Sunday, July 13, 2014

Advice From a LIghtly Seasoned Author

“All readers come to fiction as willing accomplices to your lies. Such is the basic goodwill contract made the moment we pick up a work of fiction.”
—Steve Almond, WD

I once heard this process described as the “promise to your readers.”  When a person starts your book, what have you promised to give them? Will they leave believing in true love? Will they discover murderer or will the tables be turned on them? Can you make them accept Vampires and Angels as something so vivid and real that they flirt with the thought that maybe they do exist?   

This is why so many readers love and simultaneously hate cliff hangers. After all, who really wants to be dangling over the edge of a thousand foot drop?

If I could give any advice to a new author it would be don’t try to impress your readers with whirly-swirly fancy words.   Don’t rely on gimmicks like cliff hangers and contrived action that doesn’t add to the storyline.  This is a subjective field. One publisher will tell you this is right while another while forbid you to do the exact same thing. It’s exhausting and taking everyone’s advice will suck the creativity out of you faster than you can say I QUIT!

Recently, I’ve developed the skill of plugging my ears and saying La, La, La, La when well-meaning but contrary advice is doled out.  I've found that the only master worth bowing to is the well told story. That's what readers want, to get lost in an unforgettable adventure. They want a ticket out of reality and you, the passionate writer have the ability to create just what they crave.

Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying sloppy writing is okay or lazy, hole-filled plot lines do the trick. I’m just saying that at the end of the day, the contract is between you and your readers, and trust me, they’ll tell you if you’re doing it right!

Take heart aspiring writers, this field always needs fresh talent. Now go, write your heart out. Be prepared to re-write your heart out after that, but whatever you do, if you want to become great, don’t give up,

Well, I’m off to work on my writing. Thanks for stopping by.   

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