ON WRITING

“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

#Insecure Writers Support Group - 10 Quick Tips to get that book written.

First Wednesday of the month already! Time for the IWSG again! Thanks Alex J Cavanaugh for starting this group. 

Fellow emerging writers, here's some advice I picked up from Elizabeth Sims in the Writer's Digest recently. It encouraged me, so I will pass it on. Of course, I've put my own spin on it...

10 QUICK TIPS TO GET THAT BOOK WRITTEN:

1. PAINT A TWO-STROKE SCENE


- Make one stroke visual - SHOW something.

- Make the second stroke evoke one of the other four SENSES: a sound, smell, taste, feel...

You want examples?

The rooftop was studded with chimneys. A cold wind whipped in from the harbour.

She got pregnant that same muggy night. The cracked vinyl of the Buick's back seat left claw marks on her shoulders, and she remembered the dark smell of the plowed field next to the open road.

Your turn....

2. NAIL A CHARACTER IN TWO MOVES

- Give each character a distinctive physical trait. Some memorable traits include:

* Huge hands
* A graceful gait
* A painful stoop
* Fiery red hair
* Thick bi-focals

Your turn...have fun...

- Give each character a distinctive psychological trait.

* Extremely competitive
* Annoyingly calm in all situations
* Willing to be a martyr
* Insecure about not having a university degree
* Secretive about his/her wealth

Your turn...let your imagination run riot...

Alternate showing the two traits you choose the first few times we meet the characters. Doing so will create a mental anchor for your readers.

3. FICTIONALIZE A REAL PERSON BEYOND RECOGNITION IN TWO STEPS

I first heard this advice at a Writing Course. It makes characterisation easier and more real, I was told.

- Change the person's sex.

- Make the fictional character much more physically attractive than the real person is. Then let loose and make the character as despicable as you wish.

4. PLUG A PLOT GAP WITH ONE OR TWO TRICKS

- Ignore the gap completely and hope no one notices. Even successful authors do this all the time. In Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep, he admitted even he didn't know who killed the chauffeur. 

- Acknowledge the hole then instantly keep going. Successful fiction is studded with sentences like...

* I don't know why I'm telling you this, but...

* She didn't know how she did it, but she managed to scale that vertical steel wall and run to the car.

Have some fun with this. Will save you time and energy plugging up gaps...

5. SHIFT A MOOD WITH TWO QUICK STROKES

Mood is really about emotion, both in characters and readers. 

Check out Muriel Spark's sentence from The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie:

The evening paper rattle-snaked its way through the letter box and there was suddenly a six-o'clock feeling in the house.

- So how do you shift the mood in two steps?

Using quick writing tips mean more time for this...
Photo taken using Instagram
* First, present ONE detail. Spark used the evening paper coming in. You could use a little event like that, too, or you could use something that is physically felt by a character.

* Then, simply announce the mood change, as Spark did. The word suddenly is your friend here. 

More examples...

^ I heard the first bird sing from the morning darkness, and suddenly I felt that everything would be all right.

^ As soon as he reached the embankment, the hairs on his arms stood up. Even before looking down, he realized, Yes, death is here.

To be continued...

And I must share that today is the first day of the Brisbane Writer's Festival. Always good to celebrate books, authors and readers. The school groups were out in force...



  • We like our posts relatively short for IWSG, so I will continue the final 5 tips next IWSG post. Have creative fun with these tips. I hope they help you in your WIP.
Go here to read more IWSG entries...





29 comments:

  1. These are excellent tips Denise. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. Denise, you had me chuckling with your clever two stroke tips.

    Jai

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  3. I like #3. Great tips. I like using the senses.

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  4. lol I love: Ignore the gap completely and hope no one notices.
    I usually make a note and move on ;)

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  5. Great selection of tips. Looking forward to the next five (have to wait a month though!)

    mood
    Moody Writing

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  6. Awesome tips Denise, think we should use these in our writers group!

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  7. My dear Denise,
    I always marvel at your ability in this field. I personally can learn so much from this post. I am happy I can call on you if I should need help (smile). No, I will not be shy! Thank you my dear friend for sharing and teaching us.

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    1. You're welcome to ask for advice any time Andy. It'd be my pleasure to help.

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  8. I am bookmarking this post. Super helpful.

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  9. Wow, those are great! Yeah, I'm bookmarking as well.

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  10. Great advice! I've missed you, Denise. I've been so busy, I haven't been around much. I see I'm missing a lot!

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    1. I've missed you too Nancy. Thanks for visiting.

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  11. Love this, Denise. Number three is a hoot--I'm going to try that. Reminds me of advice I heard about how not to get sued for putting someone you know, like your ex, in a novel as a smarmy character: say he's got a teeny tiny ______. I'm looking forward to the next installment of this post.

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    1. I like your style Linda. I think No 3 is excellent advice, lol!

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    1. Now you can dust off that ms Nas and get to work!

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  13. Oooo, I like this advice. It's like the KISS method. Keep it simple stupid!

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  14. Hmm, I have this saved in my e-mails (I also subscribe to WD). I don't read the magazine as diligently as I should though.

    .....dhole

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  15. Ah This is lessons to be learnt for me, loved the 5 tips awesome, reading those tips itself makes a story in it wow thats awesome, Now I remember all the fiction I read its exactly the way you have described it!!! Denise superb!!

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  16. Great advice,wish I were a sponge and could just squeeze it out when it was needed. I still go over and over the edit eval's to re-learn my mistakes. Talk about not learning the first time around. Then I tell myself it's because my mind is filled with the story...I'm no dunce...just a little absent minded. :)
    Great post!

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  17. Hi, Denise,

    These are AWESOME! Thanks for the tips. I knew some of these but not all.

    Great examples too, Denise.


    Have a great time at the festival.

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  18. THese are so good I'm saving it! Thanks.

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  19. Here again from Andy's blog hop...great post and useful...like that you have illustrated with actual examples

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  20. Wow, Denise! These tips are awesome. Thanks for sharing!

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  21. Denise, I just saw this. Glad my article sparked some interest and comments! Best to you and all your correspondents.

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I love hearing from you! Hit me with your wisdom!