Monday, June 21, 2010

The Real Deal

My Dad worked in a bank for most of his adult years. To spot a counterfeit, he wasn't exposed to fake bills. Instead, he learned the appearance and texture of the genuine article. When he encountered a phoney, it stood out like a neon sign.

Learning the craft of writing takes time and effort, but provides many dividends. The simple mistakes no longer plague us because we're familiar with the right way of expressing ourselves. If we do write stilted dialogue, it will bother us. We'll know something is amiss.

Setting, motivation, and deep POV are areas where I need improvement. Guess where my attention will be focused for the next few months. I need to study the real deal, so I can spot the problems in my work.

How do you overcome your writing weaknesses? Do you bury yourself in craft books? Practice exercises? I'd like to know.

44 comments:

Heather Sunseri said...

I read and study craft books, but my favorite way to study the areas you've mentioned is to read, read, read in my genre. I study what works and make mental notes of what they do that I don't like.

Jody Hedlund said...

I do the same thing as Heather, read lots of writing craft books. I usually try to read a couple when I'm between books. It pumps me up for the next book and help remind me of the things I need to put into practice.

Carol J. Alexander said...

I keep writing and submitting. Also, when something is published, I compare every jot and tittle of what was printed with what I submitted to see what the editor changed. Learn a lot this way.

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

Read, read and more reading! I study the writers who I admire, read writing blogs and articles.

Wendy Paine Miller said...

I honestly believe reading profusely is one of the best ways to improve as a writer. Yes, to craft books, etc.

What I love about reading is that you're often learning without even realizing it.

~ Wendy

Jessica Nelson said...

I don't really read craft books, though I probably should. I like articles and I love to just read regular books and study them as I go.
I worked in a bank too and that's exactly what they taught me. :-)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Heather -

I read a lot, but in many genres. It's difficult for me to enjoy the story if I'm analyzing the writing. Do you find that aspect problematic?

Blessings,
Susan :)

P.S. NOTE TO EVERYONE - I've had to turn on comment moderation. A spammer has discovered my blog.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jody -

Great idea! It probably wouldn't work for me because I'm never between books. Sometimes I have two or three going at the same time. LOL!

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Carol -

Good strategy! You might want to consider entering contests that give feedback. The Genesis provided a excellent evaluation. I'm still implementing and working on the areas they suggested.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Donna -

I also read blogs. They've educated me on the craft, as well as the publishing industry. In fact, I find it easier to digest the nuggets from blogs than craft books.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Wendy -

Yes, I've learned much that way. It's like giving a child a fun, educational toy.

Blessings,
Susan :)

patti said...

All of the above--plus I rely on the instincts of GREAT READERS, who include editors at my house, my agent, and my 80-year-old Aunt Joan. Dare I say she's the keenest eyed of 'em all????

P

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jess -

I read craft books, but it's not my favorite method. Perhaps I should stop trying to force the issue and go with a more natural learning style. At this point in my life, I do have a say in the matter. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Patti -

All of us should have an eagle-eyed aunt!

Blessings,
Susan :)

Sonia Parham said...

Hi Susan, I am going through a slight writer blockage at this time. It is due to stress I'm sure... so the best thing I do is take it in prayer then walk away for a time and catch up on quilting or crocheting. The prayer and the therapeutic crafting always helps. :)

Cindy R. Wilson said...

I definitely read craft books and fiction in my genre. I also put it to use and try to get feedback from my critique partners to see if there are improvements.

Carla Gade said...

I study the craft, using great lessons that I find on the internet mostly, and several writing books. Yet, when I learn a concept I love identifying what I've learning (or am learning) in the genre that I write. That gives me practical examples which helps me considerably and also affirms that I'm getting it!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Sonia -

Welcome to my blog. I post here on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Occasionally, I'll throw in an extra post for good measure. :)

I'm sorry to hear you're dealing with writer's block. If you put that into a search engine, you'll probably find lots of articles on the subject.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Carla -

I never thought of reading about a concept and then looking for practical examples in books. Thanks for the tip.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Cindy -

Thanks for your great input.

Studying craft books and reading books in our genre head the list in recognizing "the real deal." I do my best to immerse myself "in all things writing."

Blessings,
Susan :)

Ann Best said...

