Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: craft

Thoughts on the craft of writing

Image by eroyka from Pixabay 

Here are some reflections after reading books that were interesting and others that could have been interesting if the writer had known how to tell the story.

  1. Read books of the kind that you would like to write. You can’t be a writer if you are not a reader.
  2. Research thoroughly. What was the weather like, what trees and plants grew there, what did people have in their homes, what did they eat, what did they wear, what kind of work did they do, what were common religious and political themes, etc., etc.,
  3. Don’t tell your readers everything you learned. You are doing the research to avoid describing things that do not fit the time and place you are writing about. Count on it that some alert reader will notice if you do. But if you dump a pile of information in front of a reader they are apt to stop reading.
  4. Stick to one main point of view character and tell everything through her eyes and ears. It can work to have one or two other point of view characters, but that is enough. These are the people you want the reader to care about.
  5. There will probably be other major characters. Let the reader learn about them through their actions and their words. If you jump from one character’s point of view to another’s and then to another, your reader’s head will start to spin and she will put the book down.
  6. Start in the middle of the action. Show the dilemma and conflict your main character is facing. Slowly fill in information about how he got there as the story unfolds.
  7. Write for the reader, not yourself.
  8. Write every day.

If you are a writer . . .

If you are a writer . . .man-29749_640.png

– you love words, you study words, their origins and all the nuances of their meanings. You don’t aim to dazzle readers with the knowledge you acquire, you want to be able to select the best words to make your readers see what you are seeing.

– you know that words are inadequate for what needs to be said. So you spend time searching for the words that come closest to saying what you want to say and avoid words and expressions that make no contribution to what you are trying to describe..

– you know that the reader can only see what you show him. A reader in Saskatchewan doesn’t know what a trillium looks like, or that many people in Ontario say youse when speaking to more than one person. A reader in Ontario doesn’t know what a slough is or what a chokecherry tastes like.

– you know that inspiration is not enough. Writing is the craft that brings the inspiration to life for your readers, by using just the right words and removing all the useless words that distract readers from perceiving what it was that inspired you.

– everything you see, and hear, and dream, becomes grist for your mill. You notice the little wildflower that is invisible to others, you hear the song of a toad at dusk, you see and hear the way people do and say things. These all become part of your storehouse and sooner or later they appear somewhere in your writing.

– you are a writer all the time. You have a full time job, you are a student, a busy mother, a caregiver to an aged relative. In all you do you find insights, nuggets of truth, startling images, moments of tenderness, moments of hilarity, and you tuck the memories away to be brought out when you sit down with a pen or at a keyboard.

– you are delighted to hear a reader repeat something you wrote that gave him new light on a subject, even if he can’t remember who wrote it.

%d bloggers like this: