Saturday, September 4, 2010

Advice from the odd Bruce Coville

After reading a couple of awesome anthology books in Boston, I've decided that I'm going to try my hand at writing short stories. I've already started writing about a robot whose owners kick it out of their house and discovers how to be it's own master. I've got lots of other ideas as well that I can hardly wait to get into. ^_^

One particular author I have to thank for my newfound inspiration is Bruce Coville. He wrote Oddly Enough and Odder Than Ever, two collections of funny, smart, and fascinating short stories. I wanted to reserve more books from him from my library, so I looked the guy up on Wikipedia to see what else he had under his sleeve. The article on Bruce Coville had a link to his website in it (, so I checked it out. After visiting a few pages, I found this piece of awesome authorly advice that I thought was certainly worth sharing.

How Can I Become A Better Writer?
First, read a lot. Filling your brain with good stuff is an important part of the job.

Second, write a lot. Keep a journal—it's one of the best tools a writer has. Also, write down ideas when they come to you. The human brain is cranky. If you want an idea, your mind will probably refuse to give it to you. But if you are doing something else, sometimes ideas just come floating by. The trick is to save ideas when they come to you. If you get a great idea today, it will probably be gone before you get around to writing about it—unless you write it down.

Third, and most important of all—never give up. You must believe in yourself, even when no one else does. People will think you are crazy. They will think you are conceited. You will get discouraged. You will think it is hopeless. You will think you are never going to get your work published. And if you give up, that will be true. You must believe in yourself, and Never Give Up.

I know that sounds discouraging, but if it talks you out of wanting to be a writer, then you probably wouldn't have made it anyway. I know many people who are better writers than I am who will never be published, because they couldn't stand getting rejected while they were trying to break in.Talent is only part of what it takes to be a writer. Luck and courage and mostly just plain old sticking to it are just as important.

Here are a couple of other little tricks you can start using today:
  • When you're trying to make a scene come alive, use more than one of the senses. By that I mean don't just tell me what a place looks like; tell me what it smells like and what it sounds like.
  • To help make your characters more memorable, give them some little trait that is unusual, something to help them stick in the reader's mind.
  • Read your writing out loud. This will help you when you are revising.
  • Oh, and in case I forgot to mention it—never give up.

Good luck. Happy reading—and writing!
—Bruce Coville

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