Wednesday, April 7, 2010

List of Writing Tips

From all the how-to-write stories I've read, I've found a few really good pieces of advice that I've found interesting - even when I ignore it.

Build a Writing Schedule and Keep To It. Yeah, maybe. Sometimes. In a rough sort of daily way. It's not that I don't know that I should do this, or that I think that I can't, and more that so far I just haven't been motivated enough to give myself deadlines and time limits.

Set up a Writing Space. Honestly, when I'm writing or editing, the world around me has to struggle to keep my attention - not the other way around. Still, if I didn't have such an ADHD fixation ability, I'd probably need to do this.

Make the reader a sensory participant. This is beautifully worded by Stephen King, I think. I try. I really do. I love sensory maps. I love envisioning places. I want to transport the reader away from their living rooms because I want to be transported as well.

Visualize your scenes to describe them better. I keep planning to. I'll let you know when I end up doing this.

Kill cliches. Or rather selectively prune them - use cliches only when their position as a cliche is meaningful. I think I'm doing okay with this.

Each character, just like each person in real life, sees themselves as the lead role. Now this is something I really agree with and am striving to do. While not every character should steal the spotlight off the Main Character, they shouldn't be self-conscious about it. It isn't as if the Main Character normally has a sign over their forehead. Well, okay, in fantasy there's normally a birthmark or some-such that says they're the Chosen One and others should get out of the way in fantasy but that doesn't mean they will.

Nautical Research

Well, I have now discovered an absolute adoration of nautical novels. 'The Terror' by Dan Simmons currently has me hooked (a review shall be upcoming). I know that fiction isn't the best form of research for facts but it's quite good for getting a feel for things. I should try to track down a decent autobiography but I'm not sure whether I could put up with a book written in the 1700s which is the sort of historical nautical period that I'm interested in. Then again, I did enjoy Dante's Inferno...

I've also been borrowing any reference text I can get my grubby little mitts on. It's easier now I work in a library but council libraries don't have that many books on the subject. Now I'm almost fully employed, I just don't have time during the opening hours of the State Library to go take a look. Well, not without giving up some of my weekends and I'm just not prepared to do that yet. I like my weekends. They're ... lazy.

Anyhow, I recently checked out the Adelaide Nautical Museum. Very nostalgic. Last time I went down there was a primary school excursion. It has some interesting mood-inspiring pieces, very immersive, with recreations of different ship rooms and some very moody audio logs of ship's journals. So if you ever check out Adelaide, check out that museum. It's the best museum I've seen so far.

Ironically, the ship in my novel isn't much of a regular ship but I still want to know some of the terminology. Lucky for me, Jason's no veteran sailor so if I get some of the terminology slightly off, it can all be attributed to a 12-year-old's naivete.

Not to mention, a lot of the historical nautical novels are actually quite good. I think I've discovered a gold mine of good writing. Boring bus rides no more! I have a back log of books to read!