Writing tips gleaned from icy truck crashes

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Well, the promised snow arrived and we are in a definite winter wonderland here in Chicago. The most notable part: the quiet. It also brings to mind my current new TV obsession, “Highway thru Hell.”

Its jaunty title isn’t the best part, believe it or not. It’s a show about a recovery tow team in the mountains of British Columbia, and it’s the best lesson of what not to do on icy roads. Because apparently trucks flip over.

A lot.

Biggest lesson? Slow down. Most of the accidents are speed-related. Slow down.

We rush so many things in life. We rush to get through things, to get to the end of things, and with that hurry, we make mistakes. We make decisions we probably shouldn’t have made. And those decisions can change everything.

That’s true of writing. We focus on our volume, on word count, on how far we can get and how quickly; I’m guilty of this practice too. You know my favorite writing tool is the timer.

Word count is such a nice metric to follow, you can graph it easily and watch your progress, but that can lull us into the belief that the goal is the finish line, not the story itself.

Watch for ice in the road. Watch for warning signs.

And slow down.

Speed isn’t everything.

Check out my recaps of the hit new show “All My Traitors.” Recap of episode 2, “Lock Him Up” is available now!

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

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On Wanting to Throw the Manuscript into the Air and Make a Run For It

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Editing. If writing is a universe of universes in your mind, endless plains and planes of possibility, editing is the the grouchy little man who barks at you that your right little toe went off the path onto the weedy grass.

Editing is mean.

Editing is stingy.

Editing is the kind of exacting that never hands out an A in class. Never.

Editing is picking apart a sentence, putting it back together again, realizing that the grouchy little man was right, and slashing it completely. While writing might bring to mind the overwrought palace of Versailles, editing is strictly modern; it’s sleek, clean, all edges and no soft spots in which to hide.

Your inner editor, when unleashed, should feel at home as a villain in a Dickens or Bronte novel. Sparse. Austere.

Here’s the thing. We can fall in love with our ideas, we can fall in love with our language, but as writers, we have one job: to make sure readers get it. And sometimes too many ideas or too much language (or occasionally, too little) means they won’t.

So we take a machete to our work, and, as they say, kill our darlings. It’s not fun, as a rule. It’s not easy.

But it’s much the work of writing as the creation itself.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

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