Friday, February 12, 2010

WRITERS: What was your Light Bulb Moment? Toot Your Horn Friday!

It's time once again for Toot you Horn Friday! Today's Topic: Your Light Bulb Moment!

What is the best piece of writing advice you ever received? It can be something solely concerning the writing itself, something inspirational to keep pushing onward and upward, or something that changed everything about you as a writer. It can be from a famous author, a critique partner, your Grandma Milly--it doesn't matter! What was YOUR "light bulb moment" and how did it help you become a better writer?

My light bulb moment: Realizing less is far more--not letting too many adjectives and dialog tags and info dumps blur my writing. The moment I realized that everything changed for me!

So hit me! What was your light bulb moment??


xoxo -- Hilary

31 comments:

  1. Great topic, Hilary!

    My light-bulb moment: realizing that what was missing from a draft I was massively unhappy with was *stakes*. I've never forgotten that moment, and it's informed everything I've written since.

    ReplyDelete
  2. (Love the pic!) I think the big lightbulb was actually lit by 2 people with essentially the same advice. Both a fabulous editor and my hubby told me to essentially "go big or stay home." Let it all hang out in that first draft. I was restraining my writing, which made it less natural and held back its true character. So now, I let it all hang out and wait until revision time to rein it in.

    ReplyDelete
  3. It was a piece of advice a certain famous agent gave to a friend of mine: in every scene, the dynamics between your main character and the people around him/her has to change. Otherwise the story isn't moving.

    ReplyDelete
  4. First, I'm laughing because my post today speaks some about "tooting my horn" and how uncomfortable it makes me . . . the "buy my book buy my book" thing makes me cringe! *laugh*

    But, my lightbulb moment - what you said reminded me that someone told me the same thing: watch those descriptive words - flowery stuff - and as soon as she said that, a HUGE lighbulb flared - I immediately knew what she meant, and when I went back to read that particular short story, I cringed - but, after that cringe, I went back in and began rewriting --it was one of the best pieces of advice I ever received: I'd never had a class or critique at that time.
    :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hilary--great topic!

    My lightbulb moment came when I read an essay by Alexander Chee about Annie Dillard where he quoted her saying about writing:

    "If you’re doing your job, the reader feels what you felt. You don’t have to tell the reader how to feel. No one likes to be told how to feel about something. And if you doubt that, just go ahead. Try and tell someone how to feel."

    That was a real eye opener for me.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Butt in chair. ~Maggie Stiefvater
    Giving myself permission to suck. ~Maureen Johnson
    If you love it, you have to keep at it, as long as it takes. ~Michelle Zink

    O_O

    ReplyDelete
  7. "You want to write? So, write! Stop worrying about what everyone else thinks." - my good friend and neighbor Rhonda Kasper who does not write but loved my stories, even when they were badly written.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Mine was when I won a critique of my manuscript and discovered I am an adverbaholic! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  9. My lightbulb moment was when I realized that my character's reaction to something is more important than what actually happened, b/c without the reaction it's meaningless to the reader.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Light bulb moment? When I realized I can't write a good thing unless my gut is involved somehow. If I'm not feeling something, I'm not writing well.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I've had many light bulb moments, but the one which comes most vividly to mind is when a friend told me my character wasn't experiencing the emotion she should have been in a particular situation. Since then, I make sure I know exactly how my characters are feeling at any given time and that that comes across to the reader.

    ReplyDelete
  12. For me it was my critique partner. She's fond of saying "Give yourself permission to write crap." Often it works. I just get my ideas down, and worry about making it work later. Once, I posted a writer's block, and fussed about how it just wasn't coming together right. She commented with "Just vomit on the page, Sweetie! We'll mop up after you.!" Lol! Thanks, Dawn! But seriously, that allowed me to just get something on paper, and look at what needs fixing when I feel better about it.

    ReplyDelete
  13. If your not writing a page a day your not doing anything... Steve Grisham

    The first draft of anything is shit...Ernest Hemmingway (I can now write without fear.)

    Write simple. (Somewhere on PUB Rants Blog)

    I hope every writer has their own, and each one holds an importance to them.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I actually have two...

