Rules? We Don’t Need No Stinking Rules!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

  1. Don’t bore the reader.
  2. Don’t break the contract with the reader.
  3. Keep writing.

These are the Three Rules of Writing as I currently understand them.  They are subject to change if I get new information.

(BTW, the second rule refers to all the un-written expectations a reader has when choosing your book.  Off the top of my head are; both staying inside but also challenging the advertised genre, sticking to a single grammar/punctuation/formatting style, and plot/characters stay true to themselves.  There are probably more…)

In other news, I’m shoving some amazing information into my brain at a rate that is a bit difficult to process.  What does this mean for you, my giddy audience?  I will be adding to my Low-Budget Writing Program series as soon as I can sort the information out properly.  There will be future posts about fear of writing, profanity, sustained motivation, and (my personal kryptonite) grammar/punctuation.  (I’ll wait to link to the old posts, because I suspect they could use some serious editing and fall cleaning.)

Back to my WIP revisions.  Happy writing, y’all!

Advertisements

Just Write, Writers Writing Words!

1vofpd

Just write, writers writing words!  That was my list of five “most used words” according to a Facebook game.  (It was probably compiling all my information to give to Equifax.)  Yeah, I’ve added punctuation to it, and reversing the order, but that was it.  <sigh>

Look, I DO have strong opinions about life, and I find the political landscape vs. human rights truly heartbreaking.  I also love/hate different aspects of our culture, but I was raised to only say helpful things, and have learned to carefully pick my battles.  I could loudly express hate for everything I find wrong, but I don’t wish to be defined by those things, nor let my entire outlook be one of hate and despair.  That leads down a dark path of exhaustion and hopelessness.

I see it in some of my friends, that rage, and I am afraid for them.  And I know–from personal experience–that nobody listens to random hateful shouting, both on-line and off.  There are people-a type of vampire, if you will–that will use the energy you put out to fuel themselves.  Online trolls are using you, whether its meant to be harmful or just catfishing.

I use social media to expand my point of view, and no well-reasoned argument will ever sway a person who has reached the point of ranting in public.  Self-care is more important that pointless anonymous arguments.

So, I save my energy for when it matters.  One-on-one encounters, everyday teaching moments, and I put my money and my vote where my hopes are.

And I save my energy for writing.  I don’t know if my writing will reach anyone the way some books have reached me, but I find I must make the attempt.  It looks and feels like I’m writing pulpy entertainment, but I know how much of my own thoughts are put into my character’s mouths.

Every time I finish a manuscript, I feel horribly exposed.  Like anyone reading it would know my every thought.  I have NO SECRETS when I write.

It’s terrifying.

But, as I am learning, there is a connection between writing and fear, and THAT is a topic for another day.

On a lighter note, here are five things about me that are not connected to writing:

  1. I desperately want to pilot a giant robot warrior.  In space.
  2. I am collecting the materials for a set of gilt and silk embroidered linen underwear.  (It’s a recreation of a museum piece.  Think boxers with elaborate gold-work and bright floral decoration.)
  3. I’m terrified of driving in traffic or unfamiliar roads. (But I do it!)
  4. I have a black thumb, but I can’t stop buying plants.
  5. Inanimate objects frequently bend logic and physics to trip or hit me.  Sometimes, I hit back.  Or yell.

Meanwhile, “Just write, writers who are writing words,” may become my new motto.

Happy writing!

Do The Work!

1uwaja

I follow a couple of writer’s groups on Facebook, and I find some of the questions a little strange.  (Yes, we are back on those wacky writers and their funny ways.)

“Should I write in 1st or 3rd?  Past or present?  Close POV or can I have a narrator?  What genre should I write in?  What plot should I use?  How many pages in a chapter?  How many chapters in a book?  Do I have to include diversity?  Can I still write about vampires?  Can I have a prologue?  What should I name the character?  Am I required to have a map?”

It just seems strange to even be asking these kinds of questions of other writers, as if there is a strict structure for storytelling.  All of these questions get answered by YOUR STORY, as it gets told by YOU!

Stop asking questions and WRITE!  If you are new and haven’t finished a story, JUST WRITE!  Finish!  And when you do, shelve that story and write another.  When you finish the second, pull the first off the shelf and compare them.  Did you get better?  Is the first story salvageable or should it be hidden in a drawer?  Does it need a different POV or style?  Is it YOUR style?  Is it worth the effort to revise it until it’s publishable?  Are you happy with it?  Can you do better?

No matter what you decide, start the next story, and write more, and repeat…

Asking other writers their opinions isn’t doing the work.  It’s just collecting opinions, and writers have opinions like they have obsessions; in numbers that frighten mental health care professionals.

Do the work.  Discover yourself.  Your style.  Your faults.  Your strengths.  Your voice.  Words are tools; learn to use them.  Do the work.

Even people whose jobs require the use of words; journalists, scientific or technical paper writers, editors, etc… complain about how hard fiction writing is.

It’s not easy, Cupcake.  It is a painful, tedious slog, but you do it IF you are a writer, because you are a self-absorbed, narcissistic, masochistic, sociopath with delusions of fame.  Nobody will write it for you (unless you pay them).  Get to work, dammit!

Artists Are Nature’s Pinhole Cameras

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Artists are the pinhole cameras of society.  We create shadow plays of the events happening in our culture.  Sometimes the shadows are what you expect; sometimes every thing changes and moves, or even disappears.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that ART (including fiction) is the safe place to watch the big, cosmic things happen.  You don’t need special equipment, or mechanical tricks of light and shadow.  This service we provide is a part of out nature if our voices are free.  We show you intangible things like eclipses and justice.  The feel of sunlight and hope.  Of darkness and despair.  We show you as much as we can, to the best of our ability, but also within our limits.  It’s up to you, and me, what we do with it.  We create the world we live in.

