A writer with a credo will not be tempted to settle for mediocrity.
Do you have a writing philosophy? Have you written it down? You haven’t? Oh, good, me neither. If you have, well, please share! A credo will act like a compass to guide our wayward thoughts and tighten our prose to bring out the awesome story that is running around in our heads.
In The Art of War for Writers, James Scott Bell gives us three essentials he’s taken from John D. MacDonald’s credo. A successful novel must have:
- A compelling story, unforgettable characters we love facing difficulties and us asking: how’s it all going to end?
- Suspension of disbelief. Take me away!
- Magical prose that sing without being too poetic
Those essentials pretty much covers it, huh? In Writing the Breakout Novel, literary agent Donald Maas adds a fourth: The passion of the author bleeds through the story and we aren’t the same after reading it.
The question then, is how? And that is what I hope to learn, to accomplish. The best way to learn is to read. So let’s take off our writing hats for the moment and explore why we love to read.
- What are your favorite books?
- Who are your favorite characters?
- Which books have swept you away to a different time, place, setting that you loved?
- What books impacted you the most?
- What are some of your favorite phrases or magical prose that just sing?
“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live…”
One of the books that impacted me the most was Christy by Catherine Marshall. I know, my tastes are all over the place. At sixteen, this story hit me hard and hinted at something I was searching for, but I didn’t know what it was at the time. It orchestrated a major turning point in my life. Crazy, huh?
Recently, I read I am Ocilla by Diane M. Graham and I think the prose are beautifully written. Once I got over the present tense, the story really swept me away on an adventure. I need to reread it now that I know what I know now about the ending. 😉 But I love, love, love this phrase:
“Flashes of sea creatures and jagged cliffs flip through my thoughts like shredded pages in a storybook, always at the edge of focus, never completely whole.”
Oh, I better stop here, otherwise I’ll get carried away. I’m sure we’ll be revisiting our love of books down the road. 🙂
So what say you?