So this week's roundup has two writing articles and one article on how to be a writer. Wait a second, that doesn't make sense. Well, being a writer is not just about writing, even though the simplest and first rule is: Write. And then write some more. As a writer, if you want to improve, one way to do so is to get feedback, which means talking to other writers, getting critiques, and revision, revision, revision. I'm going to save that article for last, since it's rather polarizing.
Also, there's an oldie but a goodie in this week's Roundup. Read on to see what awaits!
Article #1: Flashback into Character Development
I have a confession to make. After reading fanfiction for ten years and perusing every urban fantasy romance in the aisles at Wal-Mart in my free time, I've discovered the bane of my existence: the flashback. It seems like the easiest thing in the world to write to dump entire loads of back-story on the reader and give your characters more clarity in their action...but as this article definitely covers, it can go horribly, horribly wrong.
Now, wait, I sound like a total hypocrite here. After all, the first two chapters (and arguably Chapter 7) of What Fates Impose contain extensive flashbacks. So maybe they're not the bane of my existence, but this article is great because it preaches judicious use of them and shows different options you can take. My reasons for including the Go Fish scene, Bryce's visit to the bunker, and Chuck and Sarah's interactions on the C-130 were to do world-building, but now my world is established (or at least I'd hope it would be after 41 chapters!), so we probably won't see the flashback again any time soon.
For me personally, I use dialogue to give character background, which is why characters like Ellie and Morgan are great to have around in Fates. Take, for example, this passage from Chapter 26:
“What on earth has misguided you so badly that you believe you’ll ever be cursed with normality? C’mon. You took apart our toaster before your seventh birthday.”So that might be considered a mini-flashback like the kind used in the article. I'm not a fan of LOST (my J.J. Abrams love seems to stick with Fringe and Star Trek), but I liked what the article was saying, and I feel like a lot of people could get use out of it, so to the Roundup it went!
“I wanted to see how it worked. We didn’t have Google back then.”
“Trust me, I know. Google would have really helped when I had to actually fix the stupid thing for you before Dad got home and saw.”
“But you did it so well,” Chuck said. “The toast didn’t even burn on the one side after you fixed it.”
Article #2: Kurt Vonnegut's Tips for Writing Fiction
We read this article back in my Style in Writing class in college, so I'd seen it before it popped up on my Twitter feed, and it's got some great advice in it. Some of it is strangely specific, but I love #6 in particular. Maximus might say I take that one too much to heart. I believe in Rule #7 quite strongly, too, and I was talking to mxpw about Rule #8 just the other night. In fact, he gave some really great advice that I'm going to toss into the Roundup without his knowledge because, well, I'm evil:
When I was in grad school, one of the things one of my professors said was that good writing wasn't about tricking the reader or withholding from the reader, it was telling the reader all that they needed to know and then dealing with the emotional fallout that results.For example, I'm reading a book right now where the writer is only telling me the basest details and shielding a lot of the perspective character's thoughts, and it's frustrating to me because it feels like the author is deliberately not telling me things simply because if I know more, her entire plot will be given away. It just feels cheap and like I'm being spoon-fed, which is not something I enjoy while reading. I prefer intelligent characters who let me jump to my own conclusions even while I'm in their shoes.
Now, warning, this third article has both quite a bit of swearing and is VERY, VERY polarizing. I'm not preaching it as gospel, but it is something I think every writer needs to read once in his or her career, and it's about common courtesy. Like I said, be wary of the language, though!
Article #3: I Will Not Read Your $%@#ing Script
This is not aimed at anybody or written about anybody in particular. I stumbled across this a year ago when some of the authors I read were talking about it, and it's something to keep in mind when you're a starting-out writer and you're looking for help. You may not agree with it, that's fine, but I find it, aside from being unnecessarily abrasive, pretty eye-opening, so I'm including it in the Roundup.
Hope these articles helped!!!