Welcome to 2010! It feels so weird to write that. This is a rather science fictional year, of course, due to Arthur C. Clarke’s 2010: Odyssey 2. I noticed one mundane effect of living in the future: I rarely write paper checks anymore, living in a world of electronic cash, so I have not misdated a check (yet). Usually I write the previous year for at least the month of January. It’s the little things, you know…
The past year was full of writing advice, and I decided to take a look back at what I told you in 2009. I am relieved that in looking over the writing lessons, I haven’t steered you wrong. To summarize:
Last January, I advised you to expand, not shrink, your goals. This is important; so often we start writing by saying, “hey, I can do that.” But writers only grow by aspiring not to some minimal level of competence but by striving for excellence. Really study the authors who make you read their books in great gulps or savor every word. How do they do that?! is a perfectly valid response to an author you love and it can help make you a better writer. A little despair is good for the soul. Really.
In February, I told you how to tame your muse with a regular, consistent writing schedule. This is something like the way the prince tamed the fox in The Little Prince. Consistency and gentleness is the key. Or consistency at least.
During the summer, I gave you advice on avoiding the action catalog, in which you state, step by step, how your character gets out of the car and into the next plot point. Action must be accompanied by some kind of emotional resonance or consequence or it is nothing but a pileup of trivial detail. I also provided tips on showing, not telling, the hoary old truism from writing workshops since time immemorial.
In November, I advised against doing NaNoWriMo. My question to those of you who went ahead: so, have you written since? Did you feel that you “won?” What do you think of the result?
To find writing lessons for 2009, you can search on writing lessons from the categories in the sidebar. And I would be happy to answer any questions you have on the craft.
Now go forth and write! Here’s to a successful writing year in 2010!