How many times have you heard the advice "Write what you know."?
I think a better way to look at that is "Write what you're passionate about." What do you talk about endlessly, given half a chance? What subjects do you love to research? When you write what you're passionate about, you write with authority. What you write is interesting.
This is why writing to trends doesn't work. If you really don't like vampire romances, yet try to write one because that's what's popular, it's going to show. So don't try. Find your passion and write about that.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
How many times have you heard the advice "Write what you know."?
Friday, June 25, 2010
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Most successful writers are willing to tell you what works for them, and most of them share a lot of the same "habits", if you will, when they write. Such as the following:
1. Get to the point.
Don’t waste your reader’s time with too much back-story, long intros or longer anecdotes about your life. Get to your point quickly before your reader loses patience and moves on.
2. Write a draft. Then let it rest.
Crank out a first draft and then put it aside and let it rest. Now, how long you let your text rest may vary and may be dependent upon a deadline. If possible, it's not a bad idea to leave your manuscript alone for a couple of months before rereading and start the editing process.
This lets you get out of the mindset you had when you wrote the draft and get a more detached and clear perspective on the text. It then becomes easier to edit.
Sometimes letting it rest for months is not an option. At the very least, give it a few days.
3. Cut down your text.
When you revisit your text it’s time to kill your darlings and remove all the superfluous words and sentences. In a letter to a D.W. Bowser in 1880, Mark Twain wrote: "I notice that you use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences. That is the way to write English--it is the modern way and the best way. Stick to it; don't let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in. When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don't mean utterly, but kill most of them--then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when they are close together. They give strength when they are wide apart. An adjective habit, or a wordy, diffuse, flowery habit, once fastened upon a person, is as hard to get rid of as any other vice."
Don’t remove too much text though or you may achieve the opposite effects instead. Many years ago in a rejection letter, Stephen King got the advice to cut down his texts by 10 percent. He's followed this advice for decades.
(Of course, this would only work if you write long. I usually have to go in and add verbiage to get my manuscript up to the required word count.)
4. Don’t care too much what others may think.
It's natural to want to get people involved with your characters, to make them so real that readers can relate to them. Stephen King admits to being needy about the emotional feedback he gets when he lets his wife read a new story for the first time. He gets a kick out of hearing her laugh or cry because something in manuscript really touched her. But he has also gotten a lot of mail over the years from people who confuse his sometimes nasty characters with the writer. Or just thinks he should wind up in hell. And literary critics haven't always been fans, either.
But he sits down at his desk and keeps writing every morning anyway. If you listen too much to your critics you won’t get much done. Your writing will probably become worse and less fun. And criticism is often not even about you anyway. It's about the reader and his/her hangups. It's all relative--I've had a not so glowing review on a book followed by a 5-star one. It's hard to do, but you have to learn to push aside the review of the person who didn't fall in love with your book and focus on the one who did.
5. Read a lot.
When you read you always pick up things, oftentimes subconsciously. Sometimes it might be reminders about what you know you should be doing while you write. Sometimes the world and atmosphere the writer is painting sparks a new idea. And sometimes you learn what you should avoid doing. (Because, let's face it, bad books get published all the time.)
If you want to be a better writer you need to read a lot to get fresh input, broaden your horizons and deepen your knowledge. And to evolve you need to mix yourself up with new influences and see what happens. So not only do you need to read a lot in the genre you're writing, you need to read a lot in other genres, too. (Although I do try to avoid reading something that's too close to what I'm writing. For example, if I'm writing a vampire story, I try not to read books that have prominent vampire characters. I'll still read paranormals, just not with vampires. I don't want to be subconsciously influenced in my work in progress.)
6. Write a lot.
This is a big one. To become a better writer you need to write more.
Many of the best in different fields--we can all name superstar musicians, actors and athletes--have gone beyond the normal limits of practice. And they reap extraordinary results. The same is true for writers.
But what do you do when you don’t feel like writing? Waiting for inspiration can become a long wait--which is why you can't wait for inspiration. (Especially when you're writing under deadline. You just have to git 'er done!)
