What I Learned About Writing ...
... since I last wrote you.
1. Edith Wharton became good friends with Henry James in Europe, and he encouraged her to write about what she knew—New York City. That's what my clients Yvette, Larry, and Jenny, among others, have done—write what they know—and it's worked out well for them. As it did for Wharton. I was struck by how James phrased this notion to her: "Don't pass it by - the immediate, the real, the only, the yours."
That moved me, because he captured so much in those few words. To write what we know, to share what is uniquely ours. I've met aspiring authors who can't quite trust themselves enough to share their immediate, their real, and only theirs. I wish I could assure them that they do have something to say. It took me years to get to that place. But here's hoping if enough of us talk about this, if enough of us assure one another that we can write, then maybe it will be easier and take less time for them than it did for me.
2. Along those same lines, I read a fascinating blog by Hollywood screenwriter Brian Koppelman: 202 Practical Writing Tips. I'm a big believer that screenwriters can teach us all how to write better. They have to distill so much into 120 pages and make it visual, powerful, and compelling with so many fewer words. And grab our attention from the first scene. Koppelman added some fine-tuning to the idea of writing what we know: "'Write what you know' works, but it's limiting. Write what fascinates you. Write what you can't stop thinking about."
Ah, that's perfect. Not just what we know, but things so exciting that we want to show up at our desks. And our readers will have to keep turning the pages. Virginia McCullough, my partner in The Book Catalysts, often says, "Start writing where you feel passionate." She and Koppelman could have a good discussion at one of her favorite Chicago diners. (I think I'll write next month about more screenwriting tips. They've added so much pizzazz to my prose.)
3. And I'm happy to announce that I just finished the rough draft of my sequel to A Life for a Life. The working title is The Roads to Damascus. I've loved spending more time with Abit. This is his book, his hero's journey to find out more about life beyond Laurel Falls, N.C. Of course, Della helps him, but for the most part, he's on his own. Now that I have the bones in place, the fun begins—adding color, description, insights, and dialogue. You know, the things I'm passionate about.
4. Finally, many thanks to my friend Bonnie for sharing this!
Would you like a free copy of the short story that started my fiction-writing career: “A Nose for Murder”? Just sign up below, and I’ll send you your own copy to enjoy. And from time to time, I’ll keep you posted with musings about writing and updates on my sequels to A Life for a Life and other books.