Saturday, November 10, 2012

NaNoWriMo Series, Part 1

3 Things I Think Have Made Me a Better Writer

1.  Writing fanfiction.  

This is one I've seen had to be defended against "proper" writers.

Whatever anyone might say, fanfiction is a literary genre.  And you know what?  I think it's excellent practice for the writer-in-training.  Well-formed characters, go-to back-stories, and (for the most part) culturally rich settings.  Given the fact that the author is probably a devoted fan of the series/book/program, there's very little research required.  All she has to do is focus on crafting the story: plot, style, and characterization.

Honesty time: I think my teenage, junk-food-fueled fanfiction has prepared me well for my would-be career as an author.

2.  Keeping a journal and/or personal blog.

Journaling is an easy way to practice telling a story.  You or someone you know is the main character, you've experienced the setting first hand, and you have immediate access to all the internal goings-on of the narrator, who is you.  Sometimes, keeping a journal doesn't come in a fluid beginning-middle-end story format, but what it does do is train the would-be writer in how to remember and record details in surroundings, conversations, and actions.

I credit blogging all through my college years to my memory for re-telling anecdotes and conversations almost word-for-word.  Because God knows I can't remember what day of the week my doctor's appointment is on.

Bonus: you've got your memories recorded for yourself and future generations, whether they be fond, funny, or melancholy.  You might even return to them much later as inspiration for a novel or memoir.

3.  Reading literature.  

The best writing teacher I know told me, "I teach my writing class like I would a literature class."

Reading fine writing, noting what works and what doesn't, even subconsciously allowing the author's manner of words and storytelling to influence you can condition you to form good habits.   The best way to learn how to do something well is to find a good example of it that has already been well done.

What do you think has improved your writing or made you a better author, artist, or poet?



  1. I agree with all of those! My fanfiction was awful but at least it meant I was writing regularly and becoming disciplined, and that was the first time I used outlines to plan my stories. I think writing as regularly as possible has also helped me.

  2. All these are great. I love your writing teacher's comment.

    I could totally see fan fiction being excellent practice. I've done little of it myself--just a couple of scenes to fill out something in my mind--but yeah, it takes half the pressure off creation and allows you to focus on story development.

    And as a lifelong journal-keeper, I absolutely sympathize with that one. :)


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