Writing 101: Graduation!

If you’ve suffered through the first three lessons on theme, character development and plot, then you’re ready to write. I’d like to discuss a few pointers to help you along, and hopefully make some sense of the blank page looming before you.

The most closely guarded secret to great writing is this: You Have To Write Something For Something To Be Written.
Does that make sense? It should. For all of the books and news articles and papers and magazines and comics and yes, blogs out there, it all comes down to one thing: Writing the first word.

writing with a pen.

Even if you aren’t sure what your first word will be, like the literary infant you are, you have to say your first word. That page or screen will taunt and torment you until you type the first word. I’m sure you’ve heard the old story starter “It was a dark and stormy night.” This is a great thing to write at first. Or “Once upon a time”. These were created long ago to help get the ball rolling when it came to story telling. It sets the mood and timeframe. Think about Star Wars: “A long time ago (timeframe) in a galaxy far, far away” (location). Some people choose to use an action at first, or an event, but regardless, the journey of a thousand pages begins with a single keystroke. Whatever it is, type it as a whole sentence. Then begin building on that sentence, keeping in mind where you want this chapter/scene to end. Begin forming your plan, but for all that’s good and noble, do not stop writing.
Set a timer for ten minutes, press go, and begin writing. (If you can’t find a timer, your microwave probably has one. Look near the Clock button) For ten minutes, just write anything that has to do with your story-whether it’s chronologically accurate or not, just get it out of you and onto the paper. You’ll find you knew more than you thought you did, and may even be irritated that the timer has gone off three minutes too soon. To help get you rolling, try a timeframe starter “It was about noon when so and so walked into the carry-out” or a location starter. “the line at the post office was a mile long and going nowhere.” unplug the phone, turn off the tv/radio/dog, and get to work. (Do this before reading on.)

If you listened to the first lesson and bought a dictionary, look up the words Adjective, Simile, and Hyperbole. Go do that now. (I’m super seriols!)

By combining these three things, you can really make your characters and scenes dynamic. Telling us your home was on “a lake that shone like gold and was as wide as the grand canyon’s big brother”, you’ve really helped us to see that you live on a big and beautiful river. You’ve waited for it and here it is: the telepathy statement. We as writers, are in fact telepaths. What we write as words travels into the brain of the reader and forms an image. The more detailed we make it, the more accurate our telepathy is.

Baby blue Porsche 911

If I write “the blue car”, you now picture a blue car. But what kind of car was it? How should i know. Yet, if i write the baby blue Porshe 911, well, what do you see? Exactly. The brain loves to think, and the more we feed it, the more it wants to be involved. It’s a smart idea to leave some details for the imagination, meaning you don’t want to be TOO detailed, (the light baby blue porshe 911 turbo with red tint window, curved spoiler and flaming tires…ugh! stop!) but if you make your adjectives and nouns fit smoothly together, you can speed the reader up, slow them down, dump them off, and sneak up from behind. Their brain will thank you. If you can put the image in their head without making them search the memorybanks/harddrives of their minds, that is. (Everyone knows blue. Even baby blue. Say powder blue and you may hit a snag. If your reader doesn’t know why a 300 thread count makes the sheets special, you’ve wasted their time and given them doubt as to if they’ll understand the rest of the story. Don’t put details where they don’t need to be.)
Now go back and read what you wrote a bit earlier. Knowing what you know now, rewrite it and see the improvements. Fill me in on if this is helping any of you at all. If not, I’ll quit wasting your time. Until then, though, keep writing!

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