The Writer's Mailbag: Installment Thirty-Six
Nine Months and Counting
That’s really hard to believe, you know? I started this series back in June of 2014, and it’s still going strong. It just goes to show that everyone gets lucky once in awhile. I certainly did with this idea.
And I have all of you to thank for it. How long will this series last? As long as the questions keep coming in. When the well runs dry I’ll move on and start drinking Pepsi instead of water. J
Let’s get started with a great question about a love affair. I should now have the attention of all of you who enjoy romance novels.
The Love of Writing
From Ann: “A question for you: How do you explain to someone how important writing is to you, when you know that they just don't get it?! I want to explain it to those whose faces just glaze over when I talk about it! I do have some words of my own, but just wondered what yours are.”
Questions like this one are the reason why I love this series.
How would I explain it?
I can’t imagine waking up and not writing. I can’t imagine the emptiness in my soul. We are given gifts at birth. What we do with them defines us as human beings. Writing is a sacred gift I take very seriously. It is my way of communicating with a world that seems far too huge to fathom at times. It is my way of reaching out to all corners of the world and finding that human connection. It is my way of making my mark on this world, of making a difference….how many people can emphatically say that they make a difference? How many people truly believe they make a difference?
My words will be read for hundreds of years after I am gone. My words will provide comfort for complete strangers. They will inspire and educate people I have never met.
I eat and breathe writing. I wake up with ideas. I go to sleep with ideas. In the middle of the night my muse whispers seductively in my ear, and while I’m out for a walk or a drive, everything I see suggests a new article. It is exhausting, maddening and exhilarating, all rolled up into one mind-blowing hurricane of artistic expression.
It is just too cool for words!
How did I do, Ann?
Beta Readers and Editing
From Melissa: “Do you also use beta readers? If so, would you have it edited first and then given to beta readers? Or vice versa?”
Melissa, the second part of your question calls for a subjective answer. Yes, I use beta readers, and their input is invaluable. Do I edit before I give it to the beta readers? No! I leave the grammatical editing to my editor when I am done making changes based on the input of my beta readers. For me, beta readers are my sounding board. They let me know if my flow is correct. They let me know if there are holes in my story, and if it all makes sense.
From Faith: “I was wondering when writing dialogue, do you feel it important to state who it is each time who is speaking, i.e., Mary replied, " ...."
I think maybe it is understood when there are not many persons in the scene. However, when one wants to convey an emotion in dialogue, i.e., Exasperated, Mary screamed, " ...." What are your thoughts on this? Maybe you can clarify in the next mailbag article.”
It’s a good question, Faith, and I think this is a question many writers struggle with. You are absolutely correct when you say that with two characters it is not necessary to say “he said” every time they speak. The reader should be able to figure out who is speaking if you have done your job as a writer.
If there are more than two characters in a scene, however, then it becomes a bit more dicey. One way around this is to use a sentence prior to a comment that lets the reader know who is speaking. Something like this:
Bob strolled to the window and looked out, contemplating on Pat’s last words. “Do you really thing that’s necessary, Pat?”
Mary had had enough with this ridiculous conversation. “For the love of God, you two, would you please just grow up?”
By adding a sentence of “introduction,” I think a writer can do without many of those “he saids” that seem so terribly boring in dialogue.
From Melissae: “Do you have advice for writers who have another full time job?”
Melissae, I think you speak for many writers out there. Do I have advice? I’m assuming you can’t quit your full-time job, so my advice would be to set aside a specific time each day that is just for writing. Perhaps it would be an hour before bedtime. Perhaps you could get up an hour early, and that extra hour would be for writing.
There is no doubt that having a full-time job is an obstacle for a writer, but it does not make writing impossible. It just means you need to shift priorities and schedule time for your passion.
Editors for Hire
From Jo: “I'm going to need a bloody good editor. Know anyone?”
I do, Jo, and one of them is me! How’s that for self-serving?
Seriously, I have done, and continue to do, editing for fellow writers.
If you don’t want me, although I can’t imagine it J then I’ll give you two other people.
Between the three of us you should find what you need in an editor.
From Anna: “I have a question and I apologise if it has already been asked. What format do you use for your writing resume? Thank you. :)”
No, Anna, it hasn’t been asked before, so let’s get to it.
The quick answer, and this is just speaking for me and in no way is a recommendation, is that I use a chronological format on my resumes. Now for the long answer.
I’ve been working a long time, and I’ve held something like twenty-five jobs over the years, so when I say I use a chronological format, I need to mention the fact that I only use things from my past that are related in some way to the writing job I am applying for. Resumes are best when they are short and succinct, so listing all of my jobs would be counter-productive. Thus, I pick and choose what information I include.
I hope that’s what you wanted to know. Honestly, I wasn’t certain as I prepared to answer this question.
Join me on my writing blog
- William Holland | Helping Writers to Spread Their Wings and Fly
Tips and discussions about writing
Do you want this series to continue?
More Coming at You Next Week
I already have questions coming in for next week, so I can pretty much guarantee I’ll be back with Installment Thirty-Seven.
Until then, thanks for stopping by. Have a superb week of writing, and thank you for your continued support of this old man. Remember what I said earlier….we have been given a gift. Our words matter, and long after we die our words will live on to inspire and educate. That’s a heavy load of responsibility but it is also so damned exciting.
2015 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”