The Basics of Writing — by Gabby Fringette
Just what everyone wants: an egotistical teen telling you how to write. Surprise! I got you an early Christmas present!
Now, typing is easy. You tap on keys, letters and symbols appear on the screen. Actually writing, where you create a coherent storyline, is much harder, but not too bad if you really set your mind to it. But writing well is damn near impossible. Writing the kind of story that someone will intentionally bring up to say how good it was, that people will keep in their minds and homes and hearts, that is very difficult. I can’t teach you how to do that. I’m still learning to do that. I’m still in the stage where I look at my fingers, and say, ‘what are these?’ then I type on the keyboard of my computer, and read it, and hate it, and then read it later and kinda like it. I can’t teach you how to write really well, there are full length books about that and they still don’t work very well. The only thing that can teach you to write well is by writing a lot, and writing a lot of garbage. Write it, read it, edit it, give it to someone close, have them read it and rip it apart, then you read it and edit it again and then maybe you made something good. Well done. This isn’t to teach you everything you need to know to become a writer, this is just to get you pumped.
And, be warned. You will hate yourself, and everything you’ve written. You may still read it and think it’s better than half the stuff out there, but you will still hate it. You may say you like it, and know you like it, but you’ll still think it’s garbage, even if everyone else likes it. If you wanted to do something and be egotistical and sure about it, you shouldn’t be writing. Try sociology or engineering.
Now that that’s out of the way, we can begin.
First, what exactly do you do? Well, write what you know. What you know isn’t interesting? Make some stuff up. Tah-dah! You are the writer, the master of your little universe. Even if it isn’t very good, you are still the boss. You make the rules of this story. You can totally work in what you know, even if it isn’t very broad or doesn’t seem interesting, it will seem new and exciting to someone else, because it isn’t what they know. You can still find some way to wriggle your own experiences into your stories, even if they don’t play a big part.
Second: guidelines. How long should it be? I dunno, about as long as the story. Again, you make the rules. It can be a short story, just a few pages long, or a novella of about eighty pages, or even a full length novel or hell, if you can manage it, write an epic. Length doesn’t mean it’ll be good. There are good short stories and bad ones. Good novels and bad ones. The size doesn’t matter. What else? Oh, try to make it consistent. Just a little, please? For me? If you do dabble in universe building, where you create a whole new set of rules and everything, make the rules consistent. Or at least provide a reason.
Third: Gabby, should it be character based or plot based? Either, but a mix of the two is good. I love a good strong bunch of characters with rich back stories and personalities and mixes of traits, but I like a punchy plot line, too. But, it’s still up to you.
Four: how do I stay motivated? Why should I even write if I’m going to hate it? Well, you write because you want to. You don’t have to write. It can be addictive. Plus, even if you never publish and show your work to only a few people, if you write, you can claim to be a writer. Of course, the main qualification of being an actual writer is writing. You write because it’s what you want, or at least are driven, to do. Occasionally ‘want’ is a strong word. Even if it isn’t very good, even if people don’t like it, even if you don’t like it, keep going. You will eventually get better. Or you might die first. Who knows? Nobody, if you don’t try. Go get ’em, sport!
Editors note: and never forget there will always be an editor.