Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Product of You

At the beginning of the movie The Departed, Costello says

I don't want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me.”

This is a very interesting statement that got me thinking. As writers, our work will invariably be shaped to some extent by the environment around us, but as writers, we also have the power to change the environment around us. Why? Because words have power.
It is put nicely by V, from one of my favourite moves, V for Vendetta:

Words are the means to meaning, and for some, the annunciation of truth.”

I’ve often heard, and in different forms, that stories are lies used to tell the truth. As we as writers put forth words on a page, we put meaning out there for readers to read. In this, we have the power to change our environment.

If your dream as a writer is to change the world, is that a silly dream to have? I think not, for if a butterfly flapping its wings on one side of the world can create a hurricane on the other side, what more could one word, never mind 60000 words, do?

Our environment becomes a product of every piece of written word we put out there. Each idea you put on a page has the potential to create mass change. I’m not saying it will, or that it should. What I’m saying is that it could.

Even in a world where nothing makes sense, words have the power to change. So don’t let your work become the product of your environment. Let your environment become a product of your work.

Finally, I leave you with a final quote:

"Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs."~Pearl Strachan

Monday, June 27, 2011

Crafting a Story : Theme

Theme is a rather new concept to me. It is sort of the story under the story. The general thought that underlines the entire story as a whole.

A theme is not always applicable (at least not a theme that encompasses the entire story), but since my story will run a rather singular storyline, I think it’ll work.

Henry kills someone. This is an isolated incident and killing people is hard both during and after. So he is bound to have some unresolved feelings about it. It is a giant blotch on his otherwise perfect life. He killed someone, but more importantly, he didn’t plan on it. He regrets doing it (but this will obviously be in conflict with the knowledge that he had saved Jasmine).

Jasmine agrees to act as a hostage for her boyfriend in his store robbing conquest. She comes from a poor background, so it isn’t such a huge transgression for her psyche. However, when Henry saves her, she sees that she can do better and probably regrets helping Irwin, or maybe even ever getting involved with his kind (interestingly, this will also be in conflict with another line of thought, being that she met Henry through the encounter). Maybe, as she starts her admiration for Henry, she realises how many opportunities she lost to rise to a higher class. She regrets many decisions.

Irwin, obviously, regrets that he got himself killed. Furthermore, when he sees Jasmine getting together with Henry, he may even regret ever getting mixed up with her. Maybe he even regrets his choices that led him to being a criminal. For interest’s sake, let’s say that there was an opportunity to kill Henry before the store incident (or maybe during, but before the shooting), but he had let Henry live. Therefore, he probably regrets letting Henry live.

Through a lot of things, regret seems to be a common theme. Regret for decisions made in the past.

Most probably, there will be other themes, but since this one is applicable for all three major characters, I’ll keep this one in mind while fleshing out the scenes.

Next week I’ll look at fleshing out Jasmine (and I’ll keep my theme in mind).

Friday, June 24, 2011

Character Conflict

As I’ve discussed before, before you can start writing a novel, you need to have a story. How much it’s planned out is up to you. However, a good thing to have is a high concept. If you can tell me what your story is about in one sentence (around 20 words) then you have a steady indicator to lean on if you get stuck with your story, nevermind an easy way to entice.

With a high concept at hand, you can get a general feeling for your story as a whole (thus, the sooner you get it the better). You can make the necessary adjustments before you are too far in.

Let’s say the first high concept you put together is this: Two friends find a relic, but an evil guy steals it and they set off to get it back before the world falls into ruin. A bit long, but it’ll do for our purposes. Regardless, we can get a better view of how the story will run.

Finally, I’ll get to the point of this post. In the high concept you can spot something (or the lack of it) that is pretty important to an interesting story. Interesting character conflict.

Currently, we have two friends (who will spend most of the book’s time together) and an evil guy whom no one knows. There will be conflict, yes. Interesting conflict even. Between the evil guy and the two friends. However, this is simply the times when they clash which will maybe make up a third of the story. Most of the time, it will be the two friends who try to get the relic back. They can bicker among themselves, yes, but it will not be as interesting as it can be. To use a better example, would Lord of the Rings have been as interesting if Gollum never joined the Frodo/Sam party? Without the constant conflict between Gollum and Sam and subsequently Frodo and Sam, the journey would have been a lot less interesting.

