When you go to Google and type in “Are creative writing degrees…”, the very first auto-fill that pops up is “worth it?” And, it’s a legitimate question. If you’re going to go to college and spend tens of thousands of dollars on a higher education, you want to make sure you’re getting some bang for your buck, right? Because the last thing you want when you leave college is to feel like you not only wasted your money, but your time. I get it. And, having gone through four years of college to graduate with a BA in Fiction Writing, I feel pretty damn qualified to help you make that decision. So, with that said, let’s get started.
A little over a year ago, I wrote a blog post titled “The Allure of the Shiny Thing” in which I discussed how I was struggling to write one novel because ideas for a million other novels were vying for my attention. The phrase had been one I’d learned from a professor at Columbia College Chicago, and at the time I was adamant that pursuing the shiny thing was the worst thing I could possibly do. However, recently I actually did give in to the shiny thing. And that’s what I want to talk about today.
The title says it all. Dust off those vocal chords, because today we’re going to be talking about the benefits of reading your writing aloud!
“But Leighton,” you say, “why would I have to read my writing aloud? The whole point of reading is that it’s done silently.” To that, I say: Tell that to the audio book listeners out there. No, but seriously, this advice that I have to give you has nothing to do with whether your book will be read aloud someday or not (which, it totally will). It has to do with making your book the best it can be. That may also seem confusing, though. Like, how could reading a manuscript aloud make it better? Well, it helps in a few ways. Allow me to enlighten you.
Today we’re going to be talking about one of the most dreaded words to a writer: “Cut.” The word that makes us quake and hug our manuscripts tightly to our chests. “No, please, anything but the cut!” we cry. No matter how much we hate the word “cut,” though, I think we all realize that sometimes there’s just no way around it. Some things just have to be cut.
Info dumps. They plague the writing community, and nobody is immune. Amateurs and professionals alike can find themselves with a bit too much information to give, and when that happens the test of a talented writer is whether or not they can get that info across without leaving it in a messy pile at the reader’s feet. And that’s why I’m here! To teach you the best practices for avoiding the info dump, or for polishing up your info dump when you find there’s no way to avoid it altogether.
So your local Aspiring Author ™ is ranting and raving all over their social medias about how they are “officially querying their manuscript.” Which is all well and good, except… What does that even mean? After all, you work a regular nine-to-five job like a normal person, and all of this writing hoopla that they’re always tossing about never actually makes sense to you. So, okay, they’re querying their novel. Does that mean it’s about to be published and you can finally get some peace and quiet on your Facebook news feed? Well, my good non-writerly friend, let me explain to you a thing.
Hey guys! How’ve you been? That’s good, that’s good… Oh, me? Ah, well, to be honest, I’ve been pretty stressed. Why? Well, let me tell you why. It’s because I’ve been dedicating hours of my life to doing copious amounts of research on literary agents. It’s been a long and arduous process, one I’m hoping will pay off in the end, but I’m not going to lie. It’s taking quite the toll on my poor little brain. Because it isn’t as easy as you may think. Not if you’re me, anyway. It’s funny, because in most areas of my life I have the most Type B personality one could have. But when it comes to writing–and, in the same vein, researching literary agents–I’m a Type A fiend. The type of Type A that my Type B side would hate very, very much.
Yeesh, it’s been a long time since I’ve gotten to write out a blog post like this. Over a month, in fact. There’s something freeing about this type of post, where I can just sit down and let whatever I’m feeling pour out. I don’t need to worry about you guys not gathering everything I’m saying because there isn’t really anything for you to gather. I guess what I mean is that I’m not teaching, I’m just talking. It’s hella relaxing, I’ll tell you what.
Happy Halloween, and Happy Day 31 of “31 Days of NaNoWriMo Prep”! We did it! We made it to the end of the month! Tomorrow kicks off NaNoWriMo, and I don’t think I could be any more excited! Let’s end this month and kick off November with a bang by discussing exactly how you (and I) can win NaNoWriMo this year. If you’re new and haven’t read the rest of the posts in the series, it’s never too late to catch up! Click here to read the other 30 posts, or click here to watch the corresponding YouTube videos.
DAY 30 OF “31 DAYS OF NANOWRIMO PREP” IS HERE YOU GUYS!!! Can you believe that we’ve actually made it this far? I mean, tomorrow is the last day. That’s so freaking crazy. If you haven’t been following along with this amazingly awesome series, what have you been doing with your life? It’s okay, though. There’s still time to repay your debts and catch up by reading the rest of the posts in this series here or by watching the corresponding YouTube videos here! Do it while you still can, because come November 1st you won’t have time to do anything but write! Because that’s totally how that works!