The Perfectionism Trap – Part 2

For writers, perfectionism is all about irrational fears and self-doubt – fear of rejection, fear of criticism and fear of not being good (or perfect) enough for success. For those who strive to be the best they can be, that need for perfectionism can sometimes prove to be non-constructive and can limit them from achieving their goals, because they always feel the need to keep tweaking their work, to keep (in their mind) improving what they’ve written and constantly keep adding stuff.   One draft soon turns into ten drafts, and so on. Fear is the primary cause of perfectionism. I know writers who have spent years writing, editing and polishing their novels, which are never submitted to agents or publishers. Why? Because they’re fearful of rejection, that the work isn’t good enough, or that it just isn’t ‘ready’ yet. The only thing that does is take the writer in ever decreasing circles, and why many are very apt at self-sabotage. There are ways, however, that could help you avoid

The Perfectionism Trap – Part 1

Every writer aspires to be the best they possibly can, which makes them work hard to achieve it. For some people, however, that aspiration represents more than an objective.   Some writers go beyond doing their best – they want perfection, and while it might drive them to create exemplary work, it will also drive them to failure.   Why do they fail? Many writers spend hours pouring over one short sentence, or days polishing a paragraph to get it absolutely right. Some take hours, if not days, to write a cover letter, when the majority of the population can reel one off in half an hour. Some keep returning to their 80,000-word novel to tweak it to their satisfaction, which is now in its 10 th draft. And some never send their work out to publishers or agents, because of the fear that it’s just not good enough (in their eyes).   Perfection is rather like dark matter – it exists in our conscience, but it isn’t always detectable. It’s the belief that perfection can be attained,

Method Writing – Part 2

Method writing is about how a writer approaches writing rather than what they write, and they can do this by getting closer to the characters - they can step into their shoes and spend time being their main characters. It’s the fun of role play, in order to make them multidimensional, real and emotional. Sometimes it’s better to fully integrate into this side of building each character. Writers can then understand the physical, emotional and sociological structure that makes up the psyche of their characters. Method writing/role play can encapsulate the following:- Realism Emotion Props In-depth research Improvisation/role play Sensory/ perception. Realism in writing means bringing life to your story and your characters that is realistic and believable. That means adding extra dimensions – giving them fears, goals, flaws and foibles, emotions, problems and dilemmas – everything that real people have. Emotion is important in writing. Method actors try to employ what’s known as ‘

Method Writing – Part 1

Method writing shouldn’t be confused with writing method - how we write - but rather the way a writer applies writing strategies to stories and novels, in a similar way that is employed by actors when Method Acting.   The ‘method’ technique refers to the system used by actors to immerse themselves, their thoughts and their emotions into their characters in an effort to develop lifelike, realistic performances. They achieve this by drawing upon their own emotions and memories for the right character portrayal. Method writing works in a similar way. It goes beyond that of normal research into subjects and characters and requires a writer to draw deeply upon their thoughts, emotions and their life experiences to fully realise their characters and situations.   We all have life experience, but in order to give that realistic edge to their writing, some writers delve very deeply into their personal experiences for that extra dimension.   It’s a way of expression, beyond the usual

Passive Writing - Should You Use it? Part 2

It’s widely accepted that passive writing can look awkward and can weaken the writing considerably, and sometimes it just doesn’t look right. That said, it’s important to tell writers that not every sentence you write will be active. There will be times when you simply can’t avoid the passive voice, or a passive sentence is a deliberate choice to create an effect, for instance:   The park had been full of people. John was hit by the metal, and he fell.   These examples are not grammatically incorrect, but because passive writing creates a distance between the narrative and the reader, some writers choose to do that to create that effect. They may want the reader to feel a different emotion or sentiment, maybe see a character in a different light, or establish a tone or mood, for example:   The time was something he ignored…   There may be an instance where you want to make more of an impact when you end a scene, so a passive sentence can be preferable, for example:

Passive Writing - Should You Use it? Part 1

A lot of writers I’ve edited have used passive sentence structures in their writing. It’s so commonplace that, from an editor’s point of view, it’s interesting to understand why most writers construct their sentences in such a way. This form of storytelling seems to come easily to them, rather than active storytelling, and probably has a lot to do with how we generally speak in everyday situations.   For instance, when we tell someone about something that has happened, we tend to recall the incident passively, and so this habit spills into writing. Another consideration is that many literary classics were written passively, because people spoke very differently hundreds of years ago, and passive sentence structures were perfectly normal, but writing styles change, and what was popular 150 years ago isn’t very popular with modern tastes, and yet there seems to be an unconscious habit that writers rely on passive storytelling.   That’s not to say that passive writing isn’t entirel

Mastering Description – Part 3

Whether you’re using “show, don’t tell”, layering description with added information, using sensory details, or carefully choosing the right words for a scene, description is integral to storytelling. You’re creating something for the reader to imagine, something that is visual, something that creates a sense of place, a sense of mood and a sense of emotion. It brings your fictional world to life. Description isn’t just the stuff that happens in the foreground of the story. It’s also about the little details in the background that are often overlooked, yet make all the difference. Writers often use subtle brushstrokes or the hidden nuances to prompt the reader. For example, say there’s a scene that takes place outside by a farmstead. The foreground details might show the characters, their expressions, and the immediate area, but also, in the background, a flickering light in the distance is mentioned, glimpsed through the trees by one of the characters. This is a subtle hint, but a