Finding Writing Information
By Lazette Gifford
Copyright © 2007 by Lazette Gifford, All Rights Reserved
If you spend any time studying how to
write, you are bound to come up against a big problem. There is a lot
of information about how to write out on the internet and in books.
Unfortunately, much of it is contradictory. It's hard to decide who is
giving you the best advice. So who should you listen to?
Listen to every bit of writing advice
you can find, and be open to new ideas. Accept the idea that some of it
will not work for you, but realize it doesn't hurt for you to try
something new now and then. There are things that even people who are
not published can teach you.
Listen to people who are writing what
you like to read (especially the published authors of your favorite
books), but listen to people in other genres as well. Science fiction
writers, for instance, can learn some nice tricks about pacing and
relationships from the mystery and romance genres.
There are only two times you should be
1. Don't keep trying something when
you have seriously tried what is being suggested and it doesn't work for
you. It doesn't matter who is telling you this bit of advice and how
much you respect them or their work.
Be sure to examine the idea, test it
out, and try different approaches before you really decide, though.
Even then, don't just discard a writing suggestion and never look at it
again. Sometimes odd things happen, and a change in lifestyle or even a
new book idea can mean you'll benefit from something you didn't think
would be helpful before. As an example, let's look at outlining. I
hated outlines, and wouldn't work with one for... decades, actually.
Then I found it helped me through a couple difficult books. Now I
outline some work and not others.
Be open to the idea of trying different
things, at least until you are certain they aren't working for you.
2. Don't listen when a person starts
treating suggestions as though they are the only way to do things. This
is true whether the person has come up with the idea or taken it from
some other 'higher' authority. Look at what the person is offering, but
stop short of the 'my way or not at all' fixation.
Also, if people say they got the ideas
from a different source, be certain you go to the original and see what
it really says. I've seen some oddly warped interpretations of my 2YN
class material, especially when people focus on one little piece and
forget that the class is a series of story growing exercises that build
on each other.
Not everything will work for every
writer, and the people who think they have the one answer, successful
for them or not, can do more harm than good -- but only if you aren't
willing to work at learning what is helpful specifically for you.
Read everything you can on writing.
Listen to everyone.
But make your own decisions on what
will work for you. Don't let someone else make them for you. They are
not you. They will not write the way you do. They will not write the
book that you will write, either.
Be open to exploration. That's really
what writing is all about, after all.