ARTICLE #1 - Get out of your head and write…
Well now, let’s get started, and get you out of your head and put thoughts to pen and paper, or pad, napkin, or even rag; whatever you have available in front of you, and whenever you can snatch a spare moment to write. There are no excuses. If you’re a writer, write.
You have a story. But where do you start? Believe it or not, you start anywhere. That’s right. Start with whatever thoughts you’re thinking, or with whatever plot is reeling around in your head. It can be with a character’s description, or a theme, or even a question. Just start. Let it pour out of you. And please, don’t worry about grammar, plot, or character development, or even logistics during the outpouring. Giving birth to a story is like a woman giving birth to a baby. It will have all kinds of “gunk” stuck to it. But one thing’s for sure; it has to come out…head first, foot first or C-section from the middle. Likewise, your story needs to get out into the world.
Once that labor of love is over, it will be time to hone in on your writing skills.
Writing is a skill. It is a skill that comes through years of trial and error. I’ve met writers, both published and unpublished, in writing groups and conferences, and have picked up valuable tips in approaching the craft. And, if you’re a new writer or, like me, seasoned, I would like to share these valuable tips and guidelines with you, and also hear your thoughts, suggestions and questions.
In this article, I will start by briefing you on your first primary concern: “Voice.” Voice is a term used to illustrate an author’s unique writing style; their use of syntax, diction, and their delivery of dialogue found within any story or body of text. Your writer’s voice can be light and playful, witty and fast-paced, dark and moody, or even sensual. In developing voice, you may test a variety of styles and techniques in writing, depending for whom you’re speaking to, such as your readers.
In developing voice, whether first or third person, just remember to become your character and let that character burnish through every sentence you write. To help you become more aware of writer’s voice, it would be a wise practice to read works by authors who write in the genre of your interest. When you read, listen to the voice speaking. Whatever the genre, you should listen to how that particular writer expresses themselves through their characters. Most times when we read, we read for the pleasure of the story experience. But as a writer, you should adapt to hearing the author’s voice in order to help develop your own. Beware, though, that voice comes through lots of practice and takes time to develop, hopefully evolving as you mature as a writer. Whether you’re younger or older, new to writing or a seasoned writer, you should continue to grow and be open to new and progressive writing styles and techniques. For example, the way authors wrote, let’s say, 30 years ago may not be marketable for today’s readers.
Now that writer’s voice has your attention, the following are a few books you may want to read, all written by renowned authors and/or editors on the various aspects of writing, including voice, style, and technique.
Orson Scott Card, Elements of Fiction Writing / Characters & Viewpoint, and How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy
David Gerrold, Worlds of Wonder / How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy
James Scott Bell, Plot and Structure; Conflict and Suspense; Revision and Self-Editing for Publication, and The Art of War for Writers
Janet Burroway & Susan Weinbery, Writing Fiction – 6th Edition
Now let’s take a quick look at what’s planned for future articles that may include topics on which you may already have questions. For a new writer, these topics to be covered are important areas to keep in mind as you develop your story. As we progress, please feel free to comment, question, or expound on any concerns you may have. At the beginning, I will cover the following:
Developing believable characters; it is imperative in fiction writing.
The importance of knowing your potential readers. You must know the audience your work is targeting in regards to their age group, intelligence, and, even, gender if necessarily appropriate to your work. You wouldn’t write a book for professional women on a subject that only appealed to adolescent boys.
It’s also important to know and understand your characters thoroughly. As well, you must understand from whose point of view (POV) the story’s being told – in whose head the reader is experiencing the tale.
Know your subject and the time period in which the story is taking place, whether futuristic, present, or is set in the past. Do your research so that you become completely familiar with the genre in which you’re working.
Stay focused on the direction of your plot and subplots. Pay close attention to logistics and choice of words so that you present the story clearly in the language jargon your readers will understand.
Know how to choose correct word choice (WC) and use good sentence structure, which can make a tremendous difference between run-of-the-mill versus amazing storytelling. With every rewrite, remember to keep your sentences and thoughts well structured. Don’t ramble. Keep the story moving. And, rewrite, rewrite, rewrite, until it’s right.
These topics will get us started. There are other areas in fiction writing we’ll get to later, but these will be addressed and discussed first. Don’t forget: Your contributions, questions, suggestions and so forth are encouraged. So please, let me know your thoughts. Meanwhile, for now, let’s dip our quills and…write!
:) C. R. Swainward