Wednesday, May 12, 2010

In Between Time: Food for Thought and Consumption

Barring volcanic eruptions or other unforeseen circumstances, I leave tomorrow for Italy for three weeks. So, I was thinking, since I'll have limited email access, what can I leave you with for that time?
One of the best things I could leave is a roadmap to better writing. To that end, here are 21 tips from Robert Bausch, author of The Lives of Riley Chance, A Hole in the Earth and The Gypsy Man.
  1. Be passionate.
  2. If you can make it work, there aren't any rules.
  3. Write daily.
  4. Don't complain about not having time to write. Complain about something else.
  5. Never surrender.
  6. Last changes — look at the end [of your piece] to tighten all the words.
  7. Write with your experience, not from it.
  8. Even if you're writing nonfiction, tell a story; don't report the facts.
  9. Use different voices for different points of view.
  10. Inhabit all your characters, especially for point of view.
  11. Don't have character convey what it's your job as the author to communicate.
  12. The narrator tells, and characters show; know the difference and when to do which.
  13. Get ideas from other books; look for the inspiration, what inspires you. What touches you in a way that nothing else does?
  14. Have a deep emotional attachment to what you're writing.
  15. About endings — if you're surprised by what's happening, the reader will be, too.
  16. Around the middle, a book will take its own direction, and you have to go along for the ride. If it takes you in a different direction, and it doesn't work, then you go back to where it diverges and rework, but let it go.
  17. Cultivate the capacity to let go when a work wants to be something other than what you thought it would be.
  18. Find out what your own rules are, and follow those.
  19. An author is usually not the narrator, or any of the characters.
  20. You don’t have to like or approve of a character to identify with him or her. You only have to be engaged in what happens to the character.
  21. An author does not put things in a story or poem to stump the reader. What we find in stories and poems—the metaphors or symbols, or themes—come from a waking dream, the author’s unconscious mind at work.
For more information, visit Robert Bausch and my online writing workshop, The Art of Editing in Writing.

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