Many of you who follow me on Twitter have seen this tweet that I send out periodically: It’s all about the story. When deciding what to cut, ask yourself: does it serve the story? #writetip Those of us who have been writing for a while have this ingrained in our DNA. Make no mistake about it, though. We didn’t start our writing career that way. Like any other element of the craft, this is something we had to learn over time. Writing is like a muscle. The more you write, the stronger you get. “Also, the Harry Potter novels are just fun, pure story from beginning to end.” – Stephen King on the Harry Potter series. Even Uncle Steve seems to be …
Many of you are aware that I had the opportunity to see Eddie Izzard in concert last week as part of his “Force Majeure” tour. What I didn’t mention on social media that night, however, is that I had the great privilege of attending a Q&A session with him after the show. Most of the questions that evening were the usual, non-professional interview type questions: What’s the one thing you’d tell your younger self if you could go back to the past? What inspired you to become a comedian? What shade of lipstick do you wear? You know…the usual. But the last question of the evening made me devote my full attention to the answer.
Choosing the right point of view (PoV) for your story is the most important—and sometimes the most challenging—decision you will make before you begin the writing process. It isn’t a decision to take lightly. Through your story’s point of view, your reader will experience your world, your story, your characters, and your very purpose for writing the story to begin with. It’s a good idea to become familiar with the various point-of-view options before you set about creating your masterpiece.
There are few things more elusive in the craft of writing than the notion of “Voice”. But what many new writers fail to grasp is that “Voice” is far more than just what a character says. It’s about how they say it and how they feel about the world around them. In other words, it’s at least partially about their attitude. You have an attitude. You may not realize it, but you have one. I’m sure you’ve heard the words “don’t give me that attitude!” on more than one occasion. I’m willing to bet you’ve answered a question with a smile on your face, all the while concealing the seething rage beneath your calm exterior. Am I right? Of course I am! …
I know what you’re doing. You’re sitting there staring at your laptop screen. Your’re probably making this face: And you’re getting nowhere. If this is you, keep reading. There are three things you can do right now to fix your manuscript problems.
As a Fantasy author, the subject of World Building is near and dear to my heart. If you’re going to build a convincing fantasy world, you may be thinking about developing a magic system. In Necromancer Awakening (now available on Amazon), I went through a painstaking process to build a unique magic system involving “Life” and “Death”. While I was constructing a magic system based on necromancy, it occurred to me (in hindsight) that there are three things a writer should know before attempting this at home:
One of the best directors of the twentieth century, perhaps all time, had this to say: Alfred Hitchcock was accused of many things in his day, but being “dull” was never one of them. The little dull bits known as “stage directions” that are cluttering your work are driving readers away. Let’s see how to avoid them.
“George, you can type this shit, but you sure as hell can’t say it.” – Harrison Ford to George Lucas. Harrison was saying that if George had taken the time to read Star Wars out loud, he would have discovered problems that reading it silently couldn’t reveal. I like his wording better, but let’s take a look at what we’ll find in our work if we take the time to use the spoken voice.
I answer many questions on Twitter and Facebook on all aspects of writing. The most common question lately is “Should I use profanity in my writing?” The answer is simple: It depends. The question itself, however, is telling.
There’s a commonly held belief among new writers that the rules are made to be broken. I agree to an extent, but if you’re an unpublished writer you break the rules at your own risk. Those of you who follow me on Twitter (@NatRusso) know how I love my “writetip” autotweets. Here’s another one of my favorites: Don’t break a rule until you understand it. Learn the rules of grammar…then break them like a pro. But start with learning. Continue past the jump to discover how this applies to not only grammar.