Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Writing is a Form of Therapy

Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those, who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear, which is inherent in the human condition.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Just Write

Take out another notebook, pick up another pen, and just write, just write, just write. In the middle of the world, make one positive step. In the center of chaos, make one definitive act. Just write. Say yes, stay alive, be awake. Just write. Just write. Just write.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Have More Than One Idea on the Go

Have more than one idea on the go at any one time. If it's a choice between writing a book and doing nothing I will always choose the latter. It's only if I have an idea for two books that I choose one rather than the other. I always have to feel that I'm bunking off from something.

Another Story Accepted

My short story, 'The Letter', has been accepted for publication in the US anthology 'Local Heroes'.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Don't overwrite.

Don't overwrite. Avoid the redundant phrases, the distracting adjectives, the unnecessary adverbs. Beginners, especially, seem to think that writing fiction needs a special kind of flowery prose, completely unlike any sort of language one might encounter in day-to-day life. This is a misapprehension about how the effects of fiction are produced.

First be a reader.

"If you would be a writer, first be a reader. Only through the assimilation of ideas, thoughts and philosophies can one begin to focus his own ideas, thoughts and philosophies."
Allan W. Eckert

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Read, read, read.

"Read, read, read. Read everything—trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the most. Read! You'll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out the window."
William Faulkner

You Need to Start Somewhere

Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something—anything—down on paper. What I’ve learned to do when I sit down to work on a shitty first draft is to quiet the voices in my head.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Do what works.

There are so many different kinds of writing and so many ways to work that the only rule is this: do what works. Almost everything has been tried and found to succeed for somebody. The methods, even the ideas of successful writers contradict each other in a most heartening way, and the only element I find common to all successful writers is persistence-an overwhelming determination to succeed.
Sophy Burnham

The Important Thing in Writing is the Capacity to Astonish

The important thing in writing is the capacity to astonish. Not shock—shock is a worn-out word—but astonish. The world has no grounds whatever for complacency. The Titanic couldn’t sink, but it did. Where you find smugness, you find something worth blasting. I want to blast it.


There's No “Magic Secret”

There's no "magic secret"; writing is like everything else; ten percent inspiration or talent, and ninety percent hard work. Persistence; keeping at it till you get there. As Agnes de Mille said, it means working every day—bored, tired, weary, or with a fever of a hundred and two.


The Life of the Writer is Colorless

It should surprise no one that the life of the writer—such as it is—is colorless to the point of sensory deprivation. Many writers do little else but sit in rooms recalling the real world. This explains why so many books describe the author’s childhood. A writer’s childhood may well have been the occasion of his only firsthand experience.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Lock Yourself in a Room

My block was due to two overlapping factors: laziness and lack of discipline. If you really want to write, then shut yourself in a room, close the door, and WRITE. If you don't want to write, do something else. It's as simple as that.

With Maturity the Writer Becomes More Secure

At the beginning of their careers many writers have a need to overwrite. They choose carefully turned-out phrases; they want to impress their readers with their large vocabularies. By the excesses of their language, these young men and women try to hide their sense of inexperience. With maturity the writer becomes more secure in his ideas. He finds his real tone and develops a simple and effective style.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Our Heroes Are Simple

Behind the complicated details of the world stand the simplicities: God is good, the grown-up man or woman knows the answer to every question, there is such a thing as truth, and justice is as measured and faultless as a clock. Our heroes are simple: they are brave, they tell the truth, they are good swordsmen and they are never in the long run really defeated. That is why no later books satisfy us like those which were read to us in childhood—for those promised a world of great simplicity of which we knew the rules, but the later books are complicated and contradictory with experience; they are formed out of our own disappointing memories.

Fiction Depends on Place

Every story would be another story, and unrecognizable if it took up its characters and plot and happened somewhere else. Fiction depends for its life on place. Place is the crossroads of circumstance, the proving ground of, What happened? Who’s here? Who’s coming?


