I recently finished writing a novel… Or did I? That is a question we often ask ourselves, and in some cases that may revolve around a doubt that what we have is enough and whether a second point of view (POV) would improve our writing or distract from it.
Writing great characters is, for me, at the top of the priority list for writing fiction. Whether you’re looking at the next Tyrion Lannister (Game of Thrones, or A Song of Ice and Fire), or Billy Lynch (Charming Billy), you are seeing a well thought out character that an author spent many an hour contemplating. If you want your fiction to shine on the level or anywhere near the level of such authors as Martin or McDermott, you can’t just pick up a pen and go, you have to spend the requisite time getting to know your characters.
How many times have we wondered how much of it is luck? Well, my newest stance on that is “Who the heck cares!” Take a cue from Peter Dinklage’s recent quote on luck. If you aren’t putting in the sweat and tears to make it happen, you will need a whole hell of a lot of luck, and even that may not save you.
As we all know, writing is rewriting. It is with this in mind that I plan on writing several posts here on the topic of revision. When revising we go through and find areas that need cutting or expansion, to tie up loose threads, create setups and payoffs, and any other areas of improvement you can think of. A great resource, though perhaps hard to get through, is the book “Revising Fiction: A Handbook for Writers,” by David Madden. In Madden’s book, he looks at some famous authors’ early works and compares them to their revised later works. I would like to do the same today, but with my own writing. Furthermore, I would like to focus on openings for today’s post.
This year I had a wonderful time at the San Francisco Writers Conference and am committed to returning next year. It was a weekend full of great dinners, wonderful people, and amazing discussions on the power of prose. A very valuable aspect of attending these events is that you learn about other upcoming events, and one of those that I would like to share with you today is the “Women Writing in the Redwoods” writing retreat, presented by the San Francisco Writers Conference.
You can click on the following link for the beautiful flyer, but as you wait to click, let me tell you why the retreat looks great.
Many veterans find they need to write, and it makes sense. Men and women of the armed forces go through several intense years. Whether it was serving time overseas or just working their butts off on the home turf, they go through a lot to keep America safe. It is no surprise that they want to express themselves and find some way to share their stories. Lucky for them, there are many great programs for current military and veterans.
While studying the craft of writing at the Johns Hopkins University, I had the pleasure of meeting many soon to be published authors. They were hungry for the craft, ready to show the world what they can create with mere words on the page. One of my classmates, an especially ambitious young writer named Kelly Ann Jacobson, recently published her first novel and agreed to share her thoughts on writing. You can find more information on Kelly and her novel at her website, www.kellyannjacobson.com.
To the fiction author, the answer is of course that books on writing are extremely helpful. There are some great books out there, and many of you may be asking why I think this is even a question. I raise it because in the screenwriting world there are many professional screenwriters who advise to never read the books on how to write a screenplay, or at best to read them once to see what they are all about and then toss them and forget what they said. I am still undecided in the world of screenwriting books, but in the world of fiction I have to say books on writing can be of tremendous help, and some are incredibly interesting.
I am addicted to education, almost as much as I am addicted to writing. But there comes a point when we must all ask ourselves where our priorities lie. If you are considering a writing program such as an MFA or even just a local class, this is certainly a question you must ask yourself. There are many benefits to such programs, but as writers we have to make sure to juggle the time accordingly and remember that writing comes first.