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Tom Hiddleston by Lorenzo Agius (x)
Hello! I’m so sorry for the delayed reply.
Yes, there are definitely going to be more chapters of Irrevocably Yours. I’ve just been having a summer about a thousand times busier (and more stressful) than anticipated. I’m waiting until school starts again and hoping i can start catching up on all my wips then.
Thank you so much for your patience!
First of all, thank you so, so much for your kind words about my writing! I love you!
Second, let me tell you a little secret: pretty much all writers suffer from self-confidence issues. It’s true. I do. I really, really do. I mean, I know objectively that I’m probably a pretty good writer, but whenever I post something, I’m almost always positive that I just put my worst piece yet out there for the whole world to mock. And then one of my favorite writers posts something new, and I’m writhing on the floor, I’m so jealous of their genius. (There are times that I read something so good, I want to rage-quit writing forever.)
But here’s another secret: your taste will always exceed your ability. I have a favorite quote by an artist: "What your hands can do will always be five years behind what your brain can come up with. This is perfectly normal, as it happens to everyone, even industry professionals. It’s a race you’re never going to win because you are a creative person, and so the limits of your mind will always be beyond the limits of your body. There is no cure to this, unfortunately, but the sooner you let this stop bothering you, the faster you can progress." (Robh Ruppel)
It’s true for writing, too. Yes, writing requires less physicality than art, but we still have to hone the ability to turn phrases just so—to describe more perfectly the vision we have in our heads, to plot with enough tension and mystery that the readers stay glued to the story.
I have the ability to create now what I wished years ago that I could (but I absolutely couldn’t). But guess what? I’m not all, “Eureka! I have reached the pinnacle of all writing ability!” Nope. I’m still trying to figure out how to do it better. And I’m still failing to put to page what I imagine in my head. Because as soon as I do write better, I realize that there is even more to learn and to try. And I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I will never, ever be satisfied with my work. Ever, ever.
Yes, writing is hard work. Some aspects of it do get easier, but the drive to be better never goes away. But I believe that’s a good thing. Because as soon as you stop trying to be better, to grow, to become as exceptional a writer as you hope you are capable of being, that’s when you become one of those authors who churn out cookie-cutter stories which are virtually the same plot over and over again.
My last bit of advice: get a good beta reader—one who isn’t afraid to give you an honest critique. They’ll help you tighten up your prose, help you flesh out the bits which are lacking, and trim the fat. I owe a lot of my growth as a writer to my first beta reader. She didn’t pull any punches (though she was always incredibly nice and funny in her notes), and she inspired me to stretch beyond my abilities.
And a good beta reader can also help you realize that you’re actually not as bad a writer as you think you are. No joke. I have a few stories that would never have seen the light of day without a beta telling me it was good enough to post. (Heck, a couple of those stories turned out to be the most popular pieces among my works.)
Don’t wait to be perfect to share your work. Perfection is the mirage you see in other people’s stories. Trust me, the writer behind that story bled and sweat and wept just as much (if not more) than you do—and if you ask them, they’ll tell you every flaw in their tales. Don’t be afraid to write multiple drafts. Sometimes it takes me three or four drafts before I get it the right way (or close enough). And conversely, don’t spend too much time tweaking a story. Growth comes not from getting caught up in the minutia of one tale; growth comes from creating more stories and trying your hand at different styles of prose.
TL;DR: Every good writer feels the way you do. You’re better than you think you are. You’re never going to be as good as you want to be (because there will always be new horizons to reach for). Get a good beta reader, and share your work with the world!
"The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize." ~Robert Hughes
“IT’S IN OUR NATURE TO WANT TO WATCH OUR HUMAN FRAILTIES PLAYED OUT ON A HUGE, EPIC CANVAS." - TWH
Characters feel, hear, see, and watch things all the time. But to strengthen your descriptions, try to use those verbs (and those like them) as little as possible.
She felt his fingers caressing her cheek.
According to my research, this is not actually passive voice, but it sure as heck reads like it. The action in the sentence is the caress, and it’s weakened because we’re focused on the verb directly related to the subject: felt. It’s the way we read the English language; the emphasis is always placed on the subject and the companion verb. In this case, “She felt.” But “she felt” is not what’s important in this sentence.
He caressed her cheek.
Much more dynamic this time. We’re now focused on the pertinent action. It’s cleaner, easier to read.
And get this: readers are smart. We know that she felt it. Unless she was completely paralyzed from head to toe, she’s going to feel when someone touches her skin. The same goes with sounds, and things the character may be seeing or watching. We readers are perfectly capable of connecting the dots without writers using those verbs to hand-hold us.
Here are a few more examples.
He heard the clock at the old Baptist church chiming in the distance.
The clock at the old Baptist church chimed in the distance.
She saw him sitting at the small dining table in the corner of the kitchen, sipping his tea while scanning the newspaper.
He sat at the small dining table in the corner of the kitchen, sipping his tea while scanning the newspaper.
He watches her lean against the counter as she waits for his order, laughing at something the barista says.
She leans against the counter as she waits for his order, laughing at something the barista says.
Are there exceptions? Most definitely. There are times when non-active verbs like feel, hear, watch, and see are useful. The best litmus test is to try the sentence both ways (in context with the rest of the story). If it reads fine without the non-active subject and verb pairing, then don’t use it.
Now, go forth and create!
Everything we do as writers is about engaging the reader—from a well-chosen narrative, to simple mechanics like proper grammar, to believable characterizations, to an enthralling plotline. But perhaps nothing has as much ability to truly envelop a reader like dynamic descriptions.
You know what I’m talking about; you’ve read them in your favorite stories. Where you can smell the damp metallic air just before a thunderstorm, taste the molten smoke and oak in a sip of whiskey, hear the crashing roar of a waterfall, or touch the smooth, supple skin of a newborn babe. Or maybe your heart pounds in terrified anticipation as a character rounds a corner in a haunted mansion. Or is it that first kiss that sends your synapses into overdrive as you read it? Or have you held your breath, lungs burning in hope and fear, as you race through a battle scene?
This is the power of well-written descriptions. And today, we’re going to add that skill to our writing repertoires. Unlike grammar and punctuation, there are no definitive rules to writing descriptions, but I’ve got a few basic guidelines that will, I hope, help you piece together the kind of prose that will swallow your readers right into the story.
Pink sand on Ellafonisi Beach, Crete, Greece. Pink sand is formed of tiny red organisms that grow on dead coral reefs and pieces of shells which fall to the ocean floor and are washed onto shore.
Photo credit: Jan-Erik Larsson