“I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose.”
— Stephen King
“In narrating an incident the writer should begin with the circumstances in which it occurred and the events immediately preceding it. Do not begin with unnecessary explanations or remote and inconsequential events.
An indirect or long-winded approach bores the reader and destroys the impact of the story.
Furthermore, you may get lost in a maze of inconsequential details or exhaust yourself before you have narrated the climax of your story.
Suppose Susan is telling how she and Steve were nearly drowned when they rowed into the ship’s channel at Gloucester, Massachusetts, and their boat was swamped by a passing freighter.
This story should probably begin with their taking the boat out. The writer can then concentrate on how, unthinkingly, they rowed into the channel and on the ensuing events together with their emotional reactions to them. The story should not begin with an explanation of why the couple decided to vacation in Gloucester. Nor is it necessary to say that on the preceding evening a guest at their hotel suggested the excursion, or even that they were eager to get out on the water because they had been kept indoors for three days by a northeaster.”
Hopper, Gale, Foote, and Griffith‘s book, Essentials of English, is an excellent resource for writers of all kinds. You can find it here.
“Mike Burns (@DadBoner)
Power Moves: Livin’ the American Dream, USA Style (It Books, $15.99)
“I believe you should be emotionally bonded to the people you write about, whether they be real or fictional. Feel sad for their hardships and happy for their triumphs. If you aren’t truly attached to your subjects, chances are the reader won’t be either. Music is very important to my writing process. I’m fascinated by the idea of using letters as a way to transform sound into images and colors in another person’s brain like some sort of sensory alchemy. Just like great films, great writing needs a great score, even if it can’t be heard.”
Edwidge Danticat (facebook.com/edwidgedanticat)
Claire of the Sea Light (Knopf, $25.95)
“It might sound corny but listen to your heart. Let that inner voice guide you, the one closest to your truest self. The story you are most afraid to tell might be your truest one, your deepest one. Don’t let neither success nor failure deter you. Remember the excitement of those first days, those first words, those first sentences—and keep going.”
Ben Dolnick (bendolnick.com)
At the Bottom of Everything (Pantheon, $24.95)
“Get a kitchen timer. Writers are ingenious at redefining what qualifies as doing work (‘If I just spend this morning cleaning my desk…’). A kitchen timer tolerates no such nonsense. Set yourself a daily writing quota (as little as a half hour is fine at first), set the clock and get to work.”
Stephen Elliott (@S___Elliott, stephenelliott.com)
The Adderall Diaries (Graywolf Press, $14); founding editor, The Rumpus (therumpus.net)
“You still have to make something really, really good. That’s the nut of it all. And the more time you spend ‘cultivating relationships,’ the less time you spend creating meaningful art. One of those things will do more for you than the other.””
To read more from successful authors shared from TimeOut, click HERE.
Good writing will go where we never can, and reroutes the trajectory of life. It seeps into the farthest corners of the world and the depths of a reader’s soul. Readers let authors into their private moments by inviting the author to speak through their story. Although it’s a challenging invitation, it’s valuable and authors should accept. Clear thinking will deliver your words to their destination. Most places are far away, and require a long, long chair ride. Do not begrudge the hard work of getting it there, this generation needs the best books you can write.
For his final point, Max reminds the writer to let every part of the process work. “Sentences are like just caught fish. Spunky today, stinky tomorrow.” Let editing do its job. That way, you will put forth good, passionate writing, which will reach readers where they live.”
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