Thursday 9 January 2014

Five Things You Should Always Write About - The Creative Process

Five Things You Should Always Write About

Now, down to the stuff you're here for. I've done a piece on five reasons why you should never become a writer (found here) as well as one for why you should become a writer (found here) and continuing along that theme, here's my top five things that you should always write about. Of course this is my top five and may not apply to everyone, bear in mind that I write young adult books so that, of course, will be reflected in my choices. Now that's out of the way, here's my top five!

Part of writing is making it realistic, and part of that is you'll have to include relationships of some kind. For those who write in the romance genre, that's a given, but for other writer's who don't want their work to focus on people falling in or out of love, why is it important for them to include these? Well, even if we're not talking about a romance genre piece of work, the main character will interact with other characters and for that you need for them to have some kind of relationship, be it romantic, family or even simply social relationships. So, one top tip from this indie author to you is that unless you're writing about a hermit who never comes into contact with another living soul, you will have to write something about their relationships. And it doesn't have to be with living people either, or even people at all. The main relationship can be between a man and his dog, or cat, ferret, goldfish, or even the relationship they have with alcohol or drugs. All of these things can be included and you can even use your own life to draw inspiration. The main thing is that everyone interacts with something, be it human, animal or chemical or anything else.

Now, I know it's hard to write something that everyone who reads the book will laugh at. Everyone is gifted with their own unique sense of humour and so what may be funny to one person may not be to another person. However, it always seems like a good idea to have something that will appeal to people and make them laugh. I love it when someone reads a book, mine or not, and laughs out loud. I know that for some genres it's not possible for it to be brimming with comedy gold, but every now and then you'll have the opportunity to lighten the mood. The balancing act of writing a good book is knowing how much is too much. I've read books where they've gone over the top and it stops being funny after a while. You also don't want to use the same jokes over and over because again, that will get old fast. As it seems that I always say this, I'll say it again, writing a good piece of fiction is a balancing act to include everything while not going to too far either way. I think that's gonna end up of my gravestone: "Joey Paul - thought life was a balancing act and then she fell off."

The best thing about being a writer is being able to use your own life experience to inspire you to write. I have done it countless times. In BLACKOUT, Lisa shares a condition that I suffer from while in another one of my books, a secondary character also has a similar condition to one of the ones I have and I love that in writing about them, I am injecting a part of myself into my work. I think most writers find that their lives will inspire their writing and that can be both a good and bad thing. I'll focus on the good for now as the bad is a piece for another day. When you're a writer, you need to find inspiration for some of the everyday, mundane scenes that can be more tedious to write. I don't mean that you should include every time a character takes a bite out of their food, or their toilet habits, but there are occasionally times when to move the plot forward, you have to include everyday scenes of normality and in those times you can use your own life experience to inspire what you write. Of course you can use a lot of other parts of your own life to influence scenes, but my point is that you should always try and put part of yourself in your work, whether it's a medical condition or just an experience that you have first hand knowledge about.

Can you remember your first kiss? The first time you were asked out? When you realised you were gay? Of course not all of those apply to everyone, but for some people using their own life experience can lead to including some awkward scenes and that's not always bad. You can of course go too far and make it so awkward, it makes your audience cringe, but somewhere in between there's the chance to show a more human side to your characters. Our job as writers is to make it so people can relate to the characters in some way, including that awkward moment when you had your first kiss and there was slobber and tongue where there should have been none. It's embarrassing and awkward, but it makes the character you're writing about that much more real and isn't that the whole point of writing for many genres?

I know that a big thing about selling books is making the synopsis or the blurb intriguing enough so that it grips the attention of the reader and makes them want to read the book from cover to cover right there and then. At least, that's how I choose which books to buy. Writing the perfect blurb that will sell the book (or at least generate some interest) means that you need to include something in the text that will pique the interest of the reader, such as an unexpected plot twist, or a completely different take on a common trope. However you choose to do it, you should always write something that is going to hold the reader's interest, otherwise your book is not going to get out there. People want to read about characters who time travel, or use psychic powers to solve crimes. They want to read about people falling in love with unlikely suitors.
They want to read about a gay character dealing with their first proper relationship. They want to read about people like them, people they want to be like, people they love to hate and many many other things besides that. I could go on, but I think I've made my point. People want to lose themselves in your work, so your job as a writer is to deliver on the promise that you set out in the synopsis. And if you can keep them entertained and interested in one book, they're more likely to pick up more of your work in the future,

Of course, a lot of these points intertwine with others and as I said at the beginning, these are my top five. Everyone is different and every reader is different. It's once again about finding your place between going too far and giving too little. Writing is a rewarding job, and I don't know what else I would do if I wasn't a writer because it's part of who I am, just as it is for many other writers out there. So, think about what your top five are and keep writing and reading!

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