Wednesday, May 04, 2011

WRITER WEDNESDAY: Never stop learning

I don't remember which artist this piece came from
but it is from DeviantArt.

In the writing world:
Never get complacent. If you're complacent, you don't strive to improve.
Never think you're 'good enough.' If you're good enough, you'll never strive for greatness.
And never, ever think you're the sh*t. Because, believe me, a badass book will come along and shame you.

In the writing world:
Read read read. Evolve. Strive. Learn. Teach. Learn some more. Go back to old works and make them better.

I'm sure you're probably wondering what brought this on. Well, I agreed a while back to help judge writing samples for a contest. The first one I cracked open was rife with rookie writer mistakes like Telling and not Showing, the dreaded Head Hopping, and Trying Too Hard. What did I learn from it? First, I'm must be getting crotchy in my old age because I was tempted to shake my finger at it. o_O Second, with every instance of Telling, of Head Hopping, and obvious stretch of Trying Too Hard I was reminded not to do that to my readers. Lessen I can share with you? Always Show what is happening, Show how it affects your character; keep the POV pure and if you must switch, do it smoothly or give the new POV a scene/chapter break; let things happen naturally and let your character speak, don't speak for them.

The next sample I opened... Well, I'd like to say I learned tolerance, or even perseverance. Nope. I learned I have limits of what I can and cannot stand, and if I want to be a fair judge, I cannot fairly judge something that makes my brain that damn sad. What kind of lesson can I turn this into for others? Well, in the writing world, we often talk about beta readers and critique partners and how important and essential they are in helping us better our craft. If you are working with another writer, be honest, and if their writing just doesn't work for you than you're not going to be able to give helpful feedback. So, be honest.

The third sample started out great, and then things took a lusty turn. After reading so much YA, that almost flip-a-switch horny threw me off and was actually a little offensive with no set-up, no hand-holding, no build-up of emotions, and definitely no "this is an erotic paranormal romance so expect the characters to be hornballs." How can I turn this into a lesson for you? Know your audience, know your genre limits, and for godssake don't try to boil what shouldn't be steaming. And if it is something steamy, give some hints, use tone and internal thoughts to prep your reader for your tortured soul of a character to instantly be contemplating fondling another character's ...

So how does this all relate to the picture up there?
For me, some of the reading has been like sticking sharp pointy things in my skull.
For you? Um...suffer for your art??


  1. Great post! I've actually written about the dangers of complacency before, so I love hearing you say the same. Suffer for your art indeed!

  2. I had to learn that just-walk-away lesson recently. There was no way I could give a fair critique of a novel I just wasn't into. Hopefully I learned something from it as a writer too.


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