George’s September Newsletter

Hello Writing Friends

As I mentioned in my previous writing missives, the sole intent of these newsletters is to share some things I’ve learned along the way and to encourage you all to share as well.

I’m certain that all of you are familiar with the saying: “Nor all readers are writers, but all writers are readers.” So true. That’s why I’m sharing something that Virginia Woolf said years ago:

“When the Day of Judgment dawns and the great conquerors and lawyers and statesmen come to receive their rewards – their crowns, their laurels, their names carved indelibly upon imperishable marble – the Almighty will turn to Peter and say, not without a certain envy when he sees us coming with our books under our arms, ‘Look, these need no reward.  We have nothing to give them here.  They have loved reading.'”

While it isn’t a bright line that separates writers, when I speak with some of you I come to realize that most of us lean one way when we write fiction: we are either plot driven or character driven. To provide the most extreme examples I can think of, two long-running television shows capture the difference. Law and Order is plot-driven and Seinfeld is character-driven. Enough said.

I’m an extreme example of a plot-driven writer (I suspect it comes from being an introvert). That is why I read everything I can regarding how to develop characters. Here is an article that I keep handy when I need some inspiration: For all of you – plot- or character-leaning writers – I think that you’ll find these pithy descriptions of ten familiar characters refreshing.

Speaking of characters, here is some advice one of my writing mentors shared with me regarding how to write conversations so the characters all don’t sound alike. He suggested that there are three techniques: One is to give each major character a keyword or phrase so that when you read it, you know it is that person. Another method is to use odd diction or syntax, so again, when you read it, your brain knows it is a different character. A third tool can be used if English is not the native tongue of the speaker, which allows you to use either the actual language, or a transliteration, or an Anglicized version of the words the way they are pronounced.

That brings me to some book news I’d like to share. I have offered writing advice to many people individually, as well as through writing seminars. It occurred to me that it might be useful to put what I’ve learned into a book. It contains not just my thoughts, but also those of my Braveship Writers colleagues. Here is a link to my website, where you can learn more about the book: You’ll see it on the slider and if you click on the arrow you’ll see more. Here is what one professional writer, Robert Masello, had to say about Braveship Writers Share Their Secrets:

Although much of this invaluable book is focused on writing thrillers, I found lots of useful advice and welcome inspiration in it for all kinds of writing—articles, essays, memoirs, fiction of all stripes. I’ve been toiling in these fields for decades, and I’ve even written a few books on writing myself; but to find a book that’s as straightforward, informative, and just plain conversational as this one is rare. It’s like having a private consultation, over a beer and pretzels, with a group of insiders willing to spill the secrets and answer all the pressing questions about everything from conception to publication, and beyond.

Finally, whenever I find an article online or in print that I find useful in upping my writing game, I put these it on my website:  If you go to the site you’ll see “Blog” at the top and the pull down menu takes you to “Writing Tips.” Perhaps you’ll find some of these useful.

Thanks for tuning in. I’d love to hear about your latest writing project(s).

All the best – George