Friday, March 16, 2007

On Being a Writer

I'm going to leave you this week with one of Swain thoughts on being a writer. It is:

"To become a writer, you first must be capable of emotional involvement. That is, you must feel, and feel intensely. Though you work with language, the words you use are only symbols...means to the end of communication of emotion. You can't communicate that which you yourself lack. No feeling, no story."

These words summarize to me the definition of "write what you know." Some aspiring writers confuse the "write what you know" statement to mean that if they are a lawyer, they should write stories about law. Well, maybe they can, but that's not the point. The point is that you write what you know from an emotional place inside you. This is also what Stephen King is talking about when he insists on writing "the truth."

How many times have you heard people who write genres other than romance say "I think I'll just take my story, throw some sex in, and market it as romance. Those are selling hot." I have three words for those people - Good luck, buddy.

Romance is not about sex. In fact, IMHO, romance is not about sex at all. Some great romances don't even have sex scenes. Doesn't make them not a romance. Stephen King puts sex in some of his books, but I've never mistaken one of them for a romance.

Romance, above all other genres, needs to get down to the nitty gritty of emotion. Pull at the heartstrings - make them laugh, make them cry - make them FEEL and feel hard. If you hate men or think love is a farce created by jewelry companies to make money, maybe writing romance is not the job for you.


Anonymous said...

How do you begin your novels? Do you write pages of character descriptions? Do up type "Chapter One", start with the story and see where the narriative will lead you? Do you list or outline any at all? Do you ever reach a roadblock about 1/3 of the way into a book? If so, what do you do then? Do you wait until a book is complete before you show it to your cp? Thanks, Helen

Kimber An said...

Excellent points, Jana. I agree.

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