WRITING TIP #4: Read only the best.

Read only the Best

WRITING TIPS 4: Read only the best.This, for me, is an essential writing tip!

Zat Rana wrote, in an article for QUARTZ, published on 18 October, 2017:

QUALITY OVER QUANTITY: You “become” what you read.

“. . . I don’t think most of us internalize quite how much, and sometimes how subtly, what we read determines who we become.
Input shapes your output.

“Language is our primary tool of communication. It’s how we build and organize our knowledge, and it’s what allows us to interact with each other.

“Outside of direct experience, it’s also largely how we create our perception of reality. The information your senses absorb through your surroundings combine to create linguistic (and subconscious) models in your mind about how the world works and the best way to interact with it.

“One part of this occurs through verbal conversation, or listening to something in general, but for most knowledge workers and for the average person in developed countries a larger part of it is directly a result of what we consume [via reading].

You are what you read. The information that you input into your mind informs your thinking patterns, and it influences your output in the form of the decisions you make, the work you produce, and the interactions you have.

Reading a book

“That’s a huge incentive to prioritize a block of time to think about what and how you consume [read], and whether or not you read adequately relative to the progress you want to make. It’s a reason to maybe pause and consider if you can do anything to purposefully shape the direction of your mind.

“Naturally, input doesn’t necessarily mean quantity. The correlation between how much you read or consume and what you can do or who you become begins to even off after a certain point, and more isn’t always better.

“This is entirely about what the quality of your predominant sources of input [books] are, and the importance of those can’t be overstated.”

JRR Tolkien

Professor JRR Tolkien

Which authors have influenced my own writing over my lifetime?

Primarily, Professor JRR Tolkien and Tanith Lee, but also (in no particular order) –
Nicholas Stuart Gray, George MacDonald, John Keats,
William Shakespeare, Isaac Asimov, Eleanor Farjeon,
C.S. Lewis, Arthur C. Clarke, E. Nesbit,
Andre Norton, Ann McCaffrey, Charles Dickens,
George Eliot, Terry Pratchett, Jane Austen,
Ray Bradbury, Susannah Clark, Thomas Hardy,
Simon Winchester, Dianna Wynne-Jones, Douglas Adams,
Alan Garner, CS Lewis, Andrew Lang,
William Allingham, Hilda Lewis, Charles Kingsley,
Emily Brontë, Juliet Marillier, William Morris,
Ursula LeGuin, Jackie French, Walter de la Mare, and more.

Tanith Lee

Tanith Lee

All these writers and poets have strongly influenced my inner worlds and contributed, in their own way. to the creation of the Bitterbynde Trilogy. In addition to giving me inspiration, they have also given me joy, peace, excitement, wonderment and delight. They have increased my vocabulary and helped me to look at the world in new ways.

 

WRITING TIP #3 Copy by Hand

Writing Tip # 3: Write by hand & copy the best.

WRITING TIPS 3: Let your hands do the learning.Another WRITING TIP. ✨✨✨
Let your hands do the learning.
When you write down another person’s words, by hand (not on a keyboard), you catch a glimpse of the way they think. It can be awakening and inspiring.

Handwriting vs Typing

From www.pens.com:

“While typing may be faster and more convenient, research shows that handwriting has its own unique advantages.

Effective Memory Recall
“Though a little more time consuming, there are many benefits of handwriting your notes. Longhand notes allow for better short- and long-term memory recall because they contain your own words and handwriting. These can serve as effective memory cues by recreating the context and content from the original lecture or meeting.

“When you write things out, you create spatial relations between each bit of information you’re recording. Handwriting activates parts of your brain involved in thinking and working memory, and allows you to store and manage information. The movement associated with the pen and your hand can help you encode and retain information long-term.

Sharpened Critical Thinking
“Comparing handwriting vs. typing, you’re more exposed to critical thinking when you write by hand than when you type. Handwriting allows you to think more thoroughly about the information you’re recording. It encourages you to expand upon your thoughts and form connections between them.

Stronger Conceptual Understanding
“When you write your notes by hand, you develop a stronger conceptual understanding than by typing. Since handwriting is slower and more tedious, it makes it harder to take notes verbatim. Therefore you have to actually process the information and summarize it in a way that makes sense for you.

“This illustrates one of the other benefits of handwriting vs. typing. Handwriting forces your brain to mentally engage with the information, improving both literacy and reading comprehension. On the other hand, typing encourages verbatim notes without giving much thought to the information. This mindless transcription can lead to a lack of meaningful understanding and application of the information, although you may be able to type more words quickly.”

Copying the work of others for the purpose of study

Write by hand

Write by hand

Copying master drawings is something many visual artists, for hundreds of years, have incorporated into their studies. Why? Because it is an excellent way to closely evaluate and learn about the best artwork. It was a widespread method used during the 16th and 17th centuries. It’s not plagiarism, as long as you don;t claim the work as your own.

Just as visual artists can benefit from copying the masters, so can writers. Choose your favourite writers and copy out (by hand) a few paragraphs from their work. It will make you think differently, and it’s a valuable tool for aspiring writers.

WRITING TIP #2: Strange places to get inspired.

WRITING TIPS 2: Strange places to get inspiredFalling water, relaxation, comfort…

Many authors find that when they’re having a bath or shower, or bobbing about in the ocean on a warm, sunny day, that’s one of the best times for inspiration to strike. Your mind is free and unfettered, allowing subconscious thoughts to rise to the surface and blend in interesting ways.

Sometimes, it’s when you’re simply enjoying the calming sensation of the water, and not deliberately trying to work out something in your head that answers and brilliant ideas can flash forth.

Be prepared.

