A question we have all asked ourselves at one time or another. Some may ask it still. I know I’ve asked it of myself more times than I can count. I have asked it in all parts of my life, but the biggest has always been… Am I good enough to be a writer?
It’s easy to say “yes I am”, but it’s harder to actually believe it. Like deep down believe it. In your gut believe it. That’s a whole lot harder to do, because saying it isn’t the same thing as believing it. Trust me, I know. You probably know it too.
But wait! It counts if someone else says it, right?
You are good enough!
You are great!
You are amazing!
You are rocking it, so keep on going!
Once upon a time, I lived for these type of statements from my friends or other people I knew. I needed to hear these things and hear them often to feel I was worth anything. Yes, I had some serious self-esteem issues. The worst of all was whether or not I was a decent writer. That particular idea plagued me in terrible ways not so long ago.
As a writer, I am always learning. I think that’s what I love most about writing — the learning never stops. I am either learning something new about myself and writing as I write, or I stumble across new information as I am looking to learn more about writing. This time it was the latter. Recently on Twitter, I ran across a book recommendation for plotting that I loved so much I had to share it here.
I definitely believe character development is a key element in a story. The more a reader can relate with a character and feel for a character’s journey, the better the book becomes. And this method certainly will help with that!
This book also helped me realize that I’m a Tweener (I always thought myself a straight up Pantser). I do love writing by the seat of my pants. That’s how I get some of my best ideas, but I also know where I’m writing too as well. I have a loose idea of events I need to reach and about where I need those events to happen. Also, I find already knowing my ending is a necessity to writing, even if I don’t know specifics. Just having a good idea of where I need to stop gives me a clear goal to reach for. But after reading Bell’s book I have an even better way to approach my writing. Start in the middle and Pants my way to the beginning and end. I’ll still have those events and goal posts to reach, but I think it will be far easier to get there knowing exactly what the character’s journey should entail.
And you know this book couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I’ve become somewhat stalled on writing the first draft of my second novel. I think this technique will get things churning quite nicely. Thanks Bell. 🙂
It has been a long road since I started writing my novel Blood Feud. The journey began in April of 2012. I remember it well — a month of straight writing where the ideas just flowed like water. They pooled onto the page with little effort as months of thinking about my story and characters finally found a permanent place on the page. My story flourished but my poor family suffered from neglect. So at the end of the month and about 50,000 words later, I took a break. A few weeks later I came back to my marvelous work of art to realize everything I had written was total crap. And that pretty much sums up the next four years. Awesome spurts of writing where words flowed and family suffered just to end up with… yep you guessed it, more crap.
That my friends is the way of the writer as I am sure some of you are quite familiar with.
But something happened in my fifth year of writing. During my sixtieth (and really that’s not much of an exaggeration) rewrite of Blood Feud, the crap fell away and a good story finally started to form. At least to the point where I felt confident enough to send my work to a professional author, editor, and friend (Michael Knost) so he could tell me it was crap too. And to my surprise, he said it was a pretty awesome story.
Ever look back and read work you’ve done in the past to realize it sucks so bad you almost feel physically ill?
Yep, that happened to me in a big way Sunday. The previous week my son started school on Wednesday, so I started working on my new novel with gusto (I’d been waiting all summer to start!), but realized I had some background information and research that needed to be done first. Then I got the bright idea to read the half completed first draft of my second novel (Dark Territories) over the weekend. God, what a horrible, awful, terrible disappointment that turned out to be.
I couldn’t even get all the way through two chapters before I decided I’d had enough, because I was real close to vomiting. Yeah, it was that bad. And I can’t even pinpoint one specific thing that was terrible. There was a well balanced amount of terribleness from stiff and completely out of character dialogue to plot leaps that would make a mountain goat proud. There were tie-ins from one story arc to another that left me wondering exactly how much I had to drink that day. And please don’t even get me started on my long windedness. I could probably make a schooner set sail with all that blustering air moving about in each scene.
I am always looking for advice or insight into writing and what others have to say about the writing journey. In my search, I found an article from iUniverse that gives 20 tips from authors some of them well mown like Neil Gaiman and Elmore Leonard. Some of the tips I’ve already heard, but they are important and are worth repeating (a lot). In fact, I may just print this up and put it on the wall so I can see it on a daily basis.
Check these tips out and see what you think. Tip number six is a real crutch for me. And I learned tip number two the hard way.
What tips do you have and would like to share? Feel free to post in the comment section below.
What makes a good story? What are people looking to read about? How can I get people to care about my story and characters? And what does it take to get published? These questions have been on my mind recently and I ran across a few great articles I wanted to share and they come in the form of slush reader’s blog posts.
Slush readers, the bottom of the stack in the publishing world. They are often unpaid and work behind the scenes. They put a lot of time and effort into their work and get little recognition or monetary compensation for what they do. So why do it? Because of the incredible learning experience you really can’t get anywhere else. Or so I’ve heard, and it’s one reason why I’ve seriously been considering becoming a slush reader myself.
That’s an entirely different post. Right now I want to share a few blogs I recently visited and the incredible information I found. Some of the information overlaps a bit, but read for yourself and see what you can can glean for your own writing toolbox.
Sarah E. Olsen’s blog post Slush Readers’ Advice for Writers offers general and quite specific advice on what slush readers look for and pet peeves to try and stay away from. This reader works for Apex Magazine and some of her advice is related directly to speculative fiction, but a lot is for all writing in general. She also has some advice for those looking to do slush reading themselves.
Confessions of a Slush Reader: Why I Should Care? is a post done by Farrett Steinmetz . It’s a humorous, but realistic look at the publishing world. Why should a slush reader care about your story? Give the slush reader a reason to say… yes. The graphics are hilarious in this post, but the advice solid. Why should writers care about what a slush reader has to say? Read this post and find out.