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.
Mel Massey, author of Earth’s Magick, (published by Solstice Publishing just this week!) had a difficult journey from idea to published manuscript, and she suffered from many of the same fears and failures we all do. Mel was kind enough to accept my invitation to write “Wicked Words”, a guest article for A Writer’s Journey, and what a wonderful story and lesson she’s shared with us. Enough of me…I’ll let Mel tell her story in her own words.
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:
The journey from world building to prose is a long and twisted one. We know what a specific plaza in a specific city looks like. We have all of the elements: weather, sound, objects, people, etc. But unless we put them together in some kind of rational order and present them in a logical sequence, all we have are pieces of a jigsaw puzzle scattered on a table. We need to employ structured descriptions to allow the puzzle pieces to fall into place.
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.
Small distractions that pull you away from writing for short periods of time may improve your productivity. I know. It’s counter intuitive. But it’s also true. Let’s see why.
Your word choice may be killing your story in ways you haven’t realized. We’re always told to provide specific, concrete descriptions to guide the reader along in the fictive dream. But sometimes we overdo it. Read on for some examples of what I’m talking about.
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.
[DISCLAIMER: My grammar advice is trustworthy for American English. Not so much if you’re in the UK. Please keep that in mind.] Edited February 5, 2015 – Added reference to source of British usage rule. The words “That” and “Which” are two of the most confusing words writers come face-to-face with every day. Some of you are familiar with a grammar tip I share on Twitter: That/Which: ‘That’ should introduce a restrictive clause (necessary for meaning). ‘Which’ is for non-restrictive (parentheticals)” When limited to 150 characters, the whole “that vs. which” thing can seem somewhat cryptic. What the heck is a restrictive clause? What do I mean by “Parentheticals”? I think a couple of quick examples will make it easier …
When I hung my shingle out as a “Writer” on Twitter the most amazing thing happened: People began inviting me to share my work. They invited me to participate in all sorts of promotions and contests. One type of contest stood out among the rest: the Flash Fiction contest. Participating in these contests taught me a great deal about myself, and a great deal about writing.