Monday, August 17, 2009

Writing Tips

Very often, I am asked to give an overview of how I begin a new story. My answers have changed over the five years I’ve been writing, but I’d like to think I’ve matured as a writer—Okay, well, maybe the word is refined. ☺

Start With a Idea.
I absolutely love playing the “What if game.” Sometimes I get my ideas from magazines or newspaper articles and find myself wondering what the story would be like if it had had another outcome?

Does the story tell itself?
Not always . . . but then again, sometimes I amaze myself by just letting the words flow. It’s boggles my mind when that happens. But the key here is to tell the story that wants to be told. You’ve heard of the muse working overtime? I think this comes under that category. But try not to give yourself too many constraints.

Characters and Dialogue
Fortunately, I’ve never had much trouble with dialogue. I think the hardest part for me was honing in on observing gestures between two people, their expressions, and facial interaction and then writing them well enough into a scene to make it real.

Writing what you know

This is the mantra most writers will tell you. I personally think this applies mostly to new writers, but there’s nothing wrong with learning about something new to write about. The Internet is the Highway to Knowledge.

Here’s another hard part, especially when you have a busy household like I do. I say, lock yourself in your office and don’t stop writing. If you enforce the interruption guidelines, sooner or later it falls into place. It’s like anything else—it’s called training. ☺
But if this doesn’t work—go to the library, a coffee house, or some other establishment that offers free WiFi.

Keep On, Keeping On
Get the words on paper. Do not go back and reread your work because you’ll find yourself caught in the web of changing, and it wastes a lot of time. There’s plenty of time after you’re finished to edit. If you force yourself to keep going, you’ll finish that manuscript in no time.

Revise, Revise, Revise
Okay, so now you’ve completed the manuscript and it’s time to make changes, perhaps eliminate something you thought sounded absolutely wonderful when you wrote it, but after rereading it, you’re not so sure. This is a difficult thing to do. But not all is lost. Whenever I make cuts, I put them into file and save them for another story. It’s like finding money in a jacket you haven’t worn in a while and oh, so welcomed.

But no matter what method you use to revise, making the changes can only enhance the story.
Now, pat yourself on the back for doing such a great job and get that manuscript out to a publisher. Great things await you!


Zelda Benjamin said...

I like your idea of filing things you cut when revising.
Sometimes we gather too much info. We need it to create our story but the reader may not care.

Beate Boeker said...

. . . thank you for sharing this, Carolyn! I enjoyed it.

Carolyn Hughey said...

I do this a lot lately. It also helps when I use it for another story. There's that finding the money hidden in your jacket. :-) Thanks for commenting.

Carolyn Hughey said...

Thank you for reading it, Beate. :-)

Loretta C. Rogers said...

Great article, Carolyn. You've pared down the writing process in a very doable way.