Carolyn’s Thoughts on Writing

Simpleness is another aesthetic preference, not an information display strategy, not a guide to clarity. What we seek instead is a rich texture of data, a comparative context, an understanding of complexity revealed with an economy of means. &emdash; Edward R. Tufte, Envisioning Information, Graphics Press 1990

On Writing

OK, so Professor Tufte is writing about the graphical display of information, such as in a chart or graph or a drawing of some sort intended to display (drum roll) information. Isn’t that what a novel is? Words are data. If you can do what Professor Tufte has so compellingly suggested, you can write a novel that gets published.

But that’s not easy! (Nope, it sure ain’t.)

If it were easy, getting published would be no big deal.

Got any Examples? (Why, yes, I do.)

Take a look at Carolyn’s Workshop. Here you’ll find common errors, explanations of why Carolyn thinks they’re bad and examples of how to fix them. Plus, how to format your manuscript.

Got any Advice? (You bet!)

A writer must be absolutely ruthless. Ruthless in editing. Ruthless in discipline. Most of all, a writer must unwaveringly believe that readers are not stupid just because they happen to read romances.

  • You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club. &emdash; Jack London

Here’s what I have in the front of the binder I use to hold my MS when I’m working on hard copy:

  • It’s the story, stupid. Perfect writing is not enough.
  • If you’re bored, they’re bored.
  • A chapter that doesn’t advance the romance should be cut.
  • Prose longer than 2-3 paragraphs should be rewritten to contain dialogue and action.
  • Words are chameleons, which reflect the colour of their environment. &emdash; Learned Hand, jurist (1872-1961)

I want to be a Writer. How? (You write, that’s how.)

Do it. Practice it. Read it. Edit Edit Edit Edit Edit. Did I say Edit? You better do that, too.

Find your working style and stick to it. Here’s what works:

  • Start at the beginning and keep going until you get to the end.
  • Start in the middle and work forward and backward until you’re done.
  • Start at the end and work backward until you’re done.
  • Start wherever you want and keeping going until you’re done.
  • Outline everything in exquisite detail and then write the book according to any of the above methods.

This can be summarized as: Start Writing and Don’t Stop Until You’re Done.

But how can I tell when I’m done? (Well, it’s not when you get to the last page.)

Personally, when I finish reading a book (romance or otherwise) I do one of two things: Put the book away so I can read it again later or toss it in the garbage because one of these days I’m going to kill myself tripping over all the books I have around here. If you don’t want to read your story again after you’ve finished reading it start-to-finish, you’re probably not done.

Are there any good resources for writers? (Oh, boy, are there!)

Check out my resources page to get a start.

How can I thank you, Carolyn, for all this great advice? (Please, do)

Send me an e-mail. Oh, and buy my books, too. I’d like to quit the day job.

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