Carpe Weekend: What’s up, block?
By Jason Freeman email@example.com April 4, 2012 3:45PM
In the preface to his short story collection “Bagombo Snuff Box” (Putnam Adult), legendary writer Kurt Vonnegut gives these eight creative writing tips:
1 Use the time of
a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
2 Give the reader at
least one character he or she can root for.
3 Every character
should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
4 Every sentence
must do one of two things — reveal character or advance the action.
5 Start as close to
the end as possible.
6 Be a sadist. No
matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them — in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
7 Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
8 Give your readers
as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.
Updated: May 6, 2012 8:03AM
Everyone, regardless of educational background or proficiency with the English language, has at least one good story worth telling.
And I’m not just talking about writing a novel or short story, either.
Tales can be told in many ways, from a toe-tapping tune or a few lines of poetry to a single diary entry.
You can even bypass the pen entirely and spin a yarn using only your vocal chords.
With so many ways to tell a story, it’s surprising more people don’t give it a try.
You don’t have to be William Wordsworth to write; you don’t even have to be a good writer at all. You just have to have a story to tell.
The only thing truly keeping you from telling the world your story — or stories, depending on how big an imagination you have or on how many adventures you’ve been —is the dreaded phenomenon known as writer’s block.
How do you start that science fiction book or personal memoir? And once you get started, how do you keep going until you’re finished?
Whether you have an idea for a great work of fiction or simply want to document your thoughts, there’s no time like the present to begin writing.
If you get stuck along the way, here are a few tips that hopefully will nudge you in the right direction.
Make sure to ...
Set aside a slice
A standard 24-hour day is kind of like a pizza. You know about a third of it is going to be eaten by your job, and another third will be gobbled up by sleep.
That doesn’t leave much time for other things, but if you can set aside at least one slice for writing (or even just a single piece of pepperoni), you’ll be one step closer to finishing your story.
Your allotted writing time can be at any point in the day and for as long or as short as you’d like.
Just make a schedule and stick to it. During that time, write something. Anything.
If you can’t think of what to write, then ...
Launch an assault on your brain
That half-hour of uninterrupted writing time can seem like an eternity if you’re just staring at a blank page.
When you’re stuck, try brainstorming, which is perhaps the best way to get your creative vibes humming.
Write down as many things as you can think of related to the problem you’re having, and don’t worry if they don’t make any sense.
The goal of brainstorming is just to get your thoughts on paper. You can make sense of them later.
This can help you get a character out of a situation he’s stuck in, or it can provide that elusive third verse to a song you’re writing.
It even can help you in noncreative endeavours, because the act of spilling random thoughts onto a sheet of paper can help to illuminate all of the possibilities inherent in pretty much any situation.
But whatever you do ...
Don’t overthink it
You can’t write the next New York Times best-selling novel, Grammy-nominated single or Pulitzer Prize-winning expose if you’re constantly thinking about receiving all of these aforementioned accolades.
Just write consistently and every day.
Leave the future in the future.