Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What writers have influenced you and why? That's a great question to visit now and again. Answering the "why?" is one way to stay in touch with your craft. The writers you connect with may not be writing in your genre, but you can still learn from them.

Ernest Hemingway speaks to me in his work and through his comments on the process. Two of his quotes that complement each other are:
  • "All good books have one thing in common - they are truer than if they had really happened."
In workshops, I often encounter new writers whose stories recount real-life experiences. This can be a great place to start, but it can sometimes cause the writer to become trapped in the remembered details. It's the old, "but that's not exactly what they said" or "that's not exactly how it happened" struggle. The goal of a writer is to tell a great story and that may require letting go of some of the details if they don't serve the finished work.
  • "When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature."
The people who inhabit a work of fiction must be real to the writer in order to become real to the reader and complete with hopes and fears, trials and triumphs, and those behaviors that make each of us unique.

Both of these quotes speak to honesty in writing.

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