The writer's block is a wonderful invention: you may have never written one single line before in your life, and yet sit down in front of a sheet and, having no idea whatsoever, you may just say you've got the notorious writer's block - already. What's better to begin with?
When, then, over time you become more accomplished a writer (that is, you're quite comfortable with putting on paper whatever comes to your mind being utterly persuaded that's the best thing soon after sliced bread), you may find out that you have run out of litter and, staring at the white sheet once again, rename it the garbage collector's block.
As a matter of fact, writing is all about how you deal with the writter's block: in fact, if you even think that it exists, you better write nothing at all. However, if you think that it doesn't, and you keep outpouring with written texts springing from your fertile and outbrimming mind, that's another significant signal that you better not to write at all.
However I am not sure what the "micro drafts" you mention are. I am developing microdraft's envy, reading you have so many and I never had even one.
I normally proceed in a different manner: I start writing a poem, normally a huge draft where I write whatever comes to my mind - just as I am doing here, see. Once it is big enough not to fit into my hard disk and even my motherboard refuses to start up and read it when I want to complete it, I know it is over.
At that point I start a new one (with a new pc).
Once I have about a few hundreds of such drafts, I start sending them to random email addresses; that's not worse than sending them to literary agents, as far as the amount of attentions they get is concerned, and the most wonderful thing is that, unlike with literary agencies, you may do get replies - even the notorious and complimentary refusals that all respectabe literary agents say they would send and that yet they never give a damn to send. So, by all accounts, if you want your masterpiece to be reviewed, send it to haphazard addresses: that's much, much better.
I then collect carefully all the nasty replies I may get.
With such collection I make a new draft, which I keep reading everyday with two outcomes - that is, I wonder:
1) why am i such depressing a writer that nobody likes my work?
2) why am i such outstanding a writer that nobody likes my work (I think you know that if your work is any good, you will have to push it down people's throats by sheer force...)
In the throes of such a dilemma, I understand that a good writer is the one that never sells, and yet who sells a lot.
Eventually I come to this conclusion: to make sense of that contradiction, I conclude that the only truly good writers are those who become famous posthumously.
Don't run against the runners: run against time.
So if you want to be a good writer, write for Death. She is the best reader, and whoever is so clever at delivering expiration must know very well how to deliver our most inspirational kodak moments too.
I am a firm believer in new year's deliberations - even better if made on new year's eve (any serious new year's schedule ought to start with the very first day of the year, if you're really gonna be serious about it). I think it has been scientifically proven that that's the right way to go, particularly for writing promising stuff.
So, since any good writer has to begin somewhere, where's better a starting point to be found if not right on the new year's day? The conveniences are manifold:
1) you're most likely drunk: and that helps to put things in perspective (the wrong one, but at least a perspective none the less: normally I even haven't one...)
2) Evidently, I had not time for the sack if I am there on new year's day thinking about yearly resolutions. And this is very promising as well; in fact I will cumulate a lot of frustrations and revengeful hidden moods, and what's better to savour my revenge than delivering to mankinde
my new masterpiece?
3) Promises are always great, because it's fun not to fulfill them - or better, since normally I am utterly unable to fulfill any, what's better than starting with the new year's day: that means I have a full brand new year to disseminate with my wishful thinking.
Encouraged and emboldened by these considerations (I cannot thank you enough for having brought them to my attention), I regret that I have not done any such committment on the new year's day of the current year (though I wasn't in the sack as well, but I was drunk dead), thus I guess I will have to wait till the beginning of the next year and then, if I am neither too drunk so to remember nor in the sack, I may start then.
I am confident I can trust in your benevolent understanding: I wanna be very serious about this idea of yours. However stay tuned because as soon as it is the new year's day of the next
year, I will begin writing a novel that will rock your world - I mean, just knowing the title sends shock waves through your veins: "Blue Penguin
" - eh, well... now, that was quite something isn't it?
It shall be a romance, settled in the 4th century Iceland, about a kid who witnesses the arrival of an UFO who kidnaps his girlfriend to make vicious experiments on her before releasing her in Greenland. That's where all started.
Now that I come to think of that, it is better I have not made any committment this new year's day. My idea is so brilliant, that in this manner I shall have a whole year to moon about it.
Stay tuned. Blue penguins shall triumph: they always do, in the -
I find the example your brought very enlightening: "she run for her life, then spun to face him": actually, with such thrilling a line I wonder why you should be concerned about where to place the comma; if a woman is running for dear life, and as soon as she turns a corner her pursuer is magically in front of her rather than behind her, in such a world who cares anymore about commas.
