Lucy Mitchell informs us with a post on her blog about five self-care secrets that make her a better writer. I find it a very interesting article and wanted to share it. Thank you, Lucy.
Have you been stuck at the literary coalface for sometime? Are you in need of writer self-care?
This fabulous guest post from author Abi Yardimci is for you.
If you’ve not checked out Abi’s books than I strongly suggest you do. Her books are funny, enchanting and carry several inspirational life lessons.
Over to you, Abi.
Five Self-Care Secrets That Make me a Better Writer . . .
Anyone who knows me will tell you that they have heard me bang on about the importance of self-care on many occasions.
It only took me forty-two years to reach the conclusion that without self-care we simply cannot be what we need to be in the world. Whether that’s a friend, a lover, a parent, a sibling, a dreamer, a go-getter, a tea-drinker, a Doritos-devourer or all of the above, without caring for ourselves even a teensy bit, none of those things will have much longevity.
(And let’s face it, who doesn’t want longevity when it comes to Doritos?)
I won’t bore you with the many, many self-care strategies I have developed over the years. There are too many of them to count now. And it’s different strokes for different folks, isn’t it? One person’s scented candle collection is another person’s hell on earth.
I’m not here to tell you how to spend your precious time but I would definitely promote the avid noticing of where one gets one’s thrills. If it makes you feel good then it could improve EVERYTHING if you make it a priority. No guilt. No excuses. Just do it.
And I’m living proof. It wasn’t until I started taking notice of what made my soul sing that I started doing what I’ve always secretly wanted to do: write.
So here are my top five self-care secrets that I know, from years of experimenting, make me a better writer (and a better person too):
K. M. Allan writes a phenomenal post about authors and info-dumping. Read about it on her blog. Thanks a lot for your advice, K. M. Allan.
When you become a writer, one of the “rules” you’re advised to learn is to avoid info-dumping.
If you haven’t heard of it before, it’s when the writer bombards the reader with everything they think they should know—all at once.
While you might think there’s no way you do that, info-dumping is an easy trap to fall into. It’s one of those writer-blind spots where we can easily see it in other’s work, but don’t notice it in our own.
It can worm its way in like typo gremlins, but here are some likely places you’ll find info-dumping so you can work out ways to avoid it.
5 Ways To Avoid Info-Dumping
Check The Starts
Info-dumping likes to live at the start of things, such as the first chapter, the first introduction of a character, or the first instance of world-building. It sets up home there because the writer makes it the perfect place to build.
Think about what happens when you’re penning the first draft. You’re discovering the story, telling it to yourself, and getting it all on the page. Once it’s there, we forget to examine it in later drafts for info-dumping.
As an example, let’s say it’s the first time your MC has visited the place your story is set. Trying to work out where you’re going with it, your writer-brain brought in another character with a lengthy explanation of the town’s history and why no one goes near the creepy abandoned two-story house on Cliché Crescent.
You needed to know those things to move onto your next chapter, but it’s likely the reader doesn’t need to know it all on their first read.
Bethany Henry published a post about six important rules for retelling classic stories. Thanks for your advice, Bethany!
on Fiction University:
I love retellings of fairy tales and classic stories. They can be filled with adventure, love, and magic that is both familiar and fun. When done well, these retellings can resonate with us deeply and be wildly entertaining—the base of the original story providing extra background that enriches the experience.
However, not all retellings are created equal.
There is a tricky balance in recreating a classic story in a new way. Readers have expectations and high standards for stories they may already love. Too many changes to the story and the reader will feel tricked or confused. Too few changes and the reader is bored.
And of course the story we tell needs to be good.
Whether you’re inspired by Shakespeare, Jane Austin, or Grimm’s fairy tales, here are some simple rules to guide us in writing great retellings.
On the ‘Legends of Windemere’ blog, Charles Yallowitz published an interesting view on character bios. Thanks a lot for this post, Charles!
I can already hear at least once pantser preparing to explain why they don’t do this. If it helps, person with fingers at the ready, you’re right. Character biographies don’t work for everyone. They aren’t even universal because everyone has their own way of doing them because every author has different needs. Some even change from story to story or as our own skills grow. I know that I’ve been all over the map as you’re about to see.
Character bios are where I started since tabletop games were my first inspiration alongside fantasy books. This resulted in my originals being more about numbers stats and basics instead of depth. I had hair, eyes, height, weight, skin, and physical attributes with very little variety. I couldn’t tell you what the real difference between a 4 and 5 in strength really was. A 1-5 ranking was probably a dumb choice.
Today I read a piece of Juliette’s history, her past… which involves long years, decades, and even centuries. I never had the courage of asking her how many of them… but one day, she’ll tell me, I’m sure. I felt like sharing this article with you, just because I simply love it. Thanks for sharing, Juliette.
My eldest brother Max (10 years my senior) had asked his best friend Teddy to escort me home from the theater one evening. It was 1874. I was 15 years old.
“Your hands are so cold,” he said as he helped me up off of the muddy street onto the boardwalk.
I gave him a coy smile. “I have a cold heart sir.”
He laughed. I never called him sir. He offered me his arm.
I gladly took his arm. “Your hands are positively burning. What sort of fire stirs your soul tonight?” That was pretty forward but I didn’t care. I was floating with the joy of being a flirt and having no brothers or parents around to stop me.
“You’re not like the other girls.”
“No I am not.”
“You’re an impish little thing. It will take a man with a quick wit and a good sense of humor to woo you Juliette.”
“Ahhhh, but you forget I have four older brothers. I pity any man who would have to deal with them.”
“They’ll love any man who is truly in love with you Juliette.”
“I doubt that Teddy.”
Then he stopped and faced me. “I have some news. A secret if you can keep one.”
“Your secrets are always safe with me.”
Teddy had a large smile on his handsome face. “I’m getting married.”
My young Vampire heart literally stopped dead. My head started to spin, but I managed to smile because like all Vampires, I was a natural liar. “Oh Teddy. I’m so happy for you. She really is lovely.”