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Posts Tagged ‘fiction writing’

Writing in the 3rd Person

A Blank White Page has been toying with the idea of writing in the third person.  Her reasons for this are as follows:

1 – ABWP sometimes feels that the author of this blog is actually a separate person from her daytime alter-ego, so writing in the 3rd person seems natural.

2 – ABWP is currently writing a MS in the 1st person, so she’d like to keep her 3rd person writing skills fresh.

3 – Variety is the spice of life (yes, ABWP occasionally has VODKA with her tonic.  Sometimes she even has a pint!  She is a wild, adventurous soul!)

ABWP is interested in the effect this has on writing.  Her first MS was written in the 3rd person, but she has chosen 1st person for her current WIP.  She finds this quite limiting–but also quite exciting!  The intimacy!  The direct-line into the mind of the character!  But also only ONE character and perspective!

What think you, blogger-friends?  Do you prefer to read (or write) in one or the other?  What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?

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Why copywriting is a great day job for an aspiring author—No. 2

February 25, 2010 9 comments

Okay, this probably should have been number one, but here goes:

Practice

The more you write, the better you get.  Simple.

I used to work as a barmaid.  Loads of friends suggested that this should provide me with great inspiration for writing.  Nope.  All I gained working in a bar was an intolerance for the words “Oy, Luv!” and an affinity for gin.

Mixing drinks taught me to mix better drinks.  Writing teaches me to write better.

I often forget how lucky I am to have a day job that allows me to write every day.  Even better, it also provides the occasional opportunity to write something creative.  Pretty sweet deal, when I think about it.

Write for Your Life has a great new post on this here.

I need to do something extraordinary

February 23, 2010 3 comments

All writers must feel this.  I know I do.

I need to write a book.  I need it to be extraordinary.

I don’t need it to win awards.  I don’t need it to top the bestseller lists.  I don’t need it to earn me appearances on Opera or offers for film rights or honorary doctorates from fancy universities.

I do need it to mean something to someone. That’s all.  I need it to make someone feel strongly.

This says it better than I ever could.  I guess I just need my book to matter.

Why copywriting is a great day job for an aspiring author—No. 1

February 21, 2010 2 comments

Learn to deal with criticism

In my day job, if I write a bit of copy and the client comes back with something resembling “I don’t like this, please re-write it this (boring, not nearly as good) way,” I generally do it, because:

a) I have to assume—whether true or not—that the client knows more about his target market than I do, and

b) the client is paying.

So.  When I got a phone call from a potential agent currently sitting on my full manuscript, and she said something along the lines of “I like your manuscript but it’s not ready to go to market.  Could you develop the secondary characters further and cut the length by about 40k words? (How do you both develop characters further AND cut length?  How? How?)  Also, I’m not sure about this (super-awesome, my favourite in the whole entire story) character—perhaps you could cut him out?” I didn’t (quite) have a MASSIVE HEAD EXPLOSION!!!

Instead, I was able to assume that she:

a) was super-awesome to call and make suggestions instead of sending a form rejection, and

b) knew more about selling books than I did.

So.  I was able to re-write and re-submit.  And when I finally did get a (very helpful with lots of feedback) rejection, and actually did have my subsequent MASSIVE HEAD EXPLOSION!!!, I at least knew I had done all I could at that point in my writing career.  Plus, I now have an offer to submit future work from an (really lovely, super helpful) agent.

Copywriting would be loads easier if clients always liked what I wrote the first time, but I wouldn’t get much better.  The same is true of creative writing.  Bummer, but true.

“Oh, I’m thinking of writing a book too…”

February 17, 2010 4 comments

I hate these words. Here’s how it normally plays out:

I’m sitting in a pub with some friends, I’ve had one too many pints (or, even worse, too many gins), and I will suddenly have the urge to lay myself bare and mention—trying desperately to appear casual—that I’m trying to write a novel.

The pain. The heartache. The terror of exposing the innermost workings of one’s mind to the public.

“Oh, really?” Comes the casual response, accompanied by a shrug. “Yeah, I’ve been thinking of writing a book too.”

Pause.

MASSIVE HEAD EXPLOSION!!!

No, you have NOT been thinking about writing a book. If you had, you would not mention this in passing, with a shrug, as an afterthought.

You do not have a 120k word manuscript—now christened the “practice manuscript” due to lack of publisher—to which you devoted four years of your life sitting on your computer.

You do not have four printed, marked-up, FAT, dog-eared versions of said practice manuscript littering your current flat, your parents’ house, and your grandparents’ basement because you could not bare to throw out even ONE copy, no matter how many newer copies you may have.

You do not sit in front of your current manuscript—50k words in—and wonder if you are really mature enough to be writing this story—that you love, love, LOVE, more than any other story you have ever thought up—or whether you should wait ten years until you are mature enough to even begin to try to do it justice.

You do not wake up at night in terror, worried that your flat will burn down and your computer will be destroyed and somehow the three separate email accounts to which you have sent the latest version of your manuscript will all have simultaneously crashed and every cherished word will thus be lost.

You do not learn of the latest publishing industry news (Amazon/Macmillan e-book debacle anyone?) before you learn of the latest stabbing three streets down (I need to move flats). You haven’t spent your spare waking hours reading agents blogs, submitting query letters for critiques, checking and rechecking submission guidelines instead of doing what all this stress has made you really want to do, which is drink, drink, DRINK!

So. The correct response when some tortured, aspiring author mentions—casually, in passing—that he/she is trying to write a novel, is: “Wow. What’s it about?”

Don’t worry. Said tortured author loves, loves, LOVES his/her story way too much to tell you all about it in a bar. He/she will mention a vague plot arc and change the subject.

Which is probably what you were trying to accomplish in the first place.