Sunday, December 28, 2014

Post-Holiday Gifts for Readers and Writers

No wrapping required, and most novel readers or writers want these goodies:

For the reader who wants to have everything:

Give readers tension and momentum.
Page-turners are fun. No matter how elevated the subject, readers read novels for fun. Slogging through backstory, wordiness, or redundant scenes better summarized rarely produces much fun.

Give readers originality.
Stock characters, situations, language, or outcome can, but shouldn’t be, comical.

Give readers a full-blown escape from reality.
Most of us read novels to avoid paying bills, sorting the laundry, or turning out the light and wondering if sleep will come easily tonight. Protect your readers from their own reality, which intrudes with even a second of implausibility, familiarity, boredom, silliness, grossness. Instead? Supply what readers came for: a trip into a world you created just for them.

For the writer who has everything:

Which writer is this? Every novelist I know wants to be better at handling plot or metaphors, suffers from blockage or excess, and frets over adoring or loathing revision. The one thing writers agree on is never having enough time.

Give yourself time.
That doesn’t mean texting, gaming, or alphabetizing cd’s to avoid starting the next chapter. Nor does it mean interminably rewriting the opening chapters to avoid what’s next. But agonizing about time drains energy, stifles soul, and—wastes time.

Give yourself honesty.
Why completely depend on your writing partner or critique group to point out what isn’t working? You won’t always know; that’s what critique is for. But often you do know. When you do? Listen. Put your energy into revising--not rationalizing.

Give yourself stimulation.
Daydream. Relish sensory experiences. Plunge into the world of your fiction, even if that means researching, watching related movies, exploring dead ends.

Give yourself tenderness.
As Robert Browning put it, high standards help us reach for heaven. But do your standards set you up for failure? Discipline is great, but unrealistic goals demolish creativity. If writing just makes you unhappy, why bother?

Tip: Be good to your readers. Be good to yourself.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.