I let a friend read a chapter from my current work-in-progress. He told me it had my fingerprints all over it, that he could actually hear me through the text. For someone who has struggled for years to differentiate her own voice from those of her favorite authors, this sentiment was exactly the kind of thing I needed to hear.
Moral of the story: Find someone you trust and let them read your work. It will make all the difference.
Trying to maintain a story’s mood is like tightrope walking on a spider web – one misstep and the gossamer snaps and you can hear the reader shut the book.
Dreams are proof that anyone can make up a compelling story.
Sometimes, telling myself that whatever hardship I am enduring will ultimately make a great story is the only way I get by. My writer’s mind saves my life over and over again.
‘Write what you know’
This is probably the worst writing advice I have ever heard. I write about what I do not understand. If I am confused by something, or would like to know more about something, I will instantly concoct a story line that will enable me to explore it more deeply. It’s just the way I think.
My latest project is working out well. I am coming up on 10,000 words and going strong. I attribute this to two of my main principles:
1) I am writing this story for someone. It is a labor of love.
2) I have not told anyone about it, not even the title. This is imperative. For some reason, as soon as I discuss a project, the joy of writing it goes away. In the past I’ve always caved and told someone about my work, but this time I am holding fast to my rule and it is working!
Story ideas from long ago come back like memories – colors, moods, landmarks, images that have not surfaced for years. I remember that river, that tower, that car trip and that old hotel. It feels like I’ve lived these ‘memories’; I miss those places, those people. Writers really do live multiple lives, even if they don’t realize it until later.
My friends complain that I don’t talk enough. It’s true, I am terrible at small talk. I am 90% certain that this comes from editing out characters’ unnecessary dialogue. When you spend your life cutting every comment that doesn’t move the story forward, it becomes difficult to sit and chat about the weather and your health . . .
Find a writing partner. I cannot emphasize this strongly enough. Find a friend who loves the craft as much as you, and sit down with them at a diner over coffee and map out a story. It could be a novel, a poem, a play – it doesn’t matter. If you find the right person, co-writing is the perfect combination of adrenal challenge and homey comfort.
I was sketching a fantastical vehicle for one of my characters – it looked something like a winged motorcycle. A friend was sitting beside me, and kept looking over. Afterwards, he came up to me and asked: ‘What were you drawing?’
‘One of my characters rides it in the story I’m working on,’ I said.
He may or may not have looked at me like I was crazy . . .