Hope you all had an amazing Christmas Day, filled with over indulgence, gifts and quality time with your family.
I decided some time ago to do a writing course. I had wanted to be a writer for a long time, it just took me a while to figure it out. When I did, I decided I still had motivation issues. I am a planner to my core, so much so I can find it difficult to actually get on with the business of writing.
I searched for a long time for the right course, a course comprehensive enough that I could learn skills for all kinds of writing, from radio scripts to novel writing, short stories and readers letters. But also a course that represented value for money, I do like a bargain!
I can’t recommend enough the benefits of doing a writing course. It has forced me to write, but more importantly to submit my writing to competitions and magazines. The exact thing every writer needs.
As part of the course you get a tutor, mine is Esther Newton, a fabulous tutor with an uncanny eye for grammar and detail (exactly what I need) and a brilliant writer in her own right. She tirelessly answers my questions and provides detailed feedback. Part of the reason I think the course is so beneficial, and why I am recommending it.
If you’re one of those people who wants to be a writer, but hasn’t quite found the motivation – try this course, it might just work.
I wrote about killing off characters a few weeks ago here. I unashamedly ranted about Veronica Roth and her blatant distasteful murdering (still bitter) of her main character, Tris. I continued to rant about how you shouldn’t flippantly kill off characters and definitely not main characters. But, after some thought I decided to revise my conclusions. Whilst I stand by my point that you shouldn’t casually kill a character that your readers have spent a 1000 pages getting to know and love, I also think that in order to have some credibility you need to kill some characters off.
The lesson I learnt recently is:
Torture is good!
Torturing your characters at any rate. Make them, no, force them to feel emotions, feel something. Push your characters to their limits and see what happens. That’s what makes an interesting read. It gives your characters depth, and makes for an interesting story. If you can’t kill them off, then make it difficult for your characters at every possible turn, take away that tool, instrument or person they need most, make the situation look as though its impossible to come back from, then at the last minute something unique about them means they can save the day (or whatever).
Do it. Just torture them, even if you don’t want to. In fact, if you don’t, thats even more reason why you should do it. Because if you’re afraid to write it, then it must be good!
Here’s the thing, NaNoWriMo was great. It really was, I finally after about two years of claiming to have a dream of writing but not actually putting any words down on the paper other than planning related words (that kept changing) I actually stopped procrastinating and stuck fingers to keys and tapped some 50,000 words in 26 days.
Writing novel length stories is so, so very different to what I had been doing though. As part of my writing course I had been writing short stories. Stories of not more than a couple of thousand words. Whereas NaNo, was all about the long game. A strategically different game all together, different everything. The problem is, after submersing myself in the story, and forgetting any writing skills I might have learnt in order to just bash words out to complete the challenge, I completely forgot how to write a short story.
When it came to trying to sit down and write my next assignment of just 4000 words, I couldn’t do it. I’d forgotten everything. I was trying to tell too much of the story, I had forgotten how to be concise and how to weave a storyline into hardly any words.
My tutor gave me a great piece of advice, to go back and reread some of my short stories I had already written. Which I did, and it helped a bit. But I still felt stuck on how to write a story in so few words. Consequently anything I have written since, I’ve hated! I can’t get it right!
I guess writing is like any other muscle – it needs constant use, and practice, or it forgets how to do what it needs to. My writing certainly forgot at any rate!
So whats the tip?
If you’re intending on writing short stories but want to write a novel – don’t forget to practice the other type of writing in the mean time.