Today, we’re happy to be hosting Day 4 of a 5-day virtual tour for Raiders and Horse Thieves, a new memoir from Jackie Ellis Stewart.
In today’s stop on the tour, Jackie offers some writing tips.
Writing Tips from Author Jackie Ellis Stewart
All my life I’ve yearned to be able to sing. Once I took a voice class through the continuing education department at the University of Memphis, and at the first session, backed the defenseless instructor into a diplomatic corner.
“Just tell me once and for all,” I begged. “Can I sing?”
There was a significant pause, which I should have taken for an obvious negative response. “Well,” she responded brightly. “I’ve heard lots worse who thought they could sing.”
I floated halfway home on a blissful cloud of musical notes before the implication of her answer finally hit home.
That was 15 or 20 years ago. What little voice I had is long gone. I am now a lector at church, instead of sitting in the choir loft.
In the meantime, I’ve discovered I have some talent as a writer. Years of hard work paid off this past month when Texas A&M University Press published my first book, Raiders and Horse Thieves, Memoir of a Central Texas Baby Boomer.
Although writing is a terrific challenge, it can also be tremendously fulfilling.
Listed below are some of the habits and practices I’ve found helpful as a neophyte writer.
• Read everything; fluff as well as serious literature; non-fiction and fiction. Learn to distinguish well-constructed fluff from junk. Notice how good dialogue is recorded on the page and how various authors handle action and describe characters.
• Haunt the library and learn all you can about authors and publishers. There’s much to be learned from writers who were popular in earlier times.
• Join a book discussion group that really reads the book and discusses it in depth. There are lots of book discussion groups in every community; however, many are wine and cheese enthusiasts disguised as readers.
• Attend literary events in your community. Go to book signings and ask the author about his/her daily writing schedule. Many will block off major sections of their day to writing alternated with some form of exercise.
• Take classes in writing. Listen carefully to what the instructor advises and do it.
• Become a people watcher and an eavesdropper. Pay attention to what people say and how they behave. Make notes of things you see in your daily life that catch your fancy. People can say and do the most incredible things. I recently found the name for a future character from the name of a dealership imprinted on the back of a van that pulled out of a parking lot in front of me.
• Keep a notebook specifically for quirky things you hear or see or ideas you have for future use.
• Carve out time in your daily schedule to regularly write and stick to it.
Follow every day of this tour by going to http://www.bestauthorinterviews.com.
I spend hours working at this table as pictured here with my faithful assistant, George the better-than-standard poodle.
Creative Caravan Club