Be Kind, Even to Your Characters

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

— Philo (or Plato, or Others)

I love this quote.  I hadn’t thought about it, in the past, but this sentiment is also applicable to the characters we create.  Be kind to them, as they are carrying great burdens and fighting battles that we have imposed. Constant conflict and tension is exhausting, the least we can do is share a little bit of kindness.

Neil Gaiman on Revision

In response to a reader’s request for tips on revision, Neil Gaiman writes:

The best advice I can give on this is, once it’s done, to put it away until you can read it with new eyes. Finish the short story, print it out, then put it in a drawer and write other things. When you’re ready, pick it up and read it, as if you’ve never read it before. If there are things you aren’t satisfied with as a reader, go in and fix them as a writer: that’s revision.

To me, Mr. Gaiman is spot on.  Sometimes this is the hardest thing to do in the world – it’s almost like I feel guilty when a put a piece down.  The reward, though, is always there – in the form of fresh eyes and an improved product.

Source:  http://www.neilgaiman.com/p/FAQs

Failure to Write

You fail only if you stop writing.

I’ve written about 2,000 short stories…and I feel I’m still learning.

-Ray Bradbury

Read a Lot of Bad Stuff

If you are going to learn from other writers don’t only read the great ones, because if you do that you’ll get so filled with despair and the fear that you’ll never be able to do anywhere near as well as they did that you’ll stop writing.  I recommend that you read a lot of bad stuff, too.  It’s very encouraging.

-Edward Albee

Trash Talking Other Books

This was shared at a great writing workshop last week:

If you are going to learn from other writers don’t only read the great ones, because if you do that you’ll get so filled with despair and fear that you’ll never be able to do anywhere near as well as they did that you’ll stop writing.  I recommend that you read a lot of bad stuff, too.  It’s very encouraging.

– Edward Albee

I couldn’t agree more.  It was, after all, a terrible book that made me think, hey I can do something marginally better than this garbage!  I’m still working on it – even trash takes time.

Pliny Was Write

A snippet from a letter to Tacitus from Pliny the Younger:

Happy are they, in my opinion, to whom it is given either to do something worth writing about, or to write something worth reading; most happy, of course, those who do both.

I take this to mean – if I’m going to write well, I sure better live well too.

They know a million tricks, those novelists.

I love when, in fiction, authors write about authors, or in this case novelists.  Check out Philip K. Dick in the “The Man in the High Castle,” brilliant:

“They know a million tricks, those novelists.  Take Doctor Goebbels; that’s how he started out, writing fiction.  Appeals to the base lusts that hide in everyone no matter how respectable on the surface.  Yes, the novelist knows humanity, how worthless they are, ruled by their testicles, swayed by cowardice, selling out every cause because of their greed-all he’s got to do is thump on the drum, and there’s his response.  And he laughing, of course, behind his hand at the effect he gets.”

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