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Dialogue Written in Dialect is Hard to Read

Dialogue that is written in dialect is very tiring to read. If you can do it brilliantly, fine. If other writers read your work and rave about your use of dialect, go for it. But be positive that you do it well, because otherwise it is a lot of work to read short stories or novels that are written in dialect. It makes our necks feel funny.


Heaven Knows What Pains the Author has Been At

Heaven knows what pains the author has been at, what bitter experiences he has endured and what heartache suffered, to give some chance reader a few hours' relaxation or to while away the tedium of a journey.


Monday, March 14, 2011

What Lasts in the Reader's Mind

What lasts in the reader’s mind is not the phrase but the effect the phrase created: laughter, tears, pain, joy. If the phrase is not affecting the reader, what’s it doing there? Make it do its job or cut it without mercy or remorse.

A Talk by William Ryan

I had the pleasure of attending a talk by William Ryan on Saturday at the Limerick Writers Centre.
William Ryan is an Irish writer, living in London. Before turning his hand to writing full-time, William was a lawyer in the city for a number of years. His novel, ‘The Holy Thief’ is the first in a series about a detective Alexei Korolev, who works for the Moscow Criminal Division in 1930s Russia.
It was a cold morning, but William, and Dominic of the writer’s centre made us welcome. Thank you for the coffee Dominic. It was the first time I had attended a talk like this and was unsure of how it would go.
William started with a brief introduction of himself and his work to date. I found it very informative, he touched on such subjects as planning and characters right through to editing, and finding an agent.
William gave a few good tips that I will be putting into practice from now on. The first is to create a ‘Cuttings File’, so when you are editing and you find anything that is not relevant to the story, cut and paste it to your file. I think this is a great idea, because you are not losing the cut piece forever, you tend to be a bit more ruthless with what you can cut out.
‘Know your facts and be accurate’, another great point William raised. Know what you are writing about, as an example: writing about a certain species of bird in your novel, when due to the seasonal time of year it is on the other side of the world, is a definite no.
‘Make your research invisible’, we all need to research, but the reader does not want to see this in the story that you are telling, that is what they have the Internet for.
Most importantly, write what you enjoy reading. The reader will feel this in the words that you use. Remember by the time your novel is ready to be sent off to an agent; you may well have read the whole thing fifteen times, so you will want to enjoy it.
I really enjoyed the talk, and I would recommend attending a similar talk in your area. Join a writers group; get a feel for what and how others write, but most of all enjoy it.

I would once again like to thank William Ryan, and Dominic of the Limerick Writer’s Centre.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Keep Looking for the Right Address

This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don’t consider it rejected. Consider that you’ve addressed it ‘to the editor who can appreciate my work’ and it has simply come back stamped “Not at this address.” Just keep looking for the right address.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Ignore Your Readers

Thank your readers and the critics who praise you, and then ignore them. Write for the most intelligent, wittiest, wisest audience in the universe: Write to please yourself.


Style Consists in Force of Assertion

It was from Handel that I learned that style consists in force of assertion. If you can say a thing with one stroke, unanswerably you have style; if not, you are at best a marchande de plaisir, a decorative litterateur, or a musical confectioner, or a painter of fans with cupids and coquettes. Handel had power.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Why I Write

Inspired by the ‘Why I Write’ hash tag from Twitter, better known as #whyiwrite, and a blog I follow, here is why I write.

I started to write about eighteen months ago, to this day I could not tell you why, maybe it was my love for reading. My biggest love is the horror genre especially James Herbert, an English writer. I put pen to paper for the first time since leaving school, trying to echo the greats, such as Herbert. When my wife read them, she gave me such fantastic comments; from that moment on, I was hooked.

I have stories bursting from my mind, if only there was enough time to get them all written down before they escaped from me forever. The more comments I received the more I wanted to write, a vicious circle some may say, but not me.

I have been lucky, in the last twelve months I have had a number of short stories accepted for publication, from webzines and the local paper to anthologies. I am currently working on my first novel and I love it.

My name is Daniel Kaye, and I am addicted to writing.

