You know the saying, “Writers write every day”? Here’s the thing: this isn’t true. The vast majority of successful writers don’t actually write every day; maybe most days, but not every day. Sometimes they get sick, or overwhelmed with family stuff, or go on vacation, or get hit by a car, et cetera. Things come up, life happens.
The real saying should be: “Writers finish.” Successful authors finish projects, period. If you never finish, you’ve effectively done nothing. …Unless you’re writing just for fun, and then none of this advice matters anyway. BTW, good luck with that Cinderella/Batman mashup story told from celebrity shock jock Howard Stern’s point of view!
know how sometimes you’ll read an entire chapter of a book and think to
yourself, “What did I just read?” Or maybe, “What was the point of that?” Well,
the reason you’re asking yourself this question is because whoever wrote the
chapter didn’t know how to properly construct a scene…or it’s supposed to be
some kind of deep literary nonsense, though if that’s the case you’d probably
think to yourself “Soooo deep…” while
secretly feeling ashamed because you assume you’re too dumb to understand it.
biggest issue with writing a book is that you need to somehow fill up blank
space on a page with words. Specifically, words that form a narrative. Failing
to do this means you’ve failed to write a book.
is ALWAYS, 100% of the time, the reason people try and fail to write a novel.
honestly not a lot to say about endings except they should be a satisfying
conclusion of everything that’s come before—but, of course, that can be harder
than it sounds. An exceptionally good ending can elevate a story to greatness (The Usual Suspects, The Shawshank Redemption),
or ruin it (Season 8 of Game of Thrones,
The Rise of Skywalker for some current examples). To clarify, when I say good
ending I mean satisfying, which isn’t
necessarily a happy ending.
Let’s say you’ve confirmed your what-if idea is worth expanding into a whole story. Yay!
is where most people get stuck after they decide they want to write a novel.
They might write a few pages, or even a few chapters, and then stall out. Part
of this is waning interest and competing priorities; writing an entire novel is
hard and takes a long time, dammit! If you’re not committed, it’s probably not
starts with a “what if” idea: What if
a teen girl with chronic depression woke up one day with psychic powers? What if Germany had won World War II
(…you see this one a lot)? What if we
found out aliens had been secretly colonizing Mars for hundreds of years? What if a young boy with two progressive
dads and thick glasses moved to the Deep South? What if I lightly fictionalized my own life story (…I wouldn’t
advise this one, tho—most authors overestimate how interesting their lives are
to other people)?
honest—the vast majority of fight/sex scenes in Hollywood and literature only
exist to titillate. Most could be replaced by a sign or sentence that says “And
then they have sex,” or “And then they fight.” I lump sex scenes and fight
scenes together because the mechanics and purposes of both are very similar.
So how do
you write a good one? Let’s pretend like I’m qualified to give advice on this,
and no one has recognized my genius yet because I’ve been cursed by an evil
witch who lives next door and is mad that I was rude to her cat one time. Here
are my handy-dandy tips:
In my last article, I discussed how authors often fall into
the trap of obsessing over irrelevant character details at the expense of info
that matters. You don’t need to know everything about a character, only certain
critical details: desires, strengths, and weaknesses. The same holds true for
starting a story: you don’t need to know everything, only certain things…but
you NEED to know those key things.