Becoming a Writer – Planning Growth

Today I was reading one of the webcomics I follow called  Questionable Content.  It deals with the life of a guy and his friends as they move through the various difficulties of life.  Today it is thoughtful, and touches on a lot of subjects like mental issues, alcoholism, finding your life’s path and other things.  Just out of curiosity I went back to the first comic today and saw how far he has come in his art, writing and stories.


This has made me think that I am at the point of that first comic.  I have the basic skills, have most of my grammar down and a lot of stories to tell.  Even so,  I make a lot of mistakes that experienced writers have already learned to avoid.  My first posted story, Emily’s Monster, was something I was extremely proud of, and I had thought it well written.  Showing it to a few writers certainly took the wind out of my sails.

Turns out I had broken one of the most basic tenets of fiction writing: I told the story, when I should have showed it.  An example of this is saying ‘she felt sad’.  Nothing wrong with it in and of itself but it doesn’t convey the emotion just the idea.  Instead you should say something along the lines of ‘tears misted her eyes and her lower lip quivered slightly’.  This shows you what is happening, letting you the reader feel her emotion.  It also gives an idea of the depth of the emotions.  For example another way of showing I am Sad would be ‘She heaved a great sob, chest shaking.  Rivulets of tears poured down her face as she turned her head away’.  That says a lot more, and gives an idea of how sad.

Lesson learned, but there is a lot more to know.  I have been writing for NaNoWriMo and working on a novel basically every day and writing between 1000 and 5000 words per day in an attempt to finish a 50,000 word novel by the end of the month of November.

Even while I write, I know and recognize mistakes I am making.  I put in dialog where none is needed.  I take pages to discuss something that could be summed up in a couple of paragraphs.  Most of all I realized ⅓ of the way through the book that my planned romance would not only not work, but would actually undercut the growth of my female lead.  The novel is falling apart, but I will finish it because that’s what you have to do.  Then you learn from it and do better next time.

So instead of assuming I am a genius who is not understood by his readers, I plan to study from experts, take online courses, write and get my stories critiqued.  This series will cover the thing I have learned and discuss my missteps and triumphs.  I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

Also, I would love to hear any comments you may have on any of my stories.  Good or bad, the comments help me further along towards one day being published.  Thanks!

Published by Robert C Hartwell

I live in Northeastern Vermont in the US. I am currently working towards becoming an author. I am the proud father of two great kids.

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