Oct 8, 2009

It's easier to write when you know what you're writing about

If you feel like you're getting really bogged down in a section of something you're writing, it might be wise to consider whether what you're trying to write is clear to you.

Poorly written sections often correspond with sections where the storyline doesn't quite work, or the section doesn't really tie in well with the plot, or the author seems to just be riffing on some idea that doesn't deserve so much space.

The flip side of that is totally-unrelated sections that are way, way better written than the rest of the book, because they're about something the author is passionate about. (Oh man, if I was English-teacher-style forcing that sentence not to end in a preposition, it would have been really bad!) Like, where the book's historical fiction, and it's kind of plodding, but all of a sudden there's this large, eloquent narrative interlude about the comparative merits of knitting over crocheting. You know? Where you can just tell that this is what the author is really into.

Oversimplified Moral: Love what you're writing, and make sure it makes sense.


Anonymous said...

This is very good advice, and reminds me of my personal experience with developing my first web site. Having never done this before, I find that it's all too easy to make assumptions about the reader's ability to follow my train of thought.

Everything I put in makes perfect sense to me, because I've been thinking about issues, and synthesizing my own understanding, and developing my own world view for so long, that it's kind of a no-brainer for me. I have to make an effort to structure things in a way that someone who hasn't given a moment's thought to these matters, will be able to follow and understand.

Thanks for making me sit up and pay closer attention.

Hayley said...

Back when I was a very young teenager, I remember telling my mom I was frustrated because I wanted to be writing *right then* and there were no stories in my head. My first case of writer's block.

"Write about Squiggles," she suggested, pointing at our cat.

Being a teenage girl, I rolled my eyes. "But I want to write something more ... adult!"

"Then write Squiggles's adult adventures," she suggested and wandered away.

I did not, you must understand, write Squiggles's Adult Adventures. Nor will I. But I think she was trying to tell me to settle down and write what I know.

There's no real point to this other than that. And, y'know, I am rather passionate about little anecdotes.