Tag Archives: writing

Be Your Biggest Advocate

You must be your biggest advocate.

This is a tough one, but so very necessary. Stand behind your work.

I guess there is a bit of bravado about it, some protectiveness for your “baby”, but what it really boils down to is passion. Either you love what you created, or you don’t. If you do, then shout it to the world. If you aren’t proud, then you are either in the wrong business, or it is time to go back to the drawing board.

Creativity is a tough gig, because it is so very subjective. What you think is fantastic, another might see as mediocre. But if you are going to sell your work, you have to be inspiring, you have to inspire others to get onboard about it. You have to be your own biggest advocate. Your passion will shine through.

The only danger is tipping into arrogance, where you fail to listen to feedback that could help you to improve your craft. So don’t forget to be open, and listen to what people have to say.

Unsolicited advice seems to fall under 2 categories.

  • The critique
  • The criticism

Okay, I know that these two words seem almost exactly the same, but they do own different connotations.

The critique, offers constructive ideas and opinions. People will be speaking from a place of caring and helpfulness. They want you to improve, even if it seems like harsh advice at the time.

The criticism has an altogether different agenda. It comes from people who are looking for a way to tear you down, tear apart your work, and make you feel like you should give up. It is mean, for the sake of being mean – like a bully.

Learn to distinguish between the two, because nothing creative happens in a vacuum, and feedback is the most important tool in your creativity arsenal.

Abandon your Inner Censor

When you write, you must abandon your inner censor.Abandon your Inner Censor

This is especially true when writing the antagonist’s point of view. If you cannot allow yourself to be despicable, how will you write this character?

I have had several people comment to me after reading my books that they wouldn’t want to meet me in a dark alley.
It isn’t me. It’s my characters. And when I get those comments, I know that I have done a good job.

Another place where the inner censor can raise its head and cause stilted writing is in the creation of scenes that involve sex or violence. How much is too much? What is gratuitous, and what is necessary in order to move the story and character development along? It can be tough to tell, especially if the scene is outside your comfort zone.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does this scene provoke an emotional reaction?
  • Is it integral to the story. If I delete it will the story be lessened?
  • Is it within the character’s nature to behave that way?
  • Is it important to the character development to keep this scene?
  • Have I gone far enough / too far?

If you find yourself thinking something like this:

  • What will Mom/Dad think when they read this?
  • People are going to think I’m a freak!

It is your inner censor attempting to stilt your creativity. Writing about sex, doesn’t make you a pervert, any more than writing about violent wars makes you a general. The human experience is filled with uncomfortable quirks, and if you are not willing to explore them for the sake of well-rounded, realistic characters, then you are automatically dooming your writing to be mediocre.

To overcome your inner censor, try these exercises:

  • Create a scene that you would normally avoid. Do it again, and again. It will begin to desensitize you to the subject matter.
  • Read how other authors have handled similar scenes for inspiration.

My Characters are Pushing Me Around

How schizophrenic do I sound? My Characters are Pushing Me Around. A writer friend and I were talking about this phenomena.

I’ve been writing for a long time. One of the most frustrating experiences is when a character refuses to behave as you wish them to.

I go into a chapter with a clear path all marked out, an outline of what needs to happen, the emotions that have to be expressed, when suddenly, out of nowhere, my characters start doing things that I didn’t expect and didn’t want. I realize that they’ll soon have me cowering in a corner begging them for a breadcrumb pathway out of the dead-end scene. So here’s my 2 strategies for when my characters are pushing me around.

1) DELETE, DELETE, DELETE, DELETE 🙂 – The easy solution. Puts them in their place. FAST!

or, if it looks like they might have something worthwhile to add

2) Let the characters play through

I really love to let the characters play through, and here is why.

Our subconscious is thinking about things in a way our conscious minds cannot track. I believe that this is where our characters get their will to try to control their destiny. Just as you have the book laid out in your mind, of who the characters are, and of how they are to react, your subconscious may be 30 pages ahead of you, recognizing a greater plot or emotional pivot opportunity that you have not acknowledged consciously yet. The characters pushing you around, may be a manifestation of your subconscious setting up for a great event.

Just be warned: though these little id battles can create beautiful rich sub-plots, that you, as the author, need to steer the story with a hand at 10 and 2 at all times.
Everything that you write must have a purpose within the story, otherwise, it needs to be cut. DELETE, DELETE, DELETE, DELETE 🙂