    When I FINALLY let it sink in that you really shouldn't start a novel by giving background information... That lesson of starting with something happening and then gradually working in the rest is one of my hardest yet fondest writing memories!

    The second was when my writing instructor pointed out that I had a tendency to use repeat sentence structures (and not in a good way). I was all about the -ing sentences: "Taking a sip of coffee, she watched the news. Brushing a strand of hair from her shoulder, she thought back to the first moment. Gazing at the pictures on the wall, she faltered." Blah blah.

    Here's a good post about it (that I just googled):
    -Ing Sentences

    ReplyDelete
  15. To get better, keep writing, including moving past first manuscript.

    ReplyDelete
  16. When I read The Graveyard Book, I had a moment of lightbulbness when I realized what you choose to leave out of a book is just as important as what you choose to put in.

    Shelley

    ReplyDelete
  17. Your first book is your baby...your heart and soul...and probably the worst thing you'll ever write. But when you finish it, you think you've made it, someone's going to think it's the next Twilight!

    My lightbulb moment came when no one wanted my book. It was like...wow, okay, it truely IS brutal out here. So get up and do another one. And do it better.

    ReplyDelete
  18. My most recent lightbulb moment was the importance of structure I learned from a post in Laurie Halse Anderson's blog. The story needs to hang on something!

    ReplyDelete
  19. I read somewhere that you should read your writing out loud. I find that helps me with flow, wording, and especially dialogue. It also helps me catch typos.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I think I'm still waiting for the light to come on!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Over a decade ago an editor wrote to me about a short story I submitted; in this letter she advised that I show more and tell less.

    Over the years editors, agents, and crit group members have given me many small, precious pieces of insight, but I remember this as being my first light bulb moment.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I love this post Hilary!

    My light bulb moment was when I read the section about conflict in The Fire In Fiction by Donald Maass. He said that every scene should have an inner and outer conflict to move the story forward. My writing has been so much better since then.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I wrote my first book and thought it was the best thing I had ever read. My light bulb moment came in a writing class. I realized that everything the teacher warned us about bad writing was exactly what I had done in my book. Since then, I've worked hard to get better. In fact, I'm still working at it! :)

    ReplyDelete
  24. When explaining my book to an editor over dinner, her comment was "So?" I think of this question often as she was right--I needed a stronger plotline.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I have a lot of light bulb moments. Problem is one revelation leads to going back and applying the idea throughout my WIP. The never-ending process of revisions.

    ReplyDelete
  26. To keep changing the light bulb. :D

    Srsly; to kill the darlins'.

    ReplyDelete
  27. A literary agent I wrote very well for my age. she told me to never give up and write a new book each year, because when my dream comes true they need my work to meet the demands of my fans

    ReplyDelete
  28. Two things, both about actually sitting down and writing.
    1. Put time aside every day to write. A writer friend told me that years ago and I ignored it until recently. My time is from 9pm to 10pm. Without that dedicated time it's easy to let life get in the way and put it off. For years I wrote haphazardly. It wasn't until I made time to write at a certain time every day that I started finishing things.
    2. Don't tell anyone what you're working on until the first draft is done. A writer I met at a bar years ago told me that, and I don't know why it's true, but it is. So many times I've told people the plot of something only to have the story somehow seep out of me and my enthusiasm vanish.

    ReplyDelete
  29. ...a few kids ago, I took a correspondence course, working with children's writer, Ron Roy. Upon completion of my final assignment, he sent me a handwritten letter,(an ancient craft,) with his personal phone number on it, along with the words, "Whatever you do in this life, do not give up on your dream to get published." I've been clinging to that "toot" ever since. ...love your blog, Hilary.

    ReplyDelete
  30. This is embarrassing to admit, but I had a big show, not tell problem. I came across an agent's blog that had actual examples and I finally got it. Before that, I was peppering show-tell-show-tell. When I saw the examples, I realized I could do both at once. I know, sad.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Ah, I love light bulb moments. For me, I have many. My latest one: I like books that are like a train wreck you can't look away from. I'm going to write one. Next month. :)

    ReplyDelete

Leave me a message after the beep...BEEP!