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Don’t say you’re trying to be a writer. If you’re writing then you are a writer. Publication is nice, but has nothing to do with the definition

May 7, 2013 at 12:28 pm

I have a lot of trouble living up to this statement. Even when I was the editor of a magazine and writing for it as well, I was too ashamed to call myself a writer, mainly because I didn’t have a degree that said I could write. It can be difficult to consider yourself a writer if you haven’t been published, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t. Earning a degree in writing doesn’t mean you are, either. After all, writers write, they don’t just have bits of paper saying they can do it. If you want to be a writer […]

Dishonesty in Authors?

April 29, 2013 at 6:49 am

I’ve recently been having an animated discussion in one of the forums on Goodreads. One of the posters there claims that Stephenie Meyer, author of The Twilight Saga, was dishonest because she changed the definition of the substance her vampires are made of. While I personally cannot see the contradictions in the information he/she has posted, that may be because anything scientific causes my eyes to glaze over. But the question I wanted to ask here is, if she did change it deliberately because the earlier definition couldn’t hold up under scientific scrutiny, does that mean she has been ‘intellectually […]

Revise, revise. You never get it on the first try. Art shows up in rewriting.

April 24, 2013 at 12:48 pm

Boy, am I glad to hear that! I heard another well known author say the other day that the first draft is never the one that is published and that’s so true, but I think that might surprise a few people who are starting out as writers. It is certainly something that is good to remember. If you are starting out as a writer and you get something back from a publisher saying that your book still needs work, don’t despair. All books do. It’s difficult for an author to be objective about their work because they are too close […]

Love rejection. Rejection is evidence you are in the game. If you’re striking out, it means you got up to bat.

April 17, 2013 at 2:12 pm

I wish I could say this was true for me. Rejection is something I hate with a passion. I’m already dreading my first bad review (something that is inevitable!) because I know it will be difficult to handle. But handle it I must. I guess it’s a matter of perspective. Rejection means you tried in the first place, which is a battle in itself. It makes you better than the person who never tried. They didn’t have the courage to open themselves up to the possibility of rejection. You did. That should be something we celebrate. When I wrote my […]

The First Duty of a Writer is to Entertain

April 11, 2013 at 12:25 pm

This is so true. Let’s face it, most of us read books simply for entertainment. It’s the same with TV and movies. Most of us want something, first and foremost, that will take us out of the every day and provide some enjoyment. Of course, that doesn’t mean that your writing shouldn’t be profound. Most people like to find a moral of some sort in the story; something the writer is trying to communicate. But if your writing is only philosophical and abstract, it may impress the most high brow reader (at least, they’ll pretend to be impressed because they […]

The Beginning is the Most Important

April 7, 2013 at 8:02 am

It can be tricky to write the beginning of a novel. That ideal starting point can be elusive, especially when you’re trying to grab the reader’s attention immediately, while introducing them to your world and everyone in it. It can be difficult to find that spot that engages the reader’s interest while establishing your story. One of the best opening scenes I’ve ever seen in a movie is the opening of Raiders of the Lost Ark. It is instantly engaging, beginning in the middle of one of Indiana Jones’ adventures. The story, at that point, has nothing to do with […]

Save your Best for Last?

April 3, 2013 at 1:01 pm

This is an old saying, but does it apply to a novel or any sort of writing? Certainly the climax of a novel is often my favourite part, as I experience the terror of what my protagonists are going through and what they have to defeat in order to achieve their goal, so what comes last is clearly important. But should we save our best for last? Should we save our best at all, or should it be something that permeates the entire book? And this isn’t true just of writing. It strikes me how wrong this phrase can be. […]

The Worth of a Book

March 29, 2013 at 10:13 am

James Bryce said that ‘The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it’. If you’re like me, then the books you read leave indelible marks on your soul. I often find when I read a novel that part of it remains with me (depending on the type of book it is). This is why I steer clear of book of certain genres, like horror. I know I will be left with impressions that may well disturb me, both in waking hours and in my dreams, for years. So I think I agree […]

Greatness in Books

March 25, 2013 at 6:50 am

What makes a book great? Is it something that can be measured? I’m not sure it can. There’s no doubt that technique helps. If you follow the techniques laid down in writing, you will be more successful in communicating with the reader. Since most books set out to communicate something, technique is a good thing if it helps with that. But does technical brilliance alone define the greatness of a book? Does technical brilliance come into it at all? I guess it depends who’s doing the judging. Naturally, people who understand those techniques and try to utilise them will notice […]

“These rules, pressed far enough, contradict each other. Such is the nature of rules for art.”

March 21, 2013 at 9:36 pm

I came across this quote just the other day with another set of rules for authors and I think it sums up my response to many of the rules I have just looked at for writing a modern novel. Rules can be broken, unlike laws which are more binding. Rules are things you have in a game, and if everyone agrees, they can be changed for the benefit of all. Certainly, it’s clear the rules I have just been looking at did not apply when people like Jane Austen and Charles Dickens were writing. So they will probably change with […]