We're starting a new theme at The LadyKillers. Our pattern of two-week themes reminds me of the rhythm of a novelist's life. We are people with long, but not infinite, attention spans. It is our business to start a project, then carry it to completion through steady and painstaking work that stretches out over a year or more. But one day we do finish, and we get that exhilarating rush of starting something new, one more time.
This fortnight's theme is Lists. I was at a dinner party last weekend where we went around the table and listed the movie stars with whom we would most like to...um...have dinner. (This is a family-friendly blog.)
It was a fun list to make, so I thought I'd share it here, but I feel compelled to also give you something of value, like maybe a list of useful tips for writing. Since there's no word count cap and because I'm feeling magnanimous...you get both!
Writing tips from a LadyKiller
1. Write every day. Yeah, I live in the real world, too. Sometimes you have to take your kid to the emergency room. But your default schedule needs to include writing on a regular and frequent basis, or your skills will never improve and you will never finish your book. It's the single best way to say to yourself that you are serious about your craft.
2. Play with the language. Before you write an important descriptive scene, make a list of words that you love that give you the feeling you want to communicate. (And no, you don't have to use every last one of them and they don't all have to be fancy. You don't want to sound like you dropped your thesaurus and all the cool words fell out.) Maybe you could write a haiku with those words, boiling the feeling down to seventeen syllables. You want to choose the best words and use only enough of them to achieve your goal for that scene.
3. If you have any doubts about your grammar and spelling, get a book or take a course. These things can be learned, and they are the tools of your trade. I have never seen an unpublished book with really poor mechanical skills that I thought would be publishable if the grammar were corrected. I have a theory that the logic required to construct a complex sentence is related to the logic required to construct a plot. In other words, you will not be wasting your time in gaining these skills. You will be developing an important brain function. (I think math does this for your brain, too, but I'm not going to assign you any algebra homework. You're welcome.)
4. Write the book that ignites your passion. If I wanted to do work that I enjoyed but that didn't ignite my passion, I would still be an engineer, and I'd be making a lot more money. :)
5. With apologies to Nike, just do it.
And now, my movie star list. Bear in mind that it's my fantasy, and if it involves passions that can only be requited with the aid of a time machine, that's my business. I hope you find your own passions, dear readers.
1. Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday. 1953.
2. Harrison Ford in Star Wars. 1977.
3. Brendan Fraser and Hugh Jackman, because they're within ten years of my age. Right this minute.
4. Robert Downey, Jr., because he's even closer to my age, but he gets a separate entry because, despite the fact that he's now clean and happy, I still suspect that the man is trouble. (But very interesting trouble.) Right about now.
5. William Shatner on the bridge of the Enterprise. 1967.
6. Chris Pine when he's roughly my age now and, I hope, still on the bridge of the Enterprise. Roughly 2030.
7. Captain Kirk, sometime in the 23rd century. I told you I needed a time machine.
Leave some comments and tell me who you'd like to...um...meet for dinner. Don't leave me in this fantasy world alone...