Tuesday, December 15, 2009

One Way?

While I absolutely agree there is only one way to Heaven, I'm completely opposed to the idea that there is only one way to write a book. That's why it always surprises me when I visit writing forums and read threads posted by authors and aspiring authors that outline the correct way to - brainstorm, plot, character sketch, edit, revise, etc, etc.

Sure, it's great to share ideas, but ideas alone don't write a book. They certainly can't get a person published. Sometimes, I think too many ideas muddle the process and make focusing on what really matters difficult.

What matters?

Writing compelling characters and interesting plots.

This is something that cannot be taught. It is something that must be learned word by word, page by page. It is the product of observation, imagination and good story telling ability. It comes from somewhere deep inside, and, while it can be shaped, it can only be harnessed by hard work and commitment to the craft.

So, if you're thinking of buying a How To writing book for Christmas, don't. Save your money and spend your time. Time building a plot that makes sense. Time creating characters that are three dimensional. Time learning to be better at the work you're doing.

Listen to yourself and your own instincts.

You may be surprised at how far that takes you.


Sabrina L. Fox said...

I agree it takes a lot of hard work and practice. I know that every time I start something new it reads better than the last book I attempted.

The only thing I'd say is that there are a couple books that have helped me get a certain concept. I really like James Scott Bell's Plot and Structure.

Otherwise, I haven't purchased much in the way of how to books. I feel mostly self taught. Sometimes I'll take a book I like and reread certain sections to see what the author was doing. That helps me a little.

A published friend once told me she thought the best way to learn was by osmosis. Read, read, read. Then write, write, write. :) Kinda along your same thought.

Something else I'd add is everyone is on a different timeline. Just because somebody got published in a year or two doesn't mean that's going to happen for you. Keep trying. That's kind of where I am. =)

Shirlee McCoy said...

I agree. There are books on writing that can help us define our own style. I read a book on how to write a winning synopsis, and I've followed the guidelines ever since.

You are also right that we're all on our own timelines. That is a difficult thing to accept but accepting it is the only way to keep moving forward.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Shirlee, this is great advice. I didn't know a single other writer when I started crafting novels. Rejection alerted me that there was such a thing as craft and that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. LOL!

Love you!