Sunday, January 4, 2015

Happy New Writer Resolutions

Lots of folks, including writers, consider resolutions hopelessly artificial. Yet there’s a good chance you recently promised someone (even if only yourself) that you’d exercise more, eat healthier, and quit muttering obscenities at thoughtless drivers unaware of your existence. Resolved anything about your writing? It never hurts to take stock, make plans, celebrate successes, and renew goals. Starting now.

Craft resolutions

~ Don’t deprive readers of the chance to infer.
~ Don’t irritate readers with extra words, gratuitous information, or belaboring of setting, emotion, or anything else.
~ Don’t be afraid of the dark: “…literature begins at the well you leaned over as a child and with the black fear that looked up at you from its depths. From the puppy you patted that turned out to be rabid.” – Aharon Appelfeld’s  Suddenly, Love (translated by Jeffrey M. Green)
~ Don’t patronize: “A good writer, like a good lover, must create a pact of trust with the object of his/her seduction that remains qualified, paradoxically, by a good measure of uncertainty, mystery and surprise.” –  Francine du Plessix Gray
~ Do choose details that take readers where you want their minds to go.
~ Do introduce a third character: “Character triangles make the strongest character combination and are the most common in stories…there’s actually a rather obvious reason for it: balance…. One person isn’t enough to get full interaction. Two is possible, but it doesn’t have a wild card to make things interesting. Three is just right.” –  Ronald B. Tobias
~ Do cut scenes that don’t fulfill their purpose: “If the character leaves the scene essentially as s/he entered it, your reader may become emotionally disengaged. However, if the scene shows great character development but doesn’t move the plot along, then it’s only done half a job. Good scenes should do both.”  –  Rachel Simon

Psychological Resolutions

~ Do try to write (or think about your writing) every day. Even if you can only squeeze out fifteen minutes.
~ Do formulate realistic goals. Then meet them.
~ Do embrace risk: “All the intelligence and talent in the world can’t make a singer. The voice is a wild thing. It can’t be bred in captivity. It is a sport, like the silver fox. It happens.” –  Willa Cather
~ Do learn from your mistakes: “There is such a thing as the poetry of a mistake, and when you say, ‘Mistakes were made,’ you deprive an action of its poetry, and you sound like a weasel.” ― Charles Baxter
~ Do be yourself: “The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.” –  Neil Gaiman
~ Do respect your talent enough to demand your best from yourself.
~ Do respect yourself enough to be kind and realistic about own very human foibles.

Tip: A good writing year mixes discipline with tenderness, high standards with empathy.

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