Thursday, May 17, 2012

Cody On Writing

Okay, I know I’m not Stephen King  (although Amanda Hocking does say it’s okay to dream big) but I’m borrowing a couple of his words, just for this post. This is my advice ‘on writing’ – I’m putting this out there for those of you who are starting your journey towards writing a book and finding a readership. For those of you who are waiting for news about Johnny De Vere - don't worry. His next adventure is shaping up to be awesome. Well I think so, anyway.

Back to writing:-

Read On Writing, by Stephen King. Read it again. Read between the lines – because the best part of many books is written there. There's a Swedish proverb that says so, so it must be true.

Take a look at Randy Ingermanson’s  ‘snowflake’ method to help you plan your book. I’ve used this and it really helps. Try writing a 'character' sheet for some of the people you've known in your life, and then change their names and use them in your fiction. Live dangerously.

Look at Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheet. Devise your own version of ‘The Board’ for outlining your story. It’s fun. Just remember though, that you’re not writing a movie script, unless you ARE writing a movie script. And fashions in movies and novels change – you don’t want to be so tied to the Beat Sheet that you lose the element of surprise.

Read Bob Mayer’s “Novel Writer’s Toolkit’ – particularly for advice on the bad guy. Yes, there needs to be a bad guy. Don’t kill him too soon, and don’t kill him by accident.

Read your dialogue out loud, or use an application like TextAloud to read it back to you. That way you won’t write dialogue that sounds like a badly-written wedding speech mated with an infomercial.

If you are writing romance – research the 12 steps to intimacy, and think very carefully about how to insert them (into your novel) with finesse, rather than crashing, clumsy embarrassment.

Ernest Hemingway said that ‘the writer’s job is to tell the truth’, preferably in plain words that most of us can understand. Otherwise your meaning may be lost in the foggy thicket of your words. I read that last bit in a grammar book somewhere and I wish, wish, wish I could tell you which one. Leave me a comment if you know.

Many books on editing freak out about repetition. Repetition is bad, bad, bad, they say. But some of the very best authors use it well. My advice is to be very careful what you repeat, rather than feeding your work into some dumb program to learn how many times you wrote ‘and then’ or ‘he said’. Look at this from William Shakespeare if you still think repetition is bad:
OLIVIA:  Where goes Cesario?
VIOLA: After him I love,
More than I love these eyes, more than my life,
More, by all mores, than e'er I shall love wife.
If I do feign, you witnesses above
Punish my life for tainting of my love!
She’s in love, right? And her love means more to her than her life. We get it. Do you get what I mean about repetition?

I hope this encourages you to break a few writing rules – coz some of them suck. 
Happy writing. 
Love from Cody.

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