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Between the lines

Developing your writer's skill set

In my last Blog entry I talked about the importance of knowing your writer’s skill set, and looked at accepted methods for working through a story. It’s doesn’t matter weather you write an outline or write from the seat of your pants. Whatever your choice that decision makes it part of your skill set. I spoke of your writer’s skill set as being comprised of knowings: knowing how to pull yourself out of the minutiae that makes up your life is imperative to putting down that story.

Many a good story idea has been lost in the minutiae of life. Mark Twain locked himself in a room to write, not to be disturbed. Should he be needed his wife would blow a horn. Robert B. Parker who wrote Spencer for hire and the Jesse Stone series began pounding out a story from the time he got up in the morning until noon. My point is that these two authors knew how to pull themselves out of the whirlwind of life. I’m not saying that you need to lock yourself in a room but having a time and a place to write, like knowing how you lay out your story, is part of your writer’s skill set.

You now have a story idea that you’ve decided to pursue. Without equivocation, you’ve decided on an out line or to write from the seat of your pants, you’ve also decided to lock yourself in a room. Both these decisions are part of your personal writer’s skill set. The lingering question at this point, is how long you stay locked in the room?

Merriam Webster describes skill set as a range of skills or abilities. A key factor that will determine how long you’re at the keyboard, involves the ability to get the idea into words, on paper or into a computer. That ability to move the idea via the fingers to the page is typing. But keep in mind that George R R Martin famous for Game of Thrones writes his stories in long hand. Quentin Tarantino likes to write his screen plays by hand. But Larry McMurtry, author of the Lonesome Dove series uses a typewriter. James Michener says that at first he spent 12 to 15 hours a day at his typewriter. These authors all excelled at their skill set. Write, pen to paper, on typewriter, or use a computer. Chose a method that works for you and put it in your basket of skill sets.

If you’ve been following my blogs you know we’ve been working on our writer’s skill set. Hopefully you’ve made some choices that fit you: Out lining a story or writing from seat of your pants, choosing a place and time to write, and a method of putting down words. Pen to paper, typewriter, or computer.

Now it’s time to consider how long you write at a sitting.

I wrote Cutter's Legacy without an outline, and isolated in the upstair loft.


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