Writing 101 -- Pithy thoughts

Sorry, all, but I don't have a new writing blog to post. I started working on Hooks, but life got in the way. I hope to have it finished next week.

So, I'm here to put a few pithy writerly thoughts down.

1) You have to write a million words of crap before writing gold.
--I'm going to have to say this one is very true, at least for me and 85% of the writers out there. Oh, there are those writers who manage to have it all in one fell swoop, but most of us struggle for years before we understand how to tell a story.

2) Sometimes being grammatically correct can suck the life out of a story.
--I'm sure Ms. Marilyn will have something to say about this one, but I say yes, it can. I've judged so many contest entries that are beautifully grammatically written, but they lack life and character. Give yourself permission to write the character as they should be written and during your edits fix the character IF IT IS APPROPRIATE TO THE STORY.

3) Anyone can learn to write.
--*Shh-yah . . . I'm doing writing, aren't I? Trust me, you can learn grammar, punctuation, structure, GMC (goal, motivation, conflict), etc. You just need the DESIRE to learn and many people aren't up to the challenge. Yes, it is work, but it's rewarding work.

4) Write what you know.
--This one gets a big goose egg from me. NO. I used to work in  hospital laboratory. Uhm, I don't think anyone would want to read about that. Now, I might be able to add the right 'flavor' to a vampire novel, but writing about a Med. Tech.? I don't think so. Instead, I'm a big fan about writing what you are passionate about. That passion will shine through any writing. Sometimes writers start out writing in the genre that they love to read. I did. I just couldn't write the romance genre well, but it gave me a wonderful grounding in the basics of writing. I know that I have judged contest entries that are riddled with errors, BUT the author has a wonderful voice and style. Yes, I have to count down on the errors, but I always gush about the voice.

And that's all I have time for today!

Later, Peeps!


Marilyn said...

Okay, since you suggested . . .

Granted, you'll see contest entries that are grammatically perfect but have no heart to them, but haven't you also seen entries that are such a grammatical mess that you couldn't find the heart if it slipped out, bloody, beating in your hand?

I don't think writing with proper punctuation, sentence structure, spelling and word usage ever takes the spark out of a story; if it's there to start with, it stays. But I also know that spark can shine through without perfection elsewhere because it IS there, an integral part of the story.

Over-contesting will definitely extinguish any flame. You know the ones -- they've been polished for 700 chapters until whatever kernel of originality and intrigue and life is gone and should be given a proper burial.

Marilyn said...

Oops . . . 700 CONTESTS.

magolla said...

Ms. M--I've judged some entries that made me want to put my eyes out! They were such a mess that even if the author was grammatically correct the story couldn't be saved! I judged one entry about a year ago, commenting that the story felt 'over-critiqued' and it had lost something in the process. I rec'd a note from the author that, 'this was her story and it had never been critiqued by anyone!' So There!
It still felt over critiqed, but by the author herself, not a group.
--I've seen them all, just like you have, Ms. M. But I will say that I'd rather read a story with heart and soul, but with less than stellar grammar, than a story with perfect grammar, but the story lacks life.

Marilyn said...

Oh, I absolutely agree with you. I'd rather read something that has life and a few mistakes than something dead and perfect.

I remember a story from a while back . . . it could have been a good one, but between 300-word sentences with no punctuation, head-hopping every few lines, misspelled words (that were sometimes hilarious) and truly bizarre sentence structure, I couldn't tell. Sheesh.

magolla said...

Yep, Marilyn, the hard part of judging is to temper the truth a little bit to get your point across without destroying the author's tender ego. The problem is that no matter how you word your comments as constructively as possible you will still be bashed by the author.