Writing again…

For the longest time there’s been this glut of writing advice. 

25 tips to be a great fantasy author.  10 things to make you an ebook bestseller.  What every author should know. 

That kind of thing. 

Maybe it’s the rebel child in me, or perhaps I’m just up myself, but I’m a little tired of being told all the things I must do.  So I’m not going to tell anyone how to write. 

Actually, I’m not sure I’d know where to start. 

And anyway, my all-time favourite response to the Advice on Writing question was given by Margaret Atwood in an interview with The Guardian, when she wrote:

“1. Take a pencil to write with on aeroplanes. Pens leak. But if the pencil breaks, you can’t sharpen it on the plane, because you can’t take knives with you. Therefore: take two pencils.
2. If both pencils break, you can do a rough sharpening job with a nail file of the metal or glass type.
3. Take something to write on. Paper is good. In a pinch, pieces of wood or your arm will do.”

It’s sound advice. 

And there’s really nothing I can add to it:  I use a pencil myself.  And a variety of notebooks and scraps of paper and envelope.  My hand, upon occasion–which doesn’t work so well with pencil, so a pen or marker is better for that. 

Obviously, it helps if you have a good story and some credible characters and a copy of the Oxford Dictionary of Punctuation and Grammar and maybe a thesaurus and dictionary as well. 

But beyond that…well, that’s about it, really.

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12 comments on “Writing again…

  1. Tyson says:

    I have no idea who to write. I simply say, get writing. That’s about it.

    We all have preferences. But that comes down to style and voice and our own personal choices.

    Honestly, I don’t even mind adverbs.

    • M M Bennetts says:

      If I had to think up plots I’d be sunk. But I don’t. History already wrote the big story for me, thank heaven! I do more what I call, connect the dots.

      “I need this guy here on 16 October so that means he can’t be any farther away than this on the 21st September”, kind of thing…

      • rappleyea says:

        Oh, you are selling yourself short! Your plots are brilliant, and more so because they must operate within the constrains of history’s timetable.

      • M M Bennetts says:

        My expleting when I’m trying to work the thing out is also quite brilliant. Colourful too. One might even call it ceaseless…

  2. It’s the rebel child in you 😉 hehe!

    Loving the advice – especially the casual last paragraph which has some MASSIVE points expressed in a simple non-chalant manner – Oh, how you amuse me!

    Great post and true x

  3. Tim Vicary says:

    Very true. I don’t think anyone can teach you to write; if you want to do it you just learn. It reminds me of the old tale about NASA – maybe you’ve heard it? They spent millions of dollars trying to invent a pen that would work in zero gravity; it had to have a pump in it, like a heart, to move the ink along, but not too fast or everything got very messy. Anyway, none of the pens worked well, so one day they asked the Russians how they managed. ‘We use pencils.’ the cosmonauts replied.

  4. cavalrytales says:

    Nike got there first, though they probably nicked the idea from someone else.

    Just do it.

  5. rappleyea says:

    I’ve often read how MFA programs have ruined a lot of otherwise talented writers! And btw, I have read one very funny, tongue-in-cheek writing book titled, Fondling Your Muse. As you can probably tell from the title, it is not in the least a serious how-to book.

    • M M Bennetts says:

      I shouldn’t want to fondle a muse. Ew. My process is simpler by far. I just get a few characters in my head and let them grow and develop on their own. And when they start talking, I take note. Then the difficulty becomes getting them to shut up. Jesuadon was always waiting in my bath…I’d sink into the hot water and there he’d be, the rotter, pacing in the corner–like an actor in the wings–ready to start shooting off his gob.

      So perhaps I should add this bit of advice: writing with pencil on damp paper doesn’t work quite so well.

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