Sunday, December 30, 2012

Ooh, I Made That Teacher Mad

"Mr. Dodds, make it complicated!
My students are very bright."

A few years back I was speaking on writing at a private school that went from kindergarten through eighth grade. The big kids were my last classroom visits and, as always, I said pretty much what I had said to the younger kids.

The teens paid attention and seemed to enjoy themselves. I know I did.

Later, I found out at least one of the teachers for that older group complained that what I had been saying was just too simple. Somehow, it was "beneath" their level. The school threatened to not pay my fee and the publisher had to step in and sort things out. (I think he just paid me out of his own pocket. He was a good guy.)

My point here is the basics are the basics are the basics. Whether I'm talking to third-graders or adults, I tell them pretty much the same thing when it comes to writing.

If you stick with the basics, you'll do fine.

You'll finish your novel.

Just keep writing.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Spare Your Readers the Sermonizing!

I remember a sitcom from some 20 years ago that I liked watching until one of the main characters would launch into a long monologue on some topic that, obviously, was near and dear to the producers' hearts.

It ruined the program for me.

If several characters had talked about the issue as part of the plot, and in character, it would have been okay. But this was a lecture. A sermon. A finger-wagging scolding to all who dared to disagree with the producers' point of view. (I don't blame the writer. A TV or movie writer does what he or she is told or has the rewriting done by others higher on the food chain.)

That kind of heavy-handedness can hobble a novel, too.

If you want to write lectures or essays or op-ed pieces or sermons, do it.

But don't drop them into the middle of your novel, or worse yet string several together and call that a "novel."

Tell. A. Story. And . . .

Just keep writing.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Why write?

This morning I was pleased to see Nine Week Novel is in a number one spot and Great-grandfather has a one and a two on a couple of Top 100 Amazon lists.

Those little bits of affirmation, like a "nice job" from someone who reads part of your manuscript, are always pleasant but can be few and far between. Or at least seem that way.  It can be tougher to keep writing every day if you're writing for them.

Write for you.

Write because you're a writer.

And if you write today, you are.

(And let's be even more honest here, those Amazon rankings this morning are in very obscure categories. But still . . . On the other hand, Atheist is at 5898. In the Top 10,000.)

Just keep writing.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Delayed Gratification

Wait for it!

This is an older video of writer Elmore Leonard but I really like what he says in the first minute about getting up early to write and delaying his first cup of coffee until he's written for a while.
I don't have that kind of willpower. I can, however, not get a second cup until I've cranked out some stuff.
On the other hand, I don't have a problem with using a verb besides "said" to say that someone . . . said something.

Here's Elmore:

Just keep writing.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Free Kindle Books

My goodness it's been a while since I posted an update here. I've been pushing to get a novel done by Christmas and I made it. (First full draft.) A gift for my wife, Monica. (What a cheapskate I am.) Years ago I would give her a manuscript for Christmas and it was wonderful to do it once again.

It's been a tough year here, but one filled with many blessings.. Monica is in hospice for stage 4 cancer and we didn't think she'd make it to Christmas.

So many people have been so very good to us.

Ah, yes, but what about the free Kindle books? I'm giving away three books during this season, from Monday, Dec. 24, through Friday, December 28. (And if you get one, read it, and like it, I would appreciate a review on Amazon. Well, that and buy some of my other books. The new one will come out in early 2013. That's the plan anyway.)

These are the freebies:

How to Write Your Novel in Nine Weeks

The World's Funniest Atheist

And, for kids: My Great-grandfather Turns 12 Today

Merry Christmas!

Just keep writing.