Monday, May 21, 2007

The Best Writing Advice...I Never Took.

There is so much good information out there. Listening to other writers talk about how they pry story out of their heads is nothing but entertaining...most of the time. I have a list of authors I would go a long way to hear talk - because they are not only funny and self-deprecating and interesting - but every time I go -- it's a gold mine of craft info. Eloisa James, Lisa Gardiner, Robert McKee, Virginia Kantra - the list goes on and on.

I wish Maureen and Sinead took better notes or I had a better brain but I feel like I've heard so much good information and it's all just slipped away from me - unused. The key to writing faster, smarter, more emotionally satisfying books is probably something I've heard and forgotten a million times.

But I realized something this weekend - what's even more shameful than that is the fact that I've heard some AMAZING advice, remembered it, think about it often and NEVER DO IT! What's wrong with me?

So - here it is the best advice I ever heard and never took (besides the only eat half your meal and salt the rest so you don't eat it) is from the incredible Lisa Gardiner. Write each of your scenes on a different notecard. Use different colors for the different, plotlines and characters in your book so you can visually keep track of your scenes, your subplots, your red herrings and character reveals. Genius! Brilliant! Wish I did it.

So -- let me have it -- best writing advice you've never used


Maureen McGowan said...

I think the best advice I've never taken is write every day. Now, I don't mean those writing Nazi's who say you're a slacker if you don't crank out 20 manuscript pages every day... But I think writing, even just a bit. Even if it's just a blog entry, or a journal ramble, or brainstorming ideas for new book -- writing something every day has to be a good thing.

On one list I'm on they had a 100 for 100 challenge... Agreeing to all write at least 100 words for 100 days. Sounds easy, right? I mean 100 words. That's only a half a page. I've probably written 100 words since I started this comment. (Okay, I am verbose.)

Still, I sometimes have days when I don't write 100 words (unless you count e-mails. Why? This is good advice.

Anonymous said...

I loved the Lisa Gardiner talk, and it made lightbulbs go off in my head... but have I actually done it, either.. Nope.

And I really need to. That's what kills me. I really should and I still don't.

Margaret Moore said...

I use cards sometimes, but not to that extent. That sounds like too much work to me! I'd rather be writing. And rewriting, which the card system might prevent but...I lack the patience.

Re writing every day -- life interferes sometimes, and that's just the way it is. And sometimes, it's better to take the break and refresh rather than push too hard. Been there, done that, paid the (creative) price.

The problem with not writing every day is losing the momentum of your story. That's a real risk, too. The trick is to find the balance. In fact, I think that's one of the most difficult tasks on the individual writer's journey: finding the balance that works *for you*.

Molly O'Keefe said...

You're a smart lady Margaret -- that's advice I will use.

Unknown said...

I've heard of Lisa's cards before, and I love the sound of it. But I'm lazy, quite frankly. If I can scratch out on a piece of loose leaf where my story is going I'm thrilled. Usually, I just sit down in front of the computer and see what comes out. Maybe not the smartest thing, but so far it works. :)

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