Every now and again, I run into someone who asks for advice on writing when he really should be toughing it out himself. The other day, someone wanted to know how to write "a introductory fight between two mafias." Naturally, that was more than I could resist. This was my response.
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Here's an idea. You sit down, unplug the PlayStation, turn off the video games and the television sets, pull the plug on that stuff you believe is roughly approximate to music, sign out of Facebook, put your cell phone on "silence" mode, and think. Literally. Think!
I know I'm from a different generation, and I know we Baby Boomers didn't do everything right. But one thing we did do properly was learn how to think. To envision. To fantasize. To research, read, study, and learn. To ask ourselves questions and get answers we can use. Try starting out with What if? What if? What if?
Do you get my drift? No one can tell you how you should write "a introductory fight between two mafias," which I assume you mean "an" introductory fight between two mafia "gangs." Regardless, no one can tell you what to write and have it come out sounding like your own literary voice. (I know, I know—so, Google it!) Writing isn't a team sport, and it's not a collaborative effort, contrary to what all those money-hungry sites all over the Web keep telling you while they prey on writer wannabes.
Sure, they'll help you plan your book. They'll help you with its execution. They'll help you with structure and narrative and dialogue and description and character development and plotting. And when you're finished, what do you have? Their idea of structure and narrative and dialogue and description and character development and plotting. And you'll still be just as much in the dark about writing as you were before you zoned into them.
Again, if you want to write, write. If you want to dialogue, dialogue. But please, for your own sake, quit trying to mix the two and expecting you'll end up with a dynamite novel. It doesn't work that way. I know that social media makes it damned easy to reach out and touch someone, but …
It doesn't work that way!
The one thing the Internet gives us of value today that we didn't have when I began writing the day after the Ark touched down on Mt. Ararat is accessibility. Accessibility to research. Accessibility to sources. Accessibility to motivation. Accessibility to information. If you want radio or television interviews, they're available somewhere on the Internet. If you want documentaries about mafia wars, they're available somewhere on the Internet. Feature films, educational scripts, academic papers, comic books, even? They're all available on the Internet. There is literally no excuse for a wannabe writer not to know everything there is to know about a subject other than laziness.
So, which writer are you? Energetic, curious, and determined to write the best damned book you possibly can … or the other kind who looks to someone else to do all his tough work for him?
Inquiring minds want to know.
I want to know. And I hope you want to know, too.
So, if you're serious about writing a novel, contact me through my Website when your book is finished. I'll be happy to critique it. Free, even. And that's the best offer you're going to receive in this lifetime!
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D. J. Herda is author of the new ebook series of writing advice, About Writing Right, available at amazon and at fine booksellers everywhere.