You either need to find an effective solution to reduce procrastination, or you need to just do it. And if you just get going, many times your emotions change and initial resistance transitions to enthusiasm.
Sometimes it doesn't. But as Nora Roberts has said, you can't fix a blank page. So write. Whether you "feel" like it or not. I don't always feel like going to work (actually, I usually don't feel like going to work!) but I go because I have to. Treat your writing like a job, and I guarantee you'll be writing when you don't feel like it, too!
Mused by Sherrill Quinn at 6:05 AM
Friday, June 18, 2010
Little Tony was 9 years old and was staying with his grandmother for a few days. He'd been playing outside with the other kids for a while when he came into the house and asked her, "Grandma, what's that called when two people sleep in the same room and one is on top of the other?"
She was a little taken aback, but she decided to tell him the truth. "It's called sexual intercourse, darling."
Little Tony said, "Oh, OK," and went back outside to play with the other kids. A few minutes later he came back in and said angrily, "Grandma, it isn't called sexual intercourse. It's called Bunk Beds. And Jimmy 's mom wants to talk to you."
LOL Thanks to Colleen Love for this little jewel. :)
Mused by Sherrill Quinn at 5:49 AM
Thursday, June 17, 2010
I'm not sure whether to be outraged or flattered, or maybe a little of both. When I did an Internet search on my latest release, Dragonfire, on the first page of results almost half of the listings were of pirate sites where people can illegally download my copyrighted work.
I'll be honest. I am outraged. But should I also be flattered? I do try not to let these things bother me too much, because when you send a cease and desist to one site it seems that the book just pops up at another pirate site within minutes. (Well, okay, it's probably a whole day...) But it does bother me. When an artist releases a work of art, most people wouldn't even think about walking into a gallery, take the picture off the wall and not pay for it. So why do they do it with ebooks? And do it with the sense of entitlement that it's within their rights to take something without paying for it--something I've worked very hard on and am trying to earn a living from?
Hopefully this is the only time I'll blog about this particular subject, but let me just say this at least once. It's not all right. If you download one of my books without paying for it, it's theft. Pure and simple. And you should be ashamed of yourself.
But I guess it's the same mindset as people who leave a grocery store and walk home pushing the store's cart. They figure that they need it, so it's okay for them to just steal.
Mused by Sherrill Quinn at 5:54 AM
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
It seems that just about everyone wants to write a novel. However, few people will ever begin and even fewer will actually finish a manuscript. Doing that is quite an accomplishment, and it sets you apart from the dreamers who would love to see their names on the covers of books but never will because they're not willing to work for it.
There's nothing wrong with dreaming. Dreams keep you young. I've always wanted to oil paint, but aside from a brief dabble at it when I was a teen, I haven't picked up a brush, bought paints and canvas, and set brush to canvas since. I've never taken a class to learn anything about working with oil paints. (Though I did watch a lot of episodes of Bob Ross's program.) That said, do you think I'm serious about learning to paint? Nope. I must not be, or I'd be doing it. It's just an idle thing I don't give a lot of thought to. It's not my heart's desire.
A painter is someone who paints, never mind how talented or skilled she is. An actor acts. A singer sings. Same with writing. So here's a question for you: Do you merely dream of becoming a writer, or are you a writer?
Honestly, I don't believe talent has a whole lot to do with getting published. (Though I do believe you have to have a measure of it in order to get published. You can be the most technically correct writer out there, but if you can't tell a story, no one's going to want to read what you write.) So if your sister or your spouse/significant other or your high school English teacher has praised your talent, that's just not enough. Writing is a craft that must be learned, and that requires practice. If I went out and bought paints, brushes and canvas and started painting tomorrow, I wouldn't expect my first effort (or even my tenth or fiftieth) to land me an expo. I would expect to put in at the very least a few years of work and study before I turned out a product worthy of someone's hard earned money. No matter how much I might love painting. And I might never be a Monet, but with ambition and plenty of practice, I could learn to paint competently. Or play a musical instrument. Same deal.
