Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Best Advice I Ever Recieved

For the past three years I've kept an electronic journal. Okay, it’s more a word document entitled "How you are going to screw yourself and you writing" but let’s be honest, electronic journal just sounds better. Anyhow, it has survived two laptops and one desktop. It is the first file I transfer over to my new computers, after my manuscripts of course. It’s nothing earth shattering, just a list of writerly advice I’ve received over the years. I read it every single time I start a new manuscript, hoping to avoid making the same mistakes I have undoubtedly made before. Where do I collect these little nuggets of knowledge? CP's, my agent, editors who have been generous to give me feedback on my manuscripts, all sorts of random places. Here is my favorite... or should I say the one that has impacted my writing the most:


A series of coincidences does not make a plot.


I could explain it, give you horribly embarrassing examples of how my first attempt at writing fell into this category, but I will spare you . . . or rather myself the embarrassment of admitting that I have written entire manuscripts with this fatal flaw.

Have you ever received a piece of writerly advice that has stuck with you? If so, I would love to hear it/ add it to my list!

20 comments:

  1. That's fantastic advice, Trisha. And you're not alone in that it would fix a great many stories I've written and read. :)

    I'd say the best I've been given was: The story is good, well-written, etc.--but there's nothing that feels like 'you' in it.

    Not really advice, I suppose (more an observation), but the point was clear: There was no voice in the story. To put it in context, the friend/reader that said that knew me to be a pretty funny/sarcastic kind of person, and that's what he was looking forward to seeing come out in my characters. It just wasn't there.

    I began writing in first person after that, just to try to get into my character's heads a little bit better, and things really started to click in my writing. Truly changed everything for me.

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    1. You...sarcastic, never would have guessed :) I too write in first person, suits my voice better. Glad things started to click for you with when you changed POV's. Onward and upward, my friend.

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    2. Hello! I came across your blog from the A to Z challenge. I am also an aspiring writer- can I call myself that with nothing actually published?- anyhow just wanted to say I am going to try writing in first person since when i write from a different perspective it just does not go well.

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    3. Good to meet another A-Z challenger, Stephanie. And yes, as long as you are scribbling out words, I say you can call yourself an author!

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  2. Wow! That is a good line of advice.

    The one piece of advice that has been sticking with me lately is this: "What doesn't come from the heart can't touch the heart."

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    1. That is a great piece of advice and so true. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. plot is also something I struggle with, I can do characters and world building, but I need a good plot to glue the story together. I have a hard time focusing on just one and end up with a few that don't really lead anywhere. It takes time, but that's why great CPs were invented.

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Prerna. And hats off to great CP's.

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  4. My favorite is from Cheryl Klein and it's not as much a tip as a technique -- bookmapping. Awesome, awesome, awesome way to make sure everything in the action and emotional plots are in the right places and are properly motivated.

    Thanks for the coincidence reminder :0

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  5. Hi Trisha! I just wanted to say thanks for your comment about my book Polar Night on EJ's site, I'm so glad to meet you as a result! It's great to find your blog.
    I notice you are on Cape Cod and I am planning a trip to Martha's Vineyard in May, I have family there and been going there since I was a child. I totally love the area and I'm jealous of you that you live on the Cape! :D

    I also love the writing advice you've shared here, the idea of keeping a journal for this is excellent.

    Thanks again about my book! :)

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    1. Don't be too jealous, it's a crazy place to live in the summer when you are trying to navigate tourists :)

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  6. No series of coincidences? Now I have to go re-write my entire re-write...just kidding.

    Thanks for your comment on my blog about being a stay home mom, etc. We are allowed to have our bad days, indeed.

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    1. I seem to be having weeks of bad days lately. I loved your post, it was honest, and true, and refreshing.

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  7. The best piece of advice I recieved...I guess...it's "Write what you love." If you don't love the concept, the genre, the time period, the world, the whatever, it makes it difficult to stick with a story long enough to perfect it.

    Or at least make it better. I don't think any story is perfect. Ever.

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    1. And if the ms I just read is any indication of that advice, then I would say you found what you love!

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  8. happy wishes to an aspiring author..GOD<3U

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  9. I'm sure everyone has heard this one but it has been very helpful...
    Show don't tell...
    Show how your character is afraid, don't just say 'she was afraid'
    I have to work at doing it but I'm getting there :)

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    1. Yes... show don't tell. Guilt as charged -- this is a mistake I still make and have to tackle over and over again in revisions.

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