Writing: The Secret of the Secret

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of Secrets to Writing books. It’s not that I’m feeling uninspired. It’s that I’m curious as to what established authors recommend when it comes to good writing. First off, if you’re ever going to rely on someone’s opinion when it comes to success, don’t let it be a person who makes up imaginary stories in their head. We are untrustworthy sources. 

 On that note, let me give you my capricious input, which was thought up between conceptualizing plots for fairies and leprechauns. Actually, it’s not so much my input per se, as much as it is the input of several self-help books. Step one- understand that every writer has their own methods. Not all authors come out and openly say this, as much as they tell you why their approach is best. I had to glue this one together myself. If you’re doing something and it’s working, stick with it. Writing can be a sloppy process, and it doesn’t matter if you take a car, bus or polar bear to get there, so long as you reach the destination.

 Next, read. Every author with an opinion (and all of them seem to have one) agrees that you can’t learn to write betterer…betterest…better unless you’re constantly exposed to the work of others. Reading also gets you to understand the rhythm of a good book. You begin to develop cognizance for plot structure, concepts and dialogue. Plus, if you don’t like reading, why should you expect someone to want to read your book? It’s as contradicting as it gets.    

 Finally, stop reading self-help books. Allowing yourself to be influenced by opinions is the perfect way to go mad when your first round of edits or reviews rolls in. You have a story you want to tell. Somewhere out there, someone wants to read it. Get it on paper and don’t look back. People are like bad weather. They’re going to rain down on you whether you want it or not. Stop concerning yourself with how the professionals do it and just write. You’re you– not Mr. John Newbery Medal. 

 So that’s my spiel. Take it or leave it. In fact, if you’re a writer, leave it. You shouldn’t trust my opinion, just as much as you shouldn’t trust the opinion of some fancy big shot author. The best authors target what they want and much like a literary-grenade, throw their work out in the field and hope for the best. 

 Justin Alcala

Author of “Consumed” and “The Devil in the Wide City” (Zharmae Publishing Press)

www.justinalcala.com

Hashtag no filter and all that jazz

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