"she run for her life then, spun to face him" - would mean she run for her life at that time, although with the intention to (or doomed
to) spun at his face
"she run for her life, then spun to face him" - would mean she run for her life, during the course of which aforementioned unruly and unurban action she spun nonetheless at his face.
"she run for her life then spun to his face" - well you see: now it could mean both of the above, leaving it to the reader to guess which one best suits the context. I admit there is the sensible expectation and predominance to interpret for the latter. Yet, to avoid the misunderstanding, some place a comma: to mean, hey I meant the latter not the former. She was not running at a past time, bound to spun at his face, neither she was running at that ole time, with the intention to spun at his face, neither she was running once upon a time yet doomed to spun his face; but she was running, when suddenly at an immediately subsequent time she spun to his face.
"she run for her life, then spun to face him" may be open to further interpretation; that is, she run for her life, and suddenly she found herself spun, that is: she did not spun, she was
spun. Somebody grabbed her and spun her like a puppet, in order
to force her to face him. She was in very fateful a situation indeed!
Then, they fell in love.
Then they fell in love - without a comma, ah! how rude that would be! one needs a convenient pause to make the reader savour the lapse, that magic moment that empahsizes time (then, then!) and after that places even love after it. Then, they fell in love!
Then... they fell in love!
No, that would not do: the dots make it seem the subsequent information a joke. Nah, after then
a comma if then
is at the beginning of a sentence, and if it isn't, the comma goes soon before it.
I am sure this is now crystal clear to you, and that your anguish has been significantly assuaged.
Instead, a sentence as the following is arguably surely wrong:
,Then they fell in love.
In fact, it gives the idea we're dealing with a fragment from a pre-Socratic philosopher, whose previous text was consigned to oblivion by the inclemency of age and weather.
Also a sentence like:
,then, they fell in love
doesn't seem to work but is more intriguing. The ",then," is totally suspended and, being so irrational, it's beautiful too in its own weird manner.
Also, see this;
See what marvels a then
followed by a period may do? You suddenly realize, then, that Then
is an important word, rich with echoes and meanings. You use it every day and yet - pam! a mere period, the most insignificant of the Euclidean elements and boom there we go! The realm of fairy tales opens its gates in front of us:
Then, place commas near it: a then
is worth them and a savvy combinations of thens with punctuations, may repay you a thenfold times.
All great authors carefully avoid semi-colons (I think there is not one single Nobel winner, andn not even an Oscar's one, who ever used a semi-colon; it is a Nobel winning requirement, check your records; although, well, winning the Nobel and being a great author is not necessarily the same thing). (by the way, there is an even more harrowing issue: when you close a bracket, the punctuation that ends the period in the bracket ought to be inside the brackets, outisde them, in both places, or nowehere to be seen?).
(and, even more: if your bracketed period ends with a question mark, and, alas!,
also the main period that includes the bracketed period ends when the bracketed one ends - you're out of luck man!-,
should a full stop be placed soon after the question mark and the bracket, or not, or should perhaps the question mark be placed, perhaps, outside the brackets?) (not only, but what if you have more bracketed thoughts? Is there a law against having them, or you may have them and as many as you wish? and if you have them, may you write a period where a bracket closes and soon after that a new one opens?)?(and what if you have a bracketed thought and a dashed one in it that ends exactly when the bracketed thought ends - should we place the ending dash too and a full stop and close the bracket and then another full stop, or what?-).
(or, imagine you have a bracketed thought and yet another one comes to your mind whilst it is still open, sholuld you use square brackets [and what if you have any combination of the above - how're you gonna behave-?]).
Think about that; youy're just scratching the tip of a huge iceberg, and you won't like what the iceberg does if you scratch it too much; have you ever tried scratching an iceberg? let me tell you, that's something definitely not to do.
First of all (although i have not placed this in the first position but trust my word i meant it as first of all, only i had no room lef in the first paragraph; you see!), its name: whatever starts with the prefix "semi" followed by a dash, ought to be seen with the utmost suspicion by default. Would you buy a semi-car, marry a semi-wife, or eat a semi-course?
No you wouldn't. So why you're there flirting with a semi-colon? You may flirt with a demi-goddess and I may say to you oh oh behaveee
- but flirting with a semi-colon that is not even a demi-colon is definitely a no no
Then, consider it more attentively:
would you trust anybody with such a look? Would you borrow an used pencil from him?
