Friday, May 25, 2012

Writing About Writing

It seems redundant. Why would we do it? Furthermore, why would we even read it?

Writing about the craft of writing is a tricky concept when you write fiction, which, by nature is "imaginary". How do you define writing when your personal voice is so important? When concepts are from your own mind ?

I've read quite a bit about the craft of writing fiction. Since you're reading this, you obviously know that I blog about writing.

There are two major questions that come up when talking about writing about the craft of writing fiction:

1. Why do it?

2. When is it too much?

I'll talk about Question 1, first, since it's a perfect segue into Question 2.

Writing is a journey. Every time you write, you learn something new, you discover something new about yourself, and you refine your skill. It can take decades to really learn enough to get something that's really worth it's weight. This doesn't mean you're a bad writer. It means you don't know how to write, yet.

Reading about the craft helps you from having to "re-invent the wheel". The first few years of writing are generally the same, just like childhood. You generally learn the same things as everybody else. Will there be differences? Of course! No one is the exact same. However, there are key foundational topics that you need to learn. So why wait? Read about it and cut those out right from the get-go so you can get on to the more "unique" aspects of your own writing.

From reading these books on writing, I've learned so many things that have already evolved my writing to a completely different level, in a matter of months, sometimes just weeks. That's an exponential learning curve that really only took me a few hours to hear, and only a little longer to really ingest.

How many people know, right off the bat, to hide from passive writing? And how many people know, without having read about it, what exactly passive writing is?

What about adverbs? Writers inherently love adverbs.

Writers, adverbs are bad. No, not always. Sometimes you really do need an adverb. However, the best option is to find a verb that equally states what you mean.

Why should you do this?

Go check out some books on writing. They'll tell you why in great detail. That detail will help you refine your writing so you spend more time creating and less time fixing.

Here's where Question Two comes into play, however.

There comes a point where the "foundational" writing transcends into your own style. This is called Voice. Check out my earlier blog post for more information on finding your own voice.

There comes a point where you can receive too much information. That's the point when writing stops being artwork from your heart and becomes more like a lecture from your mind. I guarantee your readers will notice, even if you don't.

It's important to note the information you find in books on the craft. At the same time, however, you need to consider your own Voice.

There are times when editors, critters, and others will read your work and suggest changes. In fact, that will inevitably occur many, many times.

It's up to you to decide whether the change is beneficial to your story or if it actually changes the voice of your work.

If you're writing first person POV, you have a bit more lee-way in "freestyling" because you're always thinking from your character's head.

For third-person (the most common form of writing for romance novels, for example), you've a bit more restriction. That's where the balance between your voice and "easy reading" becomes very, very difficult.

The balance is found by using the rules in the phrasing that your character would use. For example, in one of my WIPs, the hero generally thinks in quick, primitive sentences. Everything is black and white and basic, to him. Survival. Move. Go. Do this. Done. Move on.

I write using active words and sentences, but keep them short to give the feeling of his character, with the occasional "thought" that allows me to speak in his words, in his head.

Dialogue (this includes thoughts) are total freestyle. Even grammar can take a hike sometimes when you're writing dialogue.

Narrative, however, needs to use the words and tone of your character, while maintaining the rules you learn in these writing craft books.It takes time (and lots of "pleasure reading") to find a good balance. It takes even more time writing to find out how to make it work for you, as a writer.

So take the time to jump ahead in your writing knowledge.

Read books on writing.

But always, always, always, remember that it's your book. You have to fight for your characters or no one else will.

What about other writers? How do you maintain your voice? I'd love to hear your comments!

Blogs I recommend:

Live Write Thrive
Moody Writing
Jeff Goins

Books I recommend:


No comments:

Post a Comment

I would love to hear what you have to think! Please remember your manners and I'll try to do the same. ;)