For better of worse, I sometimes think maybe I could write fiction.
So my ears perked up when I heard this how-to information on the radio:
- Give the reader at least one character she can root for.
- Every character should want something—even if it’s only a glass of water
- Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.
- Start as close to the end as possible.
- Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your main characters, make awful things happen to them in order that the reader will know what they’re made of.
- Write to please just one person.
- Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible.
Elements of the short story:
- Rising Action
Write no more than 10,000 words.
Notes from Octavia E. Butler:
- Take classes and go to workshops.
- Write every day.
- Submit for publication.
- Forget about inspiration and talent; persistence and stubbornness are the keys.
- Don’t worry about imagination – your journal writing will take care of that.
Features of Best Sellers:
- Address hot-button social issue (unresolved conflict of national consciousness)
- Show fractured families
- Feature protagonists who are outsiders
- Describe American Dream (dream deferred, dream perverted) is a motif
- Reveal secret societies (Think Twilight)
- Connect with readers (heart, gut)
7 thoughts on “Writing Advice to Self”
I love number six from Octavia E. Butler. I find inspiration everywhere…I don’t know about talent 😉 but you DO have to be persistant and stubborn, it’s too easy to get several dozen rejection letters and quit.
I think my goal for 2014 might be to see how many rejection letters I can get. At least that would show I’m getting out there and giving it a shot. Right now, I’m working on a stubborn idea that’s fighting back. 🙂
I love the advice you’ve heard on the radio and especially number 6 (“Write to please just one person”) and I also love number 6 from Octavia E. Butler. I’m gonna copy these lists into my little notebook:)
Thanks! It’s funny when I first heard number 6, I kind of had someone in mind, but then after I thought about it for a while, if you write to please one person, shouldn’t that one person be yourself?
That this person should be me was my first thought, actually;) Because that makes the most sense… But my largest piece of writing (can’t really call it a novel yet) is definitely directed at one person, a bit like a long letter…
Whenever I do art, without reservation it’s always been for myself. Now that I think about it, I don’t know why I wouldn’t have the same approach to writing.
Good luck on your novel! Let me know how it goes.
This reminds me of Vonnegut’s advice for short stories.