I think it is important to listen to, read about, and question other authors. We learn from one another. Much of what I’ve learned about writing has come from the advice of another author, whether I’ve met them in person, read their blog, or listened to an interview.
An interview with Orson Scott Card, author of the popular science fiction novel Ender’s Game, was the NaNoWriMo giveaway for Day 20 of NaNoWriMo. Though I have not read any of Card’s books, I intend to see what he has to say in response to some of my most pressing questions. It seems that every author has a different response.
It’s exciting, however, to learn more about an author and his/her process so you can try it out for size. Maybe their advice doesn’t suit you. Maybe it does. I guess there is only one way to find out.
Card seems to have a different viewpoint than most other authors concerning the craft of writing, and I look forward to reading the interview in more detail when I get a chance.
“As a writer you ask yourself to dream while awake.” ~ Aimee Bender
If you want to be a writer, you should find yourself daydreaming. It’s perfectly normal to be scolded in class for daydreaming, to “dream while awake.”
Dreams are often the inspiration we need to begin a story, to continue writing when we are stuck, or to finish a story. But how could we ever turn writing into a career if we only “dream” at night?
I like this quote because it reminds us that as writers, it is important to keep a look out for the things that may cause our minds to wander. I often find myself sitting in history class, daydreaming about what life would be like in this time period or that time period.
Different places, experiences, music, people…all of these things give us excuses to “dream” while awake. It’s so exciting.
“Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.” – Virginia Woolf
This quote says it all to me. It accurately describes the result of being an author – your soul and your experiences are woven into your works. I always find it interesting to listen to other authors talk about this very topic.
They are often asked: “Were any of these events/characters inspired by your life?”
The responses are usually very different, as well they should be. Just as your experiences are unique to you, the way in which you incorporate your soul and your experiences into your writing is unique.
Many authors agree that their personality traits and characteristics are a part of each of their characters. If you “know” a character, it is easier to write about the character.
Real life events or people may inspire the name of a new character, or a plot twist, or a street name (in the case of J.K. Rowling).
Either way, it is impossible for the author to keep himself/herself out of their own works. The author gives the story the “spark of life,” if you will, by weaving themselves into the story.
It is Day 12 of NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month.
How is your novel coming? They say that Week 2 of NaNoWriMo is the toughest, because writers have gotten over the initial excitement of writing a book and have come up against a brick wall. You doubt yourself, second-guess yourself, and begin listening to that inner-critic that drives you crazy. Don’t give up!
Each weekday during November, the Writer’s Digest website will be offering free tips for NaNoWriMo participants, called “giveaways.” If you click “read more,” you are required to submit an email address before you are allowed to download the “giveaway.”
This week’s giveaway is about pacing your novel, taken from Nancy Kress’ Elements of Fiction Writing: Beginnings, Middles & Ends.
A fast-paced novel increases tension, which intrigues readers and causes them to keep reading. Sometimes it can be difficult to keep the action escalating, but it is essential to plot. Without action, there is no conflict. And without conflict, there would be no story.
The following are tips to “quicken the pace of your story” from the giveaway piece written by Nancy Kress:
Start your story in the middle of a dramatic sequence, not before the drama commences.
This is a tough one for me. I don’t know about you, but I tend to “set the scene” before I make it to the action. However, I realize that when I read back over my work, I bore myself to tears. Maybe “setting the scene” is something I need to do in order to get started, but something I delete later.
Rely on dialogue. A lot of story can be carried by spoken conversation.
I believe that this is something I do well. For the longest time, I have worried that I put too much dialogue in my writing and that I need more description. It’s nice to know that I might be doing something right.
Keep backstory to a minimum. The more we learn about your characters through what they do now, in story time, the less you’ll need flashbacks, memories and exposition about their histories.
Whoops. I give my characters so much backstory it is probably impossible for the reader to form their own conclusions. I think backstory is necessary for the author, not so much for the reader.
Keep chapters short.
For some odd reason, I have always believed longer chapters meant I was writing “a real novel.” But I have noticed that books with shorter chapters are the books I finish more quickly.
Have these tips helped? What do you believe you can improve upon? What do you believe you’re doing well?
I’ve been told countless times that if I’d like to be a writer, I should carry a notebook everywhere I go. A notebook, regardless of size or style, would enable me to record my random ideas and the whims that I would forget if not immediately written down.
For some reason, I’ve never really been into keeping a consistent notebook, because my writing is saved in various folders on my computer. I’ve tried to keep a notebook, but when I often forget to place it in my purse, I decided that an “idea notebook” just wasn’t for me.
However, I recently read A Writer’s Notebook, by Ralph Fletcher, which completely changed my mind.
For some reason, I had forgotten that customization of my notebook is entirely up to me. If I don’t want to carry it with me everywhere I go, I don’t have to. If the notebook isn’t solely for “ideas,” that’s okay too. The notebook, really, is just like a journal. It is meant to be completely personal, most likely different for every writer. (And who says you have to be a writer to keep a notebook?!)
So far, the composition book I have started is coming along well. The notebook houses a variety of things – journal entries, ideas for novels, lists, photographs, song lyrics, poetry, quotes, and articles I printed off the Internet.
I absolutely love the notebook because I can be so creative with it. The idea is that when I am writing, and need an idea for an interesting character, or an interesting name for a character, or an interesting plot line, or an interesting quote, I know right where to look for inspiration.
Use the notebook as a diary, an idea catcher, a sketchbook…whatever floats your boat.