I’ve always believed that to be a good writer you must read. Why?
Other writers inspire me to improve my writing skills. This is true of my fiction, stage plays, and poetry.
Their styles are innumerable, their dash extraordinary, the story telling superb. Oh sure, I stumble upon the ‘not so good’ authors but they contribute to my self-confidence. I say to myself, “Oh! So I’m not the absolutely worst writer out there.” I learn from the great ones and I learn from the mediocre.
When I’m not writing, I’m reading. Fiction mostly. I love a good story…and better, a good story-teller. I recently discovered Janet Macleod Trotter, one of our hidden treasures and, I predict, her books will be considered some of the best modern-day classics of our time. Here are more some quotes that I stumbled across recently and really enjoyed.
“That’s what the greats of literature did — they got their characters up a tree and threw rocks at them…” Robyn Carr (excerpt from ‘What We Find’)
“Be able to be alone. Lose not the advantage of solitude.” Sir Thomas Browne
“Technique alone is never enough. You have to have passion. Technique alone is just an embroidered pot holder.” Raymond Chandler
One of my most challenging skills, as a writer, was to understand and implement POV. Point-of-view.
My editor pointed out a lot of ‘head hopping’ (the expression for telling your reader what everyone is thinking and feeling) when in each chapter the writer should stick to one point of view. Even very successful, best seller authors like Nora Roberts is guilty of this no-no.
Action, thoughts, & dialogue establishes the character’s POV.
‘The important thing is this: to be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.’ Charles Du Bos
- ‘I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God’s business.’ Michael J. Fox
‘The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.’ Dorothy Parker
Oh, so you think you will just write all day and wonderful things will happen? Think again, grasshopper.
If you’re a one-man-band like myself and most other indie authors, you will have to wear an editor, publicist, marketing and publishing hat, just to name a few.
It takes hard work and then some more hard work. But here’s the payoff: After four years…yep..you heard me right…of consistent blogging with relevant content, supporting other writers, and interviewing authors so much more famous than I am (well, I’m not famous at all) my posts (blog) are on page ONE of Google search and my books are selling. This year a traditional publisher picked up my true crime series of books. Don’t misunderstand, when you get a publisher DO NOT stop publishing your indie books. And most important of all: KEEP WRITING!
“If only life could be a little more tender and art a little more robust.” Alan Rickman, actor
“Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.” John Wayne
I had a friendly debate with another author when she responded to Stephen King’s quote about ‘plot being the the last resort of bad writers.’
One of her comments to me was, “writers have to accept that their readers might not care as much about your characters as you do.”
My vehement answer was, if my readers don’t care as much as I do, then I haven’t done my job. I just finished reading a book by a new (to me) author and I found her characters boring and unsympathetic. She didn’t tell me enough about them through dialogue and description for me to care. I suspect that since this was a series, she was relying too heavily on her readers already knowing her characters from previous books. Big mistake! Even with a series, each book, and character, must be able to stand alone. #writing
Writers! You have to know your characters in order for your readers to know and care about them. With the most despicable villain, you must give your readers something to love about that character.
“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets, their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within.” Elisabeth Kabler-Ross
“When you are completely absorbed or caught up in so
mething, you become oblivious to things around you, or to the passage of time. It is this absorption in what you are doing that frees your unconscious and releases your creative imagination.” Rollo May
How to Write Rich Characters.
After many years of writing, my characters show up in my head but it’s my job to ‘flesh them out,’ breathe life into them. Many times I will meet or see a character in real life and they inspire a character in my storytelling. If you’re a new writer take the time to write it down. It’s not the same as a few random thoughts about your character. Some intangible thing happens when I put pen to paper and get to know who my character is.
Read through your story and write down EVERYTHING the other characters say about the character you are creating. These exercises do not have to show up in your book. They are merely ways to research and explore who your characters are. When I am editing and rewriting I am looking for additional ways to bring my characters to life. I keep asking myself about the character’s motivations, goals, and needs.
“One of the things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. Something more will arise for later, something better.” — Annie Dillard
“A director becomes a diplomatist, a financier, a pedagogue, a top sergeant, a wet nurse, and a martyr, the kind of martyr who used to be torn into pieces by wild horses galloping in all directions at once.” ~Margaret Webster, Stage Director
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