There are SO many things that I wish I'd known in the beginning (or even yesterday). We all could use help/encouragement, and some advice is just too good not to share. Like my all-time go-to: If you don't know who's POV to be in in a scene, choose the character who has the MOST to LOSE!
You know me and memes—I'm going to include some writing gold here. Please share your best advice in the comments, so we all may learn from it!
The second in Laura's Chestnut Creek Series, Home at Chestnut Creek, released July 2. It's getting fantastic reviews! Just click on the photo to get more info.
Copyright © 2023 Writers In The Storm - All Rights Reserved
Thank you, Laura. I really needed that today.
Do you have any for us, Kat?
Love this! Thanks, Laura.
My "Golden Writing Wisdom" -- Rules are meant to be broken. When I first started out, I tried to follow every rule about writing that I read. Some contradicted another and some contradicted me.
Now, I write. I write for my readers and I write for me.
True, Tina, and good on you!
Thank you! I really needed these memes today.
And this: If you don't know who's POV to be in in a scene, choose the character who has the MOST to LOSE!
That one stuck with me, D. I've used it many times when I wasn't sure!
Is it my computer? Might be, but I can't get the info about your new book by clicking the photo.
Sorry about that! I updated the post, so you should be able to click the photo and learn more about Laura's new book. (She's at RWA National right now and hasn't been able to get to the post yet.) Thanks for the heads-up.
Thank you for hauling my butt our of the fire, Julie!
I wish someone had told me at the beginning that there are pantsers and plotters. Pantsers do not want to know where they're going when they start writing; plotters must.
Find out what side of the divide you're on - and don't take advice from those on the other side. It won't suit you, and you will spend countless hours wondering why. Hint: it's not you.
Every blog post and every writing book has to capture attention quickly - so there is no room for nuance: "Write THIS way" has to be questioned, however positive it sounds.
Once you learn that, you will start learning more from what you read and study - because it will resonate.
It's a spectrum:
Find your home base; experiment from there.
As you've probably guessed by now, I'm an extreme plotter. Lawrence Block, one of my favorite writers of advice, is an extreme pantser; I let myself founder for years, trying to follow him. He entertained me - but I couldn't follow him. Oddly enough, I don't like his novels, either.
I often wonder how READERS divvy up. My guess is that those who will be MY readers can sense that I'm satisfying our common urge.
Wise words, indeed, Alicia. I was just talking today with someone about this. The only right way, is the way that works for YOU!
Knowing yourself can come from figuring out what kinds of books you love to read - and I like to see that every word is pointed straight at the end, but the author is so skillful I can't see that when I first read.
So that's what I write, too.
Oh, Alicia, I never thought about it that way! Thanks for making me see something a new way!
I absolutely adore this, Alicia. I think the writing process is what takes so long to figure out. At least it did for me - like a decade of work that I couldn't use because I didn't know how to harness my own talents. I also like that you show clearly here that Plotter and Pantser is a spectrum. Very few writers are completely on one side of that fence.
I wasted a bunch of my beginning learning time trying to learn things that I have no use for now - hope I can save someone else a bit of agony.
The basic difference seems to be whether to know where you're going when you begin.
I have pantser friends who completely lose interest in the story if they know where it's going: they want to discover it AS they write. If they know, they don't have to write the story to find out - so they dump it.
To me, with my complicated premises, the only way I can know what to write is to compare it to the story I know I want to tell - and see if a scene develops that story. If not, I have no use for it. I NEED to know where I'm going to be able to find out HOW I get there, what the characters say, think, and do along the way. Not knowing means it could go anywhere, and that's neither how I plot nor how I create characters.
What a terrific post! When I get a tattoo I think it will be the "Writing a novel is like following a faint trail that only you can see." And, boy, does that apply to my WIP! Thanks again, Laura and good luck with Home at Chestnut Creek.
Thank you, James! You and me both - as a pantser, I'm in a jungle!
I love quotes that inspire my writing! Here are a few faves I've kept on hand:
A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction. ~ Virginia Woolf (too bad I currently have neither)
The profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business. ~ John Steinbeck
To write something, you have to risk making a fool of yourself. ~ Anne Rice
A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit. ~ Richard Bach
Those are all golden, julie, and I never heard the Steinbeck one - thanks!
Wow, these are some great quotes! I love a bit of advice I heard from James Patterson many years ago at an RWA conference panel: "Read whatever makes you want to read MORE."
Conversely, we should write whatever makes us want to write MORE. Writing to the market is a really fast way to shorten your writing career, in my humble opinion. When I'm having trouble writing, the surest way to get back on track is to write something that makes me happy.
I agree with you and James, Jenny. One of the reasons I keep writing is, it's the one place in my life that I'm a GOD. I have full say and control over it. Why would I give that away?
Love love love this. Thanks so much. My wisdom is "voice is the special way you tell your stories."
I'd never heard that, either, Robyn. Thanks for the wisdom!
Write your heart and it will show.
Love that, Sally!
Going to copy and share some of these - giving you full credit of course. Good to see you briefly in NYC!
Loved seeing you, Tracy!
Thanks, Laura. There's some great ones there.
The hardest lesson for me to learn was trust the reader. When I go back and look at my earlier work I cringe. I was spoon-feeding information to the readers that they really didn't need, and killing the pacing in the process. Now I give them what they need to know and trust that they can fill in the blanks with their own imagination.
True, Eldred, but I have one more bit of wisdom that doesn't just apply to writing: You only know what you know what you know, and not one second earlier! Cut yourself some slack.
Great stuff here, Laura! To paraphrase Elmore Leonard, if it sounds like writing, rewrite it. And, leave out all the parts readers skip.
Love Leonard too, Barb. But it's knowing exactly which parts they skip that's tough...
I set a pact with myself - to write a minimum 300 words Every. Single. Day. No excuses - some days I write thousands, others just 300 at the end of the day. With this, comes my second tip: I wrote my first draft in scenes. Ideas arrived, grew and flourished. Writing every day, even before closing your eyes, keeps your characters alive and front of mind.
Now I have all that down, and am so happy with my story, I want to know best editing practices. It’s a huge task, right? I don’t like the idea of editing as I go. Don’t see the point in early draft.
Love this post. Love WITS. Hugs to all from Australia.
Scenes!! I'm all about that, Jay. Julie and I both tend to quilt it all together and that's what works for us. It gives Laura hives. This is the beauty of writing!!
And hello to you in lovely Australia. I totally want to go to one of Margie's Immersion classes THERE. 🙂
Love writing but too often life gets in the way? As a novel writer I counter that obstacle by using a "look in the mirror" strategy. On a spread sheet (my mirror) I record the day I wrote something in my novel. I note the number of words written and the total words done. Seeing several days missing is like being reminded of a due date for a credit card payment. I hate the notion of paying interest on a late payment. Seeing the number of words written shows good days and great days, what is possible when I think about what I have to write next before sitting down at the computer. Guess what image I most like to see in my mirror.