1. Diligence – You must push forward, even when you don’t want to.
2. Determination- Believe in yourself. Trust that others will see the beauty in your written word.
3. Dedication- Once you commit to becoming a writer set aside time each day to hone the craft.
4. Drive – A writer with drive and passion will eventually get noticed.
5. Desolation- Find solitude so you can create without interruptions.
6. Daily Routines- Writing should be done every day. If you set a routine, you will be less likely to break it.
7. Deadlines- Give yourself deadlines. Eg. Chapter one must be finished by Monday. The short story has to be completed by Saturday.
8. Dreams- Dream big. Never let anyone make you feel that your dreams are not possible.
9. Desire- You must want to write. If writing doesn’t feel like a necessity it might not be your passion.
10. Decision making abilities- Chapters need to be edited. Word counts need to be cut. Favorite sentences need to be chopped. It’s not always easy making decisions as a writer but it is required. Characters need to love, get hurt, evolve and occasionally die. You have to be able to make those decisions in order for your masterpiece to appear.
ACT IT OUT
This blog post has been walking around my thoughts for a while. I’m glad it coincides with the first letter of the blog writing challenge from A to Z.
Have you ever got to the point in your story that is begging for an action scene? You stare stupidly at the screen in front of you. Your imagination presents to you a clear picture but the words you type out are bland. All you want to do is get your main character up the stairs (insert whatever scenario you are writing about here) quickly and down the hallway to the back bedroom where there is another hidden room that she can hide from the baseball bat carrying stranger. You feel her anxiety rush through your bones but yet you can’t convey it on paper.
There are a million action scenes that can be acted out right in the confines of your own home that will help make your scene stronger. I am forever jumping over obstacles, banging into things, pretending to shoot darts, stirring a pot just so I can experience the moment of the scene. What happens when I bump into something? Does pain shoot through my body? Do I bounce back? Do I bruise?
Please don’t think I like self mutilation because I promise I do not. But, I like to get down and dirty with my writing so I can help my readers experience the scene as if they are part of it.
If I was trying to get my character up the stairs, I’d probably find a flight and start racing up them. I’d pay attention to my movements. Do I stumble? Do I catch my fall with the palms of my hands slamming against the step above? Do I trip over clutter on the stair, causing my knee to smash into the step? Once I reach the top what happens? Do I turn back to see if the stranger is right behind? Or do I race down the hallway to the secret room only I (aka the character) knows about?
If this is not something you have done before, I suggest you give it a shot. It could be something as simple as making a pot of coffee. Act out the action and see what you come up with.
This past year has provided me with many ups and downs. I received five full requests, and thought for sure by year’s end I would be announcing that I finally landed myself an agent. When the first one came back rejected stating “I’m not connecting in the way I need to be,” I thought, Okay, that’s just one person’s opinion. But when they all came back rejected with identical words, I knew it was time to go back to the manuscript. I gathered all of their rejections and came to the conclusion (something I think I already knew but didn’t want to believe) that my characters were flat. I received some positive feedback such as “This is an extremely marketable idea” and “The plot is good and pace is nice” but it was the last rejection that clicked and made me realize there is no depth to my characters. The very kind agent added a few more words to her I’m not connecting in the way I need to. She specifically said it was the characters she wasn’t connecting with. I felt embarrassed because here I was writing blogs about creating characters and questions to ask them. I should have been following my own tips and advice. She did leave her door open and said she would be willing to look at a rewrite or any other queries I might have.
I have been given a gift. An insight to why exactly my manuscript has failed to get me an agent. The day following her rejection, I headed to the book store and bought myself two writing books. I am ready to breathe life into the characters that mean so much to me. In my mind these characters were very much alive which is why I think they were dead on paper. I failed to add background stories, I gave no inclinations of how they ended up in each other’s lives (despite the fact I knew). I failed them. I failed myself.
Today I see through different eyes. I am prepared for the challenge. A story is nothing if you don’t connect with the characters. Wish me luck!