This is the fourth look at Mirriam Neal’s list, and to keep from being totally lost, I highly recommend reading her list first and then reading my posts. I’m sharing my thoughts on HER thoughts, so if you disagree or have a cool idea or thought to share, PLEASE do so. I have by no means arrived as a writer, and before I start on sharing the next two things, let me get up onto my bright indigo soap box for a moment.
SOAP BOX MOMENT:
One of the things which makes me grind my teeth as a writer, is the mind-set that you have to be educated to write. By educated, I mean have a degree in English or literature or have had some sort of extensive training in writing.
These restrictions are such ELITIST TWADDLE. They really are.
I have seen them crush the heart out of writers, I have seen them set bow the head of the hopeful, and I have felt the stinging lash of them over the breadth of my own shoulders. You do not need to have a certificate to write. You do not need to have taken any writing courses to write. You do not need to be taught how to write.
Now, before the grammarians or teachers froth at the mouth, let me qualify that statement by saying you do need to learn grammar and sentence structure. The primary reason for this is to be able to communicate your ideas in the way they will be most readily understood. The secondary reason is so that when you break the rules, you’ll be doing it with purpose and not out of ignorance, and that relates directly to the primary reason.
All the rest of the study of the craft is merely the honing of your own words and your own voice. Others can help you with your writing, but no one can really get you started. Only you can do that.
END OF SOAP BOX MOMENT:
7. Would you want to read it?
This is a more serious issue than you might think. There’s a great temptation today to write what sells and not what you want to write. You can see this with all the clone books that pop up when one makes the New York Times Best Seller’s List, (which is a bit of a three card monte and explain that in the next post) suddenly there are werewolves and vampires and zombies and elves and demi-gods everywhere you look.
There’s nothing wrong with meeting the reader’s appetite for popular things. The issue arises when you are writing something that goes against the grain of your writer soul to do so. You wind up churning out sub-par work and giving up the time you could have been using to write your story. Don’t fall into this mud pit, don’t try to follow what’s hot or popular at the moment, and write that way. You’ll spend a life time chasing fads. Instead write the tale burning in the marrow of your bones. Perhaps, your work will be the one to start a new cycle. But if not, at least you’ll stay true to yourself and be a happier scribe rather than a hollow one.
8. No Insta-Love (unless they’re all ready in love)
Insta-Love is something that makes readers roll their eyes. Two characters are hissing and spitting at each other like mad wet cats, and then suddenly, they are in love, love, love. While it’s true that opposites attract, fighting opposites don’t always make the best couples. This is where the book The Complete Writers Guide to Heroes and Heroines: Sixteen Master Archetypes, comes in handy. It shows why character pairings work, and how to bring a greater depth to your romantic entanglements. My favorite way to deal with romance is to start with two characters all ready working under the steady yoke of friendship and having an implied back story. Michaeli’ina and Valentine arrive on the scene all ready caring about one another, but the reader doesn’t know how much until. . .well something happens.
A couple of tips for you on Romance you’ll find below:
1) If you start out with poles-apart characters then you must move them slowly towards one another. Move them from grudging admiration, to genuine admiration, to friendship, then to crisis, and then to realization of love. (You can kill one of the two off at this point too)
2) Remember what I said about banter? Use the wit of your romantic pairing to underline that they are a romantic pairing (or moving in that direction)
3) Less really is more. It is. The less you show about a couple, the better. As soon as the tension is broken between a romantic interest, their story really needs to end. It’s why the kiss or the wedding used to end the movies and television series. Now, series that break the tension between love interests mid-season wind up having to really odd and out-of-character things to keep the audience interested.
How about that. We’re only two more posts from being finished with this look at Mirriam’s List, and then I’ll make my big announcement.
*Hint* it has to do with ancient Roman Tombstones.
Encourage one another, Scribes!