Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Weight training for my writing muscle...

I bang on regularly about how writers should read. A good book is one of the best teaching tools. I have been reading a lot lately and I have discovered it has been like weight training for my writing muscle (hope that doesn't provoke any ghastly mental images folks) - from just the sheer weight of word consumption I think my writing has really benefited. And rather than taking me away from writing I feel way more inspired and motivated. I am reading even more and writing more as well. In a few weeks I am conducting a workshop on writing for children and I was asked to talk a bit about my own writing history. My first breakthrough (in 2002 or 2003 I think) was selling a short story to educational publishers, Learning Media. I wrote this short story, about a summer holiday from my childhood (nothing groundbreaking), during a Writing for Children paper I did for my BA at Massey University. One of our assignments had required analysis of excerpts from several texts (The BFG, Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone) and I remember somehow the penny dropped. I can't put my finger on what exactly changed but my writing took a leap. Perhaps it was getting the concept of tone, or subconsciously seeing how everything had to be relevant to the tone, the voice, the plot of the story as I worked through the text. Description is pointless if it doesn't support one or more of those things. Especially for an audience of children. That first short story I sold was almost all tone underpinned by the central child character's voice. I love that that character is never named. Its not important to the story. Any reader will become that character and submerge themselves in that tone and share that experience. The story has a strong sense of who it is. I wish now I could remember the exercise I did so I could encourage others to do the same. Would it have the same impact on them that it had on me? I don't read every book with that same level of analysis, and there is a lot about writing I am still to learn but reading is definitely part of the education.

If you are not too squeamish (this is definitely not for the faint of heart) or have a slightly sick sense of humour, as I do, here is a juicy link from the Rejectionist. This made me laugh out loud! Its a worry.

Now go read a book. (I'm reading Skulduggery Pleasant - ripping yarn but I have a bone to pick with Derek Landy - ha ha)

1 comment:

Old Kitty said...

Ew to Typographie - but oh so true!!!!


that's writing alright!! Not for the faint-hearted - writing not the clip - LOL!!!!

I really enjoyed reading this - especially how a story came together for you - it's something I'm yet to experience but it was really inspiring knowing how the process worked for you. Yay!!


Good luck with your workshop!

Take care