Thursday, February 11, 2010
Since I first began writing, I initially wrote for myself and my sister (my only reader in the world back then). This meant I had the freedom to write EXACTLY what I wanted, and I knew what to write to bring about a desired reaction from my sister.
That is how I've approached writing for years, and it worked for me.
But when I started writing the newsletter for work, I realized that in order to make the newsletter a success, I had to figure out how to write things for a wider audience.
Basically, I had to figure out how to switch over from writing a 'my-opinion-of-the-world letter to the editor' to writing an interesting news story.
I had to learn how to be impartial and present information the right way. The best story is one that is 90% information, 9% guidance, and only 1% personal opinion.
So, you gather information that you find interesting. Guidance is how you put the information together so that your reader will reach the same opinion that you have. Personal opinion is extremely limited and professional.
Prior to reaching that conclusion, my inclination was to write something that was 10% information and 90% personal opinion. A bit like what I do here on the blog. And while I write this, I recognize that the best bloggers out there are those who do not do this. They are the ones who learned the above technique long before I figured it out.
So how does this work for stories and novels?
I think it translates... roughly. Or at least is related with looser percentages.
You have a full plot in mind and scribble down all your ideas. Then as you write the novel... you have to figure out how to present that story so it appeals to the greater audience of people.
That isn't the whole answer, of course. <- Hence the reason why I've been stalling about this topic for a while. You can't sit down and think about a novel as a VERY LONG impartial news article. The best writers (or the ones I love best) are those whose books 'sound' like them. Their personality and humor are present in every single word. A writer's voice is the result when a writer learns to harness his/her personality and emotions and deftly use them to engage the reader.
A novel can't be just a ham-session by a personable writer. Nor should it be a soap box from which an emotional person preaches and emotes loudly. On the opposite side, a novel shouldn't be all information presented without any emotion or influence by an author.
There has to be a balance.