Writing Advice of the Week: Writing is an Act of Bravery

Reading Time: 11 minutes
A dinosaur is dressed in knights armor
Image created by Fallon Clark via Adobe Firefly

Have you ever finished reading a book and come away with the sense that the author used some serious heroics to deliver their message through their story?

Perhaps you’ve come across a line written into a book that made you pause because you could never dream of saying something like that.

Or maybe you’re worried about what people will think of you because of the kind of story you desire to tell.

When writing your book, it’s easy to get bogged down by craft and stylistic advice, storytelling methods, and research on genre conventions, structural maps, reader trends, and more. But if you’re writing a book — especially if this is your first book — it may be best to put away the advice while you’re getting that first draft down on paper.

Because writing a book is an act of bravery. While this may seem obvious to non-fiction and memoir writers pouring out their knowledge and experience for curious readers, writing needs bravery even when that book is a work of fiction.

And part of your personal brand of bravery is your writing voice.

This week, Lee Purcell for BookBaby Blog shared how Finding Your Voice As A Writer means knowing what kind of writer you want to be, what you stand for, and what you value, and factors in uncomfortable truths like making money through your writing.

While finding your writing voice takes its own time, you can keep the process moving along by drawing on your deep passions and putting all that craft advice languishing in your noodler to work.

If you find yourself constantly flipping through books written by your favorite authors to see how they tackled an issue you’re having, it may be time to rely on your instincts to get the words on the page. And relying on your instincts, really getting into that animal brain of yours, is brave indeed. Because we often must uncover the soft-white underbellies of our experiences to get to the hearts inside.

And if you find yourself wondering how you’re going to continue learning and growing as a writer if you’re unable to lean on your master crutches (because constantly comparing oneself to others is a social crutch, let’s be honest with ourselves), you may find some much-needed words of wisdom in K. M. Weiland’s article, Lessons From 2023: 5 Reflections On ‘Flat Arc’ Periods, for Helping Writers Become Authors.

K.M. reviews exactly what a flat arc is, why it’s important, and how it helps you solidify where you are now — after learning and growing — so that you can be prepared for and receptive to change later. This “flat-arc period” is as important for our development as writers as it is for development of characters — and it’s not easy!

Can your characters be content with who they are after having leveled up in some way? Can they reflect? Be truly present in their new or changed skins?

Can you?

If you’re worried about how to fit in a flat-arc period during a character’s change arc, keep in mind that even structural tools (e.g. the beat sheet from Save the Cat! Writes a Novel) ask you to allow your main character to exist in their status-quo environment wholly and fully before the inciting incident, not to mention the necessary reflection pauses as your main character experiences the changes that will ultimately help them grow.

And, of course, there can be no growth without failure. After all, if your story is about a person who experiences a string of really positive events that get better and better before the big Happily Ever After, your story may not connect with readers who are seeking something a little more down to earth, something a bit more authentic. Something more human.

What is more human than failure?

Daphne Gray-Grant for Publication Coach asks How Can You Fail Better As A Writer? And her advice rings true especially for this edit-as-you-go writer. Daphne shares time-tested and important advice for maintaining creativity, avoiding research rabbit holes, and completing better drafts for a better editing experience later.

The best part of Daphne’s advice is that, if adopted and implemented early on, you can save yourself a whole bunch of time, energy, and frustration while you’re writing. (Ask me how I know.)

And who can’t use a little saving?

Speaking of saving things . . .

Think your story may be in need of a rescue? Check out Fresh Perspective Sells by Kathryn Craft for Writer Unboxed. This isn’t a choose-the-right-POV article. Rather, this article is about the way you look at the world and the mysteries that lie within in when you take the step to understand an experience or reality itself through a new lens.

If you’re wondering, yes; I did add Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt to my TBR after reading Kathryn’s article. And it made me think of stories I’ve read in the past, like The Lovely Bones and Dinotopia Lost, that employ unusual or otherworldly perspectives and drew me right in.

When you feel the hook like a caught fish, you know you’re reading a right-fit book for you. And your readers will know too.

And while you’re busy baiting hooks in your own writing for your future readers, don’t forget about the power and understanding a well-placed metaphor provides. Hugh Cook for Elizabeth Spann Craig shared The Magic Of Metaphor and reminds us how deeply embedded in our cultural understandings metaphors truly are.

They’re so powerful when used correctly that, Hugh reminds us, we automatically zero in on the figurative meaning of the words related to the situation at hand, rather than paying one iota of attention to the literal meaning.

While all metaphors may not work in all genres or stories, especially those in which the metaphor may be taken literally (like calling a pervy dude a ‘dog’ in a world where there are actual dog-hybrid people, for example), a good metaphor can allow your reader to skip right to the good stuff and get on with the story.

Speaking of skipping right to the good stuff, don’t underestimate the power of the final lines of a scene.

When I coach authors through developmental edits, there’s always a conversation about scene construction. Of course, there are required elements, like conflict, motivation, and goal. But a good scene should read like a short story in its own right. The opening hook and closing lines should complement each other in a specific way.

Here’s an example from chapter ten of Dinotopia Lost by Alan Dean Foster, which I mentioned above and is one of my favorite stories of all time:

Opening hook: “Although they did not know it, there was not one of the great meat-eaters lurking in the vicinity of their camp but half a dozen, and the crew of the Condor encountered them not in their nightmares but on the following morning, which was bright and filled with sunshine.”

Closing lines: “Many Confucians had settled in Dinotopia, and it was one of their number who had propounded this sound maxim: ‘When encountering a tyrannosaur in a bad mood, the wise man prefers strong legs to a facile voice.'”

And just as the closing lines of a scene must complement the opening hook of the scene, the closing lines of one scene must also relate in a specific way to the opening hook of the next scene. And, in the next scene of Dinotopia Lost, readers are following Keelk, a young struthiomimus, running from carnosaurs to find help to free her captured family.

The closing lines advance the scene.

C. S. Lakin for Live Write Thrive explains Why The Last Lines Of Your Scene Are Critical. And her post is full of examples of different types of scene endings, so you can figure out which kind of ending works best for your scene in progress. As a bonus, she offers a preview of her online course, Emotional Mastery for Fiction Writers. The free module centers around the action-reaction storytelling sequence to build momentum and packs a lot in about 40 minutes.

Remember: writing is an act of bravery. So lead your readers from scene to scene with confidence, and allow your readers to build the reading momentum that will carry them all the way to the last page.

As always, there was a lot of advice I couldn’t share this week, so check the links below for added nuggets of awesome.

Happy writing!

More Productivity Advice for the Week
More Craft Advice for the Week
More Business Advice for the Week

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Edited by Melody Friedenthal

Fallon Clark is the book pal who helps you tell your story in your words and voice using editorial, coaching, writing, and project management expertise for revision assistance, one-on-one guidance, and ghostwriting for development. Her writing has been published in Flash Fiction Magazine. Check out her website, FallonClark.com, or connect with her on LinkedIn or Substack.

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