“I often think that the best writing is done after you’ve forgotten what you wanted to say, but end up putting something down anyway just as though it were the actual evidence of your original intention.” Clarence Major
Has this happened to you? When you sit down to write, the idea won’t come, the original thought stalls. The words are stuck in your finger’s throat. But if you keep writing, put down the words that do come, soon something else emerges, something that does work and that you can be excited about.
Then, follow that new thought without letting the original thought tie you to a metaphorical iron post, simple (and as complicated) as that.
Sometimes our mind is changed before even we know it needs to be changed. There are many times when we must follow where we are led. What a journey! This is living, folks. This is writing. This is manipulating the language and story without constant constraint—ah.
“The use of point of view is to bring the reader into immediate and continuous contact with the heart of the story and sustain him there.” Tom Jenks
Your reader will see, feel/experience, and be through the “eyes” of the character who speaks. To me, the characters are not just the heart of the story, they are the story. My characters spark my imagination, and along with my setting (a whole other character, actually), they give me joy in my writing. As your characters should for you, or some variation of that feeling.
Consider photography. When I have the camera, I am the controller of that camera lens. I see and interpret through the lens and then I take snapshots so that others may see, or experience, what I have seen and experienced. Until I share the image I have captured, no one can know what I am thinking or feeling. I show them. I tell them.
If I hand the camera to George, he then sees everything through his own eyes/interpretations. I can’t know what he sees and what he is thinking, what has captured his imagination/interest, until he relays it to me by showing me the photo, and as well tells me about it—and through both the showing and the telling, I see and experience through his eyes/his experience.
We writers have the beautiful opportunity to give readers, through our character’s point of view, experiences that they can relate to, but also to allow our readers unique experiences through as many ways as we want to write.
“Surely the test of a novel’s characters is that you feel a strong interest in them and their affairs—the good to be successful, the bad to suffer failure.” Mark Twain
If you are not interested in your characters and what they do and say and are, why should anyone else be interested? If you do not believe in your work, why should anyone else believe in your work? Believe me, it will show. The reader always knows.
Give readers your best. Give readers your heart. Give readers your interest. Give them the truths—and this word “truth” may mean more than what first appears to you. Writing what you know doesn’t have to be so literal, so concrete, for we can interpret it in as many ways as we allow ourselves to, as long as we speak a truth at the kernel of it, or even the whole of it.
“You start out putting words down and there are three things—you, the pen, and the page. Then gradually the three things merge until they are one and you feel about the page as you do about your arm. Only you love it more than you love your arm.” John Steinbeck
This quote resonates to my marrow more than any other. To write my published five novels and the novella; the published short stories, essays, articles; the blog posts on my own blog, here on WU, and on various other blogs; and then all the hundreds of thousands of words not published—some that never will be, some that one day may be—I’ve sacrificed time with family, friends, time “out in the world,” time doing something other than sitting before a blank page that fills up with what at times seems to be complete nonsense and self-indulgent pratterings. All without knowing how it would (and will) turn out for me and for my words and my worlds and my characters. That I often call writing “the one true love of my life” sounds a lonely and sad experience—it has been the love of my life, and with intense love also comes pain and abandonment and joy and euphoria and anger and madness. But giving it up meant a death, a rotting away from the inside out. To give up something I have fought so hard for and sacrificed much for has been painful. [Read more…]