The best thing about getting into the flow of writing is that it becomes easier to make the series of decisions to create a scene. Steve Almond (go buy his book of flash fiction and essays on writing now) and others have pointed out that writing is decision-making. It follows that if you want to improve your writing, improve your decision making. For me, it flows when those decisions come from the intuitive level.
Monthly Archives: January 2010
Something to think about over the weekend: Dialog is people saying no to each other in interesting ways. It is about people talking, but can often be about people not communicating (thanks to Rob Roberge)
The Book Publicity Blog makes the case for authors not approaching show producers on their own.
Pamela Dorman discusses her imprint at Penguin.
A number of authors are addressing themes of loneliness, including Paolo Giordano in The Solitude of Prime Numbers, a book getting a lot of buzz.
Oh dear. I just figured out what I need to do to be done with this novel before my vacation. I really need 5 good pages a day. That seems daunting at the moment. Here is a roundup of writerly habits. It runs the gamut – no big surprise there. No formula, except finding what works for you. Okay, deep breath and back to it.
Neil Gaiman’s library to be specific. Still trying to distract myself from the Chargers depressing loss to the Jets (heavy sigh).
Variety of book reviews. I was most interested in Joshua Ferris’ The Unnamed. I am less interested after looking through the reviews, though most are giving him props for taking a risk.
Yesterday I read an appallingly bad script that purported to be a comedy. There was nothing original or funny about it. It was a string of cliches and a few set pieces in which characters acted out for no particular reason. None of the action was grounded in character. Yeah, I didn’t like it!
It did get me thinking about comedy a bit. One of my mentors maintains that funny and sad go together and I think he’s right. You need contrast and funny doesn’t occur in a vacuum. If you want to create the kind of tension necessary for comic relief, well, what do you think you need? Not empty silliness. This was underscored watching Chaplin’s City Lights last week.
There’s a quote attributed to either Woody Allen or Carol Burnett (depending on your source) that comedy is tragedy plus time. Well, maybe. More here. What it can be is timeless. Just read a good translation of The Clouds by the Father of Comedy, Aristophanes.
Whether you’re writing comedy, drama, or something in between, you still need vivid characters, a good story and an original voice. Now go write something.
UPDATE: The real tragedy right now is, of course, Haiti and there are scores of excellent relief organizations: Mercy Corps, Doctors Without Borders, Catholic Charities are just a few. Over 90% of your donation to Catholic Charities goes to the need. The others are also highly rated by the watchdog groups like Charity Navigator.
What’s your incentive to keep going when the writing’s a tough slog?
I”m trying something different to start the new year. I was having difficulty keeping up with my writing schedule last summer into fall and then my mom passed away in late September. In taking care of all those details such as notifying Social Security, the banks and so on, (not to mention the emotional toll) my writing fell away. Since I already wasn’t writing, I figured, eh, after the holidays. So here I am and have teamed up with another writer for accountability. We send our goals out each Sunday and check in giving an accountability report with the work for the week attached on Friday. The new thing for me? Consequences! The writer who doesn’t meet their goals must buy the other a $5 gift card and that penalty increases over time. Yikes! Okay, I’ll write, I’ll write!
This week: writing 3 pages, applying for a fellowship, creating an Author Page on Amazon, and updating this blog. One down….
Oh, by the way, spent New Year’s Eve with family and friends, including one of People Magazine’s Sexiest Men Alive. Yeah, 2010 is going to be great!