Monday, June 6, 2016

Do You Know Why?

As many of you are gearing up for the great summer conferences and thinking about which workshops you are going to take, I want to give you a word of warning. These workshops have limitations. No, I am not talking about the amount of information you get from the presenters, or even the quality of the presenters. The issue comes from what you get from the workshop and what you understand from the material.

I do think far too many potential authors head into these workshops think attendance will be the "Holy Grail" of their writing research. "If I complete this course, I can get published." Um, not likely going to happen. For you see, the thing most authors fail to remember, is that these are just some techniques. Some work. Some don't work. Some work in certain situations and in other cases, will horribly ruin your story.

Writing is about utilizing your "Writer's Toolbox." It is a matter of figuring out what will work best for your personal writing style, for that book, for that character, and in that specific situation. The key to being a successful writer is to know when to use those tools, and more importantly, WHY you are using the tool.

I see far too many submissions where authors are just doing something, apparently because someone told them to do so. They really don't know why it is supposed to be there, or for that matter, what the over-all effect will be on the story?

When you think about writing, I love to equate this to the idea of cooking with herbs and spices. Each one will have a particular effect on a recipe. It isn't just the flavor of the food, but the intensity and the interaction it has with the other food in the recipe. You have to understand what the desired effect is that you want, and then pick the right tool.

So, as you listen to these presenters, keep asking yourself what the effect will be on your story? In the end, make sure you know WHY you are doing something to your story.

1 comment:

  1. As usual, a great tip. I'm not taking any workshops this summer. But I've had the same response to books on writing. Some, when I've tried to apply the concepts to a WIP just didn't seem to fit, and I had to abandon the book, not the WIP. Others have seemed to be magical in adding just the right insight to what I needed.