Tori Bond writes humorous and satirical fiction. Her work has been anthologized in FLASH FICTION FUNNY and EXTRAORDINARY GIFTS, and has also been published in MONKEYBICYCLE, ATTICUS REVIEW, CEASE COWS, and others. Tori won second place in the Rose Metal Press 10th Annual Short Short Chapbook Contest and her story “Tourniquet Tuesdays” was nominated for Best of the Net 2016. She is the co-editor of NAKED CAME THE CHEESESTEAK, a murder mystery novel written by 13 Philadelphia-area writers. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Rosemont College.
When not locked in a room revising her best-selling-novel-in-progress, chauffeuring kids to endless engagements, or patrolling the make-out palace formerly known as the basement, you can find Tori twisting herself into a pretzel—stick at the yoga studio or kayaking the ferociously calm waters of Bucks County, PA.
Do you have a writing problem? Are you in denial about that bad habit your writer friends notice but you keep telling yourself that you’ve revised it away? If you hear your friends say things like: “Your plot stumbles along,” or “I hate your protagonist. He never does anything,” or “Finding the beginning of your story is like fishing for keys after an all-night bender,” then it’s time to enter writing rehab. What follows is a five-step program to help you recover from that nasty writing habit you keep avoiding.
Step 1. Admit you have a writing problem
You can’t revise your way out of what you refuse to acknowledge. A theme emerges in the criticism you receive across your writing projects; you know it when you hear it, that comment that makes you groan. You can insist all you want that you don’t have a problem with [dull openings / lifeless protagonist /sloth-like pacing /_____fill in the blank], but when your critique partners go silent and shake their heads, it’s time to get real.
Journaling is the key to working the problem and finding a solution. Be obsessive in your search for understanding, and use journaling as your essential self-help tool. Write to discover, analyze, and keep yourself honest about your progress.
Admitting you have a writing problem is painful. Soften the blow with a [cookie/caramel corn/whisky/nap/_____ guilty pleasure]. Now that your problem is identified, you can start on the road to recovery.
Step 2. Examine past errors with the help of a sponsor
Select craft articles and writing books that address how to write [openings/characters/dialog/plot/________fill in the blank]. Get focused on the craft issue you’ve identified in step 1 and read for deep understanding. If you have a difficult time finding a great guide, ask other writers. They’ll have lots of suggestions. Select one text that speaks to you or helps you see the craft element in a new light. You may find a plethora of great advice, but narrow it to one text. Identify the “Rules” per this sponsor (craft article/writing book). Use their language or frame of reference to examine your writing problem. Sometimes we need to unlearn bad habits in order to improve. Write what you discover in your journal.
There are unlimited ways to approach [openings/character/dialog/plot/________fill in the blank] so the key to this step is narrowing your focus to understanding how the sponsor/author you’ve chosen frames the craft issue.
Step 3. Recognize a higher authority [Read more…]