In Which I Respond to Advice by Chuck Wendig: Part One

So I’m reading this book – or PDF rather – called “250 Things You Should Know About Writing” by Chuck Wendig. I follow Wendig’s blog, terrible minds, but I can’t say I’ve ever read any of his books.  At least not until now.  So what prompted me to start now? This post.  It’s absolutely phenomenal and funny and actually has some good tips on writing. I heart it.  So that made me peek around the site and I found his book bundle on writing and gladly paid for it and here we are, checking out the first of eight books.

And this post shall be my thoughts on that book.

“You must always be learning, gaining, improving”

I agree with this heavily.  Mostly because a lot of the work I’ve been doing lately has been about honing my craft.  And it is a craft that is for certain.  When I haven’t been writing (which isn’t as often as I should be, alas) I’ve been reading.  I’ve been reading about writing in books like this one.  I’ve enrolled in a creative writing workshop. I’ve spent hours on Skillshare (have I mentioned how much I love skillshare?) looking into creativity.  I am learning so very much it makes me giddy with glee.

“Stones Are Polished By Agitation”

Or put another way, you learn via criticism and editing etc.  I am admittedly terrible at this.  I hide my work away, showing only others who will praise it.  That’s not good at all. Hopefully my writing workshop will help with that.

“Quit Quitting”

Damn.  Another one I’m terrible at.  I have two works in progress I guess you could say.  One I haven’t touched in months, the other in weeks.  Mostly because I think they’re shit.  But if I’m doing this the right way, that should matter.  I should give myself the permission to write shitty first drafts.  That’s what rewriting and editing is for.  I see this piece of advice so much, everywhere, that it just might get me to go back to my story about a girl who is the next grim reaper, but she doesn’t know that.  It might. Maybe.  The story is really shit so far.

“The storyteller operates best when he’s a little bit of a dick”

I need to embrace my inner dick.  I tend to wrap things up too neatly and take the obvious path in a story, and that’s not always good.  Sometimes you need a twist in the story.  Sometimes you need to push your characters off a cliff.

“Beginnings Are For Assholes…”

Or, begin as late into the story as you can. This I’m good at.  I like dropping the reader into something that’s been on-going off the page somewhere.  Plus I’m kind of shit at all the beginingy stuff.   It winds up very “And then THIS happened, and THAT happened, and WHOA THAT happened.” And then we get to where I want to be.  So I just cut out the front end. Sometimes a little too much. Because then there’s this:

“Go all high-karate-action and we have no context for the characters who are in danger, and no context means we don’t care, and if we don’t care then we’re already packing our bags in the first five minutes or five pages.”

Yeah.  That’s the problem with grim reaper girl.  There’s nothing to her.  I don’t care about her, so why should the reader? But that’s a problem for the rewrite, right? Right?

You give us a great character, our only desire becomes to lick him like he’s a hallucinogenic toad and take the crazy trip-ass ride wherever he has to go.”

I definitely need more hallucinogenic toads these days.

“Describe only what matters to the story. If the reader must know something, then ensure she knows it. I don’t give a fuck about your lamp. Or what leaf-rot is on the oak tree outside.”

This is highly, highly reassuring because I kind of suck at detailed description.  Like, I don’t even tell you what colour my character’s hair is.  I should probably do that, but it doesn’t come naturally to me. I need more description but not too much.  This is good.

“good writing sounds good when spoken. Great writing is as much about the ear as it is about the eye”

This I am neither good nor bad at.  I don’t think I’ve ever really given it much thought.  But it’s certainly something I need to start taking into consideration, and it ties nicely into the standard advice that you should read your drafts aloud.  Of course that is usually when I decide they suck hard core and stop writing.  Must get through the draft before I do this in the future.

“Passive Constructions Were Killed By Me, In The Study, With A Lead Pipe”

My number one weakness right here ladies and gentlemen, the passive voice.  It’s not that I overuse it, it’s more that I don’t even know how to *recognize* it.  Wendig explains it, and I’ve heard about using the phrase “by zombies” or something, but I still don’t get it.  At all.  Someone help me?

And that leaves me at the end of the book! There are lots more tidbits in there and it’s only 99 cents!  Highly, highly recommended.

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