About Catrin Lawrence
Catrin is a young Welsh writer in the middle of a postgraduate degree in English Literature. Her writing tends towards fantasy, horror and general strangeness.
You know why you’re reading this. You’ve taken your hands off the keys, or put down your pen, and entered the daydreams of many aspiring writers. Maybe you dream of raving critics, multimillion movie deals or maybe even a theme park based on your creations.
Are these daydreams motivating? For many, yes.
Are they productive to your writing? If you reframe them to your advantage, maybe.
In his essay The Philosophy of Composition, Edgar Allen Poe suggested ‘commencing with the consideration of an effect’ when planning your writing. Before he wrote, he decided what effect he wanted his story or poem to have on the reader and what tone he needed to create that impact.
In your daydreams, readers may be wild about your perfect plotting and memorable characters. Your stories may keep them reading into the night. But, can you be more specific? Make a list. What do you want your readers to take with them after closing your book?
Do you want them breathless with laughter, sweating with fear, returning to the real world as changed as your characters? If you’re writing for children, do you want your book to inspire even more reading and perhaps the next generation of writers?
Once you know what effect you want to create, you can work out what you need to do to achieve it. Like Poe, you could use tone, although setting, characters and themes are just as important. Read books by writers in the same genre as you to see how they create effect in their stories.
Your intended effects may not be what readers take away from your work. However, knowing what you want to create can help you maintain a consistent tone and could help you when faced with writer’s block. Whenever you’re stuck, refer to your list.
Since the success of Harry Potter and The Hunger Games in the cinema, authors everywhere have longed to see their titles glowing above queues of moviegoers.
Instead of waiting for Hollywood royalty to sweep your novel into movie stardom, why not write your own destiny and write your own screenplay?
Even without a film deal, adapting your own work into a screenplay can be a useful exercise.
You can see your novel-in-progress from a different angle, or even realise it shouldn’t be a novel at all.
Writing is a business with a see-saw income. The more skills you have as a writer, the more likely you are to make a living from it. Learning different writing forms also keeps your skills (and your brain) sharp as they are being engaged in a new way.
If you don’t fancy screenplays, try learning another form of writing, like radio plays, poetry, or non-fiction articles that could have an effect on readers.
Over the years, you’ve probably turned on the radio or television and seen authors being interviewed about their latest books.
One day, that could be you.
Why not use your time daydreaming to make sure you’re prepared for it?
Writing is a business as well as an art so it’s essential to be prepared for both sides of it. Listen to and read some interviews by your favourite authors. How would you answer the same questions they’re given?
Think of specific questions you might be asked about your work or yourself. If you’re a nurse writing your memoirs, you might be asked about your working life. As a children’s author, you may be asked about your opinion on the reading habits of young people or what you were like as a child.
Knowing what you want to say in advance will not only help you feel more confident if you do get to that TV studio or radio station but it can also give you a better understanding of your own writing.
Sometimes we, as writers, try to rein in our excitement about where our writing could take us, maybe out of guilt, maybe out of doubt. However, guilt, doubt and other negative feelings can keep you from writing as much as daydreaming.
Take time to dream and let your desires spur you on in a positive, productive way.
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