In our own example, we can do with a bit of interesting conflict. To do that, I’m going to shuffle things around a bit. Here’s a new high concept: Two friends find a relic, but when a guy from a rival village attacks them, one of them flees with it, intent on ruling the world, and the two enemies must work together to stop him. Also too long, we’ll leave it like that.

With the new high concept, we have more interesting conflict (the two enemies that must work together; the antagonist is the protagonist’s best friend) and secrets (the one friend hides his aspirations from the other; the enemies plot against each other while working together).

Some stories might lose too much to change it around like I did now, but an additional character or a change of relationship can make a great impact on the conflict which will make the story that much more interesting to read.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Why Write?

Why do we write? We write to create. To make something out of nothing (well, not out of nothing, but regardless). I spoke about legacy last week.

When I write, I create meaning, and that is perhaps a very important thing to note. Meaning is the point behind the whole affair. You’ve probably heard people say that you shouldn’t write something because of what sells, but rather write something that you want to write. Okay, this is mainly because by the time you finished your vampire book, vampires will be out of fashion, replaced by something else. But I think it’s worth looking at from another perspective.

Firstly, I read somewhere (more than one place actually; I think it was Justine Musk and David Baboulene) that stories originated as mediums from which to learn. Say if caveman A ran away from a sabretooth tiger and then told caveman B what happened, i.e. how he got away, he is essentially told B a story while teaching him something. Next time B sees a sabretooth tiger, he’ll know what to do. When you look at age-old stories and whatnot, you will see the same pattern. For example, the boy who cried wolf. There, at the end of the story, you grasp the moral of the story, therefore learning a lesson in a fun way (this makes it more accessible to kids). You can even say that the theme of the boy who cried wolf is that if you lie all the time, people will not believe you when you tell the truth. Most stories these days do not have such explicit messages or morals to share (since people these days really hate being preached to) but each contains something.

If you write a vampire story with a tried-and-trusted plot line, you are not creating meaning (this is not necessarily true – it’s about your motivation and whatnot, but you get what I mean), you are simply putting words together because you know people like to read that.

If you remember my post on structure, this is a good example. If you use only structure, you aren’t crafting meaning. If you deform your story using structure, you’re deforming meaning.

My point is this: When you write something, you should be putting down words that mean something to you (and thus to others). There doesn’t have to be a lesson. It can be a story that represents something that you experienced. Even simpler, it can take a look at how a difficult decision could be made. Holly Lisle mentioned somewhere that when you start a story, find something that matters to you and write about it. Writing a story can answer a question that you are wondering about. When you let characters make MEANINGFUL decisions, you are in fact testing out scenarios of different approaches to the decision and (if you get other people to read it) showing other people how they could (or should) react in such a situation.

Meaning is what makes stories interesting. When your characters make no-brainer decisions, it does not become interesting. It is only when a character faces a difficult decision that the readers will sit forward in their seats (as if eager to learn from your hero) to see how he will react.

In the end, a story has to matter, in some form or another. If it means something to you and no one else gets it, that fine too (though it is pretty much guaranteed that someone out there will agree with you and see what you put inside). As long as it matters to someone (preferably, you should be one of these).

Should there be meaning in fiction? Or is meaning simply a subjective take on a story?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Crafting a Story : Resolution

I’ve handled all the main parts of the story now, except for the resolution. This, however, I cannot do with a random word. I’ll have to deduce it from the other information as well as my own choice.

Irwin, the ghost, is angry at both Jasmine and Henry. Therefore, they are both in danger. I’m pretty sure I want Henry to ‘win’ the encounter (whether he manages to kill Irwin or not). Jasmine, however, is fair game.

So let’s say that Jasmine is killed near the end. And let’s go further and say that Henry allowed her to die. Maybe he just found out her secret – that she had been working with Irwin and lying to him the entire time. But for interest, I’m going to say that Henry really cares for Jasmine and he left her in a moment of anger. Thus, later, he is very angry with himself, but also with Irwin, therefore letting him jump into danger more easily.

If we accept that Henry will not give up and he will survive the encounter, we can safely assume that he will defeat Irwin.

