategy might just save you a lot of stressful headaches later on down the line.

The strategy that I am referring to is the reliable “by the book method.” The by the book method is the best way to go because you’re forced to stop, think, and take notes before any of the actual writing begins. In general when you take notes you’re jotting down everything from your main character’s eye color, to how, where, and when your story wraps up.

Of course you might stop and think, what’s wrong with being a seat of the pants writer? As I said before, absolutely nothing; because you should write in whatever way makes you feel comfortable. Although I have come to realize that for my own satisfaction as a writer, it is impossible for me to stick with the old “seat of the pants,” method; being that you write and then edit as you go. Right now I am probably around 47,000 words with Dreamer, my WIP and I have come to realize that it is a complete and total mess, that is beyond the standard editing check.

I have stubbornly come to understand why it’s so much better to “go by the book,” when you go by the book and you take your time with the entire process; instead of diving right in and just writing; you actually slow down and think thoughts and ideas through in a logical manner. If you’re able to stop yourself from just shooting out of the gate, you’ll find yourself happy with the end results of your book. Not only do you know it inside and out, but you’ve really chiseled out a masterpiece.

So henceforth I shall do my best to slow down and go by the book, so that I may fully chisel out my masterpiece.