Monday, December 13, 2010

Thus begins the winter

Hey folks, sorry I've been off the grid.  Working retail in 4th quarter has had me feeling homicidal occasionally!  Plus I've got a sick pet, and my online writing course wrapped up recently, so it's been one thing after another.

My instructor, Art Edwards, mentioned a book on writing during the course and it sounded helpful, so I bought a copy.  It's "Writer's Mind" by Richard Cohen.  I've read a bit, and so far, I like how Cohen thinks.  The first sentence of his preface is: "A writer is someone who is always learning to write."  I find that a relief.  He doesn't seem to expect that, once I finish reading his book and writing my manuscript, that the work will get accepted for publication and I won't need to work on my craft anymore.  If he'd implied that, I'd have returned the book.

I even like the cover.  The edition I have shows an ocean wave curling over into a tube.  It reminds me of being in "the zone", when ideas and sentences flow from my fingers and whole paragraphs are typed before I pause for breath.  That's being in the calm middle of the creative wave, until doubts and decisions crash in on me.

Later in his preface, Cohen says: "There are no 'don'ts' in this book--no 'Don't write dream scenes' ... or 'Don't begin a sentence with and or but.'  A writer is someone whose first reflex, on being confronted with a taboo, is to break it."

You gotta love somebody who will say that!

Art also suggested that I find novels written in a style similar to my own and see how those authors handled various writing issues.  Wellll, that's easier said than done!  I could adapt lessons from a fantasy novel to my own WIP, probably, but how to find authors that write in a similar style?  I write in a linear way, with clear details meant to help readers visualize scenes easily.  In fact, I think I write too clearly sometimes!

If anybody has suggestions for authors they think may help me, I'm all for checking them out.   Now that snow has fallen and we're well into the last month of the year, it's finally time to curl into myself and read.  I've been promising myself that once winter hit, I'd focus on improving my plot and working on some of the writing details that have plagued me.  Plotting, plotting, plotting.  I don't yet know how I'm going to come up with compelling plot twists, but that's up to my muse and her Magickal Crockpot :D


  1. I wish I could recommend an author, but my reading repertoire is dim. One of my new year's resolutions is to read, read, read, like I used to years ago before college and three kids sapped my time and brain-power.

    I definitely agree that we keep learning. A writer who stops learning must be a writer who stops writing, because I can't see anyone NOT learning something as they write, whether it be technique, plot-related, or even from their own characters.

  2. You hit it on the head, Mysti. I learned something about courage from Frodo; somehow it doesn't matter that Tolkien made up the characters and the situations.

    With my own writing, Neal has taught me a few things about standing up for yourself when you *know* you're right. I think twice about a lot of things in life I didn't used to. Writing is good for the brain and the soul :)