The writer’s job is to get the main character up a tree, and once they are up there, throw rocks at them.
A story without challenges is just plain dull. Nobody wants to read that. Readers want an escape, and it’s your job to give them that.
There is only one plot – things are not what they seem.
This kinda made my head explode (in a good way). My eyes were opened. I realized that we want – as readers – a roller coaster ride, twists, turns… and as a writer, we have to challenge ourselves to deliver them.
Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.
If you have ever been in a critique group, you’ve heard this a thousand times. This is the essence of “show versus tell” and it’s the main thing lacking in your writing. This is what immerses a reader in your story.
All readers come to fiction as willing accomplices to your lies.
This is very liberating for a writer to realize. Once you get it, the doors are open to a lot of stuff – if you have the guts to write it. Willing accomplices. They want you to do it. That’s huge.
Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
It’s also been said as, he who tries to please everyone with a story pleases no one. Find your muse and write to her. Not every story is for every reader.
Great writing isn’t safe.
It’s not gratuitous to include myself on this list because I work with a lot of new writers and this is what they’re afraid of: someone I know might read this! Put that aside and write in a way that will grab the reader, about any topic. If it feels real enough and you put the emotion in, readers will laugh with your characters and cry with them, and thank you afterward. But it’s a lot of effort, and you really have to put your bare soul on the page. Go there.
It ain’t whatcha write, it’s the way ‘atcha write it.
Your writing voice is yours, not a copy of someone else’s, and you must use it as a tool to deliver the goods. In that, style counts.
The best stories don’t come from “good vs. evil,” but “good vs. good.”
For the bad guy’s point of view, he’s probably not the bad guy. Mind = blown. And understanding that, your writing just went to a new level.
No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.
Pour emotion onto the page. Have tears falling into the keyboard as you create the drama. You can, and when you do, your reader gets it because it reads true.
Good books don’t give up all their secrets at once
What can I say? We all love/hate to be teased. We all love a good surprise midway through. We all love a good twist. We all… well, you get it.
(It’s okay to have a few more, for after the writing, for the editing, the publishing, the motivation to start, the evaluating afterward…)
A good story is life, with the dull parts taken out.
I love this quote, and not just because I messed it up while texting from a jacuzzi with a friend. If it’s seen as life, it’s relatable. But it’s not everything from life. That’d be boring. Just the good stuff. That’ll make a nice foundation for a good story.
Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.
Do not deprive the world of your story. Don’t polish it forever, because at some point it’s not better, it’s just different. Publish it and get on to your next one. You have more than one great story in you.
If you wait for inspiration, you’re a waiter, not a writer.
That hurts to read, doesn’t it? Yeah, so don’t expect the Great American Novel to find you. It won’t. It will come as a result of a lot of hard work and days where you didn’t feel like writing but did anyway.
If it’s funny enough, you can do anything.
I have covered the most egregious topics imaginable by being funny when I did it. And as a rule, this totally works. Think court jester, speaking truth to power, but without the silly hat thing.
If a book is well written, I always find it too short.
I think everyone does. Don’t worry about the length of your story, worry about how engaging it is.
And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.
This gives you permission to have early works. Everyone will expect you to get better with each story you write, because you are constantly learning and improving. Your next book is you best one, and none will be perfect, so stop expecting that and stop denying the world of your stories.
SPECIAL THANKS TO DAN ALATORRE – AUTHOR! (for compiling this list)