“Food now!” says Esmerelda.
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Here are five quotes from Stephen King’s book, On Writing. Followed by my thoughts on them.
1. “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”
And, it is. Cluttering up one’s writing with adverbs is an easy way to up word count, but a lousy way to put the imagination in the reader’s mind. Instead of saying someone “ran easily” – consider that they “loped.” That is a much clearer visual for the reader, and adds depth to the scene.
2. “The scariest moment is always just before you start.”
Yes, indeed! Once you begin telling the story, you are “in it.” And once you are “in it” you’re more likely to want to get through it!
3. “Bad writing is more than a matter of shit syntax and faulty observation; bad writing usually arises from a stubborn refusal to tell stories about what people actually do — to face the fact, let us say, that murderers sometimes help old ladies cross the street.”
A good writer knows their characters inside and out. And no character should be one dimensional. Good writers know exactly what their characters will do — so much so that when they’re in tune with those characters, the characters will practically write the scenes for you. Once I stubbornly tried to make a character do what “I” wanted them to do and the story stopped working. When I stopped to think about what that character would actually do, it made the story go in a completely different, but absolutely right direction!
4. “If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered.”
It goes without saying, that truth-telling in books can make a lot of people uncomfortable. But, an honest story is worth their discomfort. The truth will out! Besides, polite society can be less than exciting.
5. “The more you read, the less apt you are to make a fool of yourself with your pen or word processor.”
Yes. Yes. Yes. A writer is a reader. That’s the beginning and end of that story. Good books, bad books, fiction, non-fiction — Read. Read. Read. I believe I have learned just as much, if not more, about writing from reading a poorly written book than I have from just about any other kind.
I hope you are having a great Friday! And that your writing (and/or reading) is taking you places you’ve been longing to go!
My kitty, Baxter, is an outdoor kitty (his choice, definitely not mine!)
Every morning he’s waiting on one of the porch chairs for his breakfast. This morning was no different.
However, when I opened the door, coming up the steps was a juvenile one of these!
I want one of these!
Or one of these!
1. A cool breeze on a hot, humid day is heavenly!
2. Macaroni & cheese will always be my comfort food.
3. If you’re going to be a gardener, you can’t be afraid of bugs!
4. Strength-training is tough – but if you want to be tough, you’ve gotta do it!
5. Nothing really happens by chance – serendipity only looks serendipitous!
#5 doesn’t mean I don’t think there are lovely surprises in store! Contrariwise – I do believe in magical events. I happen to think we’ve already set up wishes & desires that the Universe knows about and delivers in Its own time!
How’s your Friday? Got fun plans for the weekend? I hope so!
The first museum I ever went to was the Museum of Science & Industry in Chicago. And… to tell the truth – I often skipped school to go to the Museum. It was the coolest place ever!
Also while living in Chicago, I spent an inordinate amount of time at the Art Institute. It is still one of my favorite museums to visit. And, if you haven’t read TRUTH – some of the action happens right in this building!I have to admit, when I used to take my kids to the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis, I wished I was a kid, too. It looked like so much fun to explore! Fortunately, I am small enough that I was allowed to ride the carousel! (And I would’ve put a picture of the carousel in, but this pic is just too darned cool! I might have to take a drive up to Indy to see it in person!) However, there is one museum I haven’t visited yet – although one of my (now-grown) daughters goes there as often as she can – and that’s the City Museum in St. Louis. She tells me it’s like the Children’s Museum but for adults! (I definitely see a road trip in my future!) And what about this place?! The Spy Museum! Be still my heart!
A museum all about spies and their gadgets!
So – have you got a favorite museum? Or one you just can’t wait to visit? I’d love to hear about it!
Sometimes the fastest way to find out about a character is to step away from your writing and take a daydream break.
For me, stories come faster & make more sense if I have a good visual of my characters. There are all kinds of character analysis worksheets (as close as Google!) and those worksheets — or a few detailed paragraphs per character — are great for finding out more about who you characters are. But, the easiest and most fun way for me to get to know my characters is to “see” them.
When I wrote XVI I actually had a visual of Nina (my main character) before I even knew what her story was. She popped into my head when I was daydreaming, complete with a scene that I eventually modified and put into the book.
An easy way to see a character if you are already working on a story is to visualize a scene that they are in. See it in your head like you’re watching a movie. As you allow your mind to envision the scene, that person will take on additional dimension and depth. Perhaps you were seeing them wrong & the scene makes it clear that they are shorter than you thought, and they have brown hair and are in that string-bean gawky stage of adolescence. Or, you see the wrinkle in their eyes when they smile, the concern about their little sister as they grasp her hand, their confidence in taking the SATs, etc.
Some of the humor surrounding living with a writer mentions not disturbing them when they are gazing out the window, apparently doing nothing. But, it’s true. Those daydreaming, visualizing times are necessary in getting characters and stories to come out exactly as they should. Be sure, however, to keep pen and paper (or computer) close at hand to write down what you “see!”
Do you visualize your stories? Can you see them as movies, or scenes from movies? I’d love to know!
Frankenstein loves to lay on my journal when I’m writing – which then becomes me trying to write because he wants to be in the middle of the action. Today I opened up an old journal and he seemed to feel the surrogate was sufficient for his needs! What a cat!
Do you ever trick your cat? Is it successful? I’d love to know!
Five random thoughts about writing.
1. It’s not as EASY as you think it’s going to be — you know, getting those thoughts down in some semblance of order and understandability.
2. A first draft is NEVER going to be your best draft. Yes – I did say NEVER.
3. Once you UNDERSTAND and are OKAY with #2, editing can be fun! Like puzzle-fun! (Just don’t edit-to-death!)
4. Editing can also be HARD – especially when you have to cut the clever, witty, and beautiful lines you wrote.
5. Writing is all about telling a STORY – and although those lines you cut may be clever, witty, and beautiful – the attention they call to themselves takes away from the story you are telling.
What are your thoughts on writing today? I’d love to know!