Monthly Archives: July 2015

Write about what you know, why this advice still makes sense.

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Most books and courses on creative writing will tell you to write about things you know. This same advice is also often given in interviews and in magazine articles and web copy.

The argument that immediately springs to mind against this apparently foolish advice, is I don’t really have very much knowledge about murder.

For that matter only a scant few will really understand true horror experiences and very few writers would know what it really felt like to commit a crime.

And of course if being tasked with writing about what you know. How do you write about fantasy, time travel, space journeys to distant worlds and the undead walking the cities?

But wait a minute. This wasn’t the intended meaning of that little sage piece of advice. It is we, the readers who have misunderstood the true meaning and value of this little gem of wisdom.

The ‘what you know’ was never meant to mean something so literal and pedantic. What you know is really all about the human experience.

Emotions, relationships, beauty, hatred, anger, fear, destruction, betrayal, lust, love, empathy, loneliness, disappointment and……The list is endless…

If we craft our work from the fabric of our inner knowledge, of real life experience, than we offer the reader a wealth of genuine emotions captured for their enjoyment.

We, each one of us, have a huge collection of knowledge and it is unique to our own world experience and interaction with those around us.

If we take the old advice with the knowledge of applying what we know to our imaginary landscapes, we can create credible fictions which will capture the imagination of those who read them.

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Writer beware or watch out for the punctuation police

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As a writer it is vital to be able to write well and also to understand the rules of punctuation, spelling and grammar.

All too often you will read a simply awful review of a book, just ripping into the writer’s poor use of punctuation or lack of grammatical accuracy.

Very often the critique is unfounded and would only apply if the written work had appeared as an English Language essay.

Creative writing is an art form and as such is able to transcend rules and regulations, if by doing so; it makes the finished piece stronger.

Look around you at grammar and punctuation lawbreakers, because they are everywhere. There was a time when journalists were at the high watermark of correct usage, those days are long gone.

The only important rule to remember, is that writing, any writing, should be written with the reader firmly in mind and not just as a showcase for pretty old world style.

Good copy should be easy to read, so when writing articles and opinion pieces aim for clarity, remembering that these days people skim, so try keeping to a two line paragraph if possible, as this is more comfortable to read.

In creative writing bending or even breaking the rules can and often should be done, so long as it has artistic merit and is not done simply to impress.

Bang, bang BANG BANG!…Can really grab the attention of a reader and works on both a visual, as well as an emotional viewpoint. As does, Quiet quiet q-u-e-i-t…..

These techniques serve the text and usher in dramatic tension and experience. If overused tools like these become boring. However when used sparingly, they add fuel to the imagination.

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Focus and persistence, the two keys to success

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Successful writing is more about habit and less about amazing talent and inspired creativity. Not to say that talent and creativity are not needed, because they are.

The most amazingly talented writer with an endless flow of ideas will achieve nothing, unless they are able to focus their attention on the work at hand.

It is said that we become that which we focus on. Or to put it another way if we spend time and effort concentrating on one thing, that thing will dominate our time and our mind.

If we choose to focus on our writing and give it our full attention, our entire world becomes the writing just for a time.

If we choose to apply this method of sharp intensive focus on our writing day after day, we cannot fail to produce work.

The majority of writers who fail or in too many cases, never finish pieces are missing the fact, that in the race that is writing, it isn’t a sprint, but a marathon and only those who can focus and stay the distance will succeed.

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The writer or the writing?

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I find it something of a puzzle when I read all of the intimate details of some writer’s lives, spilled across the pages of their blogs.

To my mind a reader wants art and is interested in the process of that creation, but only up to a point.

When is enough enough, concerning the personal life of a writer? Does a reader really want to know what food a writer had for lunch?

Is t important to a reader, if the writer feels unwell or has writers block or any other problem. Health problems are a popular topic used by a number of writers and would be writers.

To my way of thinking there has to be a point where privacy takes over from art. If not are we attracting readers or those who are only interested in our daily lives?

If a writer blogs about an ailment or health issue, there is a serious risk of attracting a  readership interested in the issues chronicled and not the expressive art form being advertised.

Those who want to read what a writer had for breakfast, are not true readers, but are instead people wishing to experience life through another person.

I wouldn’t expect my personal life would interest anyone who is engaged in living their own life. I write to express my ideas, thoughts and opinions and all from the perspective of my working day as a writer.

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