Invest in Writing

No image because Blue won’t let me frame without cropping. 

BookBaby showed up in my email inbox some time ago – courtesy, I think, of one of the guys in the veterans’ writing group. A blog post about rules for developing character that originated with Pixar is  geared to novelists but many of those rules can apply to any type of writing. The original list had 22 items. Here’s Liz’s shorter version, applied to writing in general. Grammar appears as in the original. My comments are in italics.

  • You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be v. different. Always step outside of yourself. It will draw the reader in to your world.
  • Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite. And rewrite. And rewrite and rewrite. Repeat.
  • Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front. Sometimes it’s obvious. Often you’ll have to rewrite the whole book once the ending becomes obvious.
  • Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time. Before you let it go, let it sit for a week, a month, six months. Take one more look. Then if it still doesn’t feel good, move on.
  • Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it. Apply this to whatever genre you are writing. Read and re-read them. Make notes.
  • Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone. And never, ever talk about it before you put it on paper. Note that in this tech age, Pixar said “paper.”
  • Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it. That’s the passion. It allows you to keep going in the face of unspeakable sadness, anxiety, and pain.
  • No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later. I haven’t learned that one yet.
  • What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there. I can hear a man I worked for in Philadelphia who was a genius theater person saying, “Clarity.” That’s what it’s all about.

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