Archive for June, 2011

My Philosophy on Writing.

Posted: June 10, 2011 in Uncategorized

What do you call a writer who doesn’t write? A blogger. And what do you call a blogger who doesn’t blog? A writer.

Some may take issue with that perspective. That’s how I see it, in any case. I started this blog some time back intending to post some fiction. The funny thing is, when I’m writing it’s for submission. I haven’t taken the time to come up with a DE exclusive story.¬† I know I need to. Tonight, I’m going to try to organize some of my thoughts on the craft and present them. Content is content, after all – and this blog is looking pretty incontinent.

For me, ideas come when they want to. I can sit down to write and not get a single word down, or I can be at work breaking something and I’ll get an idea that necessitates a break, a pen, and paper. (For some reason I keep breaking things at work. I offer no excuses.) I imagine that I’m not all that different from most writers in this regard. I do get hit with writing binges. Up at 6, write until the house wakes up, then to bed early the next night so I can do it again. Naturally, I get writer’s block. For me, it is this slump where I feel terribly unproductive to the point of not having the drive to pick up a pen. I feel miserable for not writing. I waste a lot of time reading as well.

Musicians always list the artists who have influenced their work. That seems a little sketchy to me, because then you expect to hear that influence in said musician’s work. I know I have been influenced by certain writers, but I also know that growing up I read more Star Trek and Stephen King novels than anything – and that sort of influence just doesn’t ring in the ear as well as Franz Kafka. Still, I can’t have a writing philosophy without chanting the names of (mostly) dead authors whom I respect. Don’t look for their influence in my works, I’m not that good. First and foremost is Earnest Hemingway. For Whom the Bell Tolls, To Have and Have Not, The Old Man and the Sea, his innumerable short stories… these have always held me in sway. To be fair, I couldn’t finish A Farewell to Arms. The dialog was pretty painful to read. Stephen King deserves further mention¬† because there is no denying his ability to scribble a story. Kafka I read to impress a girl. I hated his bug story. I got the girl. Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables is probably the single greatest book I’ve ever read. Kurt Vonnegut Jr. was a genius. J.D. Salinger makes me laugh, which is supposed to be a complement. Steven Pressfield (Not dead) can write action like nobody’s business. Harper Lee (Also not dead, I believe), the greatest one hit wonder author in the history of publishing. These are a few of the authors I respect.

Not only do these authors have a mastery over their craft, they are entertaining. That for me is the lynch pin. If my writing isn’t entertaining, it needs to go into the trash. Mastering the craft is a part of being an entertaining story teller in my mind, but the need to hold a reader in thrall is my supreme goal.

My philosophy in short:

Write honestly.Readers are smart and will know if you are writing about something totally alien to you.

Let the bad guys be bad guys, but don’t cross the line. Patterson is an example of a writer who crosses the line. After the third rape scene I gave his book away. Blazing shotguns,¬† f-bomb dropping, blood when realistic, no problem. But psycho is not entertaining. I feel very strongly about this.

No character is completely anything. Good guys and bad guys and everyone in between; their actions within the story dictate who they are. Their backgrounds do not. A character can change just as easily as a person. We can’t wear the white hat all the time.

Sometimes the story has to go where it wants, regardless of the plot summary.

Don’t use the same phrases over and over. The original creator of Conan the Barbarian had this problem. Too many hairs on the back of the old Cimmarian’s neck stood up way too often.

Listen to your readers. They may be smarter than you are.

Plot holes must be sought out and filled.

Write your own damn story. The popularity of twinkly vampires and the women who love and or kill them is not an enticement to compromise your own style. Write for market, but never write for faddish nonsense.

Surprise your readers, but keep it realistic.

The literary world does not exist except as a business. Those ivory tower illiterati who conceive of poems about floating excrement as art are not shit. Nor are their publications. The reader is the only thing a writer ought to concern himself with.

Use as few and as powerful words as possible.

Don’t ever quit. Authors are not made by such cowardice.

Lastly, (And I congratulate you on having stuck with this treatise for so long) let your plots – and your philosophy – be set in silly putty. Sometimes you have to rethink everything.