How do you Tune up your writing? You might be wondering what I mean by a “tune up” but think about everything else in your life. To keep yourself healthy you may eat a balanced diet, exercise and take vitamins. To take care of your finances you work and try your best to budget bills. To keep your car in good shape you maintain the tires, the engine, the transmission, etc. I truly could go on and on about everything we “tune up” or maintain in our lives. Really, it’s astounding how much responsibility we take on and even more so as to how much more some of us could afford to take on. But I digress. The point I’m trying to make is why would writing be any different?
Writing like anything else in our lives needs to be maintained in an ongoing manner. And like anything else we maintain, we do it in stages. You wouldn’t but braces on a one-year-old because most likely he or she wouldn’t have all her teeth and any teeth he or she did have would be baby teeth. It’s just as likely you wouldn’t hand a book or article on dissecting complex plots to a newbie writer. Quite frankly, you might scare them away from the profession as plots can be fairly intimidating. Everything has its appropriate time which at times can be frustrating; in many cases, we are ready to run before we can walk.
So where do we start? That depends on you and where you are in your writing. I can say from experience that most new writers, including myself, tend to struggle with overuse of –ing verbs, show versus tell and deep pov. Google is a writer’s best friend when looking for help in these areas. This particular link will take you to one article I’ve found helpful for deep pov:
Next stage (although it always can vary) is usually in regards to character emotions and development. I personally believe this to be a really long stage and I’m not really sure it ever ends as our characters can always be more dynamic. Ann Hood’s Creating Character Emotions has always been a huge help and although it’s silly to admit, I gain my best understanding of my characters by acting them out aloud (of course when no one else is home!).
Beyond characters, I believe writers get much more complex in their differences. I personally am working on my plots now and understanding their complexities and how they connect to the themes of my books. I’m researching this through several books by James Scott Bell and others by Donald Maass. This doesn’t mean I’ve perfected the deep pov, the show versus tell , the –ing verbs or my characters. Anyone who has critiqued me could clearly point out that I haven’t. But I do realize this process of writing is a cycle and I also realize that with time, all my “tune ups” have made me a better writer. What about you? How have you changed? What’s your current “tune up” project?