Saturday, December 31, 2016

Have You Used Your Brain Today?

I always talk to writers about using their brains when they write. Now, I get that they think they are doing so when they craft their stories, write their query letters or craft a synopsis, but in reality, for too many authors, the brain is not working. The end result is a piece of writing that is far from good.

So what happens? The brain simply shifts into auto pilot. You know the feeling... This is the time when you get on a roll and your fingers just cannot keep up with your ideas. You really think things are heading in the right direction, and you know what? Those ideas in your brain are doing great, it is the stuff you are putting on that paper that is not working out so well.

When you do get on these great writing trips, writers will often decrease the amount of serious editing time they do with that work. Things worked so well, there are likely no issues out there. Ahhh, but remember, it was all golden in you brain and not on the paper.

My son has done this throughout his entire school career. He has these moments of insane brilliance and he has these great ideas that need to get on the paper. When he sends it to us to edit, I swear it is like I am reading Klingon or something. The words are just gibberish in places. Oh, I see where he wanted to go, but he simply didn't think about the writing as he put it on the page.

As you are writing, you have to continually think about what you are writing and what the characters are doing? Is this something that is really necessary in the story? More importantly, if you add this piece to the story, what is the chain reaction of things that will likely happen later on in the story? Will you have to add full sequences just to explain something.

On of my writers is working on a project now where she thought it might be a good idea to add a reference to how here grandfather had owned the store before her. While this sounds like it might have some promise, the depth necessary to A) explain all of that element in the story; B) work that element into the heroine's GMC; and C) show the impact on the entire plot would eventually lead to material that will distract from the central theme of the story. Fortunately, we thought it through together and all is well.

The same goes for people writing query letters and synopsis writing. IN the case of query letters, they think they have crafted a brilliant query letter, but never bother to ask if they were to read their own query as an outsider, what would they think. I often use the simple phrase of, "Would you hire you, based on what you sent?" Sure those witty comments, those long narratives about finding time to "eek out your writing between cooking dinner for your husband and being a soccer mom" are great ways to show your personality, but would an editor really want to hire someone who sounds like this? Probably not! You have to think, "How does this letter reflect the professional writer that I am?"

As for your synopsis, the problem here is that you are now writing with your brain just barfing the plot down. "and then this happens, and then this happens, and then sparks fly, and then they..." While the purpose of the synopsis is to give us the plot overview, it is not to get into all of the smaller elements such as, "and then they walked through the park where he picked up a flower [and then you go on and on about the name of the flower and the meaning of the flower in life, the family and mythology]. You're not thinking here! Do I really need to know this?

Do not just believe that if your brain is typing, then you are thinking. The odds are, only part of your brain is working. Get it all working and you will be amazed at how the quality of your writing increases!

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