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Writing Tip: Don’t Worry, Just Write

Writing tip: If you want to write minimalism, write up the long version and then cut it down to size. (Raymond Carver wrote longer stories that were edited down to the format that became his signature style).

If you want to use a spliced timeline, write it up linearly and then mix it up. (Make sure the flow holds up before adding the loop/yo-yo/see-saw effects.)

If you want to write a postmodern piece that uses form to match the content (for example, a story about the fabricated nature of reality where the main characters are absorbed by subjective and manipulated viewpoints, but also where the text itself winks at the reader by using multiple unreliable narrators to throw one off) lay out the straightforward version first. Start with one point of view and make sure it works. Make sure the characters are interesting, layered, and worth investing in (in other words, readable) and then, piece by piece, introduce more viewpoints. Add variables in a manner that lets them function, and then tinker with the form even more (mix up the tenses, add conflicting information, corrupt the accounts, etc.) if it serves the story.

And if you want to tell a story from a point of view you aren’t suited to talk about at first glance, tell it from a point of view that fits you. Make it as solid as possible, and then, having nailed it, proceed to a POV that is outside your – and your audience’s / the market’s – comfort zone.

And when bringing work to writer workshops, use the straightforward version of your work. Workshop readers tend to balk at the experimental, their minds set on the basics. It doesn’t matter how experienced they are, they will focus on the bones of the story. So give them the foundation of what it is you want to say and help them help you strengthen it. And then, with that in place – with the workshop behind you – seek the advice of readers/professionals with an eye for style/form that will take your manuscript to the next level.

It’s a laborious process, all this writing and rewriting, especially at the beginning of every leap into new territory, but it’s the best way to get the most out of a manuscript. Trust the process, and it pays off.

Most important of all, when you’re stuck, or unsure what to write, just write. The only way to get unstuck is to spin those wheels. Push, push, push, and eventually, out of all the nonsense on the page, something will stick, and you can follow it on your way forward.

Don’t worry, just write.

Have a great journey!

From the bays of Pearl Coast