Friday, February 4, 2011

Sayings to remember for Writers

Catch phrases are a good thing - they make you remember something or someone. Even writers should have them. Today I'm going to share some of my favorites.

"The creative side and editor side of your brain hate each other. Never let them work together." Angela Knight.

I've found this to be very true. When I'm working on a first draft if I try to edit it as I go - I can't get any further.

"Writing is 10% creativity and 90% editing." Unknown

Once you get the rough draft (creativity) done it's all about the editing - self, self, self, content, line.

"You already know the story, you just forgot it." Delilah K. Stephans.

When you get the idea for a story, you know the who, what, when, why and how of the story. The rest of it is getting it into words. There will be times you forget what's next - but just remember you already know what's next - it is the logical progression of what you've already put into words.

"The Villain is alway the hero of his own story." Alexis Morgan

The hero and heroine may know this guy is EVIL, but he's protecting his business interest, his religion, his power base, his rule, his whatever so doesn't see that in himself. In his mind he's noble and ambitious and doing whatever deeds he's doing for the greater good. Keeping this in mind will definitely make for better, stronger villains in your book.

"Opinions are like A@^#)#$s everyone has one." Unknown.

Point of View to me equals opinions. If I gave a scenerio "A man sighted along the barrel of a pistol." So what is that man doing? Is he getting ready for battle? Is he about to shoot someone? Is he considering buying it? All three of those questions could be answered yes from three different people - but only the man sighting down the barrel knows why. The reader doesn't need to know the thoughts of everyone in the room because the only thought that matters is the one that will move your story forward.

Often I see new authors want to put in every characters POV, it's not needed and can be confussing. Using the example from above.

Ben sighted along the barrel of a pistol. It felt good in his hands almost like it was made for him.

George watched while Ben checked out the pistol and wondered if it was loaded. It was a silly fear, but one he always had.

Jane watched the interchange and rolled her eyes. If George didn't make the sale, they weren't going to have enough money to by the rent.

Ben nodded. "I'll take it."

Now let's see that same scene through a single POV - I'll use Ben.

Ben sighted along the barrel of a pistol. It felt good in his hands almost like it was made for him. He looked over the counter at the two clerks. One of the clerks, a man, looked nervous about something, his eyes shifting to the gun and to Ben's obvious comfort with the wepon. The woman rolled her eyes, probably anxious to close for the night. Ben nodded. "I'll take it."

Lastly, something I've shared with others and have no idea where I heard it.

"A book is like a tree. There are roots and the trunk, branches and leaves."

So how does that work? Let's say you are writing a book that takes place in the past. You do all this research - what people wear, average cost for certain items, who were the political movers and shakers, natural disasters, etc. You fully develop your characters on a character worksheet - so you know (I'll use the hero for this) the color of his hair, eyes, skin, his birthday, his favorite tutor or if he was educated at all, his hobbies, is he good or bad at poker, does he have something unique about him, what his parents and siblings were like, what type of horse he rides and all the other little details. All of that is the roots of the tree.

Then there is the plot, main characters, minor characters and surroundings - those are the plot, surroundings and characters. The plot is the trunk of your tree - it takes all the goodies you found in researching and carries it up to the leaves and branches making a whole instead of bits and pieces. The limbs would be the scenery - because readers need to be able to visualize where the characters are. The leaves are the characters and how they interact.

The roots of your book are the things you as a writer need to know but the reader doesn't - they'd just get bored with it. The days of writers getting paid per word are long gone. The readers are interested in the tree they see above ground - trunk, branches and leaves. (on a side funny - it just occured to me that we say branches when they are on the tree and limbs when they fall off)

Hope these help you in your writing.


  1. Now I ahve to come up with another title to tack onto your creativity. Hmmm...what should it be...purveyor of Pearls? I already have the world pearl symbol at my Oyster Blog...Expounder of wisims? NAH that sounds like you're a wise-ASS. I got it, Delilah, secret genius of all things for the SMART among us.

    Love Ya

  2. Deliah, great tips, thank you for sharing.

  3. Delilah, the visual you provided is extremely educational. Thank you for taking the time to share. Powerful punch for such few words.


  4. Terrific reminders of how to keep the story moving! Thanks Delilah!

  5. Tree analogy is good, D. I've heard it done with an iceberg too. Interesting post!

  6. Delilah,
    I loved the tree analogy and your examples of head hopping were great! Thank you for posting this. I really appreciate your tips.

  7. I know, I know how writers want to include everybody's point of view in the story, but I have learned that it is too confusing for the reader. Great advice!!