I keep forgetting to mention it, but I really do like hearing your points of view (and stories) on my various topics of writerly life.  Sometimes I’m slow on a response, or completely miss a comment, but I AM trying to make myself available as a sounding board.  It makes the whole thing seem less like self-imposed solitude.  NOBODY understands the creative weirdness of the artist/writer life like another artist/writer.  So feel free to comment, here or on Facebook.  (Twitter seems harder to follow threads, but also do-able.)

Thank You, Random Newbie Writer!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo, exactly HOW new do you have to be at writing to have JUST discovered Grammerly, yet still feel the NEED to tell a writer’s group you belong to that using it is lazy?  That writers should just pick up a book or a dictionary?  (Shall we tell them about Pro-writing Aid, Scrivener and the other dozen-odd programs that give writers a hand?)

Thank you, random newbie writer; I really needed a laugh today!

Mostly, because I’m still processing events from this weekend, and I wish I could say I was surprised, but it feels like I’ve been watching this happen in slow motion for a very long time.  So many warnings were ignored by those who needed to listen.  (Will they listen now?)  I also really, really wish I believed this would be the last incident.  My fears tell me the worst is yet to come.

As for my editing/revision adventure, I have tightened up the first chapter in the WIP, and already foresee things in later chapters that will get the CHOP.  I doubt there will be only one pass through the whole thing.  I haven’t really started incorporating the notes, yet, plus there will be a round of text-to-talk, and a round of Grammerly or one of the other aids.  Once that is finished, I will either start seeking an agent or small press, or take the chance on self publishing.  The plot thickens (hopefully).

Happy writing, y’all!

“Ping!”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhile I was patting myself on the back last week for having a Good Excuse ™ for not writing, and the resulting blog post hid the fact that I was a bit panicky about not writing, I was unaware my brain had sifted into a different mode.

Yes, I was right in the middle of a fight scene.  Yes, it was THAT fight scene: the one with the inappropriately erotic words snuck into it.  I was also working on the second draft of another short story, where I tackle the nearly illegible pen and paper scribbles and try to type them into a coherent story.  Both are highly creative forms of writing, at least for me.

And they fell flat.  Just gone, and hardly missed in the crazy prep for an anime con.  When they didn’t come back on my first normal day for writing, I panicked a bit.  Truthfully, a LOT.

I could feel them fizzing, or burbling, like a  warm pot on the back burner of a stove, waiting for the right time to have a last-minute ingredient added.  I’ve felt this sensation before, so I was soothed, because it comes back, the creative side of writing, when it is ready, and not a damn minute before.  But that still left me stuck in front of blank pages…

Until I realized I had done something unusual to the novel that I laughingly refer to as my Work-In-Progress, despite the fact that I haven’t been able to stand the sight of it in nearly a year.  I had been re-reading it in the evenings, to unwind, instead of my to-read pile.

And it’s rough, and I have made my usual mistakes, and I’ve made eighteen pages of notes for changes over the past year, but I still love the story, and I’m ready to work on it.

You know, being a writer would be a lot easier if we got some kind of notice when our brains sifted to another mode.  I didn’t realize I was IN editing/revision.  There should be some kind of “ping,” or spider-sense, or notice hammered to our front door.  Instead we are suddenly swimming against the current, and struggling.

I’m better prepared for the task, this time, due to research and time spent working on smaller projects.  It seems a less insurmountable mountain, shrouded in thick clouds.  I can at least SEE what I need to achieve.  My intention is to have a ready manuscript for either agent shopping or self publishing by the end of the year, if not sooner.  Time will tell if I am up to the task.

Happy writing, editing, revision, or whatever!

 

Head-in-the-Clouds Musings

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I had a startling thought the other day.  One of the Facebook writing groups had a post asking for confessions of clichéd tropes we secretly liked.  It didn’t take long for me to figure out mine.  For all the modern whining about “the Chosen One” and “Mary Sue” and other criticisms of the Hero’s Journey, I actually love the moment when a character realizes and accepts that they have a destiny, or finds that they have a real gift to save others.  That sense of hope of finding your place in the world.

I guess it’s something I wish I had.  Reading and writing are the closest I ever come to that feeling.  I have to remind myself that you can get away with anything if the readers like it.

In other news, a Facebook meme prompted me to make a declaration I may live to regret.

The joke was that a writer had used up all the good words while writing a sex scene and couldn’t write another, the implication being you shouldn’t use the same words over again, to avoid annoying the reader.  A friend commented that the good words must have been “thrust,” “thighs,” and “BBQ sauce.”  (Hahahahaha!)  My declaration was that I would use those same good words in my next fight scene, along with “moist,” “throbbing,” and “lave.”  (I adore “moist” as much as I loathe “lave.”  “Throbbing” is likely to spark giggles, even at forty-nine.)  More friends have added “ream” and “lather” to the list.  Challenge Accepted!

Accepted–mostly–because I said I would write them into a fight scene, not that they would survive the revision/editing process, or get published, but I am hopeful.  Honestly, I try to write fight scenes and erotic scenes in much the same way; as visceral as possible.  I have ranted on a similar topic before, in my old post “Do’s and Don’ts of Writing Spell Casting Scenes.”  (It’s rough and snarky, but I was new to blogging.)

The fight scene is shaping up nicely; it’s a new character, so her personality is still malleable.  I’m enjoying letting her tell me about this one time she had to fight bad guys while in this oddly erotic mental state.  I’ll keep you posted.

Also, I’m up to a hundred followers.  Yay!

Unless someone backs out…  Hey!  Where ya going?

Happy writing!