This post interested me, because I would also like to be a writer. From what Sarah has written, she seems like a writer.
I’ve read that professional authors read a lot, and then having been inspired to do something of their own, they research whatever they want to write about. I’ve also read that they write all day every day, or at least a couple of thousand words average on most days for a month or two to end up with a novel.
I’ve read that they get a burst of inspiration, then write whatever comes into their heads, and then use various creative writing tools such as the snowball method of character writing, and describing everything (place, things and people in the place, the weather, time of day, feelings, thoughts, actions, how people speak) using any words which spring to mind, and then finding synonyms to replace some of them with so that the writing looks more impressive or fits in with genre conventions.
The snowball method involves writing down one or more of your characters, and then writing some basic stats about them (height, weight, build, hair colour, eye colour, skin colour), then writing about things like their job or educational institution (if applicable), and then it all sort of snowballs from there; how do they feel about themselves? How do they feel about their job? Are they fat? Are they muscular? Do they have a heart condition? How do they feel about that? What type of character are they? What are their personal traits? Based on the above, what do they do every day? What do they do at weekends? What do they want to do, can they afford the time or money to do it, are they reluctant to do it? What obligations do they have? Who do they work with? Who are their neighbours? What do they want out of life? What happens to them? What options are available to them within the confines of their reality? Do they need help? How do they get it?
In the end, their physical characteristics, personal traits and habits influence their behaviours, actions and reactions. This should drive the storyline as much as the initial inspiration by the time it’s all laid out.
However, I’m always flummoxed by how easily some authors find it to churn out two or three novels per year; they seem like they’re machines.
Reading their work though, they appear to be following a formula of their own, quite apart from the conventions of the genres they are writing within. Sometimes they appear to be repeating themselves, writing the same characters with different names, physical descriptions and contexts. Some of them also put their personal observations in their works, and these are used to add depth to the character or to explain what is going to happen next; they take up a lot of page space sometimes, but people appear to enjoy reading them if they are placed correctly or put across in a profound, wry or amusing way.
I’ve also read that stories, once boiled down, are only about a problem faced and how it is resolved. Yes, the story can be laid out in terms of the ‘hero’ story (status quo, disruption, external assistance, quest, slay monster, leave quest, resolution, new status quo), in which the scene is set, the characters described and then the events laid out as a consequence. Yet ultimately, the protagonist is after all only resolving a problem that they face as a result of a disruption to their status quo; this is true whether the disruption is war, disaster, forbidden love, drugs, prison, debt, windfall, alien invasion, disease or old age.
Finally, I have read (and observed), that successful writers will have scenes, situations, characters, feelings and behaviours that are in some way familiar to readers, especially feelings and behaviours. Readers will be more likely to take an interest, keep reading and to be absorbed if they can identify with the characters and imagine that they are the characters, what they would do in their place, or what they would do if they met those characters; even better if the readers compare people in real life with those characters and remark to themselves or others ‘that person reminds me of that character’.
Seems like a lot of work, but if a writer writes their characters first, then the story might follow and snowball in the same way that the character design did.
When I confess that I’d like to be a writer, some people look at me with raised eyebrows. The word ‘writer’ is often translated into ‘novelist’. Someone once responded, ‘You could be the next J. K. Rowling.’ This could have been an attempt at encouragement but it could also have been sarcasm. I prefer to live in reality and the reality is that anything you read, has to have been written.
After I completed my Advanced Creative Writing I subscribed to Writers Forum magazine. I had hoped that the arrival on my door mat each month would be a reminder that I want to be a writer. Fortunately, I don’t need a reminder. I get up in the night because I’ve had an idea for a blog post and I have no option but to write it down. I sit in the staff room at work, obsessively writing my assignments…
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