Friday, May 20, 2011
Things Writers Worry About...And Shouldn't
I've read books with no chapters (Terry Pratchett) and 80 chapters (James Lovegrove). There is no hard and fast rule and breaking your book down into chapters is more of an art than science as well as being down to personal preference. As a corollary, don't worry about using numbers or titles for the chapters. Neither method is wrong or right.
2. I can always see something that can be improved or changed.
And you always will. Every writer can see things in their published books that they could change and improve, but you just have to let it go. If you're worrying about a comma or a phrasing, you're worrying too much. If you're concerned about whether a scene should be there or not then you may want to take a look at it. On the other hand, if your book's been published, just watch the money pour into your bank account and do it better next time.
3. My grasp of English (or whatever language) isn't good enough.
It is good enough. If you doubt me, read a Stephen King book and see how many colourful or long words he uses. It's not what you know, but how you use it.
4. My paragraphs are too long/short.
If you have one sentence per paragraph you are using journalistic style, whereas if you have one page per paragraph you are using academic style. How large a paragraph should be is another aspect of writing that is more of an art than a science and it depends a lot on your style and the context. If you want a rule of thumb, 'one thought per paragraph'. Finish describing an action or thought process before moving onto the next paragraph.
5. Should I use US or UK spelling?
If you live in the UK, use UK spelling, if you live in the US use US spelling.
6. How do I get ideas?
Look around you. See those kids walking to school: are they innocent or cooking up a plot to kill their teacher? Are they planning to bully someone or wondering what really happened to their friend Suzy at the party? What has an old tree seen happen under its branches? What is the REAL story behind the news? Take your time to look around, ask questions and the more you do that the easier it will be to have ideas.
Enjoy your weekend.