Check out these ten tips for writers…
from J. R. R. Tolken:
[via writersinthestormblog]10 Tips from the “Master of Middle Earth”:
1. Vanity is useless.
Truly, Tokien wrote his books to please himself and answer the writer inside him. He expected them to go “into the waste-paper basket” after they left his desk, not live on in popular culture. I’m not saying we don’t need to learn good story craft however, if you entertain yourself, at least you know one person that enjoyed the hell out of your book.
2. Keep writing, even through adversity.
It took the man SEVEN years to write The Hobbit. He balanced a demanding day job, illness, and worry for his son who was away in the Royal Navy. I’m reminded of Laura Drake, her brick wall, and her 400+ rejections.
3. Listen to critics you trust.
When his editor said, “Make it better,” he didn’t throw the advice away. He read and re-read, and he tried his best.
He credits listening to knowledgeable feedback, and working to make it better, for what he considered the best scene in the Lord of the Rings: “the confrontation between Gandalf and his rival wizard, Saruman, in the ravaged city of Isengard.” Oh, and the editor he listened to? C.S. Lewis, the creator of the Chronicles of Narnia.
4. Let your interests drive your writing.
Tolkien’s original interest was in languages. He took that and created new languages, and then an entire culture, around it. Our own contributor, Kathryn Craft, was a dancer, choreographer, and dance critic. She tapped all that experience to write The Art of Falling, exploring themes of love, dance, friendship, and distorted body image. that passion and truth will resonate with readers.
5. Poetry can lead to great prose.
When he could not express his thoughts in the prose he wished for, he wrote much of it in verse. Authors as diverse as Charlotte Brontë and Langston Hughes started in poetry before moving to longer mediums. Next time you get stuck, you might try Tolkien’s trick of writing your scene as a poem first.
6. Happy accidents.
No matter how much you plan, happy accidents occur on the pages of every book. Jennifer Crusie calls it “the girls in the basement,” saying they hand her up treasures as she writes. Others might call it “the muse.”
One more kick in the pants from our own Laura Drake: If you don’t put your butt in the chair and do the work, you won’t have any “happy accidents.”