The holidays are over ... um, somewhat. It's kind of hard to get the children back in the groove of things when there are so many new games to play and the tree is still up. But for me, personally, it's time to put nose to grindstone -- butt in chair; fingers to keyboard -- and get cracking! I have to get this book, DREAM WALK, done. It's been way too long a work in progress...and since I finally have my paranormal world figured out, I need to let these two would-be lovers fight their demons (literal and figurative) and find their happy ever after.
But first .... on to my promised 'lessons'. I'll start with a question I was asked at my recent book signing:
How do you get started writing?
That one is kind of tough. I feel you need at least two things to begin your career as a writer:
2. An idea
Let's take the second one first:
Where do ideas come from? Well, for me, they can come from anywhere. The lyrics of a song. Another book, a movie or play. A 'what if?' question that pops into my head. A lot of ideas come from the age old past-time of people-watching. No, I'm not talking about peeping Tom here...I just mean sitting in a public place or event and watching the people around you. Everyone has a story -- most probably wouldn't make for a great adventurous novel -- but add a little imagination to the mix and you just might find an idea germinating.
Now for the hard part:
Talent, well, there's somewhat of a debate there. Are writer's born or made? Many have strong feelings on either side. I feel it's a bit of both. However, if you aren't 'born' with the writing gift or inclination, no amount of tutoring is going to turn you into the next Nora Roberts or Stephen King. (Let's face it, there probably will never be another King.)
Writing has to come from within. There has to be a storyteller lying in wait inside your brain -- a voice that 'speaks' to you and demands you write it all down. Some say there is a fine line between the insane and writers. I say there's not much of a line at all. ;) But as long as the voices aren't telling you that you're God or that someone (except a fictional character) needs to die, you're probably as sane as any writer can get.
In my not so humble opinion, if you have the urge to tell stories...if your imagination goes into overdrive anytime you see a glove on the side of a road or hear sirens in the distance... if you really and truly desire to write, then you can learn to do just that.
But how do you learn? Hopefully you paid attention in English classes -- no, you don't need to conjugate verbs or identify participles, thank goodness -- but you do need to understand and make use of basic grammar, punctuation, etc. Then you have to feel free enough...and be good enough...to break those rules in the process. At least some of them.
Writing...good, strong writing...comes from years of doing two things: reading & writing.
Sounds trite? Too easy? Think again. You don't copy what others do, but you learn from their mistakes and their triumphs. If you read a scene in a book that sweeps you away -- figure out what it is that makes it so. Is it the use of verbs? The description? The dialogue? How is it unique or special to you?
If you read a novel that you just want to heave against the wall (yes, I have actually done this, but I won't tell who the author was) -- decipher those emotions as well.
Writers must constantly grow, learn and hone their craft. If they stop; the writing suffers. Read the classics you ignored during school. Get a word-a-day calendar and make yourself increase your vocabulary. If you hear or read a great metaphor or simile, make note of it. Words are your paint and the more you know, the more vibrant your writing can become.
So... do you still want to try? Do you have determination? A thick skin? Are the voices in your head clamoring for their turn? Then sit down, put you fingers to the keyboard and WRITE!
Don't worry about being perfect at the start -- chances are, you won't be. But if you don't write something, ANYTHING, your dream ends here.
Follow your dream and hold on tight. It's bound to be a bumpy ride.
**Next time: What is point of view?**