It's clearly biased - in fact, why we haven't a semi-apostrophe too? That is, the dot on bottom and the comma on top: that would be very useful. For instance if you have to truncate a word, but you don't really mean to seem unrespectful, you may flag your kindness using the semi-apostrophe. But i think that the semi-aphostrophe lost his war (in fact I think he is male) against the semi-colon because actually a semi-apostrophe is bent to be interpreted as rude; in fact, it may mean also that you truncated a word (the uppermost comma) and that you also wanted to end it there (the bottom-most full stop); now, would you speak to a guy who truncates a speech like that and dumps you right there, leaving you without the chance of adding even one more word? No, you wouldn't - and, most importantly, you shouldn't.
So, that's how the semi-colon won.
Yet, if we don't use the semi-apostrophe, do we want to be so slanted and partial to serve his sister, the semi-column, with a better fate?
No; whoever is interested in true justice may not condone such awful deeds.
Take Emily Dickinson: she avoided semi-colons and she used dashes instead.
Yeah, actually everybody complained all the same; I mean, why using a dash when you can use a semi-colon?
So your friend is very right in his suggestion and stance: don't use semi-colons; or, if you really really cannot avoid using them (though sparingly, very sparingly of course) avoid making him or whoever feels like him read your works where you placed semi-colons in.
As a matter of fact, don't make him read anything: whoever that, reading a work of the soul, minds semi-colons, should read phonebooks - he won't find any, there. A true masterpiece;
All extremely accomplished writers like myself invariably cast in iron their plots.
First of all, in all my major novels there must be a woman. A woman is absolutely necessary.
She is tall and must be rigorously blonde (sorry, no brunettes in my novels; if you want to read about brunettes go read someone else please), she is endowed with very long legs and tight hips and with very long hair and she is a very buxom lady indeed (this is a must). She must wear always very classy dresses, preferably bright red and finely matched with red stockings and aggressive red lipstick and heavy makeup, and she never walks on anything else but stilettos. When she walks her chest must always be particularly prominent forward, stack out superbly, visibily bouncing, and permanently on the verge of a nipple slip that never actually occurs (thats good to keep your reader nailed to the chair, in the hope that moment arrives, also when your pages start lacking brilliancy).
From her looks and every move she takes, you must tell she is one real lady.
Choose a fancy name for this outstanding first-rate lady: something that helps the reader to picture in his mind an exotic world brimming with promises and palms rustling in the gentle warm and tepid ocean breeze, bacardis and martinis sipped nearby a big pool with azure waters, and lots of chicks in slim tangas visibly swaying their firm and magnificently tanned buttocks as they unceasingly pass by and are all invariably intent at smiling broadly and winking to the fascinating reader with outgoing grins; I dunno, you know some classy name like, say, Natasha, or Irina, or Ludmilla, or Magda, or Olga.
However, were you to call her Nadine, prefer Nadiah to that (be sure to append an h
in such case, or the name won't work as expected).
Then there must be a sleuth - a PI you know. He is normally a heavy smoker, has a moustache, very virile looks, a troubled past (on which you don't really need to detail too much: if you leave it not totally defined, it will look even worse than what it is - and that's a good trick also), he has a small office full of stuff, cig stumps and abandoned cans, and an eerie amount of G-strings casually popping out from every drawer (but he cannot remember whose those are, and that's important also); the door to this office is windowed and he has a bottle of Jack on his desk (this is mandatory).
Choose a good name for him, preferably a four letter name - something that will make him look very rugged and virile as by all accounts he is at all times; say, dunno: Nick Smarter, or Mike Shooter, or Dick Harder - however, be sure his first name is always prefixed to his second one, ok?
This name must be chosen carefully because it ought to appear as the very first thing that you write in the very first line of your very first paragraph (you may have noticed already that all quality novels invariably
begin with a person's name), dunno say: «Mike Shooter extracted his big, huge revolver, and shot him right in between his left and right eye, saying: "nothing personal"», or «Nick Smarter was sitting at his desk when the unmistakable scent of a voluptuous female body reached him evidently propagating from the stairwell: being a very experienced investigator had its pleasurable moments», or «Dick Harder knew how to do it better», or «Jim Banger introduced himself unsmilingly: "My name is Banger, Jim Banger. What can I do for you?", whereupon the blonde bombshell who planned to hire him paused a moment and then said "I am sure more than one thing mr. Banger, mr. Jim
This character must carry a huge revolver under his armpit at all times, and when he showers (be sure the shower is very very steamy) he must not leave his revolver out - so dangerous his life is and so many enemies are constantly seeking him to take him out that he just cannot afford staying without it even an instant.
Then there must be a very big and very, very old manor in the country.
