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1 of 3: Write: author’s advice

Neil Gaiman spoke at Benaroya Hall on Sunday, November 18–my dear friend Wendy bought us tickets, treated me to dinner, and a lovely book. I can’t say I haven’t been spoiled like that in ages because my sweet friend Sharon put up with my rantings and insanity of two very bad, dark and confusing years.

Going out on a Sunday night in late fall is hazardous for a teacher, especially this teacher who is prone to insomnia and falls blissfully to sleep but wakes early in the wee hours. This is my third time hearing Gaiman speak, and he did not disappoint, and I’m sure he will forgive me if he knew I drifted off during some of his readings. In my defense, I had a bellyful of sourdough paste bolognese and it was warm and dark–and his voice. Oh, that voice of his–the cadence of an English garden–kind, colorful, but untamed and slightly dangerous. Fortunately, my inner writer homunculus took the watch and alerted me whenever he answered a question from the audience or discussed context. Many of the questions were about writing–and he said what I’ve been telling students for many years.

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(Now if I can only tell myself. I don’t have writer’s block as much as writer’s sludge.)

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But here are the big ones:

  1. Write
  2. Editing/Revising: read your work out loud to yourself. Read it with fresh ears/eyes. You will hear what needs to change.
  3. Characters: describe and discover what each character wants. Therein lies the conflicts, and the story.

Use these three for reading, too:

  1. Read
  2. Read out loud and hear the voice of the writer
  3. Characters: what does each character want? How do their desires and needs create conflict?

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