Re-inventing the Wheel
It sounds like I was re-inventing the wheel. Advice was free for the taking, while I was learning the hard way, through experience. At some point I did scan several articles about writing. But that was after, after I had the first quarter of the book written, after I had a better understanding of what my problems were, after writing had become a habit. If I had begun by trying to keep in mind the list of do’s and don’t’s the articles offered, I would have quit. I would have been lost in a vast sea of rules, uncertain of how to make the words fit the prescribed formula. It would have turned writing into ( shudder) math!
I spent one morning browsing the internet and stumbled across the right advice for the right moment. If I could remember where I was on the net, and whose article I read I would quote and credit him. Unfortunately I have no idea who it was or where I found it. However, he had four pieces of advice that encouraged me greatly.
The first was that it was all right to callously use minor characters. I could use them and lose them. It was alright to trot them out when I needed them and shove them into the closet when I didn’t. I already had been doing that but with an uncertain and guilty conscious. What a relief, now I had permission.
He suggested, that if you want to become a good writer you should begin by reading, lots of books, good books, well written books. My father’s words echoed in my head, “Read yourself full,” Been there, done that, still doing that, will always do that.
Another item I took away from that article was as much a warning as advice. He advised that you should write every day. For himself, he had reached the point where not writing was not an option or a desire. Here again the second half of my father’s phrase comes to mind, “write yourself empty.” I have opened the dam and unleashed the torrent from the flood gates. Writing myself empty is going to be a process with no end that I can see.
He also had advice that hit right to the heart of my biggest concern. I felt my plots were weak. I had no intention of concocting some large and elaborate mystery or drama. I was uneasy with the simple portrayal of ordinary life that was unfolding in my story. Would it be interesting to readers? He pointed out that an interesting story line takes nothing more than tension. To create tension in a story takes nothing more than a difference of opinion, people with polar opposite goals. Well, that was easy! Having grown up with four sisters and four brothers and raising nine children of my own, people pulling in opposite directions, that I knew!
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