THINGS IN WRITING YOU SHOULD NEVER DO

May 23, 2008 at 2:55 pm 4 comments

Since I love irony:

1. Be wary of anyone who says “never do” in the same sentence as writing. For every never there is an exception to that rule. At the same time when you’ve revised your work and you’ve left a few “nevers” you better come up with the why you left them. One, to make sure you’re just not breaking the rules to be breaking them. Two,so you know the purpose. Three, if ever asked to cut it out of your story you answer just won’t be “but I like it.”

2. Start your book with backstory. Here’s an example:

Mary glanced across the street and there stood Evan. Her mind went back to that summer when they were lovers. It had been three years ago. She couldn’t remember why they’d broken up she just knew they’d been good in bed. Three years ago he had…..

Here’s the harsh reality, I don’t care about three years ago in the first paragraph. I want to know what is Mary’s problem right that second. This is more compelling.

Mary glanced across the street and there stood Evan. Crap.

Now I want to know who is Evan. So, the main reason that backstory in the beginning doesn’t work is because it’s not making the reader work. The first one the author is telling you everything. The second example, well, I’m sitting up. Hey this is a lesson I just learned and trust me it’s invaluable.

3. Never not bleed on the page.

I know that sounds weird so let me explain:

Open a vein, baby.

Not that this phrase sounds any better, but think about the books that resonates with you. 9 times out of 10 the book you’re thinking about told a truth you could believe in. Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie, I bought that book hook, line and sinker. The truth that I walked away with was it’s okay to believe in fairy tales. It’s okay to be the princess and want a prince charming. Best damn book ever written and it could just be the “truth” I bought into. Or it was just Jenny bled on the page. She could have been bleeding for others, but blood nonetheless.

Another Example: Lani Diane Rich’s Little Ray of Sunshine. Best damn book ever written. Again I bought the truth: Angels can exist and they may not exactly have wings. Forgiveness is really the one thing that separates us from animals. (And our opposalbe(sp?) thumbs, of course.) Real love is loving someone for who they are. People can change if they really want to.

All this sounds like themes, but to me their not. Bleeding on the page is intangible. Some writers know how to open a vein and go at it. Some, it takes them a while to see that they did. Bleeding on the page is much like voice, it’s already there and the good thing, you can hone it. Because as long as your telling your character’s truth (which I believe is some truth you also believe in) then it’s there. Don’t staunch the blood.

4. This one is closely related to number 3: Never, NEVER filter what you write in the first draft. No one will ever see it. Just let the writing happen. I know you shouldn’t trust anyone who says trust me, but Trust me on this one. You’ll get a better first draft. Don’t think about marketing, does this scene drag on too long, I need to do laundry–Just let the words come. Write it and they will come…

Okay, I have no idea what the last line means. I had no idea what it meant in Field of Dreams.(Until ghosts started to come out of the share crops. Then it was just creepy) So, to wrap up this week of craft blogging: Keeps what works, discard the rest.

And from the wise words of JC (he, he I still get a kick out of those initials) Many Roads to Oz

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Entry filed under: craft.

I HAD THIS WONDERFUL POST ON SCENE STRUCTURE I’M NOT A DREAM CRUSHER

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Sandra Ferguson  |  May 25, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    ah, to bleed on page . . . that would be the glory. Certainly, if it could happen every time. Haven’t figured out how to do that yet.

    Good craft post. And I so agree, the only never comes after you die, as it you’re never getting up again. Until then, there’s always an exception.

  • 2. Mel  |  May 26, 2008 at 2:52 am

    I haven’t figured out how to do it yet either, but after I read some of my work I do find the blood. Sometimes it’s unnerving, but then again I know it’ll make for a better story.

    And I so agree, the only never comes after you die, as it you’re never getting up again.

    Morbid, but sooo true.LMAO. Thanks for stopping by.

  • 3. Pam  |  May 26, 2008 at 3:27 am

    All great lessons. I think, most especially, I’m going to embroider Many Roads to Oz on my pillowcases. Think that will make the girls happy? 🙂

  • 4. Mel  |  May 26, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    I’m going to embroider Many Roads to Oz on my pillowcases.

    Yes, the girls will be satisfied, but I will have to have photos. That’s just to not share with the world.

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