I hate those “writing things to avoid” sorts of lists, as I feel that they rather miss the spirit of creativity. After all, slavish devotion to a set of rules will result in limited writing.
Take, for example, the advice to never start with the description of weather. If you say it fast and don’t think too hard, it seems like sound advice. After all, something like, “The sun was shining brightly as Timmy walked down the street” is pretty boring.
But sometimes the weather matters.
The sun was shining brightly, the birds were singing cheerfully, and a cool breeze was playing through the leaves, making it the perfect day to work, Timmy thought as he pulled out his hacksaw and began cutting up the corpse in front of him.
The description of weather is used to deliberately create a juxtaposition with Timmy’s grim work. That’s interesting.
So, if you’re starting with describing the weather just because you don’t know where else to start, then you should probably spend more time brainstorming. However, don’t be afraid of describing the weather if it serves a purpose to enhance the story, no matter what someone on the internet might have said. Whoever wrote those rules was just after page views anyway.
When I was in kindergarten, I was officially diagnosed with ‘holding my pencil wrong.’ The adults fretted that my handwriting would always be crippled, that I’d never be able to write cursive, that I would always be a weirdo for life.
Being a little kid and all, I tried very hard to learn how to hold pencils the ‘right’ way.
The ‘right’ way made my handwriting worse and hurt my hand. I always subconsciously switched back to my wrong way, because it felt so much more natural. The adults practically melted with anxiety over my future.
Finally, in fifth grade my teacher announced that my handwriting was fine, and that I could keep holding my pencils however I wanted. After all, in her experience, if the correction hadn’t been made by that point, then it would likely never happen. Hallelujah, I was free!
In high school, the other teens said it was freaky how I held my pencil. I had a pronounced callous on my pinky finger from the amount of writing I did. My ceramics teacher predicted that I could be a calligrapher, if I wanted. I was proud of how I held pencils.
I write all of my rough drafts by hand. I have my fountain pen, medium nib, my collection of Japanese inks, and a binder stuffed to the gunwales with paper. My current WIP has reached 100 pages, with about 400 words per page in my handwriting. I don’t suffer much hand-fatigue; I can easily hit the 1,000 word mark without any discomfort. The callous on my finger as all but vanished since I quit using ballpoints. I don’t see why everyone made such a fuss when I was a kid.
I am, however, an irreparable weirdo; but I don’t think that has anything to do with how I hold pencils.
There are a gazillion blogs out there that are all to eager to tell you how to write, but I am not one of them.
My philosophy boils down to: just do it.
Remember, 50 Shades of Grey was a mega fad, despite the rather unnerving tie worn by Mr Grey in the first chapter. Obviously, the world can be forgiving.
So who cares about rules? Just write, rewrite, edit, and nitpick, then let it out into the wild. Maybe something will happen, maybe not. The important part is creating something that you enjoy.
Role playing was the worst thing that I ever did to my writing.
I know how it is to be an introverted fantasy geek, stumbling my way onto forums and finding, much to my delight, that people liked my characters — characters that felt more like me than the real life me, who was too shy to talk much. I’ve loved and lost some actual, real-people friends on those boards, too. I’ve been there. I get it.
And it wreaked absolute havoc on my ability to write.
Role playing is very different from writing a novel. For example, a novel happens entirely in your own head, and even if you chat about it with others in between writing sessions, every single last word is typed by your own hands. There aren’t any surprises. No quick thinking. You can go on and on for pages and pages, god-moding like there’s no tomorrow, and no one will ever complain or defriend you. It’s just you and your OCs.
Role playing, on the other hand, happens one paragraph at a time. Write a paragraph, wait, read what happens next, then respond with another paragraph. Rinse and repeat. Over and over. For hours.
The underlying structure is completely different, but it has an enormous influence on writing style. It kills the flow, and paragraphs become like islands that respond to each other, rather than build upon each other. You can always spot someone who’s heavy into the RP — it shows.
I didn’t dream about being a role playing geek when I was 12. I wanted to be an author. I wanted to write books, not paragraphs. And one day, it hit me really hard that my writing had gone down the toilet. Too many paragraphs responding to paragraphs, and not enough storytelling. I was devastated to realize that my writing had been better at 14 than it was it was at 18.
Goodbye, my fellow fantasy geeks. It was fun.
It took me years to purge it out of my system, to lock the correct mindset back into place. As much fun as it was, I will probably never return to role playing.
Not to mention, I’m, like, in my 30s and married with kids now. It would be a little weird.
My rating: 2/5
I’ve read other books by Julie Garwood that I enjoyed, so I had expectations for this one. However, if I had randomly found this book in a thrift store and read an excerpt from the middle, I very likely would have skipped it.
The main character is your classic Mary-Sue, who is described as being exceedingly beautiful (but naturally she doesn’t know it), possesses a man’s name, and is very intent on telling everyone and their dog that she isn’t a typical woman, before turning around and doing typical things left and right — like a typical woman.
The writing itself feels amateurish, and there are a surprising number of typos and editing mistakes for something that was originally published in the 80’s. However, lets forgive that, in light of the popularity of Harry Potter and Twilight. Everyone’s got to start somewhere.
The characterization was non-existent. Every single last stinking one of them existed solely to praise the main character. They were props, without even a semblance of a personality between the lot of them — even the main male character who served as The Husband. I’m not even sure how many characters there were, because they were all the same cardboard cutout.
And the main character wasn’t even likable.
Overbearing was the word that kept floating in my head, and I died a little inside every time she opened her mouth or did anything. I kept thinking, “Good God woman! Just get off my back already!” and I wasn’t even the one she was criticizing and bossing around.
The plot was non-existent, and everything that happened was obviously a lead up for gratuitous sex scenes, that weren’t particularly sexy — in fact, the obsession with the man’s tongue practically tickling tonsils kind of left me feeling a little gaggy.
To top it off, there were a lot of modernisms that were just plain hoakie, and I’m not even referring to the frequent use of the word “hot”. Despite the fact that the book is set in 12th century Scotland, I don’t think the author researched anything past the word ‘bliaut.’
While it’s not the worst thing I’ve ever read, I still wouldn’t recommend it.
If you decide to read it anyway, then you’ll understand what I mean when I say that the rocking chair was the corniest thing ever.