There is a plethora of writing advice out there. So much to choose from you virtually get lost in a sea of advice. And who do you trust? Why even trust me?
Let me give you some background and let you decide.
I’ve been writing since eleven. Those first years were more plotting than writing. For the first decade after school, I paused writing in order to study law. After passing and being admitted as a lawyer, I started writing again. My first book. A romance. Written without a clue. Afterwards, I wanted to try my hand at fantasy. So, I began to learn the craft. I’ve followed blogs like Nathan Bransford’s blog since way back then. All the while writing that fantasy. This time I wrote I following the three Act structure. I even received a place in a writing contest.
And I finished my fantasy.
But, by gosh, it was rubbish. So I scrapped half, and tried again. I finished again. Still crap. Scrapped the new half again. I finished again. I told the story from three points of view. I wasn’t up to that challenge yet. I paused to have three kids.
A stroke only 10% of people survive derailed my legal career. Not my hopes of writing. After 15 months in hospital, I wrote my memoir which was signed by an agent in a week. Unfortunately, although publishers loved it, they felt it was for too much of a niche market to make them enough money. So, it’s now self published upon my agent’s recommendation.
Back to my fantasy, typing with three fingers on my non-dominant hand. I realised, I needed to concentrate on one main character. I’d bit off more than I could chew. I wrote a main character and discovered, it wasn’t his story! So I scrapped another 60,000 words. I needed to learn how to tackle one character first, before I tried more than one. I needed to learn so much: character arc, show don’t tell, recognising passive voice, dialogue, subtext, character motivation, character goals, foreshadowing, writing the antagonist and the list goes on. And I needed to twist any tropes to make my story interesting.
I think I ended up deleting those 20,000 words I’d kept too.
The last two years I’ve spent reading books on the craft, reading blogs, critiquing manuscripts, watching YouTube videos on the craft and writing. And seeing as I can’t walk, that’s two years 9-12am, bum in seat. Plus, the first half of this year I’ve also been involved in a weekly critique group.
As a side, the most recent books to transform my writing? Dazzling Dialogue and How to Write a Dynamite Scene.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned on this journey, it’s when I begin to type, “Harry killed the zombies to clear the path.” I stop and consider the “to clear the path” (anything that follows ‘to’). Do I need it? Am I telling too much (chances are, it’s a yes)? Shouldn’t I let a reader infer what’s happening (chances are that’s a yes too)? ‘To’ and what follows can be justified, but it’s a question of judgement. Unless this is a first book (and it’s not), I’ll stop myself. It helps I’m forced to type slow. I can’t speak for all the able bodied writers out there.
So I ask, can you trust me? There will those who think ‘yes’ and there will be those who think ‘no’. And that’s fine. Either way, happy writing!