The past couple of years the culinary buffet has been about as popular as a cough in an elevator. Not so the metaphorical buffet of writing circles, critique partners and other peer feedback. But sometimes all this amazing (and sometimes contradictory) feedback can leave a writer confused with a side of panic.
Patience. What does that word mean to you? To me, it is taking a deep breath and persisting—often uphill—with faith that I will get there in the end. It’s a habit and a state of mind, and it requires a lot of practice. Fortunately, as writers, the practice comes whether we want it or not.
Last month, I wrote about the importance of real world experience in writing sensorial details and included the example of firing a gun. I discussed this (and a scene from my WIP) with a friend who also happens to be an expert in ballistics. The discussion gave me some interesting insights I thought I’d share with you all.
When writing fiction, our imaginations can often be enough to bring our characters to life. However, there is a point where nothing beats writing from real life experience, especially when writing an immersive emotional experience for the reader. I’m talking sensorial, visceral details here.
I came across an article in the journal of Urban Forestry & Urban Greening that got me thinking about how we can enhance our creativity. This particular article interviewed seventeen Danish creative professionals in an effort to determine whether nature has the capacity to enhance creativity. Spoiler: it does. But in my experience, so does standing in the shower.
Most of us have been regularly rejected since we were young children. Even if only temporarily, I’ve been rejected by friends, family, co-workers, bosses, pets (why does that hurt the most?), strangers, peers, acquaintances, intimate partners, kids. It’s part of life. Some times hurt more than others, and some feel more personal than others. But we move on—unless we’re hoping for that second-chance romance HEA, right?
Unless a fairy doomed you from birth to only tell the truth (like Tomas in Power of a Princess) you are a constant liar. Just like me and everyone else in the world. The interesting thing about lies is that most of us think we are honest—we underestimate how often we lie to protect our self-esteem. This means that your characters need to be liars too. But just like us, our characters always lie for a reason. And just like us, they often don’t realise they’re doing it!
I once had a friend who decided he was going to change careers. He dreamed of abandoning his spreadsheets to become a psychiatrist. He couldn’t see anything more worthwhile in life than discovering the inner workings of humans. I agreed. But gee, it takes around 11 years to get qualified. Sounds like a long time, doesn’t it? Crazy decision (pun intended).
My current WIP is a novel rewrite with some specific goals in mind. The primary issue to fix is a distinct lack of introspection. This has completely thrown out the pacing which unfortunately means the suspense is not as, well, suspenseful as it might be.
The writer’s competitor is no longer other writers. It is social media. The poorly written opinions on Reddit can hook a reader quicker than the first five sentences of your carefully written literary fiction.