The key question raised at the beginning (Will Henry make it out of there alive?) is answered. Yes, he will make it out alive. I also want to add that Irwin traps them in the house, so that they don’t go running around in the woods, where Irwin has less power (less things to throw around). So before they figure out that they have to run, the doors of the house will shut and stay shut.

Just so that Irwin does not kill them both too easily, I think it’s a good idea to put in some form of protection against him. Let’s say an iron room (since ghosts are sometimes believed to be warded off by iron) wherein they can hide. Obviously, this’ll only be discovered later and so forth. But more importantly, it means that Henry can go into the room and leave Jasmine outside, after which she is killed.

After this, Henry finds a way to kill Irwin and does so promptly. Then he maybe gives Jasmine a burial and then returns home, deciding not to sell the place. Perhaps he goes back every year to put fresh flowers on Jasmine’s grave. Maybe not.

There is still a few issues that need to be worked out, but this is enough for now. I have a general destination I want my story to reach.

Next week, I’ll look at the theme a bit.


In other news, Stories for Sendai is coming out in ten days. Be sure to buy a copy if you can (it includes a story by me). It’ll be available in print form on Amazon.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Story and Structure

A while back, I read David Baboulene’s book, The Story Book. What I found fascinating about it was that it wasn’t about how to write a novel or how to write a screenplay. It was about how to make up a story. The book deals with a whole lot of things that are interesting and easy to understand. However, I want to talk about another thing that I started realising.

I’ve always gone about the process of writing by thinking of a novel, then writing it. This, as I see it now, was the wrong way. Instead, I should have been starting with a story, and only after I’ve completed that step, should I have moved on to the process of turning that story into a novel/short story.

While the two ways do seem to be much the same, it can make quite a difference. See, maybe this is just for me, but I tend to think of structure before I think of the rest. Baboulene says in the book that structure should never come first. When you think about it, he’s absolutely right.

I’m a very structure-seeking person. I tend to want things to line up and have them provide feedback as they go along. I need facts instead of feeling. Say, I’m cooking something, I would want to know things like, simmer for exactly 5 minutes and then add exactly this amount of some or other ingredient. That way, each step can be confirmed and evaluated. Therefore, if something goes wrong in step 1, I don’t needlessly do steps 2 to 10.

By doing this, also in writing, I am limiting my creation. I put a structure out there and then stick my story inside it, instead of putting my story out there and finding a structure that fits around it. Say I hear that a beginning should introduce the main characters and establish place and time, but my story does not work with such a beginning (e.g. the story gets moving with an event that does not involve the main characters at the time). If I were to bend my story around so that I can insert such a beginning, my story would suffer for the sake of structure. Rather find another structure or bend the structure.

I’m not saying structure is a bad thing. Structure gives you guidance and support when you don’t know where you’re going or when something goes wrong. But if you start off with structure, you can never reach your story, because you’re too busy relying on the crutch to carry you through it.

Use structure when you need it. The rest of the time, the story should dominate.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Leaving a Legacy

I think every person wants to know that his or her life has been for a reason – that their life had not been a waste. They hope that they leave some kind of legacy behind.

Lots of people have a child to be a legacy for them. Someone that they leave behind when they leave the world. Others might never have that opportunity. So they may turn to lifeless things to carry their voice forever. Think of people like Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell. Their names are forever etched into the history of mankind.

Nowadays, things change so rapidly, it is difficult to leave a mark. So many new things appear and then get replaced by the next thing within a year. Where are those people’s legacies?

More to the point, as a writer, I have an opportunity to make a mark that can last a long time. There are so many writers that get published these days however – with self-publishing and so on making a big impact – that standing out will be a hard thing to do.

But maybe that is less of the point than one would think. Maybe you don’t have to be the next Hemingway to leave a legacy behind.

If I have one dream that I cling to, it is that someday – possibly after I’m dead – someone will take a book I wrote and pass it to a friend, colleague or child and say, ‘Here is a book that is worth reading’. If I could change one person’s life for the better – even if it’s just giving a moment of pleasure in a world of dreariness – I will know that I’ve been successful at life and would be able to die happily.

This makes me think of that movie (I think it was 2012) where a point of chance put a small-time writer’s book on the list of a small group of books left after the world ends.

