Friday, August 6, 2010

Thanks for the tip

As a rule, creative writing manuals fall into two camps.

There's the stereotypically male one. Do this. Follow these instructions. Here are ten bestselling novelists. Read them and do exactly what they did. This is a good approach if your hobbies include going to Bellevue and shopping for a new straitjacket.

Then there's the stereotypical female. Find out how you feel. Face your issues. Here are eight to fourteen things you can find while searching your navel. Reading these you can waste time facing personal problems that either you're not ready to deal with or that you don't actually have.

Kelly Link's roundup isn't a book. In hard copy it would be a magazine article of a couple of pages. There isn't really that much to say. But what she does say is helpful.

The exercise of starting with one sentence and going onto the next, say. It gives you the idea, "Why don't I try to make every sentence a keeper?" Is this possible? I don't know. Probably not. But the attempt is energizing, not tiring.

Recently I went back to a project that I had played with and sort of given up on. It was the usual deal for me. Start out with what seems like an interesting idea. Meander. Get a few pages done and sort of give up. This time out, though, a funny thing happened. The interesting idea led to other interesting ideas. As time went on I got more keyed up, not less. And while endings suck in general, I managed to wrap this draft up in a way that wasn't embarassing.

There have been other changes in my life and outlook lately, and these have helped too. But I figure I should at least give Link's advice partial credit.


susan said...

I've never been a writer but for the hundreds (maybe thousands) of letters written to my mother over the course of many years. I remember once when I was visiting she said that much as she loved me being there she really missed the letters.

The one thing I did have going for me was my ability to pull a coherent and sometimes funny story out of my own experiences. Since the blog actually required, or seemed so to me, to require something written I decided to use my drawing abilities to illustrate some of those tales and thus Adventure's Ink was born. They don't read up to my personal literary requirements but they have improved recently and I plan to continue.

The article by Kelly Link is definitely a good one and I'm glad it gave you a new way of looking at your own work. You really are a very good writer and I look forward to reading that story of yours.

susan said...

Oops, that was supposed to be this but you know the way :-)

Ben said...

Okay, cleaning out Asian porn, cleaning out Asian porn...

I love hanging out at Adventures Ink. It's just such a beautiful place to be. The picture of the monkeys carrying crow on the stretcher had me worried. Glad he's okay.

One thing I like about your writing is that it's personal. I can hear you when I read you. I'm guessing she liked that too.