Thursday, January 31, 2013

lessons learned about writing

After almost eighteen months of this writing thing, I wanted to talk about the things I have learned.
1.       Commas, they’re important. They go before the quotation mark. The next word is not capitalized unless it is a proper noun.
2.       If you make the character too snarky, it reduces the tension. Things can’t be that bad if they’re making jokes all the time.
3.       Not enough internal dialog makes things sound like a list. He did this, and then he did that, followed by him doing the other thing. The story comes across as flat.
4.       I focus too much on getting information to the reader and not enough on creating the emotions in the reader. This is a holdover from twenty three years as a radioman. Being trained to be precise and emotionless in my communications.
5.       The main characters names should not start with the same letter. It confuses the reader. Every time they have to think it makes it harder to get down the rabbit hole.
6.       If the scene is not critical to the story then remove it. Will the reader’s knowledge or emotion be impacted by the scene, if not remove it.
7.       If you show a gun in the first act, someone needs to shoot it in the third act.
8.       Don’t head hop. Pick a POV and stick with it for the entire scene. It will tighten things up. No more than five POV’s per novel. The more POV’s the farther away the reader gets from the characters.
9.       The POV impacts the story, Star Wars told from Han Solo’s POV is a totally different movie.
10.   Rewriting/Editing is hard. Wait awhile before going back and rewriting you story.
11.   Don’t use clichés. Simile’s and Metaphors should be original. Readers will skim over trite saying. Too much skimming and they stop reading.
12.   It is critical to get readers down the rabbit hole. That place where they are in the story, in characters head. Being amazed, amused, frightened about what is going to happen. Once you are there you can stretch reality, push the unbelievable stuff. But if you are not there, the reader will stop reading and usually end up throwing the book against the wall.
13.   Not all readers are the same. What one finds as great, another will think of as boring. And vice versa. Write your story, do the best you can and let the chips fall where they may.
14.    Conflict drives every story. It is the difference between a novel and an instruction manual.
15.   If the characters don’t grow and change, then nothing important happened in their lives.

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