Writing 101

So. Each month, I edit a relationship column for a national, women's lifestyle publication. Sometimes I write the column myself. If I'm extremely swamped, I assign the story out to another freelance writer. It's one of my many hustles. And I like that I have to think like an editor. It helps me when I'm trying to pitch articles to other editors. In my line of work as an editor, I deal with publicists, usually for authors who have written books about relationship issues or therapists, professors and other folks who are experts in relationship stuff. There are many times that I find myself staring at a deadline and I have all my interviews completed for a story--but I haven't found a relationship expert to interview. So I'm scrambling like mad, emailing folks to try and secure someone for my column. (I'm getting to a point here.) It would make sense to prepare for this in advance and line up interviews with several authors, professors and therapists. But I don't do that. I scramble at deadline time. Most editors do. So. November 4th, I get an email.

writing-2 It's often said that good writers are good readers. In the early days of my career, I read everything I could get my hands on. I subscribed to over twenty different magazines and spent what little money I had in Barnes and Noble every weekend. I don't read nearly as much as I should anymore. But I do carry many of the lessons from a few of my favorite  books in writing. If you're new to writing. Or just need to reinvigorate. Cop these joints. Today.

writing-2 I really wish I could remember who said that line. I know it was a famous screenwriter of big-budget action movies. In an interview, he was asked for tips about writing a screenplay. The guy explained that when someone sits down to watch a movie, a million different things are running through his mind--is there enough butter on my popcorn? Is my boss going to ask me to come in on Saturday? You have to keep the reader/viewer right there with you. It's not easy. You can't let them out of the room. That means, when you're writing, you have to keep advancing your story. Keep. It. Moving. When you re-write, make sure you're moving things along. Particularly in a short essay. Shydel James, who recently wrote a guest essay on his father, has graciously allowed us to show the edit process and how I helped him to keep the reader in the room.

writing-2 It's one of the first things you learn in writing:  Show Don't Tell. But it's still a hard one to master. Our dear Michael Arceneaux has graciously allowed me to use the unedited essay that became this week's first guest blogger post to illustrate the importance of show don't tell. [Spoiler alert: If you haven't read his post yet, don't read this one until you do...] Michael handed in a decent first draft. But it definitely needed work. Michael is a capable writer. But there needs to be some fine tuning in his show-don't-tell department. Here's how Michael's draft began...