Although I have been to several readings and met a few local authors that have had the fortune being published and experienced some fame, I have yet to really ever have the opportunity to ask those questions every aspiring author has for the ones who’ve “made it.” Instead, I have their books. Or, at least the ones who’ve taken the time and effort to share the knowledge they have gained through their careers. Their blunders, their successes, their own personal techniques, and reiterate the fundamentals. Below are three of my top go-to’s whenever I need writing advice, a boost, reminder, exercise, or even new challenges:
Stephen King – “…read a lot and write a lot…”
In his 2000 memoir, “On Writing,” this best-selling author exposes priceless, practical techniques to the craft, including the basic tools that every writer should have in their arsenal, and a collection of memories and experiences which support the complex link between writing and living which contain all the necessary elements to craft solid work. His best advice, “If read a lot, write a lot is the Great Commandment—and I assure you that it is—how much writing constitutes a lot?” He goes on to explain the varying types of writers and how we must set writing goals for ourselves and keep them. Most tend to go with the 2,000 words a day rule, others may set to write more, and others less. The important thing is to continue practicing.
Sandra Scofield – “…it is the scene that a writer captures the heart and imagination of the reader.”
Scofield is an award-winning author who began as reader and writer then evolved into an investigator of the craft, mainly characters and the scene. This analytical drive resulted in her 2007, “The Scene Book,” that provided a fundamental guide in plain English to both seasoned and beginning writers on creating more effective scenes in fictional narratives. Part Two of Scofield’s guide dives into the “heart of a scene,” emphasizing and providing important writing strategies that focus on pulse—the action and emotion; tension—increasing reader involvement; negotiation—alternatives to conflict; and, images—writing that appeals to the senses. Scofield focuses the microscope onto creating effective scenes and sparking the imagination of the reader.
Ron Rozelle – “…you have to work a little magic…”
Author and instructor, Ron Rozelle’s issue, “Description and Setting,” is one in a series of practical information and exercises collectively known as, “Write Great Fiction.” In Rozelle’s issue, he focuses in on the writer’s use of description, the importance of setting, and sending the invitation. This book, like many ‘how-to’s’ provides the fundamental approaches to the basics, some exercises to help kick start the writer into sharpening those skills, but more so, this book tells of the magical lens of description and setting we writers must look through. In doing so, we begin to shape the narrative in such a way that is inviting the reader to come along.
There are many, many avenues to which writer’s can explore as we seek to find advice, tips, and the secrets to other’s success and the craft itself. Many may never encounter an opportunity to be face-to-face with those who do or who have walked that path of success; still, there are many other places we can visit in the quiet of our home, or amid the buzz of our local coffee shop and converse with them in memoirs, guidebooks, perhaps even visiting an author’s website.