Thursday, 30 September 2010

Writing tips or DON'T PANIC

Yes, I am writing, kind of you to ask. How's it going? Almost done, but, boy, did it take so much longer than I expected. Why? Here's why.
1. LOADS of amateur mistakes, mostly to do with showing off. There's a strange dynamic with being a writer. First, is ego. Afterall, you must have ego in abundance to think 'hey, read my thoughts, they're important'. You are expecting people to put aside all other activities to spend their passing hours, days, months even, dwelling on what you have to say. You may not have anything worthwhile to say, but at least, you think you do. Ego. It is important.
2. Invisibility. The writer should not be seen in the story. The complete opposite of ego. The story is paramount, this is not an excuse for you to vent your fustrations at the world. This is usually spotted at submissions stage, so if you want to write a story about, I don't know, someone a lot like you who does a job a lot like yours (never appreciated enough, of course) and wakes up one morning in their messy bedroom and decides to CHANGE THEIR LIVES, then stop right now. Now I'm not saying you shouldn't take aspects of your life (in fact, it's crucial that you should) but give it that glamour, illusionary twist. Twilight is a perfect example. Bella is the wish fufillment fantasy of Stephenie Meyer, and that is why she's been so successful, but her honesty she's tapped the wish-fulfillmet fantasys of millions. She's not updated Romeo and Juliet, she's updated Cinderella. But with glamourous vampires, centuries old wars, werewolves and sacrifice.
Do not underestimate this. Whatever else is said of Meyer, she writes honestly. In writing there's no higher ambition. Lies are for advertising. Be honest. Be invisible.
Where was I?
3. Research. Oh Lord, this is a nightmare. You really can overdo it. I think it's my biggest fault. I've spent years researching my latest project (1995 I think was when the idea first came to me) and the problem is I feel the need to put everything down into the manuscript. Mistake. Instead of making it clearer, you only make it more confusing, plus, you're showing off how clever you are (another big fault of mine, it's common amongst eldest children). But thankfully that's what agents are for. To tell you to CLARIFY/SIMPLIFY/CLARIFY/SIMPLIFY and repeat until finished.
4. And procrastination. Instead of writing I'm busy on things like Facebook, Twitter and blogs.


kathryn evans said...

You speak for us all...don't let it go to your ego though ;O)

Nick Cross said...

What's this ego thing you keep talking about? I'm too wonderful to have one of those ;-)

Also, am I weird that I hate research? Which is why I end up writing contemporary books all the time...

SarwatC said...

Don't underestimate research, it sneaks in everywhere. It crucial in ensuring your world has internal logic. I'm really struggling through Hunger Games 3 right now because my suspension if disbelief is crashing down all over the place. Collin's is writing sci-fi but the logic of the world is inconsistent. And don't get me started on how Katiss can shot down airplanes with a bow and arrow, even explosive ones. Big shame because the first two were brilliant.