Thursday, March 15, 2012

Learn to Write

copyright Kim Smith
We have a pretty wide variety of readers on this blog many of them writers in their own right, ranging from the unpublished to the aspiring writer to the seasoned pro. Many write mystery and suspense, but some write other genres and even I write something on the lines of EVERY genre (smile).

So when I sat down to write this blog post I thought on what some writers might Google in their lifetime. I know I have gone out and searched for such things as famous authors, mystery writer sites and publishing companies. One idea I came up with was "how to write XYZ". When I did that I got a lot of stuff. It made me think on what we need to know to write anything. The answers I came up with might surprise you.

It can be nailed down to one sentence.

Read to write.

Yes, that's it. In my humble opinion, before you can put the first paragraph on a digital page (how most of us write these days, but those who still use pen and paper, please forgive me) you must have a good knowledge of what else is out there. When I queried agents several years ago, that was the advice they gave everyone. Read. Read a lot. Read a wide variety. Read books, magazines, newspapers, non-fic, fiction, poetry, how-to do something. Read everything. It was good advice back then and still is today. How on earth can you write anything if you do not know what someone else has done? You can break down a book you love into the bits you need to know like plot, character, setting, etc. and you can learn something else that you won't learn any other way. Flow. You gotta know how a book flows from word to word, sentence to paragraph, paragraph to page. What is it that makes that book work? READ!

And since we are living in the Digital Age, now you can augment that with watching videos. There are a lot of interesting informative vids over at Youtube and Vimeo. Believe it or not, that is how I learned about something as simple as art journaling.

I take in an online workshop every couple of weeks for photography. It is all live when I watch them, but they offer the whole tamale on video afterwards if you want to get it to keep. I wish a writer would do that!!

Happy Thursday folks.


Harvee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Harvee said...

For me, the problem is reading too much and not writing enough! But I agree, though I know a writer who doesn't read a lot.

Terry W. Ervin II said...

Reading also teaches a writer the art of storytelling by example.

Just like when a youth begins learning to drive, by experience for so many years, the youth didn't have to be told, and then mechanically respond, when witnessing the tail lights on the car ahead brighten.

Almost instinctual experience told the youth what was happening, not from being told by an instructor or reading it, highlighted by a diagram, in a 'learning how to drive' manual.

Aaron Paul Lazar said...


I'm with you 100% on this. I only took one undergrad level creative writing class in college (where I majored in engineering), and frankly I don't remember anything from it except having fun coming up with scenes featuring my very colorful pals at the time.

My true teachers were the books I have read and am still learning from, such as John D MacDonald, Warren Adler, Dean Koontz, Michael Prescott, and so many more. I'm reading a wonderful book by Dennis Palumbo called FEVER DREAM. It reads like a James Patterson, but with a bit more pizazz - I'm loving it!

Thanks for a great piece today, Kim!