Sunday, April 26, 2009

Free Writing Advice

I just google'd the term 'Writing Advice' and among the links I followed I found several pieces of wisdom that I've grown familiar with over the years. Some good tidbits include reading your writing aloud, if you want to be a writer then start writing, don't worry about selling stories you write - instead worry about writing good stories, never pay to have your writing published, write what you know, show don't tell, and a lot of other things I don't really care to beat you over the head with at present...

Sometimes these little gems of knowledge can be true for different reasons. For example, reading your writing aloud has a primary benefit of making you focus on the words and allows you to catch typos and incorrect word usage that your brain may otherwise skip over. For me this morning, it allowed me to get inside my main character's head and see the story as he was seeing it. This was particularly beneficial because I was able to see that the section I was reading wasn't as bad as I was making it out to be. I've mentioned it before, but I'm very hard on my own writing.

I'm nearly done with my zombie story and I'm looking forward to putting it up for anyone interested. Tara really likes it so far, but then again she's my wife so her opinion might be a bit biased. I like it as a whole, which is exceptional for how I usually see my stories, but then again it's probably because I haven't spent that much time editing and I've purposely refrained from reading sections prior to what I'm currently working on. It seems that the more I reread a particular piece, the more it gnaws at me.

I guess that despite all of the writing advice books I've bought over the years, I've got to come up with my own methods for writing. It makes sense. The sad truth is that I used to want to write so badly when I was in the military that I'd buy and read book after book about writing, but I'd never actually commit to the act. It was a habit that followed after I was honorably discharged. I am happy to say that it has been nearly a year since I last bought a how-to-write book. I can't feign ignorance though, I've always known that the primary purpose of those types of books are to market to people who will likely never become successful writers.

That last statement may come across like a slap in the face to some people, but please realize that I make such a comment after admitting to buying several of these books myself. If you find yourself in front of the reference rack at the bookstore and looking at the "How to Write" books, STOP! Reread the first paragragh of this post. If you want to write, you've got to start writing. Does it really make much sense that you will learn how to write by reading about how to write? Can any of those books really give you the insight on how to pull off plot mechanisms? Can they really teach you effective dialogue? Honestly, you'd do much better reading the books of real authors, both good and bad, and learning what they did right and what they did wrong as it applies to your tastes as a reader.

The books I've purchased have ranged from helpful to insulting, from resource to junk. The stories I have written have provided me with insight and confidence. I know I've made mistakes, I know I will probably repeat some of the same mistakes for a while, but I also know that I will learn from each new experience and push myself to become better.

I hope you will visit again in the next few days to read the zombie story I will be posting. I've got to finish it off and then review it for any typos or mistakes, but I've almost got it done. I will warn you that, like most in the zombie genre, it is a bit graphic in spots but it does have a certain level of humanity in it that I am rather pleased with up to this point. And with all the hype I've been giving this short story, I sure hope it's up to snuff! Either way, I'd like to hear your opinion. You can let me know that I've done a bang up job, or you can really let me have it - if you think it's that bad.

Until then, keep writing!
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