The best and worst writing advice I’ve ever received.

Best Writing Advice
Best Writing Advice

Best and Worst Writing advice I’ve ever received.

Best advice, and hardest, I’ve ever received : “Do your thinking on the page.” I go over things far too many times before turning on the computer, so put down far too little. If it’s there in my head, I don’t realize it never made it to the page. When you do it all on paper, yeah, you ramble. You have to go back later and delete that shopping list. But some of your musings will remain as interior dialogue for your characters, some may spark other stories, and some will just make you laugh when you stumble over them later

Worst advice: Choose one project to concentrate on, perhaps the one furthest along or the one with the most commercial potential, and put the others aside.
Result: the worst block ever!
Since then I learned of Asimov’s method of avoiding writers’ block, a system that propelled him into prolific status. He kept 5 projects going, before computers he had a different typewriter devoted to each project, and if the words stopped on one project, he’d just proceed to the next.

Outliner vs. Pantster
The first sounds professional, the second invokes images of toddlers stepping out of their training pants.
Outliners know a lot of what they will write before they begin. Pantsters write by the seat of their pants, and discover where the story is going along with the reader. I have attempted outlines, and will continue to do so, they seem so productive! But don’t hold your breath, the works I have outlines for were all finished before their outlines came to be

What about you, what advice works for you?

Let us know,

Write on




Bridges and Transitions

Bridges and Transitions.
Bridges and Transitions.

When writing my first novel (a learning experience), it bothered me that it did not sound polished. I believe in reading your writing aloud, and mine did not sound professional. The other members of my writing group agreed, but had no clarity as to what was missing, in their writing as well as in mine. In 2004 my question was finally answered by the publication of Write Away, by mystery writer Elizabeth George.

My writing lacked bridges and transitions. Transitions, those are about time, location, simultaneous actions—I thought I had that covered. No, it turns out I actually needed to transition from paragraph to paragraph, and she explained how.

First, each paragraph must have unity. Every sentence should amplify the sentence that precedes it or should refer to the paragraph’s implied topic in some way. If neither, get rid of the sentence for it doesn’t belong there and will impede the story’s flow.

Now that you have cohesive paragraphs, string them together by making sure the last sentence in a paragraph is directly related to the first sentence of the next paragraph, or acts as a prompt that sets up the next paragraph.

Example as to how this works: (from a prologue)  Corrections in Caps, I’m not yelling.

I write screenplays, and I live at McDonalds. It’s temporary, just until some money I’m owed shows up. Three weeks, tops.           I WRITE SCREENPLAYS AND I AM HOMELESS. …TOPS. MEANTIME, I LIVE AT MCDONALDS.

Next to a busy freeway and two miles from Magic Mountain, McDonalds is open all night. Often there are four buses in its lot, and a line of teens out the door until midnight. A large transient population, which the staff can’t begin to know. And every night, writers show up.

TURNS OUT this restaurant has three colleges nearby, and I stay invisible, keep my mouth shut, and eavesdrop on the writing groups as they argue pov, formatting, plot, and which actor will beg to star in their books and screenplays when completed.

They sound like me three years ago. I moved to Los Angeles just out of college, with three spec scripts and that song about it never raining in California memorized.

Now I’m scrounging for coins, even at McDonalds you have to order something, and I’ve met lots of people whose names I can’t remember, and I’ve hooked up with another screenwriter, Don Jessup. We’re good, just not yet found. ON RADAR..

And now, someone wants us dead.



Write on,