Inside this manor there must be:
1) a very very old lady, almost decrepit, who is the owner of the manor. She is also particularly nasty, and yet gentle; I mean, in fact there must be also:
2) a cat. This cat is the fav pet of the aforementioned very old and very very decrepit lady. She has signed papers that leave all her belongings to the cat upon her demise (a demise that, although she is so decrepit, never seems to come about). But for how much she is very nice to her cat, she is not so in the least to the third inhabitant of the big big manor, to whom instead she is utterly tyrannical and which is:
3) a Butler. A butler is absolutely necessary. It gives the impression we're in a very wealthy and old fashioned manor indeed. He must be slightly overweight, his face redish, in his early sixties, and must be very polite, unobtrusing, and discreet. A true professional, impeccable at all times.
There must be then an Insurance company. The insurance company must have signed a paper with the old decrepit lady that says that in case the cat dies, and the lady also dies, the only other person left in custody of the manor must be considered legally entitled to it all.
Then, suddenly an horrific crime happens in the manor: the lady is found dead, horribily scratched and with deep cuts everywhere.
Yet, also the cat is dead, strangled to death.
You can be pictorial about the crime scene, if you want: for instance, indulge on the horrors of the cat (preferably a white cat) laying at the feet of the old lady, with his four legs outsretched and rigid all up in the air, his claws still extracted with coagulated blood on them (both hind and fore), paralyzed in the most severe rigor mortis
, his tongue fully out pending from one edge of his mouth, and his eyes must be open wide and transfixed staring into a void gape as to hint that he had to witness the sight of some unbearable horror and that he had to contemplate the utterly unimaginable at the very last horrid instant of his regrettably premature departure.
The PI is invited by the federals to provide his incredibly valuable opinion (in his troubled past he had been a federal too, in fact, but he was ousted when he began investigating a case of corruption within the office - flashbacks
), and every federal agent thinks it is what it seems: one day the cat, clearly annoyed by the excessive attentions of the lady, mildly scratched her once.
Yet since the lady was so old and so decrepit, the minimal bleeding could bring her on the verge of imminent and sudden death.
At that point the lady, in order to save her life from the first scratch, started strangling the cat to be sure a second (and certainly fatal) scratch would not follow.
A furious battle ensued, where the cat was fighting for dear life, and the lady also: and yet they did not understand each other (be poetic here and explain briefly how we all are drawn to stars that want us not), and eventually both perished in this fateful misunderstanding, both in the most miserable and gruesome manner.
Place also some scratches on a wall: the cat, in a last ditch and desperate and yet vain attempt to escape his merciless pursuer, tried heroically to climb the perpendicular wall; but, alas, a conveniently placed fluff of white hair in one hand of the dead old, very old, and very decrepit lady (by then even more so, since she's dead) shows that she pursued him till the bitterest end, viciously determined to get away with it and, evidently pulling the cat from his tail in the most ruthless fashion, brought him back on the ground where the last instants of this agonizing and mortal fight must have so clearly occurred.
Be sure this tuft of cat hair is placed in her left hand - however, when you describe how the lady signed the papers with the insurance company, she did it with her right hand as everybody in the room at that time immediately noticed and so vividly and so clearly remembers till today.
Although the federals are persuaded of this version, which seems so plausible and matches so well with the perfect records that interrogating the impeccable and starched butler produced, the sleuth is far too smart to get fooled by first impressions and deceived by appearances (as instead all the federals invariably are), and his sagacity becomes immediately apparent by the way he glints around the crime scene, and the manner in which he significantly pauses looking on the faultless butler and his strangely, all too strangely, tightly buttoned livery cuffs.
At this point, casually describe a hunt rifle hanging from a wall: just one line about it. You will come back to it later, when in the last three pages the culprit is finally found out by the insightful sleuth and, in a boisterous and disorderly display of true colors, will vainly attempt to use it to threat him (gunshots in the dark will follow, and a pause will be placed here: oh my, what may have happened?!).
It is not clear, at this point, why the buxom blonde lady appears in the manor: but that's not relevant because when one true lady like that appears, all eyes are on her balcony staring at her mind-blowing rack, so nobody has time to wonder or asks too many questions.
A great love story, one true
true love at first sight, immediately ensues between the sleuth, who is terribly fascinated by the intellectual personality of the blonde woman and her ideas, and the blonde woman who finds that the sleuth is the very first man in her life who did not stop at her mere physical appearances (which caused to her a great deal of unfair discrimination, so that she had to spend so many nights crying alone in the dark).
As the love story and the mystery story both unfold, all the readers are kept holding their breaths, anxiously awaiting to see who could ever be the unlikely and inconceivable culprit of this awesome thriller.
Write something like that, and it will never fail to sell.