I've read a lot of craft books throughout my life. Now I just have two I refer to to stimulate my mind. My favorite is On Writing, which is partly a memoir, my favorite genre. And my other favorite is Characters and Viewpont by Orson Scott Card. (I once tried to write screenplays and still veer back to the genre, and read The Art of Dramatic Writing for that.)
But I think, like Heather, the best way to write is to read, read, read, which I do.
Thanks for choosing to come into my blog in response to Diane Estrella's challenge. But how do I find her? I don't know the name of her blog.

Jean Fischer said...

I find modeling helpful. I find an author I admire and chose some paragraphs from one of his/her books as examples of good writing. Then, using those paragraph as models, I work to create similar paragraphs in my own style.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jean -

I love this idea! With my hands on learning style, this might be a good choice for me.

Thanks.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Ann -

Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting. Both fiction and non-fiction writers hang out here, so you'll find an interesting mix of subjects and comments.

Diane Estrella's blog is located at: http://www.dianeestrella.com.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Karen Lange said...

I have quite a stack of craft books, but haven't read completely through all of them. One of these days...
Blessings,
Karen

Sassy Granny ... said...

This is a good formula for all of life, not just writing. The more we study or value the true/real, the less comfortable the fit of a counterfeit.

There's powerful wisdom packed here, Susan!

Blessings,
Kathleen

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Karen -

LOL! I have three craft books with bookmarks in them right now.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Terri Tiffany said...

I've been reading a craft book but I've signed up for a cheap online course starting July 1-- I know that will help me look at the big picture structure of a book.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Kathleen -

So true. I think a lot of our writing examples could be applied to the rest of life.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Terri -

Hmm, it might be easier to grasp all that information with a course. Let us know how it works out. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Dorothy Adamek said...

I have found listening to audio books while I drive (and I do lots of driving in a day) helps me take in writing in a different way. I need to concentrate more because my mind may switch off if it is distracted by something I 'see', which doesn't happen when I read a book instead of listen to it. I find my own writing flows so much better when I have 'listened' to fiction that day!
Don't know why, but it does :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Dorothy -

Audio books? I would never have thought of that one. Are they available for MP3 downloads? It might make the whole gym/exercise thing take on new meaning.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Nancy said...

What a darling picture. I used to read good wrting magazines and books on novels when I was writing most of my fiction. I think it does help a lot. I think the best thing you can do is like the banker did, go to the source and read a lot of fantastically well written books. I especially like to notice how they do the dialogue.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Nancy -

The wide-eyed innocence got me with that picture. Little ones soak up knowledge like sponges. I want to learn the good stuff.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Sandra Heska King said...

Read? Who me?

I have craft books in my office, on the bedside table, on the floor next to the bed, in the living room, on the kitchen table, and one in my purse. Yes, I have that many. And I'm usually reading more than one at once.

Also reading other fiction writers, practicing some poetry.

I don't have a lot of patience with exercises on my own, but I've been responding to some writing prompts over at High Calling Blogs.

kristen said...

I look through craft books because while I can recognize good writing, I don't always know how they did it. Craft books explain the how, and that helps me apply it to my WIP.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Sandra -

It's good you're so disciplined with reading craft books. I much prefer reading fiction. Craft books in small doses, lots of blogs, and fiction are more my speed. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Kristen -

Good point. Craft books do present the how-to aspect.

As I read my Bible, I've noticed the techniques used for communicating concepts, ideas, setting, etc. Jesus used parables, illustrations, etc. I doubt if anyone fell asleep during the Sermon on the Mount. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Rita's Random Ramblings said...

I learn both ways. Reading for pleasure, which I do a lot of, and studying craft books. I love words! Fantastic blog! I signed up!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Rita -

Welcome to my blog, and thanks for commenting. I also appreciate you signing up as a Follower. :)

I post here Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Occasionally, I'll throw in an extra post for good measure.

Blessings,
Susan

Tammy L. Hensel said...

Great blog! I love the counterfeit analogy!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Tammy -

Thanks! I hope you'll visit often. I post here Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Let me know if you decide to start blogging again.

Blessings,
Susan :)

quietspirit said...

Susan:
I try to study craft books. Also, read the blogs devoted to the craft. I had the help of a writing group until I had to withdraw. And I try to read various authors to see how they approach the issues.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Quiet Spirit -

Thanks for joining the discussion. Have a great weekend!

Blessings,
Susan :)