Ever read Jane Austin and grinned at the lost language found within? I have. With that in mind, I’m lobbying to resurrect the Regency Era in writing.
Why stick to boring words like ‘face’ and ‘expression’ when you could use ‘countenance’? Ahhh, ‘countenance.’ Ahhh, Mr. Darcy. Who could forget his line, “The turn of your countenance I shall never forget, as you said that I could not have addressed you in any possible way that would induce you to accept me”? And, then, well, you know the rest.
Ahhh. Yes. Countenance is a great word.
I devoted way too much time to my alter ego. You know – the one with the slightly smug author’s photo. Mine lives in Connecticut with her husband and dog and spends her days writing at an antique desk before riding her bike to the local farmer’s market.
I pondered her name and scribbled the options. I scoured lists of authors to see what name combinations had the best flair and why. I envisioned my new name possibilities emblazoned across the covers of books and on movie trailers.
It’s too easy to get sucked in to all of that planning and daydreaming. Is it because we’re writing for the wrong reasons? Is it because we’re postponing the inevitable work that is required to get us to fame in the first place?
No. Not always.
It’s simply a symptom of being human. Our minds veer off on tangents before we realize that the path is somewhere behind us. So, don’t beat yourself up about it. Don’t assume that all is lost and that you don’t have the discipline it takes. Just turn around and find the path again.
And, pick a name – any name – then focus again on your story. The rest will come in time.
If writers followed the advice to ‘write what you know,’ novels would cease to exist. What would be the creative incentive? Who wants to write what they know? Not me.
A better piece of advice is to write what you hear. You might have to eavesdrop to make this work, but interesting lines will most likely jump out of normal conversation. For example, a friend once commented to me that people die at the height of their happiness.
Morbid? Maybe. Thought-provoking? You bet. Relevant to my story? Ding, ding, ding!
Listen for a phrase or a conversation that speaks to you with its honesty or a spark for a story line. You’d be surprised by how often this can add depth to your writing. And, that’s what you’re looking for. After all, most of us writers understand that to write what you know simply means to write with authenticity. So, pay attention. You’ll know it when you hear it.
Several friends recommended that I read Outlander, and with their descriptions of the sexy character, Jamie, I planned to. But I was mid-way through Fifty Shades Darker (beat that, Jamie!), and I don’t do well with more than one book at a time. So Outlander languished while I continued daydreaming about the red room of pain.
But my friends didn’t tell me that a television series of Outlander was about to start.
Now what do I do? I watched the first episode with them a few weeks ago, and I’ve been invited to spend this Saturday panting over Jamie again. So do I sacrifice a potential good read and join the crowd? Or do I sacrifice my social life, grab a cup of Scottish Breakfast tea and dig in to do it the right way?
What would you do?