Thursday, July 28, 2011

What I've Learned

When I started writing three years ago I had an idea of what I was doing, but I didn't know everything. I still don't know everything.
But I knew the basics. Here's what I did know:
1. I enjoyed it.
2. Writing was easy for me (I mean writing in general, coming up with a plot for a novel was a different story altogether).
3. I had a good grasp on grammar and spelling (English was always my strong point).
4. I knew what a book needed to have in order to be a good book. I'd known since I was ten (would you like to know? The best books I've ever read had four key elements: Drama, Suspense, Romance, and Action. If the author is really good he'll incorporate comedy as well, but that's not a necessary component).
So that's what I knew when I started. The basics. Now, three years later, I've learned a lot more. What have I learned to add to it? Here goes:
1. Romance is a necessary component for me. It isn't for men. They'd rather that be kept to a minimum. Drama, Suspense, and Action will still make a GREAT book.
2. A good book has a certain rhythm to it. It flows easily from one sentence to the next. Writing is as much about words as it is about cadence. A well-written book flows as smoothly as poetry.
3. All you have to do is start. Once you do, the creative juices will start flowing!
4. Writer's block is mean, mean, mean! It'll trip me up for months. I should follow my own advice (see number three).
5. Practice really does make perfect. My writing style when I started was influenced by the writing style of the book I was reading at the time. Now, I'm discovering my style. It took time, but it was worth it!
6. Perfection probably won't come the first time, but persistance leads to perfection.
7. Persistance is key. Just keep going! I don't care what goal you're working toward. Persistance is key!
8. It helps to have a cheering section, even if that cheering section is just you.
9. Everybody has advice. Do this. Do that. Don't do this. Don't break that rule. I'm glad the info is out there, but sometimes, rules are made to be broken.
10. I have a dark side, but it's not that dark. What does that mean? Well, I'll tell you. I can write about characters getting stabbed or hurt. I can write about murder and mayhem. But you won't get dirty details. I don't want to be in the mind of a murderer, so I don't write about what he's thinking. I find books like that very disturbing. That being said, I can go dark. I can. In my current novel I have a crazed murderer who really wants everybody dead. I have an obsessed boyfriend who just wants her, dead or alive, doesn't really matter. Maybe he'll just kill her. I can go there, but I won't go in the mind, and you probably won't get details so violent you end up wishing you'd never read it. I've read books like that. I don't like them. I want to feel good after I've finished a book, not like I need to go take a shower. A really good book doesn't need all those freaky details. Some, yeah. You want to know what's going on. But not excessive. Dan Brown is a good example. He gives enough freaky details that you know what's going on, but not so many that you're disturbed. Patricia Cornwell, on the other hand, is not afraid to go disturbing. And I've read worse than that from authors that I honestly hope never get that particular book published because the writing is so disturbing.
11. Last. If you want to write a good book, you're going to need to get emotionally invested. You have to, otherwise your characters can't come to life. They'll fall flat because they'll be lacking the emotional base. And that is why I don't like disturbing books. Because the author had to go there in his mind in order to get the disturbing detail and that thought always leaves me wondering what is really going on in their world and in their mind. I'm assuming I don't really want to know.

That, my friends, is some of what I've learned over the past three years. I'm sure over the next three I'll learn a lot more.

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