We meet again at the dawn of a new work week. It is my hope that you are well and that you are on your way to achieving your personal and/or professional goals this week!
I wanted to take some time in this post to share some thoughts with you. There isn’t much new to report in terms of writing: after beginning on Book Three in my WWII collection last week, the manuscript is still getting off the ground. Also, I am getting forty hours at my part-time job this week, so writing will be minimal for the next handful of days. With that being said, I thought I’d talk about a few things writing-related and throw in a few pictures from my trip to break up the text. So here we go…
Buildings on the Marktplatz in Rothenburg, Germany
The first thing I’d like to talk about today revolves around writing habits. I am currently reading a book called Write. Publish. Repeat. by Johnny B. Truant and Sean Platt. In it, they talk about a great many things they do as writers, and how those things are grounded as solid writing practices. One thing that stood out to me while reading just last night was their urging to “write fast” in the early phases of manuscript drafting. By this, they mean that it is better to get your thoughts onto the page (and edit later) rather than get caught in the mire of self-doubt and self-editing along the way, thus setting yourself up to become frustrated (and possibly not write much more, if at all).
I wholeheartedly agree with this notion. Despite being somewhat guilty of editing-as-I-go myself, I try to avoid that and get my ideas fleshed out first before worrying a lot about what the final draft will look like. I know going into a project that the first draft will never be the final draft, so I don’t set out to do that; any solid, successful writer will tell you that’s a fool’s errand. If you are a new writer and are thinking, “Psh. That doesn’t apply to me because I understand grammar and how to compose words into paragraphs and chapters and such, AND I got an A+ in English!” then please reevaluate yourself. Even though I have not been writing for very long (almost a year), I can tell you that I have read enough advice from others who have, and they are good at what they do. That’s one bit of advice I have for aspiring authors: don’t be cocky about your writing.
Neuschwanstein Castle in southern Germany
The next talking point on my list revolves around layering your story. Quite a while ago, I had jotted down some thoughts in my Notes phone app on this subject, and I figured now would be a perfect time to relay those thoughts to you. In my opinion (and experience), it is good to layer a story because it gives it depth. Readers like depth. I’m not saying depth in the sense like you’re going to “Inception” your reader out of their mind (because that’s getting into a specific genre, not a type of writing practice). What I’m saying is that by using certain literary devices, you can make parts of your story stand out.
For example, adding flashbacks and revealing dialogue can give your plot more pizzazz without actually having to use precious page space to go into great detail of a past event. Also, emotion and tension are two very key tools when it comes to moving your plot along. So if you carefully put all of that together, you have the opportunity to produce a fantastic story line that makes the reader want to turn more pages. It definitely takes practice to get the hang of it (and I am in no way saying that I have mastered it), but that’s just a part of writing.
To make your reader say “Wow!” even more, you can add a plot shock to your story. Think of it this way: when a person is in need of a defibrillator, they are either showing very weak signs of a heartbeat, or no heartbeat at all. Let’s just assume the latter case and say they’re temporarily dead. To revive that person and change their heart rate to what is desired (an ideally healthy 100 BPM), a defibrillator is used.
In that analogy, the heart rate is your story and the defibrillator is the plot shock. If the story is slowing down or already close to dying, shock it with a twist in the plot. A well placed plot twist can work wonders in the mind of a reader.
View of Heidelberg from the castle in Heidelberg, Germany
The final item on my list today revolves around self-evaluation. From time to time, I find myself thinking about what I’m writing and what it all will mean years down the road. Will my books be read? What will people think of my books? Will I be able to eventually write for a living, doing something I love? I would like to think the answers to those questions will be good answers, but there’s no way of telling right now. And so I turn the spotlight over to you – what do you think of your writing in terms of your endgame objective? Do you ask yourself questions like these? What kinds of thoughts enter your consciousness? I believe it is a good thing to question ourselves and evaluate what we do, because it helps give us direction in our writing. That’s just some food for thought.
Outer wall of the Dachau concentration camp proper near Munich, Germany
I have mentioned in the recent past that some things are going on behind the scenes on my end, and that I would talk about them more in the coming weeks. I will say now that I have begun putting into motion a few ideas, one of which will manifest itself soon. I will release more details when that time gets closer. Just know that I am excited about what I am doing and where it might take me.
Until next time,