Water and inspiration

If inspiration tends to hit you when you’re bathing, have some sort of recording device on hand to help you remember all those wonderful ideas – paper and pen, or even a battery-operated audio recorder (such as a smartphone!).
A whiteboard with waterproof pens, stuck to the shower wall would be useful. It would make it easier to remember your flood of genius-quality ideas!

An extract from The Ill-Made Mute:

Speaking of water, here’s a passage from The Ill-Made Mute in which Imrhien and Sianadh find a mysterious, remote waterfall called Waterstair, reputed to conceal a vast wealth of treasure.

“Half-asleep, Imrhien stumbled onward, lending support
to her companion’s arm. As dusk approached, thunder, which had
been rumbling far off, grew louder. It was a sound that had
been audible now for a long time, yet in her dulled state of
awareness the girl had ignored it.
By now they had come right under the shadow of the
mountain wall. As they rounded a bend in the river, the trees
drew back. Pale sunlight poured down from open sky, a hissing
roar assaulted their ears, and an awesome sight greeted them.
Filled with rainbows, its millions of droplets appearing to
float slowly down from such a great height, a waterfall hung
like a silver curtain. Its hem was lost in spray over a rocky pool.
Sianadh leaned on his staff and laughed weakly.
“We have found it, chehrna . . . ”

“Sheets of jade water plunged, hurtling from the
heights in a torrent of raw energy. Rainbows
bridged its quivering mists. A haze of droplets
hung in the air, pearling every leaf and grass
blade that fringed the pool, beading hair and
eyelashes, collecting in miniature crystals on the skin. The
continuous roar pressed around Imrhien’s head, drummed and
threshed in her ears like the sound of battle.
The rocky basin receiving the waterfall was cradled
in the heart of a dell whose gently sloping sides were clothed with tall,
spindly trees . . .”

WRITING TIP #1: Learn from real people.

WRITING TIPS 1: Real peopleReal people make the best characters

Real people are pretty much more interesting (not to mention hilarious) than any character you’re likely to invent out of thin air.
Listen, look and learn from the people around you. You’re surrounded by a goldmine.

Sianadh the red-haired pirate

In the Bitterbynde Trilogy, for instance, I drew inspiration for the red-haired pirate Sianadh by observing a friend of mine.

PiratesHere’s an extract from The Ill-Made Mute, in which we meet Sianadh for the first time:

The pirate’s crew were thieves and cutthroats recruited
from the dregs of cities, or simple country lads who had been
seduced to piracy by tavern talk and could not now go back,
or disillusioned soldiers; men who looked for rich rewards
preying upon the Merchant Lines or who sailed in the sky
for their own reasons. One of these stood now before the
prisoners, his feet braced apart on the planks, his brawny left
arm roughly bandaged where he had sustained a wound from
a poniard. The lad squinted up at the head outlined against the
sails. Tangled red hair like stiff wire had been randomly knotted
with thin braids; in the thickets of it, a gold disk winked from
his left ear. Blue eyes squinted over a ginger mustache that,
although bushy, was clipped short. A copper torc clasped his
bull-neck, from which also hung a tilhal of amber with two
coupling flies trapped inside. A stained taltry hung from his
shoulders.
The-Ill-Made-MuteHis barrel chest was swathed in a torn shirt that
had once been white, overtopped with a rabbit-skin jerkin, and he wore olive-green breeches belted with gold-worked, purple leather with a wicked-looking skian scabbarded at his side. His feet, ginger-tufted and sporting dirty nails like goats’ horns, were bare and tattooed with scorpions. The nameless youth
had a good view of these feet because he was lying in front of them. To his left lay Captain Chauvond and the cabin boy. To his right reclined half a dozen merchant aeronauts, also bound with ropes.
“Deformed!” proclaimed the red pirate. “Twisted, ugly, and deformed!” He leaned closer to the youth and said confidentially, breathing garlic, “Hogger has one eye, Kneecap’s got a wooden leg, Black Tom is missing three fingers, Fenris be earless, and Gums ain’t got a tooth in his head. A man has to
be ruined to sail on the Windwitch. Fires of Tapthar! You’ll fit in
well here, mo reigh, you’ll fit like an egg in its shell!”
He laughed, revealing gaps in his dentition that seemed to
go through to the back of his head.
“Me, I’m physically perfect. See that?” He flexed bulging
sinews in his right arm, which was tattooed with ravening birds,
their toothed beaks gaping, looking faintly ridiculous.
“I wouldn’t like to meet me in battle, mo reigh. It’s the brain—
the brain that’s twisted. I’m mad, see?” His jutting eyebrows
shot up and down rapidly. “Sianadh the Bear, unconquerable
in battle!”
He roared, a wide grin splitting his weather-lined face. The
cabin boy whimpered.
“What is the matter, tien eun? See, I unbind you and your
reigh friend.” Squatting, he did so. “You two lads are to join
us! You shall be buccaneers on the upper drafts. Every now
and then, such as today, we lose a few hearty hands. Captain
Winch needs to replace ’em with young ’uns nimble in the
rigging. Don’t look so sad! ’Tis better than being sold as slaves
in Namarre like these shera sethge shipmates of yours here.
And you, Captain, are to be ransomed to your Cresny-Beaulais Line.”
Captain Chauvond groaned, licking blood from his lips.
“Now, don’t bleed all over the clean deck. You lads, see
that keg over there? Go and fetch water for yourselves and your
shipmates. Make yourselves useful or Winch will notice you
and you’ll taste the lash. We sink anchor at dusk, then we eat
and suffer.
’Tis a shame we left your cook in a tree—ours is a
sadist and poisoner—’twould have been kinder to our aching
bellies to have swapped one for t’other. Look lively there!”
The two youths hurried to obey.

You can find The Ill-Made Mute on Amazon or at all good bookstores.