Authors: Three Great Pieces of Life Advices Writers Should Ignore

1148655_vintage_fountain_pen_3Why write? Well, in some ways, writing a novel is a lot like life. What it takes to succeed in writing fiction–perseverance, perspective, pride, overcoming your fear of mockery and of failure–can help shape you into a person ready to spring out into the world, be the best you that you can be, and make things better both for you and for other people.

However, there are some lessons that, while they’re important in life, don’t work so well when you sit down at the keyboard. Or with your pen and paper.

So remember, while you should adopt these policies in actual interactions with others, you can’t always abide by them in writing.

  • PLAY NICE WITH OTHERS. We all learn this as a kid: the importance of sharing, and being friendly, and being kind. Hopefully, we learn to protect those weaker than us. Well, that doesn’t fly with your characters. You can’t shelter your characters. You have to let them live and learn and make their own mistakes. Otherwise, their stories won’t be worth telling. Don’t we all make and learn from mistakes? Why should your characters be otherwise privileged not to be like the rest of us? You want readers to relate to your characters, right?
  • DON’T JUDGE BY APPEARANCE. You have to, and you should strive to, judge your writing by appearance: only by what’s on the page. What’s on the page is what your readers will see. They won’t have access to your mind: to what you meant to be saying, to the background information about your characters that’s on that character sheet but didn’t make it into the novel.
  • STOP EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE TO “SMELL THE ROSES.” Pacing matters. While you might need a scene or two of comic relief, or a moment of downtime to allow your readers to relax and to digest a big action scene–you don’t want to stop and “smell the roses” in your writing. You never want nothing to be happening. If a character stops and smells the roses, she better be thinking and planning or maybe even scheming. Her thinking better bring her to an important resolution of some kind. Someone important to the story better run into her in the park. Every scene must have a purpose in developing your plot and your characters. (You probably don’t need two pages describing a setting in detail when the setting only appears once and the details have no effect on the plot.

32 responses to “Authors: Three Great Pieces of Life Advices Writers Should Ignore

  1. I love this post!

    Today I wrote a harrowing scene where I put my little character through an emotional experience that will scar her for decades. I was on the verge of tears as I wrote it.

    I’m a nice person who treats other people well, but when it comes to my characters I do put them through dreadful things in the name of plot and conflict. Thank goodness I believe in happy endings!

    • Yea!!! I enjoy a good happy ending myself. I also can really enjoy a deep, thought-provoking, bittersweet end as well. But there’s something about good things happening, eventually, to people who deserve them that restores a reader’s faith in humanity to some degree. Sure, the real world isn’t always like that. But it’s nice to think it sometimes can.

      Hey, this gives me an idea for a post! Awesome!

  2. All great advice. Writers work by different rules. We’re all rebels. 😉

  3. Great advice and great post – thank you. 🙂

  4. The first one is the one I’m finding the most challenging, though I know it is necessary. I’m trying to learn the difference between empathy for my character–the empathy a parent has for a child–and the knowledge that I can’t shelter that “child” from life’s hardships.

    • It’s definitely a balancing act! And it’s never really easy, ou’ll discover it becomes easier as you go, I think. It’s a really unique–and really odd-relationship, author and character. I always think of Will Ferrell in “Stranger than Fiction.”

  5. Loved the blog. Writing is such a lonely career. You really begin to wonder if there is anybody out there–that is– a writer who is compelled to write like a cow needs to graze.

  6. Pingback: More pieces of life advice authors should ignore | Creative Writing with the Crimson League

  7. angel7090695001

    Definetly don’t treat your characters well so no Mary Sues

  8. Pingback: Nuggets of Wisdom Concerning Life that Apply to Creative Writing | Creative Writing with the Crimson League

  9. Pingback: Mine, Yours, Ours: Co-Creating Stories With Your Audience-

  10. YES!!! I love the THIRD one. I’ve been pondering this lately. I’ve actually been thinking about writing a blog along these lines. I’m good at writing beginnings and endings, but I tend to rush through the middle. And every story needs to have a middle — the place where the readers can stop for a moment and process everything they have learned so far about the characters and the setting. If not, the ending feels abrupt and premature. I’m so glad you posted this, Ms. Grefer. Thanks.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Matthew! 🙂 It’s so true…. middles are tricky part. Beginnings and endings are exciting. Middles, by necessity, need less excitement for the most part or you will burn your readers out. Middles are tough. As much as I adjust beginnings and endings, I think the majority of my extensive edits occur in the middle.

  11. Pingback: The pause that refreshes | THE CHIA PET CIRCUS

  12. Thank you for your post. Another 3Ps.

  13. Reblogged this on theseeker and commented:
    Another 3Ps, just like the Title of my Blog Site. I write for pure joy of entertaining myself and to play. Play is very important no matter how old I am. Good read.

  14. ivanoiurares40

    Reblogged this on TheSlashDash.

  15. Hi Victoria, Great post. And, nice to see you here. Paulette

  16. Pingback: Better than Freshly Pressed | theseeker

  17. I am writing a series currently where average people are put into impossible situations. Sometimes they succeed but only by luck. Never because they are well prepared. I love creating possible from the improbable. Thanks for helping me feel ‘normal’ Victoria.

  18. These are lessons that are hard-learned, out in the wild. Lessons I’ve learned only in the last few months. I can only imagine where I’d be if I’d read this sooner!

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