“We who make stories know that we tell lies for a living. But they are good lies that say true things, and we owe it to our readers to build them as best we can. Because somewhere out there is someone who needs that story. Someone who will grow up with a different landscape, who without that story will be a different person. And who with that story may have hope, or wisdom, or kindness, or comfort. And that is why we write.”
~Neil Gaiman — The Graveyard Book
** I am a such a Neil Gaiman fan if you guys haven’t noticed.
- Put One Word After Another: Neil Gaiman’s Eight Rules of Writing (aerogrammestudio.com)
- Neil Gaiman Drops Knowledge (mentalfloss.com)
June 4, 2013 | Categories: Author, Inspiration, Quotes, Writer, Writing | Tags: American Gods, Arts, Author, Coraline, Fiction, goal accomplishment, laney mcmann, Neil Gaiman, novel writing, Online Writing, Sandman, Twitter, Writers Resources, Writing Advice, writing quotes | 3 Comments
Which one are you?
I’m the latter. Definitely.
Although I’ve always written, my love of the written word began before my sentence structure did. My imagination of worlds far and beyond sparked at a very young age. Writing the stories I imagined in my own head, came later.
I realized recently, after having a conversation with a fellow writer, just how different the above breeds of writers can be. When I began my novel and truly delved into learning craft, I found reading for my usual enjoyment difficult, and suddenly lacking. Instead of the story I saw sentence structure, grammar use. I would hear myself questioning the decisions the author made and wondering what I would have done differently. I couldn’t see the stories anymore. I’d lost the magical quality that had originally turned me on to writing. I’d lost what I craved most. The story.
Writers who are readers pick stories apart. Readers who are writers, read. For the sheer enjoyment of it. To be transported. To live in someone else’s shoes.
I learned that when you are only looking for errors, they are all you will ever see. And when you are editing your book as a writer, they are all you should see. But when all of that is done–you should see your story.
Now, I have to shut off the writer brain (as hard as that is sometimes) and turn on the reader one. If I don’t, I find myself reading as I would a text book. But if I do… I remember why I love to read. Why I love to write, too. I have worlds I want to share. Characters and plots. I have to stories to share. That’s the aim, right? To share good stories? And at the end of the day, after all the edits are done and proofreads have been finished, I want to be able to read my book through the eyes of a reader. If I can’t do that — if I can’t still feel the emotion that sat me in front of the laptop for months on end — if I can’t see and feel what I need the reader to see and feel — well, what exactly have I been doing? Remember that readers read because they want to be carried away. You need to see your book not only through your eyes as a writer, but more importantly, through the eyes of your readers. They are the ones who matter. They are the ones who will make or break you as an author. Every single time. And readers, the vast majority of them, are story cravers, not editors, not writers, just readers.
Write the best book you can. Get the best editor you can. Nit pick the crap out every tiny detail in your novel. Then go back and read it. And remember why you wrote it in the first place. The best grammar in the world will not save a crappy story. But…an awesome story will trump a few overlooked grammatical errors. Check out some book on the best sellers list. Readers aren’t looking for perfect. They aren’t looking for the same things writers are. They’re looking for that one story that digs into their soul. The one story they can’t stop thinking about. The one they read over and over again. That’s the book we as writers should be writing.
WRITE ON, WRITERS! And tell your stories.
November 19, 2012 | Categories: Author, Publishing, Writer, Writing, Writing Tips | Tags: Advice on writing a novel, art, Author, Fiction, Grammar, laney mcmann, Online Writing, Reading, Reading (process), Short story, The Reader, Writer, Writer Resources, Writers Resources, Writing, Writing Tips, ya fantasy author, YA Fiction, YA paranormal romance author | 9 Comments
I scratched my cornea two days ago. Forgive any typos as I’m writing this with one eye.
As I am rounding out the last of my revisions and running to the final edits stretch of my novel, I’ve hit a speed bump. I have to cut three chapters. Ghaack! It’s about…7700 words. NOT that I’m a word counter. You can read why if you’d like here: Word Count Goals And The Pathway To Hell
But that’s another subject… When you’re a pantster, like I am, and when you write as slow as a turtle, like I do, you may find that what worked a few drafts ago simply doesn’t work in the final draft. That’s okay. Sometimes scenes no longer fit.
Yes, it creates headaches. But I am a firm believer that cutting makes your work stronger. It makes you look deeper, think harder, and search farther outside the box, which in fantasy, is very important. (Yeah, I write fantasy.)
As I’ve said before, if something doesn’t feel write, it’s because it isn’t. Follow your instincts, listen to your gut, and cut the scene (or at least rewrite it).