Knowing this, I can only go forth to put out my very best (nay, my very soul) into any novel I have any intention of getting published, for it might just be a book that will carry my legacy long after I’m gone.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Crafting a Story : Putting it all together

In the following weeks, I’m going to put the story together that I’ve been constructing. There are a number of different steps, and I’ll list them here and start next week.

Resolution – Before anything, we need to know how the story ends so that we can know where we’re heading.

Theme – We need to establish a theme for the story (it generally makes the story stronger, and gives me an idea of how the mood should be).

Explore the secondary character more – Jasmine is still a bit underdeveloped. I’d like to expand on her a bit.

Summarize the story thus far – Just get all the events in a general order.

High concept – I want to try and create a high concept for the story; a short sentence that tells us what it is about.

This is all I can think of at the moment. I might add on later.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Huh? So what? and Oh yeah?

I previously mentioned the three things Orson Scott Card said are going through a reader’s mind. That is, Huh?, So what? and Oh yeah?. Here is a breakdown of what it means. (I copied the base idea of these three into a notepad a long time back from someone’s notes to an OSC bootcamp. Can’t remember who.)

What it means
The reader is lost. Something doesn’t make sense. The reader is confused as to what is happening. It might be something that wasn’t explained sufficiently. This can often happen if you assume a reader would know what something means when they do, in fact, not.

How to fix it
You need to give the story clarity. Make sure you’re not assuming prior knowledge from a reader that might not be there. A good way to test this is through beta readers who know nothing about what you wrote. If you find such a problem, you need to make things clear or fix any inconsistencies. Look out for parts where you imply to a high degree – it might be a place where you could lose a reader.

So what?”
What it means
The reader doesn’t care. A man is being chased by a rabid dog, but the reader doesn’t care whether the man gets bitten or not. It’s all the same to him/her. You need a reader to sit on the edge of their sitting surface and gnash their teeth, anxiously awaiting the result of the chase.

How to fix it
You need to let the reader care. Mostly, such a situation calls for character development. You need to show the reader that the person in a pickle (or anything else, really) is worth caring about. You need to tell them why they should care. The hero is a good guy. The woman is the key to saving the world. Whatever the case may be. This is the reason why people tell you not to start a story with danger. An unknown character in a dangerous situation will immediately put the reader on a So what course. You have some gap from the start of the story, but it’s still tricky. Give the readers some context so that they know why they should care.

Oh yeah?”
What it means
The reader doesn’t believe what you’re saying. Now while all fiction has a degree of that – it is fiction after all – the key is to, as they say, suspend disbelief. The more real everything sounds, the more they will believe what the author is saying.

How to fix it
The reader has to have faith in what you’re saying. Now there is a lot of advice out there on how to suspend disbelief, but I’ll touch the subject lightly. Using coincidences to resolve conflict is a bad idea. You can use them to initiate conflict, but never to resolve them. Having characters act out of character is another one. Stay true to the characters rather than the plot. If something seems hard to swallow, don’t leave it. Put something in earlier to make it more believable (e.g. putting a gun in the description of the mantelpiece in the first chapter so that you can use it to kill the villain in the final one) or change your plot to be more believable.

These three questions should be kept in mind especially when revising. Getting a beta reader to point them out would be useful. OSC himself said that any rule can be broken, so obviously, none of these are necessarily indicators of problems. It’s just useful if you wonder where the fault lies.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Push your Limits

If there’s one thing I’ve come to realise, it’s that mistakes breed success. Justine Musk made a post about it not long ago. But that’s not what I want to say here.

When you practise something (with the intention of getting better at it) repetition is usually the key. If you repeat the thing enough, you get better. But that’s not entirely true. In order to grow, you need to push yourself. Challenge your limits. Much like strength training, if you repeat what you already do easily, you won’t get better. You need to push your limit and challenge your ability.

When it comes to writing, finding a limit is pretty hard. Writing is writing, right? But perhaps there is more to it than that. Look at your own writing, and chances are, you’ll see something that is less than you want it to be. Say, you don’t do well with a strong plot line. In other words, you’ve become reliant on other elements to keep your story upright.

Every writer can work on that which makes him or her struggle. If your plots are generally weak, try writing a story in which your plot carries your story. Don’t let go of the other elements, but push yourself to make the weaker part stronger.