If writing is your dream, then write. And if your heart's desire is to be published, don't wait for success to fall into your lap. Go after it. Learn from your mistakes and keep pursuing your dream!
(Note: If you've read my blog for any length of time you'll know I'm not a big proponent of self-publishing, and I do my best to steer people away from vanity publishers. Don't use either as a shortcut to getting your name on a book. Write, write, write, and read, read, read. You have to be familiar with the genre you want to write in order to write it.)
Mused by Sherrill Quinn at 5:46 AM
Friday, June 11, 2010
A woman went into a pet store to buy her hubby a pet for his birthday. She told the clerk she wanted to buy a pet and didn't wanna spend a fortune. "Well," said the clerk, "I have a very large bullfrog. They say its been trained to give blow jobs."
"Blow jobs!" the woman replied. She thought it would make a great gag gift, especially if it was true...no more blow jobs for her! So she bought the frog.
When she explained the frog's ability to her hubby, he was extremely skeptical and laughed it off.
The woman went to bed happy, thinking she may never need to give another blow job again. In middle of night she was awakened by the noise of pots and pans flying everywhere in the kitchen. She ran downstairs to find her hubby and the frog reading cookbooks. "What are you two doing at this hour?" she asked.
The hubby replied, "If I can teach this frog to cook... Your ass is gone!"
Mused by Sherrill Quinn at 5:37 AM
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Tuesday, June 08, 2010
Persevere. That's my tip for today. If you want it badly enough (whatever "it" may be), keep after it. Never give up. And don't let anyone tell you your dream is silly or frivolous or stupid. Pursue it. Always.
"Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe." --Gail Devers
"Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams." --Ashley Smith
"What is not started today is never finished tomorrow." --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
"There are some people who live in a dream world, and there are some who face reality; and then there are those who turn one into the other." --Douglas H. Everett
"You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream." --C.S. Lewis
Mused by Sherrill Quinn at 5:47 AM
Friday, June 04, 2010
This one's a groaner...
A woman walked into the kitchen to find her husband stalking around with a fly swatter.
"What are you doing?" she asked.
"Hunting flies," he responded.
"Oh! Killing any?" she asked.
"Yep, three males, two females," he replied.
Intrigued, she asked, "How can you tell them apart?"
He responded, "Three were on a beer can, two were on the phone."
Mused by Sherrill Quinn at 5:53 AM
Thursday, June 03, 2010
Starting July 1st, Kensington's Writing with the Stars contest begins!
Ten lucky aspiring writers will have a chance to work with Brava authors in the hopes of being the one lucky winner who lands a publishing contract with Brava! There will be five rounds of competition, in which aspiring authors will work with their mentors to make sure their entries are the strongest they can be. Each round will include comments from celebrity judges from the romance blogosphere. Those picked to compete as the top 10 contestants will have their own webpage on the Brava Authors blog and the RT website.
For more details, click here.
Mused by Sherrill Quinn at 5:15 AM
Tuesday, June 01, 2010
The expression to open a Pandora’s box has long been used to describe an act that may have unforeseen and unpleasant consequences. It's derived from a Greek myth in which Pandora, a human woman driven by curiosity, opens a jar (or a box depending on the version) containing various evils, unintentionally loosing them on the world.
The distortion “to open a box of Pandoras” may owe its increasing popularity (the phrase has been attributed to Casey Stengel, Al Gore and Marion Barry, to name a few) to its similarity to “opening a can of worms.” As a figurative expression, “opening a box of Pandoras” may have sounded amusing the first time it was used, but as an ongoing expression it gets old fast.
And from an erotic point of view, "opening a box of Pandoras" has a whole 'nother meaning...
There's being clever with your word usage, and then there's being...well, I hesitate to say ignorant. Let's just say not so clever, shall we?
So, instead of using "opening a can of worms" or "opening Pandora's box" (or a box of Pandoras, for that matter), how else could you say someone's just stepped hip-deep into trouble?
Mused by Sherrill Quinn at 6:11 AM