Friday, February 04, 2011
Fill the Well Fridays --Even Mozart Practiced His Scales (Sometimes)
So what does that mean for an author? Particularly if the well is starting to run dry?
Sometimes ideas come from taking it back to the basics. You may think you know all that there is to know about your sphere of writing, but as John Steinbeck pointed out many years ago, part of the tantalizing mystery of the medium is that it can never be fully mastered. In other words, there is something more to be learnt. Also skills can become rusty and need to be freshened up. But they may not be the skills you think need freshening.
When I say go back to the basics, I don’t necessarily mean reread old craft books. Sometimes that works, particularly if you haven’t read them in a while as a little something might catch your eye. Sometimes though you need to read something new. Or approach things in a new way, for example taking a workshop. Or listening to a podcast. Or simply talk to someone else about writing. Anything to get you to focus on the basics in a new way and to take a new perspective on your work. Be humble and admit that you might have forgotten something. I find great comfort in John Steinbeck’s words because it means that I can keep learning.
Recently I decided to focus on building characters and so I read what I had but still wasn’t satisfied. (Neither was my editor with my partial) I then read Orson Scott Card’s Characters & Viewpoint and vistas open before me. Why didn’t I read this before? It was an oversight. Or perhaps I wasn’t ready to understand what it was saying. Sometimes you can hear things a dozen times but one person says it slightly differently. Light bulbs flash and the waters rush in, refilling that well.
Does anyone else have any good craft books that have recently invigorated them?
Michelle Styles writes historical romance for Harlequin Mills & Boon. Her latest is an Undone -- The Perfect Concubine. You can learn more about Michelle's books on her website www.michellestyles.co.uk.