Maybe it’s not so easy to identify a weakness, or maybe there isn’t a specific problem. In that case, the key lies in boundaries. Limits. Say, giving yourself a time limit to finish a project. This works best if someone else is calling the shots (especially if you’ve already taken money from them and need to deliver). The pressure might be pretty high, but in that environment, your ideas might just flow better (or maybe it just forces you to finish the story even though you don’t like it).

Challenge your abilities. That’s the only way to make them better. Do something your not used to and practise it. Each word you write will send you a step closer to achieving whatever writing goal you’re aiming at.


In other news, remember that Stories for Sendai comes out the 30th of June. Buy a copy to read stories and poems from awesome writers (and one from me) and help Japan in the process.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Crafting a Story : Catalyst

The catalyst’s random word is:

A catastrophe is an event that results in, or a state of, great misfortune or ruin. What the catalyst should be is the event or state that allowed Irwin’s ghost to come back from wherever it was.

Something, somewhere, went wrong. For the best results, I think it would be a good idea that the event was caused by either Henry (who I’m going to have to give a new surname, since I recently found out that Henry James is a famous person) or Jasmine. Maybe a séance with Irwin’s spirit gone wrong. All things considered, Henry doesn’t seem to be the type of person who would have anything to do with spirit communication (or belief in them for that matter). Therefore, it will have to fall to Jasmine to do that. I didn’t want her to have another secret and Henry with still nothing, but I’d rather stay true to the characters.

Okay, Jasmine is still a relatively unexplored character, so we can juggle traits around quite a bit. Let’s say that she is a very superstitious. So she carries a hare’s foot with her for luck, will freak out if she breaks a mirror, that kind of thing. So, in her guilt over Irwin’s death, Jasmine goes to a medium to speak to his spirit (this is shortly before Henry decides to ask her with him to the cabin/house in the forest). By speaking to his spirit, they awaken Irwin and allow him to see what is going on. He gets angry because he’s dead and maybe breaks apart the medium’s house or maybe even kills her. Because he’s awake, he sees how Henry “steals” his girl, therefore making him mad and enabling him to pull a poltergeist on Henry and Jasmine.

I’m going to assume Irwin has limited control at first, but at later stages gains full traditional poltergeist powers – perhaps with a twist or two. This includes moving objects around and making noises (such as a knocking or scraping), generally with the intention of scaring people. But Irwin is really angry, so he must have some way to really put these people in danger. I also want him to be able to tell Henry who he is and why he wants to hurt him, therefore revealing Jasmine’s secret. Thus, Irwin must communicate. This can either be along the lines of him being able to take on a pseudo-physical form or writing on the walls. But the writing seems kind of un-Irwin. Irwin is furious. He’s dead. Why would he waste time writing on walls? Unless it is in the early stages when he can’t do much. However, then Jasmine’s secret will be out too soon.

Ergo, I think I’ll give Irwin a physical form of some kind. Maybe a bunch of objects held together with his powers that allows him to talk (maybe through the manipulation of an electronic speaker). He tries to create himself again, because he doesn’t want to be dead.

To make him dangerous, I think we’ll give him serious telekinetic power. Throwing of knives, tables, etc. The details can come in later.

That was all the components that are necessary for a story (as far as I can tell at the moment). All that remains now is to bring the pieces together, flesh out the characters and figure out how it’s going to end. Then we’ll have a rough framework. Then we figure out a theme, and then the story can be written.

Next week, I’ll list all the things necessary for the bringing together of parts and then do each of those in subsequent weeks.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Time Away

For those of you who read the things I post here, I’m going away from the 6th to the 14th and then again the 20th to the 24th – this means, probably no internet. During those times, I’m hoping to have scheduled posts (but that’s going very slowly at the moment), but obviously, I will not be able to respond on any comments until after I get back.

In the meantime, mark the 30th of June on your calendars as the date Stories for Sendai is published. Please buy a copy and enjoy the stories and poems while knowing that you contributed a little to those in Japan.

Friday, June 3, 2011

How Important is Back Story?

A few days back, Livia posted about back story* in YA on her writing blog. She did an awesome analysis of how much of the text was back story (and further divided, check the post to see). In response to a comment I made, she said that she used to think that back story should be implied, but from her experience, it wasn’t enough. Anyway, after reading this, I started to wonder about the importance of back story, and the type of back story that is needed.

