Monday, October 27, 2014

There Is No Right Or Wrong Way To Write

I have spoken frequently here about the issue of forced writing. When I have used this term, I am referring to the stories that seem to come off the page unnaturally. The writers are really trying too hard to tell the story and too hard to make the characters do and say the things that they should. In many ways, the feeling you get from reading a story like this is similar to when someone is telling you they love the party you hosted, when in reality, they hated it. O.K. maybe not that extreme, but you get the point.

Writing is not about doing things to your story or your query letter or your synopsis because some workshop, some blogger or some book told you this is how it is done. Writing is about finding the best approach for your book at that particular moment. Writing is about using your brain and following your gut instinct as you sit in front of your computer.

When I work with writers, I often use the phrase, "There is no right or wrong approach to writing." However, I do follow this up with what would seem a contradictory comment, "But there are wrong approaches to your writing." What I mean here is that your approach, while it might have worked in another situation is simply not going to work here. You have to take the time to judge your situation and find the best thing that will work at that time.

I have personally never liked using this concept, but maybe it is simply the way others have used it in the past that made it sound a bit cheesy. When you are writing, it is your job as an author to go to your Writer's Toolbox and find the right tool for the job. Let's say you are trying to hang a picture in your office of your first New York Times Best Selling book cover that earned you a cool 7 figures of sales in the first week. You go to your toolbox and grab a Hammer and a ten-penny nail. You want a big nail because you don't want it to fall off the wall. Is this the right approach? Well, there is a nail, and there is a hammer, but in this situation, it is obvious over-kill.

Now consider your writing. You you get your characters together, or how you create a great conflict will require a specific set of tools to get it done right. Sure it might be functional, but is it right.

For you new authors out there, please keep this in mind. I want you to attend all of those workshops. I want you to be reading books and reading blogs. I want you learning all you can. But remember these are just tools you are adding to your arsenal. You may use one of those tools only one time in your entire writing career. Some, you will use over and over again because of the genre you write or more specifically, your individual voice.

As you learn to write a synopsis, or write a query letter, the same idea applies. There are a lot of ways to approach these documents, Each one is going to depend on who you are sending it to and what that editor or agent wants. You simply cannot just grab the same query letter and send it out to every editor and agent. They all want something different. They all have different needs for assessing your writing.

In simple terms, writing is not a fixed formula. You have to be able to use your brain when you write and do things because the situation needs it. Do not let someone tell you their way is the only way. It is just "one" way.

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