Image by Marco Bellucci
Since starting this blog, I have tried to post articles with information that is of benefit to other writers. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely no expert on writing, hell, I don’t even apply the tips in my posts consistently. I’m still learning, and should have bright yellow L plates stuck on my forehead. But, I do find the more I read and write about them, the more they stick in my mind and I become conscious of them when I am writing. And so it is that I will endeavour to relay these little nuggets of wisdom that I find useful as a writer, as I come across them, as best I can, in my own words. For now though, I’m curious, what is the best tip you have picked up along the way?
Woohoo, I just hit the 100 followers mark, a big thanks to all of you that have joined my blog so far. When I started this in March 2014, I really didn’t think it would have grown this quickly, in fact I was hoping I would at least make it to 10 followers. I dip my hat to you all for making this happen – thank you!
(Photo by William Warby)
So here I am with a spare ten minutes and I find myself writing a blog post. I work a full time job – 40 hours a week, and have worked overtime the last 2 weekends. That’s 13 days straight so far. Add that to maintaining the yard, cleaning the house and caring for my kids, and I feel like I should be sitting on a unicycle, juggling eggs while I balance a book on the end of my nose!
I have stacks of books on my shelves, the covers unopened. A pile of DVD’s on the coffee table waiting to be watched. A novel on my laptop waiting to be edited. Heaps more books on my Kindle, waiting to be read. Critiques to be done for my writers group. And I haven’t mentioned writing anything new yet. How am I going to get through it all?
I don’t have all the answers, I’ll just keep plugging away, one thing at a time. But I am interested to know how you manage your time. So, how do you organise yourself so that you have time to write?
Picture by Pakom
I have been reading through blogs on the pages of fellow bloggers recently and have found several posts that I really enjoyed. “I’m gonna like that” I’ve thought to myself, but when I have gone to like them, there has not been an option to do so. The like function appears to have been turned off? I don’t really understand this. I would think it allows you to gauge the topics readers are interested in. Similarly, there have been many posts I would love to have re-blogged, again the feature has been turned off. I see re-blogging as a huge opportunity to extend your readership. Just think of all the readers that may be referred to your own page to see what else you have to say, just because someone was kind enough to share your post.
This got me thinking – Why don’t people want to be liked or re-blogged?
Have you got a reason for switching off this feature? I’d love to know.
Photo by Nick Royer
I’m sure I have heard it said that a story needs a beginning, a middle and an end. This may seem obvious, but it is a good structure to work with and ties in with a well known writing technique called the Three Act Structure. The idea is to have 3 major problems. The first should fill the first quarter of your story, the second should encompass the next two quarters and the final major problem should take you through to the climax at the end.
Problem one should set your protagonist on the path of their fate and the following problems should become progressively worse. You can throw in smaller side issues as the story progresses, but their severity should not surpass any of the major problems in the story. Your ending should result in a win, lose or draw that will create a “Yes!”, “Noooooo!” or a Yes but No/No but Yes reaction from your reader.
Try it and see how it works for you.
Image by Darren Tunnicliff
My most recent get together with my writers’ group has left me with a question. I placed 2 paragraphs of my novel in for critique and as always, received some valuable and constructive feedback. One of my paragraphs however, reverts back to a previous time in the history of my protagonist. This raised the topic that some readers dislike the use of flashbacks. Now, I know there is a school of thought that says, flashbacks – don’t do them! But what I am really interested to find out is if anyone out there likes flashbacks. I ask because I know a few people who like to have questions unanswered, only to find them explained later by means of a flashback or some other method. Is it only a small percentage that dislike flashbacks? or is it the majority?
What is your opinion? To Flashback or not to flashback?
Photo by Thomas Fitzgerald
As an author you should know your characters life story. Where they have come from, where they are and where they want to be. When I say where have they come from, I don’t mean the pub down the road. I mean what social background have they grown up in? what lifestyle have they lived? what have they experienced? what have the learnt? what have they seen? In the same context, where are they now and what are they striving for? When you understand your character you are more likely to understand their decisions and the choices they would make. You will understand how they will react in certain situations. And you will understand what personal traits they have or need to overcome.
You, as the author, need to know these things. You can discover them as you write, developing your characters on the go, or you can work it out before you start to write, but you should know. While you should know this, your readers do not need to know all the details and they certainly do not need to know your characters life story in one paragraph. A good writer will drop bits of information into the story as they go, building your characters over time, ageing them like a fine whiskey.