Firstly, as far as I can figure out, the amount and degree of back story varies from person to person. However, herewith follows my experiences as both a reader and writer.

I recently read a book where back story was very explicitly done. There were a few flashbacks and normal references to past events, but what caught my attention the most was the rest (of the back story). Often, at the beginning of chapters, there would be a passage (about one or two pages) that dealt exclusively with back story. It explained things (such as terms used in the previous and following chapters) to a great extent. However, it also stopped the story dead in its tracks. One of the aspects of great writing is that one shouldn’t start a story with back story, nor give back story in huge chunks. However, there are no real rules in writing. They are suggestions that can be left out if you are willing to pay the price.

In the book, the back story passages were not necessary for me to follow the story, but necessary if I wanted to know what the terms meant (much like the glossary of terms in Dune). Could it have been done better? I suppose so, but a lot of information would have been lost. Though it might be parts that are skimmed by readers, they weren’t terribly long, and they were mostly things I was wondering about anyway. So I read them all. (Then again, I never skim. Ever.)

Back story can be used any way, as long as it doesn’t jar readers so badly that they lose track of the story. Then your tension is gone and you’ve lost your readers’ interest. However, you must have back story in some explicit way (I’d like to see it anyway). Otherwise, your readers might feel you rushed into the story too quickly or you will lose your readers with the “Huh?” (Orson Scott Card once said that a reader can at any stage feel “Huh?” “So what?” “Oh yeah?”, each representing a different flaw). If they don’t know what’s going on, there’s a problem (unless you intended it that way; as I said, any rule can be broken).

So I agree with Livia. Sometimes, there HAS to be explicit back story. Without it, it might feel too rushed or unexplained. As a writer, I have to take this into consideration and find the perfect balance where I have enough back story, but not too much.

* My spell checker says ‘backstory’ isn’t a word. I find this highly irritating.

What are your thoughts on this?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Three Pillars

When I first started the journey into this crazy path (being a writer), I read advice in an effort to become a better writer. I subscribed to every newsletter I could get my hands on and read every article. I grabbed onto them and tried to do what they said. But I was neglecting two parts of the three most important aspects of becoming a writer (as I found them to be).

Firstly, I want to say that The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass has been invaluable for my writing (as I’m sure you know by now), as well as The Story Book by David Baboulene more recently. They can tell us how to get started with certain techniques and how and when to utilise them. I thoroughly believe that writing books should be a staple to all writers. Read as many as time allows and soak up the information on the internet. Your brain will safely store all this information and keep it mind in the future. Everything you do can be affected by what you know. The more you know, the better you can create (even if it’s bad advice, because then you can know what not to do). This also includes learning your language. Grammar, sentence structure. Without it, you are on a pool of ice with no skates.

Secondly, humans are hard-wired to learn by example. From the early age of zero, we watch what other people do and adjust our movement and behaviour to fit those of the other people in order to achieve the same. Also, we don’t always need to do things to learn them. If we see someone falling off a roof and breaking a whole lot of bones, we’re going to learn that falling off a roof is a no-no (and possibly develop an irrational fear of roofs, but that’s another story). Basically, we learn from other people’s successes and mistakes. Read everything you can that fits in the same genre as yours. Also read in genres that are not yours.

Thirdly, with some things, you can’t rely on just the theory (and examples). Scrap that. You can’t rely solely on theory for anything. I remember there was an episode of the TV series, Monk, in which it was revealed that Monk had taken a course on swimming over the post. Needless to say, when he needed to swim, it didn’t go so well. Theory and practice go hand in hand. Even so, I’d rather someone rely entirely on practice than entirely on theory. You have to stop all your theory once in a while (read: daily) and actually sit down and write. No matter how bad it stinks.

Those are the three learning pillars of writing (among other things). Theory, example and practice (in ascending order of importance). Learn from professionals, ergo, learn your craft. Read and learn from other authors’ books. Read, read and read some more. Ergo, study your craft.

Finally, write. Write as much as you possibly can. Write every day. Writing is the single most important thing you can do to become a writer – as the name suggests. Everything you write is a lesson that teaches you (even if it is subconscious). This is why NaNoWriMo is such a great project to do. It forces you to write a whole lot of words, each a lesson in writing better ones.


Ergo, craft your craft.