Writing Quotes, When Words Fail, and Dreaming on the Page

The For Writers section of my website has recently been updated. I’ve added the following resources:

  • A Quotes on Writing section. This will eventually be expanded to include lots more quotes with categories so writers can find the perfect inspiration, support, or validation for what they’re experiencing.
  • Some of my previous guest blog posts about writing that are no longer available online. This includes articles titled: When Words FailDreaming on the Page, and What Makes a Hero Stand Out.

I hope some of these resources help other writers out there. My plan is to add more of my own original articles, author resource recommendations, and tools for writers soon, so be sure to check back in with my writing resources page in the coming weeks.

Writing Quote I Love: Close the Door


(c) marekuliasz, istockphoto.com

I may have shared this one before, but it’s one of my favorites.

“Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.” – Barbara Kingsolver

Quote I Love: The Process of Writing Books

“The process of writing books is somewhat akin to a very long police interrogation in which the detective leans over the table littered with the butt ends of cigarettes and cold coffee in Styrofoam cups and says for the 87th time, “Now let’s go over this again.” It is a study in repetition, the ability to read the same page, paragraph, sentence until it could be recited backward and in French in hopes of figuring out which detail is missing, which idea is false. What my days lack in being touched by the muse they make up for in the steady picking of the miner’s ax, chipping out a tunnel that may well lead to nowhere.”

Ann Patchett

Yeah, it’s like that…

But it all culminates in that moment when I read a scene and I’m on the edge of my seat, waiting for what happens next–and I KNOW what happens. That’s when I know I did the very best I could, and the book is ready to be shared with others.

On Writing: The Essence and Passion of a Story

(c) istockphoto, marekuliasz 2011

The following was originally posted at Loose Ends, but I wanted to share here as well for all my writing followers.

Last year Pixar storyboard artist Emma Coats tweeted 22 rules of storytelling. Now that I’m knee-deep into a first draft again (writing the sequel to my m/m/m menage MORE), I keep going back to some of those tips she mentioned when it comes to the basics of storytelling.

Two of my favorites are:

“Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.” — Emma Coats

“What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.” — Emma Coats

I think these go hand in hand when writing a first draft. I have to know the basics of what I’m trying to say and I have to be driven to share that story. I believe if the author lacks a passion for writing any particular story, the readers can tell.

When first starting a novel-length book, if I don’t have a firm grasp on the core concept of the story as well as the passion to tell that story, I stumble my way through the first draft, going back over the plot outline and who the characters are at their core until I land on the truth of what I’m trying to say.

Some questions I ask myself:

  • Who are these men? What do they believe about love? What goals do they have in life? What are their biggest dreams? What are their biggest fears? All of these can help drive the plot.
  • What are the basics of the plot in one sentence? One paragraph?
  • What is the ending of the story? What happens just before the ending? How are the characters emotionally impacted by the conclusion of the plot?
  • What in my own life (what experiences, dreams, hopes, imaginations) is influencing me to write this story?
  • What is it about my own beliefs and passions about living life that stirs me to write this story about these characters?

For me the journey of discovering all this is what makes storytelling such a powerful, enjoyable experience. It may stretch out the process of writing that initial draft, but I think my stories would not be the same (and neither would I) without it.

You can read the full list of Coats’s tweets here:
The 22 rules of storytelling, according to Pixar

Quote I Love: On Writing, the Adrenaline Rush

“It’s an adrenaline surge rushing through your body. You have this spark of an idea that keeps threatening to burst into flames and you have to get the words out on paper to match this emotion or picture in your head. After this comes the work of cleaning up the mess that you made.”

–Janet West