Monday, January 25, 2016

12 bits of writing advice from Star Wars

As everyone who knows me is well aware, I'm completely obsessed with the Star Wars movies. I've got a Star Wars quote for every occasion, and I know far more than I should about behind-the-scenes-type stuff from watching all those DVD extras and reading all those interviews with actors/filmmakers/screenwriters/costume designers/art directors...

Anyhow, there have been tons of Internet articles out there listing bits of Star Wars wisdom. Here are some quotes that work as writing advice...

12. "Take off that mask. You don't need it." - Han Solo
The books that really stay with readers are the ones that ring true. So when writing, don't try to imitate someone else... just write as you.

11. "Your eyes can deceive you. Don't trust them." - Obi-Wan Kenobi
When you've spent ages and ages staring at your own manuscript, your eyes are going to gloss over errors... from little typos to phrases you use eight times in the same chapter. This is why editors and proofreaders are essential.

10. "Impossible to see, the future is." - Yoda
Unless you're super-speedy and self-publishing, don't write to trends. It's impossible to tell which direction the tastes of the masses will sway, and by the time your book comes out, chances are, the market will be super-saturated, and what was once trendy will be considered toxic.

9. "You can't stop the change, any more than you can stop the suns from setting." - Shmi Skywalker
The writing world is always changing, from writing styles (buh-bye, third omniscient! hello, first present!) to how people read (audiobooks rule!) to how the publishing industry works (advances are shrinking! the market is supersaturated! authors are making less money than ever!). There's no use in moaning about how back in the day, Dickens did this or Austen did that. All one can do is adapt.

8. "There's always a bigger fish." - Qui-Gon Jinn 
No matter how famous/well-reviewed/popular/lauded, etc., a writer is, there's always more good stuff to be had... and it will always feel like everyone else has what you want. For writers, there's never "enough." Always another goal, always more to do.

7. "Stay on target." - Gold Five
Sometimes, writing can feel like a Death Star trench run. You've got a job to do, but everything seems to be exploding around you. Just write, dammit.

6. "You will find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view." - Obi-Wan Kenobi
As you probably know, this whole writing business is, by its nature, super subjective. That means what one person thinks is the best thing ever, another person can't stand. Which is why, while it's important to listen to critiques of your work, you shouldn't take anything as an absolute.

5. "Sometimes, we must let go of our pride and do what is requested of us." - Anakin Skywalker
If multiple people are flagging the same issue in your writing, it probably means that something is off. No matter how much you adore that lengthy, lovingly crafted description, if your beta readers/editor/critique partners, etc, are telling you it's overwritten... it's probably overwritten, and it's time to swallow that writerly pride for the sake of a better book (painful as it can be).

4. "Search your feelings." - Darth Vader
Sometimes, when writing, you just need to dig a little deeper to bring your stories and characters to life.

3. "All mentors have a way of seeing more of our faults than we would like. It's the only way we grow." - Padme Amidala

Writing mentors come in many forms, whether it's your English teacher, your book-loving best friend, a critique partner, someone you met through an online writing community, a professional editor, etc. And if they really care about your writing, they'll always find areas for improvement. The only way to grow as a writer is to listen, whether or not you agree.

2. "Never tell me the odds." - Han Solo
It's a great big world, and if you think too much about how hard it is to write a book, get it published, sell it, etc., etc., etc., you'll overwhelm yourself before you even begin.

And, of course, this classic...

1. "Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try." - Yoda
When it comes to writing, you've gotta just go for it. Do your research, practice your craft, get those words written, show them around... Just write!

Oh, and here's one that's not exactly advice, but that all writers will completely relate to...

"I know all about waiting." - Rey
Waiting for beta readers to critique your manuscript, waiting for agents and editors to get back to you, waiting for reviewers to give their verdicts... This whole writing thing is a giant game of "hurry up and wait."

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