Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I hold these truths to be self-evident

Hello everyone. Today, I’m talking about truths and myths in writing. 2010 marks the 2nd year I’ve been writing for publication. It’s also the 2nd year that I’ve been working with editors and I have to tell you, I’ve learned some stuff.

I’m reminded of the line from Pocahontas: “If you walk the footsteps of a stranger, you’ll learn things you never knew you never knew.” Boy, I never knew I didn’t know so much about writing until I became a serious writer.

Now keep in mind, these are just things I’ve learned. Your walk might be different.

Myth 1:
“If you write about a plus-sized heroine, you’ll never get the book published.”

I find this one funny and fascinating all at once. Let’s face facts, folks. Most of us women aren’t slim. Do we wish we were? That’s debatable. Who better to write about the struggles, joys and triumphs of a chubby girl than, well, a chubby girl? Women have hips. We’ve got curves, and ya know something else? Men like it. And what’s more? These like-minded women find it refreshing to read about a curvy heroine.

Busted: A good portion of the heroines I write about have meat on their bones and I’ve found publishers for each one of them.

Myth 2:
“If you choose to go into e-publishing, you’ll shoot your career in the foot before you even start.”

Someone told me this before I’d ever signed my first contract and the advice came from a print author that’s seen pretty good success. Needless to say, I was devastated. I agonized over this conversation for weeks. In the end, I said screw it and so began my career. I may not be deemed a success by her standards, but then, the last time I checked, she wasn’t signing my paycheck. The e-pub business is a bright and shining star on the horizon. There’s never been a better time to be an e-pubbed writer.

Busted: visit my website if you don’t believe this one.

Myth 3:
“The use of ‘was’, ‘ly-words’ or ‘ing-words’ are strictly forbidden in writing today.”

Think again baby! Everything in moderation. Sure, if you have a paragraph littered with ‘ly-words’ and ‘ing-words’, it’s gonna stick out and maybe you’re weakening the impact. Reevaluate the writing. You can use these things. Don’t clog your narrative with them. Think less is more and choose your words wisely. These things are like glittering jewels. The greater frequency you use them, the gaudier your prose. Just saying.

Busted: listen to your editors. They’ll let you know when enough is enough

Myth 4:
“If you find a storyline that ‘works’, keep doing it. Just be sure to change the names and location.”

Nothing has the capacity to kill a writing career or make your readers grow bored with reading your stuff faster than seeing the same thing over and over again. I know there have been plenty of times when I’ve bought a new paperback book from a best selling author or bought an e-book from big names or small that I’ve looked forward to only to get two chapters in and say “Haven’t I already read this before?” Sometimes I’ll halfheartedly scan to the end and sure enough, predictability all the way. Sometimes, I don’t finish the book. That’s sad.

Busted: Not this time. Always stay fresh in your writing. It’s vital.

Myth 5:
“Can’t figure out the plot of a story? Dump sex in it and no one will notice. You’ll sell tons!”

This may fly with some people, but readers are getting smarter about where to spend their dollars. I know I’ve been ticked spending bucks on a book that seems to be one sex scene after the other with no “meat” in between. I need to know why the characters are doing it, what drives them, how it’s going to help or hurt their relationship, will there be something lasting afterwards. Sometimes I read a book and at the end I’m asking “What was the point of all that?”

Busted: Not this time. Think up a plot then fit the rest in accordingly. The book can still be hot, but in the end, it’s always a story. Beginning, middle, end. Period.

Myth 6:
The “you can’t do that” theory. People will tell you “you have to write darker”, “you can’t use humor in every situation”, “you can’t make your hero an xxxxx”, “if you’re not writing this way, it’s not correct”, or (my personal pet peeve) “if you read this person, you can really improve your own writing.”

My answer to this? It’s my story and I’ll write how I want to. Writing is as unique to a person as a fingerprint. You have to find your own voice and style. Don’t model someone else. Be different. Be fresh and realize truths about yourself. Sit down and find out what you really like to write. What makes you happy. For me, I’m a comedic writer. I’ll always be this way. I believe that making someone laugh can go a long way in helping through the ills of life. Can I write dark? Yes, but it doesn’t make me happy and it sounds stilted and forced. This is me. And it’s okay.

Busted: Absolutely! Don’t be someone else, because ten to one, they’re trying to be someone else, too. Find your niche and let your imagination soar. You’ll be glad you did.

Well, thanks for reading along with me today. Do you have a myth of your own to bust or have you found a solid truth over the years? I want to hear it!


Victoria Roder said...

I enjoyed the post and your useful information. Thanks for sharing.

Sandra Sookoo said...

Thanks for stopping by, Victoria

Antonia said...

Great post Sandra. I agree with everything you've said here. I've heard the argument about e-pub killing chances at print publishing but a lot of the authors I love have both! Piers Anthony was one that surprised me to be honest.

Chandra Ryan said...

Loved the post! I think we tend to limit our stories and our voices by listening to advice we know doesn't fit our own particular style of writing.

Sandy said...

I heard every single one of those myths, Sandi, and for years I believed them. If my mentor hadn't found me I would still be following them.

Great post, Sandi.

Sandra Sookoo said...

Thanks for stopping by everyone :-)

Anonymous said...

I ahve the opposite problem you do with #6. I write dark, and I like writing dark, but I struggle with the idea that I *should* be writing something lighter, more fun, etc.

But you know what? I'm not going to care. (too much...)

J Hali said...

Excellent post, Sandi. And chocked full of good stuff. Thanks for busting the myths!

Sandra Sookoo said...

Thanks for stopping by Liza. The biggest truth? Write whatever heck heck you want. As long as you believe in it and it makes you happy, right? :-) I think I forgot about that for awhile.

Moving on.

Thanks for the comment Joann :-) Glad you enjoyed the post.

Debra St. John said...

Great post. I love that you've busted all of these "facts". Writing is such a personal thing. Any or all of those "don't"s can be fabulous in the hands of a good writer.

Sandra Sookoo said...

Thanks Debra! I'm glad you liked the post :-)

Z(Aasiyah/Nolwynn) said...

I can say only one thing here, Sandi:

Amen! Thank goodness someone got vocal about this. Everything you've written is true, every one of these myths is a total fallacy.

One I want to burst - "because I say so!" So many writers just write and when asked why this or that happens, or why this character is like this or does that, the reply is, 'because I say so!'. That is not how it works. Writing is one of those things that's got logic running like a bright red thread all the way! Even your suspension of disbelief has to be believable, it all has to make sense. Never just 'because you as the writer say so.'

Glad to see you back and apparently in top shape!


RKCharron said...

Thank you for sharing your writing wisdom Sandra. The e-pub myth is annoying and (unfortunately) widespread - probably because some mistake e-pub with vanity-publishing.
With Liquid Silver, Samhain, Ellora's Cave, Loose Id, Lyrical, etc, there are so many excellent e-publishers out there. And the New York publishers are starting to wise up & start up e-pub divisions. I look at Kelley Armstrong as my inspiration & the ultimate myth-buster for that ridiculous e-pub myth.