Monday, July 20, 2015

Find Your Why! Writing Is Not Simply A Formula

This is going out to all of you heading to the RWA Conference in particular, but, with that said, it is an important message for any writer out there.

Do you know WHY you are doing the things you do?

Many author attend workshops, read how to articles, and certainly take advice from blogs like this, but far too often, writers are simply going through the motions. They do things because "so and so" said this is what you do. We hear this all of the time. "I read on QueryShark that this is how you write a query letter." And so they copy the formula but are not clear as to the purpose of each of those elements.

The thing to remember is that each of these things we discuss in those seminars, articles or blog posts are simply tools you have available to you. It is your job to understand when and how you use those tools. It is also expected that you will take the time to understand WHY you are using the tool.

For example, we talk about not "head hopping" in your stories. For those of you who might be new to this, head-hopping is simply shifting from one point of view to another within a given scene. Now I fully understand there are authors out there who are known for doing this and are successful, but for the most part, we avoid this.

But why???

When we head-hop, there is an increased chance that the reader becomes confused. We don't know who is talking, or who is thinking that thought. Eventually, there is that chance that we have the wrong character thinking the wrong emotion.

Here is another example. I often argue for starting out a query letter with the basics of the book. I want to see the title, genre and word count at the top of the query. But why?? For me, when I read a query, I am logging this information into a data base and I get that out of the way first before I contemplate the story. But there is a bigger "WHY" here. By knowing from the beginning the genre and word count, I can immediately think of potential placement for the story. I can think about the characters you introduce in a context. If you tell me it is women's fiction, I start thinking about how it meets that criteria. If you tell me it is a contemporary romance, I look for that relationship building.

So, when we tell you an approach to accomplishing something with your writing, it is crucial not to just follow those steps blindly, but to understand the impact those things will have on your writing or on your reader.

If there are things you have been taught but don't know the why behind the skill, ask them here. I can give you one perspective as to why it can be useful!

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