Writers Must Fortify Themselves

Writers must fortify themselves with pride and egotism as best they can. The process is analogous to using sandbags and loose timbers to protect a house against flood. Writers are vulnerable creatures like anyone else. For what do they have in reality? Not sandbags, not timbers. Just a flimsy reputation and a name.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Cast Out Clichés

Clichés are common features of everyone's first draft, whether we write it down or keep it to ourselves. How could they not be? We hear and read them all the time and our brains are filled with them. The key to avoiding them in the second and succeeding drafts is recognizing them and casting them out.


Character is the Very Life of Fiction

Character is the very life of fiction. Setting exists so that the character has someplace to stand. Plot exists so the character can discover what he is really like, forcing the character to choice and action. And theme exists only to make the character stand up and be somebody.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

All Good Writing Comes Out of Aloneness

All good writing comes out of aloneness. You have to do it on an open highway. You wouldn’t want to do it in New York City. But on Highway 40 West or some of those big open highways, you can hold the wheel with one hand and write with the other. It’s a good discipline, because sometimes you can only write two or three words at a time before you have to look back at the road, so those three words have to count. The problem is whether you can read the damn thing by the time you reach your destination.

140 Character Story (Inspired by Twitter)

He looked at the noose dangling before him; he placed his head through it, smiled and shouted, 
"I'm glad I did it," as the lever was pulled.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

140 Character Horror Story (Inspired by Twitter)

I couldn't type fast enough, death walked in my shadows. I wanted to finish one more novel. 
I didn't think he would collect my soul so soon.

Writing Is Like Everything Else

Writing is like everything else: the more you do it the better you get. Don't try to perfect as you go along, just get to the end of the damn thing. Accept imperfections. Get it finished and then you can go back. If you try to polish every sentence there's a chance you'll never get past the first chapter.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

It's Not Just the Satisfaction of Being Published

You know what it means – you’re a writer and you understand it. It’s not just “the satisfaction of being published.” Great God! It’s the satisfaction of getting it out, or having that, so far as you’re concerned, gone through with it! That good or ill, for better or for worse, it’s over, done with, finished, out of your life forever and that, come what may, you can at least, as far as this thing is concerned, get the merciful damned easement of oblivion and forgetfulness.


Friday, March 4, 2011

Good Writing Is All Handmade

Good writing is all handmade. It’s made of words. Looking up words as you write is a vital step in research. A word choice isn’t apt merely because a word’s formal definition seems to fit. Words are layered with meaning, and the layers need to fit as well. If you write “the final solution to our problem” unaware that “final solution” translates the Nazi euphemism for the Holocaust, die Endlösung; if you write “a supercilious handshake” unaware that “supercilious” derives from Latin words meaning “above the eyelid” (i.e., with a lifted eyebrow), you communicate more and less to your reader than you intend. Sloppy word choice isn’t only a literary sin; it’s confusing. If you choose words with their multileveled meanings in mind, your reader will have a better chance of understanding what you mean—and so will you.


Don't Try to Guess What Editors Want

Don’t try to guess what sort of thing editors want to publish or what you think the country is in a mood to read. Editors and readers don’t know what they want to read until they read it. Besides, they’re always looking for something new.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Each Book Should Be A New Beginning

For a true writer each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed.

To Write Is To Sit In Judgment On Oneself

To write is to practice, with particular intensity and attentiveness, the art of reading. You write in order to read what you've written and see if it's O.K. and, since of course it never is, to rewrite it once, twice, as many times as it takes to get it to be something you can bear to reread. You are your own first, maybe severest, reader. "To write is to sit in judgment on oneself," Ibsen inscribed on the flyleaf of one of his books. Hard to imagine writing without rereading.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Another Story Accepted

My short story "A Mistaken Identity" has been accapted for publishing in the US anthology
"Dark Secrets".

Take On Anything

Be daring, take on anything. Don’t labor over little cameo works in which every word is to be perfect. Technique holds a reader from sentence to sentence, but only content will stay in his mind.