Monday, October 14, 2013


One of the hardest things for a writer to do is to tell the truth. Not that every writer is a liar but that his internal editor is always on the lookout and keeps telling him "Don't do that, people are going to be angry with you" or "Don't write that, you are revealing too much abut yourself and people won't respect you." Often, the editor is right but if we listen to it, we would never write anything interesting. After all, almost everything interesting involves people. Any story you want to tell and which people will want to read is about people or involves people who are recognizable.


One way to still write about people and still fall within the bounds of decency or legality is to convert the story into a fantasy. People who read about werewolves know at once that they are reading a fantasy because werewolves don't exist (we hope). If the werewolf then goes about doing the things done by the human being you have in mind then you are covered. No man would risk making a laughing stock of himself by accusing you of converting him into a werewolf.


Another way is to move the real events to a distant future or to a different planet. You would still have the benefit of describing a real story, which is always more interesting than any you can invent, with real characters and their actions. You would be writing science-fiction, with beings and characteristics totally alien and unrecognizable. You can go deep into character or motivation, always with the real character in mind, and paint his defects or good points in brighter colors to make him more interesting.


A famous English novelist of the eighteenth century, Mrs. Trollope, had the habit of using the characters of the people she met while on holiday, in her stories. When someone asked her about her habit, she replied that she always pulped her characters in her novels. "Of course," she said, "I draw from life, but I always pulp my acquaintances before serving them up. You would never recognize a pig in a sausage."

One problem that could emerge when you base your fictional character on a real one is that the descriptions sound like a caricature of a real person. This could happen when you use the real person's character, drawing or painting him as he is in real life, warts and all. If you find that you can't make the character sound real without using recognizable features you should invent a few, making sure they don't clash with his other characteristics.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Overcoming Obstacles to Greater Productivity

Every writer experiences it sometime: you know you should be writing but you just can't get down to it. Or maybe you plan to write at a certain hour but then you think of something else you need to do first and you decide to do that. Afterwards, you promise yourself that this time you will start writing as soon as you finish whatever you have to do. Whatever your obstacle, you can try to overcome it by following one of these four tips:

1. The Guilt-Trip Approach:

You think about how you would feel the morning after, when you realize that yesterday was a total loss. You produced zero words and your unwritten scenes are still there, waiting for you. That feeling of guilt or low self-esteem can often serve to make you more determined to stick to your schedule.

2. The Heroic Approach:

You think about one of your writing heroes, Shakespeare, Hemingway, Balzac, or whoever you admire most, not only for their books but for the way they confronted obstacles. Balzac, for example, worked best in almost total silence. His solution was to work from midnight when the city was silent, throughout the night until midday of the following day. Hemingway, like Balzac, was a master of self-discipline. He would get up at break of day and go at once to his improvised writing desk. He would then write until midday, quitting when he knew what his next words would be in the following writing session.

3. The Just-Do-It Approach:

You think about your theme and just write whatever you know about it. You will often find that this free-writing gives you just the edge you need to start writing the scene you have scheduled. This approach is more effective if you prime your sub-conscious the night before by going over the scene in your mind. The free-writing you do brings up the scene that has been processed by your sub-conscious the night before.

4. The Minimum Approach:

You decide to write one sentence of your scene or article just to save some of your self-esteem. You will often find that instead of writing only one sentence you feel obliged or inspired to write several more. Your innate sense of order as a writer, of not wanting to leave something only half-written, has forced you to write more.

Writing can often be hard but if you use some of the tricks that have been used by other writers you will find it much easier. As a writer, you improve with each writing session. The more you write the better you become and you can write even on those days when you feel that no writing is possible.