I introduced my readers to Holly Lisle awhile ago. I did this because I really love how she writes. The clarity, her ability to get straight to the point, and the conciseness of her message. I suggest you consider subscribing, and to explain my suggestion, I have copied her most recent message, in full.
YES, this is entirely Holly Lisle’s writing. YES, I am copying it and referring you to her work. YES, I love her posts. YES, I think you will too!
Think. Don’t just emote.
This advice runs counter to what you’ll get in many, many writers’
guides, courses, and classes, where you’ll find yourself
encouraged to “feel the words” and to “feel what your
character feels” and where you’ll hear the words “don’t
And frankly, this is good advice as far as it goes.
It just doesn’t go far enough.
Writing well enough to sell your work — or even well enough to
get your family and friends to enjoy what they read — requires
that you know what you’re writing, why you’re writing it,
what effect you want to create with your writing, and how you
intend to create it.
In other words, you have to think, too. And you have to do it
before, during, and after you write your story.
You have a huge number of tools at your disposal for doing this,
too many to mention here. (I teach a whole course on this
subject: How To Think Sideways.)
But this will get you started. As you’re writing, keep these
questions in mind:
* What am I writing?
Love between social classes, a rant against injustice, a
adventure with magical overtones, a challenge to readers to
reevaluate their stand on _________?
Whatever it is, keep your focus on THAT story, and don’t wander
off your theme.
* Why am I writing it?
The big answer here MUST be “because it matters to me,” but
beyond that, WHY does it matter to you? Knowing the answer to
this will help you keep writing even when the going gets
* What effect do I want to create?
This will change from scene to scene. What emotion do you want
to evoke in your reader in THIS scene. You have to first
evoke it in yourself.
* How do I intend to create this effect?
This is the art part of writing. What structure will you use,
what sorts of words will evoke the emotions you’re working
toward, what will you show about your characters, and what
will you hide?
Yes, you have to emote too. But THINK while you do it, and
watch your story come to life.
Write with joy,
P.S. For a post that shows the way I think my way through
writing (and that exploded into one of the biggest and most
contentious online riots on my weblog), read:
Shoes and Handbags
Hey, I thought it was an innocuous post on writing when I
wrote it. Who knew there would be a war?
Don’t miss my previous authors! Archived here: www.voiceofvashon.org/prose-poetry-and-purpose