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Sunday, January 12, 2014

One Inch at a Time

As you know, I try to make my blogs fun, informative, friendly and helpful.
This time around, I thought what research could I do to help budding authors, established writers – and myself of course – to be more successful? I’ve touched on this area before, but it’s always good to remind ourselves of the basics so we don’t forget them.
Often, simplicity is the key. Having looked through various sites, I discovered a few common denominators regarding advice that would be useful for us all to remember.

Write One Inch at a Time
I found a brilliant quote from Anne Larnott’s book, Bird by Bird. She advised, “Just write one inch at a time.” Don’t get overwhelmed by the size of the project. Concentrate instead on the goal you have for the day. Soon, your inch turns into feet. Feet into yards. And soon, the project will flowing at its own pace.
 
Finish the First Draft
You don’t know what you’ve truly got until it’s finished. Remember, no first draft is perfect. Think of it as a vehicle in need of a service or tune. You won’t know what to fix until the entire car is in front of you. Once you start tinkering, your baby will purr like a kitten. Then you can think of sending it off.
 
Simplify
Don’t drown people in words. (This is something I really had to take on board). You want your reader to lose themselves in a world of imagination. That means they’ve got to be able to relate to it, and paint their own picture in their own minds. If you make the experience a chore, you’ll lose them. So get the verbal pruning shears out. J
 
Let there be Death and Heartbreak
Quite a few different sources emphasize the fact that your story needs to have an emotional rollercoaster of some form. It can’t all be a bed of roses. Do you have several main characters? Kill off someone who everybody loves. Give them heartbreak. Stress. A huge obstacle to overcome at which they keep failing. You won’t believe how well it pulls your reader in.
 
Write with Authority
Look like you mean it. Whatever your subject, do your homework and lay it down like you are the only expert on the subject. (But remember simplify above.) I’m sure I’m not the only one who has ever read a story where it’s clear the author knew their stuff...and sadly, where they clearly didn’t.
And while we’re on this point, don’t forget to be yourself! As an author, you have to develop your own voice or style. Don’t be afraid to stand out from the blank tiles. I speak from the heart on this matter. One of my series employs a very risky approach, something practiced by only a few, well established authors. The main character is written in First POV. The other main characters are in Third! Risky business indeed. But do you know what? I did my homework, saw how other authors had employed this technique, and then adapted it to my baby. From reader reactions, it worked like a charm, and has proved to be a popular story.
I’m glad I took a chance and tried it out, as it’s something I’ll definitely look to again in future.
J
Show up for Work
Don’t treat your writing as a hobby. Something to fill a spare hour, or idle moment. Show up for work. Be there and write like you mean it. You’ll be glad you did, as commitment shines through, and builds your stamina for future projects.
There you go. Not a lot to take on board. And nothing new really. But in researching this blog, I was reminded of a few things I still need to keep on top of. So I hope you find it useful too.
Have a great day now.
Andy

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