Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Insecure Writers Support Group (IWSG) April

Welcome to Insecure Writers Support Group, a monthly blog hop for writers across all genres to encourage one another. Check out the #IWSG tag on twitter, or the Facebook group.

I saw this quote on the IWSG blog today and it struck me:

All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know. 
– Ernest Hemingway

I attended a writing workshop a few weeks ago with longtime literary agent and writer Donald Maass where he said essentially the same thing. What impacts you as a reader? What books are unforgettable? Which characters resonate with you? Likely they aren't generic stories with bland characters and little emotion. Even a plot-driven thriller novel that doesn't delve into character development still evokes a feeling in the reader. It may not be the character's "gut twisting with anticipation," but YOUR gut twists because the words on the page evoke that terror, or apprehension from you. It's fiction that transports you and leaves a lasting impression.

Image: Goodreads
So um, how do you do that? Writing from a place of truth is a good place to start. What do YOU care about? What makes you angry? What is the greatest injustice you see in the world? How can you translate that into a story, or add that feeling or attitude to your characters? 

What I like about Maass' approach is how he agrees there are many avenues to writing fiction that excels. There is no one formula or magic answer that will sell your books. 

Writing what you care about is a huge start. Even if you're writing a fantasy world on another planet, by bringing universal themes and real-world parallels into your fiction brings writing to another level. Playing on fears, desires, longings, all of these things can shape memorable characters and emotional journeys for the reader.

What makes a book or character memorable to you?

Thanks for stopping by! Please visit a few of the other participating blogs here IWSG List


  1. I think there are definitely themes that most people can identify with: fighting against an oppressor, having your voice heard, being loved, taking care of your family, freedom, morality, health, happiness. I tend to like characters who are struggling, who may be weak at the start (as we all are) but find the strength inside them to overcome. It gives you hope.

  2. What I love about Maass' approach to the craft is that it's all about making the story better. It's not so much about the genre but more about the storytelling itself.

  3. This is such a great reminder. I tend to be pretty plot-focused when I draft--but these are great questions to ask as I go back and flesh out the stories.

  4. Maass's books are so helpful! I always use Writing the Breakout Novel when I'm plotting now. I find the ideas I'm most passionate about tend to be the easiest and most fun to write!

  5. Crap, my fourth is about to come out and I still don't know.
    Glad that quote resonated so much with you!!

  6. I have to like the character, even if I don't like all her actions, or what's happening. I have to care about her cause and be rooting for the good.
    Play off the Page

  7. Great advice. If you (the writer) don't really care about the character,how can the reader?

  8. I think characters are memorable when they resonate with me, when they strike a chord.

  9. Oh my goodness I love that book!!! All of his books, the Fire in Fiction is really good too. I made a list of over 60 things I wanted to add/fix in my story after reading 21st century fiction. I think I only accomplished about half, I should take a look at that list again!


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