Where’s your favorite place to write? What space inspires you, helps you be productive and keeps you organized? Without a place to foster their creativity, many writers might not be able to get their work out into the world.
We're all familiar with that simultaneous desire to write and the repulsion from writing that leads us into the nether realm of procrastination. We're doing something else -- ANYTHING else -- and it can range from feeling like we're doing something vitally important to just plain old digging our heels in and resisting.
The ability to manipulate our readers’ emotions is a good thing (as screwed up as that sounds). We can probably all think of books with so-so writing quality that manage to be popular with readers anyway because readers are sucked into the story. How do they manage that trick?
At some point we have all reached some kind of impasse when writing a story. It might be a specific problem the character finds himself facing which you can’t figure out how to resolve, or it could be a more general structural issue and you’re not sure what should happen next.
Both of these types of problems can be sorted out with a little patience and a moment of inspiration. You think and think and think and then the answer comes to you. Usually. Sometimes, however, the answer does not come. Everything you come up with seems not quite right.
When this happens you should remember two things. First, no matter how unsolvable your problem may seem your brain has the capacity to solve it. You know this from experience, from all the times you’ve been in this position before (whether in writing or in real life) and you have that eureka moment and you know exactly what to do.
And secondly, just because your brain can give you the answer doesn’t mean it will. It’s one of those inexplicable evolutionary traits that don’t really makes sense. Sometimes your brain just doesn’t want to help you and needs to be poked with a stick. Well, here are some sticks to give it a little push in the right direction.
I’ve written about general writing truths and truths I wish I knew before I began writing. Now here are five hard writing truths, that may not be the most enjoyable to consider, but are true nevertheless (and thus, worth knowing, I think).
Any writer knows that unsolicited advice about their work is easy to come by, but finding inspiration on those days when the words just won’t come is a lot tougher. Here, 15 of history’s most famous names give you the positive words you need to get back to writing.
Not too long ago, a friend asked me to read his book. He’d written a rough draft and wasn’t sure what to do after that. After reading it, I explained how writing a book involves five different drafts. He was surprised to hear that. Most people are.
You have an interesting and compelling premise for your novel. Your logline is snappy and fetching. Your characters are complex with complex relationships between them. Your plot is lock-step, every thread tied up. Your setting is interesting.
Yet the writing itself isn’t working—it seems drab. A sample of ten to fifty pages will most likely not get past the agent or editor. Great idea, but needs considerable work. Give this thing some flair.
And so now is the time to do some major fine-tuning on the language itself.
I’m sure most writers know how to craft a major character; they understand the importance of their leads and that they should occupy the most page space. Yet every story needs supporting characters. Today, it’s all about the minor players, those characters we see briefly and yet are so well written they’ll stick with us. Sometimes the minor characters can steal the show. It’s not uncommon for TV shows to migrate a single episode character into a recurring one because viewers demand more.
Follow these tips and you’ll create a few background characters worthy of a readers’ attention.
I find my daughter’s middle school English homework a lot more interesting than she does.
She had a page of notes regarding “signposts” she should be looking for as she reads through various books for school this year. I did some poking around online and found that this material comes from Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading by Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst. The notes were interesting to me, as a writer. For one thing, they pointed out areas that could be problematic for us as we write our books.
Out of curiosity, I recently Googled “how to write better.” You should try it. I got a list of great resources that would help any writer. However, as I read each of the articles, something began to gnaw at me. Something was missing in the excellent advice these well-respected writers were giving on how to write better. A core rule had been left out.
I am a traditionally published thriller author. My latest book No Time to Die just hit shelves this week. When I first started writing suspense fiction, though, I had very little idea what I was doing. It took a humble amount of trial and error to get in a groove and overcome basic rookie errors. Now, seven years later, I like to think I’ve figured out some tricks of the trade. I’ve also been extremely lucky to receive the support and mentorship of some of the top names in the biz, like Jack Reacher’s creator Lee Child and the late Michael Palmer. So without further ado, here are some tips for budding thriller writers that I wish I’d known from day one…
We spend a lot of our time at work and home, and occasionally at those restaurants and coffee shops, but that is ordinary life. And while we want to show our characters in their ordinary lives (at least sometimes), readers don’t want “boring.”
So the challenge for novelists is to come up with settings that are interesting. But settings are nothing by themselves; they must be experienced by the characters in your story. And the more you can create emotional connection to setting for those characters, the more alive the places will become.
Readers do not want to read books about eternal cowards, characters who avoid problems, and people who never learn to fight back.
As a reader, I am not looking for superman in every character, but I do want characters to find that extraordinary something they never knew they had, or to admit that they will never have it. I want them to make a stand. If they don’t, I feel as if I am watching a tacky reality television show where nothing changes. But how do novelists get characters to make this stand?
If you’re not the type of writer who likes to plot out an entire book before you start writing, but you’re also not the type of writer who can just wing it and have it turn out well, try breaking your novel into story arcs and plotting those one at a time.
There are basically two ways you can start a story. You can have all guns blazing action or you can establish the ordinary world of the character before things change.
Both approaches have their pros and cons and a lot of it depends on various factors to do with your story and what you consider to be right for you as a writer. But the problem comes when you show your first chapter to someone else and they don’t react in the way you’d hoped, making you lose confidence in what you had thought to be quite a good scene that set things up nicely.
Questions arise such as maybe the other approach would be better for this story, for this genre, for you as a writer. But the truth is these are the wrong questions. So if the start of your story isn’t attracting the kind of response you want, what are the questions you should be asking yourself?
We always hear editors and agents talking about a fast read. No, they are not necessarily talking about a short book or one with no depth. What they are referring to is the pacing of the book. Talking about a fast read means the pace the author sets for the book keeps it really moving fast, in other words, it is a page turner.
As an author, it is crucial that you know when it is the time to pick up the pace of the book, and when it is time to slow down and linger. This is all done through not just the amount of information you provide to the reader, but also in the structure and length of the sentences, paragraphs and chapters.