Writing Tip #4

January 1st, 2012

Entertain yourself.

You know how I know when I’m writing something bad?  When I’m bored writing it.  If time slows down to a crawl and every word feels laborious and I’m yawning and fidgeting . . . chances are I’m writing crap.

If, on the other hand, I can feel my own expressions shifting with the emotions and words of the characters and I’m writing faster and faster because I’m eager to know what happens next–if, in other words, the act of writing a novel parallels the act of reading a good one, where you’re invested in what’s happening and where it’s going and feel surprise and delight as you go along–then I’m pretty confident I’m writing something decent.

A novel doesn’t have to move from A to B to C in perfect order, with each story point clarified and spelled out. Sometimes it’s okay to make a leap from A to C, especially if nothing about B seems particularly captivating.  If you’re thinking, “I have to describe what happens next.  It’s a little boring but it needs to be there,” then step back and think about whether you can skip ahead and fill in details later.

I’m not saying that every page in a novel has to be filled with humor, sex, and wild emotions, or that it always has to hurtle along, action-filled.  There are beautiful, still, quiet moments in many novels that are captivating.

I’m just saying that if you’re boring yourself, you’re probably on the path to boring others.

And now I’m getting repetitive and dull, so I’m just going to