Currently reading: Eternal Rider by Larissa Ione. (Yes, yes, yes, it’s a paranormal romance.) I also just finished Unearthly, by Cynthia Hand, one of the recommended books from the contest.
A couple people have hinted that I haven’t written a writing post in a while. I’m no expert, and I only know what works for me. All the same, I’m happy to share what I’ve figured out. Let my sweat be your … well, that was just about to sound gross. So just keep reading.
1) A little goes a long way.
This one always shocks me. When I was doing revisions on Elemental, I needed to clarify a relationship between two of the brothers just a little bit better. It wasn’t clear what each brother wanted, or why the younger was so angry at the older.
I stressed about this for weeks. I’d have to rewrite all their scenes together. I’d have to re-imagine all their interactions. It would take hours upon hours of writing to clarify this relationship.
No. It took two lines of dialogue, as part of an argument in the first chapter. Voila. You knew where each character stood, you know what each one wanted.
Start small. Sometimes the smallest tweaks have the greatest impact.
2) When in doubt, delete.
I swear, this is one that always jumps up and smacks me between the eyes. Sometimes a sentence will bother me the entire time I’m writing a story. Sometimes it will be an entire paragraph. I’ll tweak. I’ll reword. I’ll play with it. Eventually, it will go from this beautifully formed cluster of words into a slightly mushy pile of limp, gray letters.
At that point, I’m so done with it, I just delete it altogether. Voila. The manuscript is better. No wonder that sentence/paragraph was bothering me so much! I didn’t need it at all!
3) Go admire someone else’s talent.
And preferably not another writer’s. When I’m feeling blocked, if I pick up a really good book, it frustrates me. If I watch a well written television show, it motivates me. Sometimes watching Friday Night Lights or Vampire Diaries will have me reaching for my laptop because I need to write as soon as the episode is better.
I think this works for me because my stories tend to play out like a televised drama in my head. I “see” the scenes. When I see a particularly good episode of a favorite show, I want to pull off whatever worked in my own writing. Your results may vary.
By the way, you can bash Vampire Diaries as teen crap all you want. But the writers of that show know how to turn a story on its head, so you absolutely cannot stop watching. I gasp at something in almost every episode, and you can’t say that about too much television.
Friday Night Lights is just simply amazing. If you’re not watching it, you must tell me why. (First season is on the Netflix instant queue. Check it out.)
But if television isn’t for you, check out something else. Go for a hike. Walk through a museum. Go watch a hot drummer. Observe someone else’s talent, and be inspired to find your own.
All right, that’s all I’ve got for tonight.
Anyone else have any writing tips? What do you guys do?