There is never a good enough reason to be inactive as a writer. The last few months have been chaos here, but time well spent. While I have been dealing with chronic pain problems and haven’t spent time on my blog, or social media, I have been sitting at the feet of many literary masters and learning from their handiwork. I have been delving into the depths of J R R Tolkien, George R R Martin, Stephen Lawhead, Mary Stewart, Raymond E Feist, Melanie Rawn, J K Rowling, Traci Harding and have read more Terry Pratchett than is probably decent.
It’s superfluous to say that I have learnt a lot. Here are the lessons which have stood out to me the most.
- A book can be completely perfect in structure, punctuation, grammar, spelling and plot: however, I am noticing that most of these authors have that one rogue sentence which gives away information in an inappropriate place, is completely confusing or messes up the flow of what they are writing. It’s normally in the first three chapters.
- If you are writing in a manner which describes an accent, or is old world language (such as Shakespearian speech,) you are making your life incredibly hard if you only use it for certain characters. It is too easy to slip out of that voice and it stands out like a sore thumb to the reader.
- The legends break all the rules. Tolkien writes sentences which are so long, they become confusing. If I wrote like that, my writing mentors would slap me. But, it does add to the flow, so who is right and who is wrong?
- Ebook formatting seems to have no standards, rules or quality control. Some formats are easier to read than others, thanks to the use of white space. (I have a post coming out on that in September. The blog officially restarts on September 1st.)
- Using foreign speech alongside a lot of unfamiliar names which have crazy spelling (for example, Welsh) breaks your brain. If you cannot get your head around a character’s name, reading can become hard work and easy to abandon.
- I know all the arguments about prologues, but they are worth reading! Books make more sense if you don’t skip them.
- I’ve read two books where I have come to hate the main character. Everything works too easily for them and they became so cut-throat ambitious, I turned against them and will never read any more books in that series.
- I know it can be wise to kill your darlings, but if you start a series with ‘the good guys,’ then you slowly kill them all off over several books, the reader is left alone and wondering who to cheer on. All that is left is the bad guys. You can overdo it.
- Never write a massive series that you may not be able to finish. It may be wiser to leave all books as complete, with a teaser to get the reader to pick up the next one. That way, if chaos intervenes, you won’t get stoned for not writing that last tome.
Thank you to all of you for your good wishes and understanding. I hope my health does improve over the next few months and that I can get back to visiting your blogs and being more supportive. I am still very unwell and have become a lab rat, as the pain management doctors try a variety of potions to see if they can make me more comfortable.