This week’s writer-ly quote is another analogy, and like last week’s Stephen King quote, this one compares physical activities . . .
Writing a novel is a lot like making love, but it’s also like having a tooth pulled. Pleasure and pain. Sometimes it’s like making love while having a tooth pulled.
Writing novels is a little like playing baseball where the game goes on for as long as it needs to, even if that means 20 innings. Writing short stories is more like playing basketball or football, you’re competing against the clock, as well as the other team.
When it comes to writing fiction, long or short, the learning curve never ends.
— Taken from the introduction to The Bazaar of Bad Dreams (2015).
In searching Google for an image of the master storyteller, I came to realize that there are countless quotes of the man out there. And they’re all so damned astute and poignant, which is the norm with him. I’ve quoted him here and abroad before. With so many great quotes in abundance I might have to start making this a Friday ritual around here. Friday Uncle Stevie Quote Day or something.
I’m only half-joking.
Quoted from: Six Ways To Self-Edit & Polish Your Prose – by Kristen Lamb
#6 Almost ALWAYS Use “Said” as a Tag
“You are such a jerk,” she laughed.
A character can’t “laugh” something. They can’t “snip” “spit” “snarl” “grouse” words. They can SAY and ever so often they can ASK. Said becomes white noise. Readers don’t “see” it. It keeps them in the story and cooking along. If we want to add things like laughing, griping, complaining, then fine. It just shouldn’t be the tag.
“You are such a jerk.” She laughed as she flicked brownie batter onto Fabio’s white shirt.
There you go, SIX easy tips for self-editing. We all make these mistakes and that’s why God invented revision (that and to punish the unfaithful). If you can get rid of these common offenders on your own, then good editors can focus on the deeper aspects of your fiction.
Today must be the day of Jenny M. because she makes yet another appearance on this here blog with more timely words that I’ve aimed at my own psyche. To wit:
So if I’m so impatient, how did I ever finish the book? I wonder myself. I tend to start things – and finish them. I just did an interview where one question was: “How can I become a writer?” I answered, “Write, write, write and read, read, read”, but I could have said “Write and finish what you start.” It never gets easier. It never goes faster. Sometimes you write yourself into a dead end. Then you have to unravel the story – sort of like knitting, and start again. Sometimes you forget what the story was supposed to be about, and you have to spend hours cutting out what doesn’t matter – like pruning dead wood off a tree. It’s never a smooth journey. It’s often frustrating. And when the book is done and published – you’ll always find the odd typo or mistake that got passed up. You shrug and try not to think about it too much. And when the book is for sale you wait for the readers to chime in.
— Jennifer Macaire, from her March 5, 2016 blog post “Miss Impatient”.
Over the years of our acquaintance I have come to rely quite a bit on this kind of wisdom from my author buddy living abroad. This one is timely because I’ve been ruminating this very subject since last fall and over the course of this dark, cold winter. I’ll be expounding on this in better detail this coming week.
So I stumbled across this Warren Ellis video interview, looks like it was conducted and subsequently posted midsummer of last year. When I started blogging about five years or so ago it was totally inspired by Warren Ellis’ old website
In novels you have to just suggest the image for the reader to allow the image to live in their own minds. The more specific you make the image, sometimes the harder it is for it to really resonate with the reader. It’s the difference between painting in detail and painting in broad strokes. — Warren Ellis