Letter From The Frontlines

handwritten letter

Dear friends and family,

I know it’s been a while since you’ve heard from me. You should know you’re never far from my mind.

The war has been grueling. Even now, I am under attack by a strong contingent of -ly adverbs and may need to bug out before I finish this letter. Although operating under strict radio silence, I’ve had high spirits since winning a major campaign against initial gerunds. No one told me there’d be days like these.

Days when you watch the idyllic, snow-covered scenery emerge after shaking the globe, only to realize you’re stuck on the outside looking in, and breaking in would destroy that perfect world.

Regardless, the creative war rages on. Whether won or lost, every battle should leave you wiser and better equipped to engage the enemy.

Hint: Writers are their own worst enemy.

Here are two recent revelations that have helped keep my writing supply chain intact. Neither are my own invention, but they are useful enough to share.

1) Like 3-D people, the best fiction characters are complex.

They need time to develop. Soon after introductions, place them into a tough situation and observe their reactions. Your story’s setting is one of the few environments you can explore completely, and introduce dire circumstances without repercussions.

For instance, my current story’s MC may die. Or live. Who knows? I don’t, so I’ve saved two versions and work on whichever I’m compelled to at the time. It beats staring at a blinking cursor until inspiration hits!

2) Write non-linearly.

As a videographer/editor, I’m used to working out of chronological order. That’s why we slate takes. The story that writes itself from beginning to end, in order, is a romantic notion. Perhaps it isn’t for everyone, but that level of zen has escaped me lately.

That’s why it’s important to know your tools. I’ve started using Scrivener, which treats your story like a collection of building blocks. Want to work on the ending first? Go ahead. Maybe the information in one chapter needs to be revealed sooner. No problem, grab it and move it.

Microsoft Word also allows this if you use heading styles and view your work in outline form.

That’s all from the trenches for now. Keep writing, keep reading!