Normally my methods are something along the lines of:
Start at the beginning. Or at least, start somewhere: it may turn out to have been the beginning.
Keep going somehow until the end.
Make it look like I knew what I was doing all the time.
Posts tagged writing advice
This is something I have been focusing on for the past couple of months so I decided to make it presentable. I need stuff like this around me so I don’t lose my nerve. I have noticed a lot of people have this in their brains like, automatically but I however do NOT. Maybe you are a little like me and will find it helpful.
You don’t need to describe your character down to the finest detail; let your reader do some imagining of their own (they seem to enjoy that!) But there are a few character points that affect how they interact with their world which you can reveal through action.
- Height: Do they need to duck through doorways, or bend to speak to their friends? Do they struggle to reach the top shelf in the supermarket? The way they cope with these things reveal how they feel about their height. Do they compensate by wearing heels or by slouching?
- Weight: Do they easily slip through small spaces and crowds? Or do they avoid sitting on flimsy-looking furniture? Do they suffer backache from pulling their stomach in all day, or do they wear layers to try and look bulkier?
- Eyesight: How well can they see distances or read small print? Do they proudly wear glasses, do they go more subtle with contact lenses, or are they in complete denial?
- Smell: Do they douse themselves in perfume or do people shy away from their sweaty smell? Do they realise what they smell like, or are they oblivious?
- Walk: Does the way they walk make them stand out, or blend in with the crowd? Do they look ahead or walk looking at their feet? How big is their stride, how big are their feet, and how does this affect the way they move around their world?
These are all things that can be used to reveal character, impact plot and affect the setting.
Think about how happy your character is with their physical attributes. Do they hide them because they’ve suffered years of bullying, or are they proud of who they are and have little care for what others think?
Some of Pixar’s Rules of Storytelling, only in LEGO.
I’m a visual person; I like when things are acted out for me.
Excellent stuff. Cute presentation too.
I’m asked on occasion what advice I might offer aspiring writers. Here are ten random suggestions — the last a reference to the fact I was told by a creative writing professor when I was in college that I should become a banker.
1) Don’t merely write what you know. Write what you don’t know. It might be more difficult at first, but – unless you’ve just scaled Mount Everest or found a cure for all cancers – it will also be more interesting.
2) Do some research. Read the letters John Winthrop wrote to his wife, or the letters a Civil War private sent home to his family from Antietam, or the stories the metalworkers told of their experiences on the girders high in the air when they were building the Empire State Building. Good fiction is rich with minutiae – what people wore, how they cooked, how they filled the mattresses on which they slept – and often the details you discover will help you dramatically with your narrative.
3) Interview someone who knows something about your topic. Fiction may be a solitary business when you’re actually writing, but prior to sitting down with your computer (or pencil or pen), it often demands getting out into the real world and learning how (for instance) an ob-gyn spends her day, or what a lawyer does when he isn’t in the courtroom, or exactly what it feels like to a farmer to milk a cow when he’s been doing it for 35 years. Ask questions…and listen.
4) Interview someone else. Anyone else. Ask questions that are absolutely none of your business about their childhood, their marriage, their sex life. They don’t have to be interesting (though it helps). They don’t even have to be honest.
5) Read some fiction you wouldn’t normally read: A translation of a Czech novel, a mystery, a book you heard someone in authority dismiss as “genre fiction.”
6) Write for a day without quote marks. It will encourage you to see the conversation differently, and help you to hear in your head more precisely what people are saying and thereby create dialogue that sounds more realistic. You may even decide you don’t need quote marks in the finished story.
7) Skim the thesaurus, flip through the dictionary. Find new words and words you use rarely – lurch, churn, disconsolate, effulgent, intimations, sepulchral, percolate, pallid, reproach – and use them in sentences.
8) Lie. Put down on paper the most interesting lies you can imagine…and then make them plausible.
9) Write one terrific sentence. Don’t worry about anything else – not where the story is going, not where it should end. Don’t pressure yourself to write 500 or 1,000 words this morning. Just write 10 or 15 ones that are very, very sound.
10) Pretend you’re a banker, but you write in the night to prove to some writing professor that she was wrong, wrong, wrong. Allow yourself a small dram of righteous anger.
People are filling their mattresses? I’ve been missing out. There’s just standard mattress stuffing in mine. I should put, like, a hidden stash of gold inside or something. I have to get some gold first, though.