Friday, June 20, 2008

Advice from Kurt Vonnegut

What I'm reading: Hold Tight, by Harlan Coben.

What I'm writing: End of chapter 4, gearing up for Chapter 5, scene 1. Also evaluations of contest entries.

The contest I'm judging now doesn't use quantifiable score sheet. Instead, we critique the manuscript, marking it up as we see fit, plus we must write an overall evaluation. Once again, this analysis provides good insight to improving my own writing, as I find myself reading over the previous day's efforts even more critically than usual.

And, in a moment of relative synchronicity, today's Yahoo quote of the day was some excellent advice from the late Kurt Vonnegut.

1. Find a subject you care about.
2. Do not ramble, though.
3. Keep it simple.
4. Have the guts to cut.
5. Sound like yourself.
6. Say what you mean to say.
7. Pity the readers.

I'm especially aware of #6, because dear Mr. Holtby, my high school English teacher pounded this one into us. Tenth grade English was more focused on writing the expository essay, but everyone dreaded seeing SWYM on the paper --- almost as much as the single red line across the page, which meant, "I stopped reading here."

Each day as I try to transcribe what my characters are saying and doing, I have visions of Mr. Holtby's SWYM keeping me in line.

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