May 9, 2012 | Categories: Author, Editing, Publishing, Self Publishing, Writer, Writing | Tags: art, Editing and Proofreading, Fiction, goal accomplishment, laney mcmann, Online Writing, Revisions, Word count, Writer Resources, Writing, Writing Advice, Writing Exercises, Writing process, Writing Tips, ya fantasy author, YA paranormal romance author | 4 Comments
My son, the skateboarder, is also a football player. Little league. He plays defense. Really well. On occasion, he plays on offense. Wide receiver. He’s a great receiver—in the front yard. On the field however, during a game, it’s hit or miss. 50/50. I told him it was in his head, and I believe that. He thinks too much. It’s all psychological. “Don’t think,” I told him, “Just do.”
I ran a post the other day, The Transitions, and talked about the need of an outline. Any kind of outline really. Something to lead you along incase you run astray, and lose your way. I am a pantster at heart. I believe in outlining loosely. Although I like having a guide, I feel it’s important to not rely too heavily on what you think your story should be. So..in that light, this post may sound a bit contradictory. It’s not.
My issue with traditional outlines is the feeling of being ‘locked in’ to an idea. For me, writing becomes the most difficult when I feel like I am trying to force the pieces of this massive novel-puzzle into holes that don’t fit. Sometimes even your best ideas, dialogue streams, and world building skills, simply don’t work. Sometimes you need to loosen the grip and let the story carry you. Let your imagination run wild. You would be amazed at what your mind can create when you let go of the boundaries.
When you get to know your characters—really know them, they will lead you, not the other way around. Everytime I feel myself getting stuck, hitting a wall, I ask myself, “What would Layla do? What would she say?” Layla is the main character in my novel—something I haven’t mentioned until now. I know her very well after almost two years of writing. Well enough that after my 6th draft, banging my head against the wall, and wanting to pull my hair out—I stopped thinking so much, and let her do the talking. Some writers think that sounds insane. While others, know exactly what I’m saying.
When I stopped thinking so much, and let Layla start talking, the whole scope of my story changed, and became alive. It wasn’t me telling the story anymore, it was her showing her world—leading the way. And….it became easier to write. Yup. Sure did.
That’s not to say that I went completely astray of the ideas I had loosely outlined for my story in the very beginning, only that I allowed those ideas to stay fluid.
There is a negative with being locked in to a specific idea when you write. Well….I should rephrase that. There is a negative when you write fantasy and paranormal. These stories aren’t built on traditional ideas. They are built on wild imaginations. In order to create alter universes, planes, and worlds—we need to let go of what we think the story should be, and allow it to be what it can be. Big difference. Let your thoughts take you, let your characters take you. Writing is about allowing yourself to be transported.
“Don’t think, just do.” Then edit. 😉
WRITE ON, WRITERS.
(**after drafting this post on Saturday morning, my son caught a 30 yard touchdown pass. His team won the league championship.)
March 14, 2012 | Categories: Author, Inspiration, Thoughts, Writer, Writing | Tags: Fantasy, Fiction, Freewriting, imagination, laney mcmann, novel writing, Online Writing, Paranormal Romance, WIP, Worldbuilding, Writers Resources, Writing, Writing Advice, Writing Exercises, Writing Tips, YA Fantasy, ya fantasy author, YA Fiction, YA paranormal romance author | Leave a comment
I’ve been revising my novel for a few weeks now, gearing up for its release. I’m nowhere near completion, but working on it every day gives me a sense of forward motion and accomplishment. Which is why after finishing Chapters 1-7 in their entirety, I found myself surprised to feel that old familiar pang. The stab in the side.
Burn Out. It happens. Sometimes when you least expect it.
A year and a half is a long time to dedicate to writing a novel in these technologically fast-moving times. Too long. Nonetheless, a year and a half it has been since I began. And throughout that time I have swung through emotions with the swift fluidity of a pendulum. One day in love with my words, the next, ready to chunk my laptop out the window.
I have tried editing or writing from the end of the story or somewhere in the middle for a fresh perspective. I’ve tried working on other stories in the toolbox of ideas I have amassed. But, always I come back to my current novel. It never shuts up. I both love and hate it. I picks me up and drops me again.
Today I received an email on my chap nine revisions. The chapter that I knew was still rough after all the edits and continued to need work. I was ready for the slashes of red across the text, the comments in the margins, ready for the question marks. I didn’t get them. At least not that many. Instead, I got the opposite. My editor said she liked the chapter, she said it had life in it.
Not sure I could receive a greater compliment than that. So today, novel, I love you again. You still need work, but you have life;)
January 22, 2012 | Categories: Author, Publishing, Thoughts, Writing | Tags: Arts, Author, Fiction, goal accomplishment, laney mcmann, Novels, Online Writing, Pendulum, Publishing, Revisions, Writers Resources, Writing and Editing, ya fantasy author, YA Fiction, YA paranormal romance author | 2 Comments