1. READ MORE POETRY
You got too many words, dude. This isn’t an essay. You don’t have to explain everything. Most readers are smart enough to fill in the blanks. You don’t have to jerk them around like a dog on a choke-chain making sure they get the point. (nudge, nudge. wink, wink. hint, hint) It’s about the music of language. It’s about economy of prose. No, more then economy, it’s precision. Traction. Poetry exercises those muscles.
“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” – Mark Twain
2. MAKE THE STORY STRONG ENOUGH
That it’s banging to come out. Being clever, cute, coy isn’t enough. It’s not sermonizing, regurgitating philosophy, sociological exposition. It’s about people: their struggles, failures, triumphs. Inform, exhort, emote, sure. But beyond that. More than entertainment, titillation, distraction – it’s supposed to transport.
“All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you: the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer.”
― Ernest Hemingway
3. EMBRACE THE LEARNING CURVE
Writing stuff that sucks is the only path to writing stuff that doesn’t suck so much. Deal with it. Settle in for the long haul. Like the lottery, you stand a better chance of getting hit by lightning than your first novel becoming an international bestseller translated into 17 different languages turned into a H-wood blockbuster. And while we’re here, there already was a Bill Shakespeare, Steven Pressfield and William Gibson. (Mervyn Peake, Patrick Rothfuss, Joe Abercrombie, Dan Abnett, Jeff VanderMeer…) You ain’t him. And the brute fact is you probably don’t have the innate talent to be a literary peer. But that’s no excuse to not be yourself and write the stories God gives you.
“Anything worth doing…”
Pay for a good cover.
Use Beta readers for substantive feedback.
Pay a Copy Editor
Keep it fun. Write what you want. You want $$? Write porn. But you ain’t, so it needs to be innately satisfying.
7 Replies to “Writing advice to myself”
I may steal a few of these. Although I think I’ll not read any more poetry. I read a lot as it is and my husband gets tired of hearing me say random things like “ooh that Shakespeheran Rag!!” when he’s washing dishes.
“Bad poetry is worst of all sincere.”
I think you can never have enough good poetry tho
Here’s one for you: make your character proactive. Have him make your plot, have him move himself through it instead of you moving him.
Erm… are you proffering that because you read my stuff?
I read your post and wanted to contribute something that I’ve learned. I’ve never read any of your other writing. Was just trying to be helpful 🙂
No worries. It is a good point.
In his ‘How to write SF & F’, Orsen Scott Card mentions the MICE quotient: book types – Milieu, Ideas, Characters, and Events. While most stories are hybrid, each requires different dynamics/story engine. At this point, my characters react to events, and so are driven more than drive. But I’m learning.
Thanks, I’ve read that book, it’s a great resource. You too 🙂