“Bad writing precedes good writing. This is an infallible rule, so don’t waste time trying to avoid bad writing. (That just slows down the process.) Anything committed to paper can be changed. The idea is to start and go from there.” –Janet Hulstrand
“Self-doubt, exhaustion, and confusion are part of the process. Embrace them and don’t stop writing to examine what you have. The world is full of people trying to perfect chapter one.” –Kerry Greenwood
“If you are struggling with writing a character, write 20 things a reader will never know about your character. These will naturally bleed into your writing and provide a richness even though you don’t share the detail.” –Barbara Poelle
It is no secret one of my favorite authors is Ray Bradbury. He penned and published some wonderfully interesting work including ‘Illustrated Man’, ‘Dandelion Wine’, ‘The Martian Chronicles’, ‘Fahrenheit 451’, ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’, and so many more.
He also left us with some inspiring and often amusing sayings. Here’s one of my favorites:
I have several ways to overcome that pesky nemesis called writer’s block but my favorite is taking my bicycle out on the trails enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. Riding invigorates both mind and body. I always return to writing after a long ride feeling refreshed and creative. (Thank you endorphins!)
Today I made a short ride of it covering a mere 12.75 miles, including a stop by Fayetteville’s beautiful Botanical Gardens to enjoy the scenery.
Now, back to writing.
Writers are people (well, most of us are). However, even those with the greatest ability to shrug off negative comments find it difficult not to be hurt by criticism of our work. Naturally, the first reaction is likely anger before depression sets in and we begin to question our writing ability. Happens to all of us. But take heart! As Agatha Christie’s detective Poirot might advise: “Do not despair, mon ami, for there is always hope.”
In the case of a bad review, the hope lies in how it is handled. The first best advice is to ignore it, shrug it off. Do nothing and get back to writing. There’s just no pleasing everyone so don’t even try. Keep in mind a review is just an opinion. Nothing more.
Here’s a list of forbidden and off-limits titles, subjects, and story ideas originally attributed to a creative writing teacher for a class tasked with writing stories for children. Also seems applicable to anyone involved in creating flash fiction involving young readers and writers. Not sure if I should laugh or cringe.
- You Are Different And That’s Bad
- The Boy Who Died From Eating All His Vegetables
- Fun Four Letter Words To Learn And Share
- Hammers, Screwdrivers, And Scissors: An “I-Can-Do-It” Book
- The Kid’s Guide To Hitchhiking
- Curious George And The High Voltage Fence
- The Little Crybaby Who Snitched
- That’s It: I’m Putting You Up For Adoption
- Grandpa Gets A Casket
- Where To Hide Those Peas You Don’t Want To Eat
- The Magic World Inside The Abandoned Refrigerator
- Garfield Gets Feline Leukemia
- Fun Things To Do With Matches
- Strangers Have The Best Candy
- Your Nightmares Are Real
- Where Would You Like To Be Buried?
- Why Can’t Mr. Fork And Ms. Electric Outlet Be Friends?
- Places Where Mommy And Daddy Hide Neat Things
- Making Grown-Up Friends On The Internet
- 101 Fun Games To Play In The Highway
- You Can’t Hide It If You Are Stupid
- I Dare You! 101 Challenges To Prove You Are Not A Coward
- Trixie Goes To The Big City
- The Pop-Up Book Of Human Anatomy
Check out the blog writersinthestorm for some wonderful tips in a short, well-written article about creating a lovable villain by award-winning author Shannon Donnelly (Under The Kissing Bough) as she speaks of “villains we love to hate and how to keep them from becoming a cardboard stereotype whose every action is predictable and boring.”
“Nothing marks a writer as a beginner as clearly as the cliché bad guy.
This is the bad guy who is ugly inside and out with no redeeming qualities—this is the “boo-hiss” melodrama mustache twirling villain. And this is an easy fix in any story.
What’s that easy fix? Lots of things can help, but here are five quick fixes:
5 Quick Fixes to Make Readers Love Your Villains” –Shannon Donnelly
The article is definitely worth the read and I found myself thinking of one of my villains as I read Shannon’s advice.
I won’t say the assassin in “The Mystery of the Death Hearth” is exactly a lovable creature. Parzifal is, after all, a person who makes a living by killing. But he does have depth; that is to say as the story progresses, more is revealed about his background, his parents, his past and the horrid conditions among the less-than-honorable slave owners that helped create his inevitable destiny as a professional killer. He also has present-day motives that go beyond the daily, murderous tasks given him by criminal bosses. Parzifal has plans, high hopes for a new life, and a mental image of possibilities beyond his current circumstances having nothing at all to do with underworld crime. Does he manage to accomplish those personal goals? Can he successfully break away and fulfill his dreams? No spoilers here but I almost found myself rooting for this man even though he can and does make my protagonist’s life miserable to the brink of death.
I encourage a visit to writersinthestorm and read the rest of the Shannon’s article. Very interesting and informative.
Your next villain will appreciate it, too.
More sane advice from Mr. Bradbury. Not sure about the drunk part but perhaps my alcohol-to-ink blend is a bit too thin lately.