I would like to welcome author Marilyn Messik on my blog today too talk about writing. Marilyn's second book Even Stranger was published by Troubador Publishing on 25 April 2016.
Some thoughts on write or wrong!
By Marilyn Messik
Success on a plate – Fat Chance!
Wouldn’t it be nice if writing success came with a neatly set-out instruction book? One that laid down a step by step route, for us to follow the yellow brick road to the pot of gold, the six-figure publishing deal?
Truth is, such an instruction book or writing course doesn’t really exist although, like happy-ever-after-endings, the tooth fairy and anti-ageing creams we’d all like to believe they do. But don’t let yourself be put off. I’m just pointing out that success is a mixture of hard work, dogged determination, a small slice of luck, faith in yourself and above all, enjoyment in what you’re doing. And in case you think I’m heading for the spiritual and suggesting you put it out to the universe – I should just say, that’s not my way of thinking either. When spirituality was handed out I was in the toilet. I also missed tall and willowy but we won’t go into that now. I’m strictly for the practical approach!
Well, all I can say with complete certainty is, like chicken soup, they certainly won’t do you any harm. The fact of the matter is, you can be told all sorts of things you need to know, but in the long run it’s how you take that information and make it your own, that counts.
In the long run there are no guarantees. Sometimes we can be given all the ingredients for a superb cake, together with an idiot-proof recipe. Some efforts will turn out impeccably, others won’t! My belief though is that you should always bear in mind, as with most things, there is no absolute right or wrong, there are only opinions and whilst the opinions of some experts will fit well with yours, others will not. Don’t try to mould yourself to a way of working or an approach that doesn’t sit well. If it feels wrong for you, then it almost certainly is.
Trust your own instincts and gut feelings. They usually push you in the direction which will work for you and on the occasions they don’t – well, we have to take the rough with the smooth don’t we? The one thing of which I am convinced is that some of the time you just have to shut your eyes, fly by the seat of your pants, cross everything that can be crossed and hope for the best.
Short and sweet is often the safest route
Let me give you a practical example of what I mean:
Picture if you will:
High stone tower.
Window at the top. Beautiful girl.
He calls, ‘Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair.’
She does. He climbs.
Unfortunately, Rapunzel’s had hair extensions.
Not a happy ending after all!
Just 38 words. But as you read those 38 words, couldn’t you see each stage of the story? That’s clear communication. Something that’s gone straight from my head to yours. I feel any writing worth its salt should come across with the same sort of clarity. If we analyse it, that small story works because it’s:
Familiar: traditional fairy tale, instantly recognisable characters.
Simple: it’s not exactly a convoluted plot, so - instant comprehension.
Visual: every phrase paints a picture.
Brief: there’s no waffle.
Funny: that’s the icing on the cake!
I think it’s a great set of principles to apply your writing, whether fiction or fact. What are your thoughts?
About Marilyn Messik
Marilyn was a regular feature and fiction writer for national magazines when her children were small. She set up her first business, selling toys, books and party goods, from home, before opening first one shop then another. When she sold both shops she moved into the world of travel, focusing on Bed and Breakfasts and Country Inns in New England, USA. Her advisory, planning and booking service flourished and she concurrently launched a publishing company, producing an annual, full-colour accommodation guide.
In 2007 she set up a copywriting consultancy, to help businesses shape their messages to optimum effect. She’s the author of the Little Black Business Book series and the novels Relatively Strange and Even Stranger. She’s been married to her very patient husband for more years than he deserves and they have two children, five grandchildren and, somewhat to their surprise, several grand-dogs.
About Even Stranger
By Marilyn Messik
Published by Troubadour Publishing (25 April 2016)
With the swinging Sixties staggering, shamefaced and flustered, into the slightly staider Seventies, Stella's life isn't running half as smoothly as she'd like. As an ordinary person, who happens to have some extraordinary psychic abilities, it's frustrating to find that even something as simple as holding down a job throws up unexpected hurdles. Of course - and she's the first to admit - she'd be a lot better off if she could ditch the conviction that she always knows best. This shortcoming, combined with a chronic inability to keep her mouth shut and her nose out of other people's business, has led her off the straight and narrow more than once. But Stella's perfectly clear how things are going to be from now on. It's not she can't handle sticky situations, she can, she just doesn't want to - violence really isn't her thing. Forward planning includes setting herself up in a successful business, sticking like glue to normal, squashing an over-active conscience and steering clear of anything remotely risky or unpleasant. Unfortunately, the best laid plans often lead to the darkest places...Even Stranger is a darker tale of fantastic occurrences that will appeal to fans of authors such as Stephen King, and Marilyn's first novel, Relatively Strange.
You can find Even Stranger on Amazon UK here.