Monday 16 December 2013

The Best Way To Improve Your Writing


There’s only so much you can get out of preparation. 

If you want to teach someone to swim there’s certainly no harm in explaining the basics to them and giving them an idea of what to expect, but when it comes down to it there’s no substitute for getting in the water.

In fact, explaining nothing and giving them a shove is often the best method. Certainly the quickest.

Will they panic and flail around making things worse? Most likely, yes. But they’ll figure it out. They won’t drown (even if it feels like they’re going to). 

With writing—and pretty much everything else—preparation only gets you to the edge of the swimming pool. The rest you can only learn by diving in.

Monday 9 December 2013

The Logic of Illogical Characters


It is often suggested that when writing fiction you don’t want to tell your audience the answer is 4, you want to put 2 and 2 in front of them and let them work it out.

This is a powerful way of getting them involved in the story. If they’re putting things together in their head then they’re participating in the narrative, which is what you want.

But the way logic works once people are involved is not always the same as it works in mathematics.

Sometimes 2+2=5, and when you put that in front of your audience they will want to know what the hell you mean and demand an explanation. And there’s nobody more involved than someone wanting answers.

Monday 2 December 2013

Using Deadlines To Get That Story Finished


If you happen to be feeling very motivated and enthusiastic about your story, then sitting down and writing it isn’t going to be a problem. 

When you’re writing as fast as you can and all synapses are firing you really don’t need any particular structure or technique to your process. You write until you can’t write anymore, and then you get up the next day and do it again.

In a perfect world with plenty of free time and no distractions there would be no excuse for not getting those words onto the page. But things don’t always work out that way and most of us find plenty of reasons to give up and watch TV instead.

One method you might find useful if, like me, you’re not always delighted by the prospect of sitting at the computer with no end in sight, is to set yourself deadlines. Not just one, but many. 
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