This site is about meaningful page-turning fiction. I’m starting to branch out into happiness and intelligent design, too, especially in my blog-novel: |:::|::: Hapa Girl DNA :::|:::| which I’m creating online here.
My background is in science and medicine (pathology), but I’ve studied fiction writing for a couple of decades and may have figured out a few things. I’ve read about 60 “how to” books on fiction writing and can’t seem to stop. It’s such a fascinating subject.
Much of the advice I’ve read, however, seems misguided – not “wrong,” but counterproductive. Some of it may be relevant to creative writing classes, but it emphasizes things that don’t matter much to average readers, the people who matter to me. The people I love.
Some of the dogma out there teaches habits that eat up creativity, in fact, focusing on word cosmetics and technical things like verb selection, sentence structure, clever twists of phrase, and an endless list of negatives that shut down creativity.
I used to write and record songs at home. The technical aspects of recording gear and software require logical, analytic thinking that smothers creativity with a plastic bag. It’s impossible to create a song while you’re struggling with a technical issue. Creativity in music requires a non-analytic environment where subtle feelings come out and the artist forgets herself.
It’s like that with fiction writing, too.
Much of the traditional fiction writing advice is technical stuff that should never cross your mind when creating first drafts. Or if you’re like me and struggle to separate first drafts from all the fuzzy intermediate stages, the word-centric concerns (as opposed to character and story-centered things) become a perfectionist’s quicksand.
The way we ask ourselves to write stories is like asking a songwriter to create a great new song and produce a polished recording of it at the same time. It’s not likely to happen.
Fiction writers have several creative jobs to do at the same time: characterization, plot, description, dialogue, etc. For me, even these creative aspects need to be tackled one at a time, as much as possible.
On top of that, we have an endless list of technical, “wordsmith” responsibilities that most of us try to perform while we’re working on the creative aspects. I wrote a little e-book on this, hoping to purge the demons. No such luck.
To make matters worse, some of the traditional technical advice is inherently damaging to the quality of a story. This comes to light if you take the sledgehammer of traditional editing to a few paragraphs of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I tried this misadventure in my e-book to make the point that sometimes the viewpoint character is, at a deep level, the author. To edit the VP character’s “writing” can destroy her voice, especially in first person works.
This blog is mainly about separating opposing forces and sorting things out logically so we can write meaningful page-turners.
I also have an interest in intelligent design which shows up mainly in my blog-novel Hapa Girl DNA, “written” by a nineteen-year-old Hapa Girl, Johanna, a geneticist who meets ancient history knees-to-hull while trying to drown herself in Oregon.
Her story starts here.
In my view, fiction’s many evolving “rules” or guidelines are nice to know because breaking them is more fun with a mischievous glint in your eye.
So you could download my e-book, Writing Meaningful Page-turners. One person has said wonderful things about it, but that was one out of 263, so statistical significance isn’t grabbing me by the throat here.
On the opposite extreme, I can’t say enough good about The Story Grid, by Shawn Coyne. I don’t know Shawn – in fact, he’s never responded to my comments on his blog or to the email I sent him once (sniff, sob), but I give his book my highest recommendation. His website also rocks maximally, as they say on Vulcan, with astute advice and inside information for both fiction and nonfiction writers.
News flash (5/24/17): A month or two ago I applied for one of 25 slots to learn The Story Grid’s developmental editing techniques from Shawn Coyne in Nashville this September. To my happy surprise, I was accepted.
So I’ll be listed on his site as a developmental editor offering his methods. It’s going to be loads of fun!
Finally, if you have a strikingly intelligent and beautiful friend, please send her/him my blog address http://www.storiform.com. You never know, it could change everything.
Thanks! I appreciate what you’re quietly doing to make the world a better place. Keep writing and don’t let up for air!
Love and cool breezes for the summer,