Remember, Dumbo didn’t need the feather to get airborne; the feather wasn’t magic, the magic was in him. (Likewise, the magic is in you – it doesn’t matter what you write with!)
Writing: at its most basic it is only a learned skill, but sometimes the most basic skills can create things far beyond our expectations. Writing is about tools and carpentry, about words and style…and about magic.
Grammar is not just a pain in the bum; it’s the pole you grab to get your thoughts up on their feet and walking.
A series of grammatically proper sentences can stiffen the line, make it less pliable. Language does not always have to wear a tie and lace-up shoes. The object of fiction isn’t grammatical correctness but to make the reader welcome and then then tell them a story, making them forget, whenever possible, that they are reading a story at all.
Words create sentences; sentences create paragraphs; sometimes paragraphs quicken and begin to breathe. Imagine Frankenstein’s monster on its slab. Here comes lightning, not from the sky but from a humble paragraph of English words. OMG it’s breathing, you realise. Maybe it’s even thinking.
It’s important to remember that it’s always about the story. Resist the urge to wander off into thickets of description just because it would be easy to do.
When it’s on target, a simile delights us in much the same way as meeting an old friend in a crowd of strangers does. By comparing two seemingly unrelated objects we are sometimes able to see an old thing in a new and vivid way. Even if the result is mere clarity rather than beauty, the writer and reader are participating together in a kind of miracle.
When writing a first draft, write with the door closed. Keep the pressure on, concentrate on the story and just let it flow from you. Don’t ponder vocabulary, punctuation or spelling as these are just interruptions at this point. Write until the story is told, then your second draft is for tidying up. Now put it away and don’t look at it for as long as you can bear. Write something else, have a break, read a book. When you come back to your story after a break from it, you will see all the gaping holes in the plot, the bad dialogue, the clichés and the unrealistic characters. With fresh eyes, you will be able to polish and refine much more effectively.
Second draft = first draft – 10%