Monday, November 14, 2011

Wee Writing Wisdoms

I'm trying out a new feature here at It's a Mystery - Wee Writing Wisdoms. It's a chance for each of us to leave a wee bit of writing wisdom for everyone else who cares to stop by.  I'm a firm believer that anything which makes any of us feel less isolated in what can be a very isolating path is a very good thing.


What's my inaugural Wee Writing Wisdom?


Don't Begin with Backstory.

Now, I'm not talking about Prefaces because that's a beast of a completely different colour. I'm referring to those first crucial 50 pages or so, when you're trying to entice your reader to read on. It took me some time before I realized readers don't need to know a character's background the first time they meet them. Yes, that incident is important, but readers don't need to know it now. You've got a whole book to shade and contour your characters' portraits - take your time. Let your readers be introduced to each character in the here and now and learn about their past in the future.

Please leave your own Wee Writing Wisdom in the comment section. I look forward to reading and learning from all of you.

Remember. You're not alone.


  1. What a cool concept :)

    And your first bit of wisdom is excellent.

    Mine is write from the heart. If you're not passionate about your characters and story, your readers won't be either.

  2. Carol; You're so right! Thanks for being the first to leave a Wee Writing Wisdom!

  3. Elspeth - What a wonderful idea!! Thank you for leading this :-). I know I'll learn a lot just from reading your first sage bit of advice.

    My Wee Wisdom? Pay attention to your own reaction to what you write. If you feel that your work is flowing, it probably is, even if it needs editing. If you get the feeling something's wrong, don't ignore it. It needs work.

  4. Margot; What a wonderful Wee Wisdom! I agree with you completely, we all must learn to listen to our instincts, which (I think) is the good twin of the evil self-editor who (I'm sure) we're all too familiar with.

  5. I have always loved the advice to start as close to the middle of the story as possible. My wombmate credits Vonnegut with this wisdom.

  6. Elisa; My question is, if you start in the middle, doesn't that make the middle the beginning? Seriously, you've shared Writing Wisdom from a Wise Wombmate.

  7. Oh, great idea! I am going to share: if you show up regularly, eventually your muse will know where to find you.

  8. Think of back story as how much information you'd reveal to someone you're just meeting at a cocktail party.

    My wee wisdom ... write it anyway, because YOU need to get a feel for the back story. Then delete it from the MS and trickle it in as you go. (Of course, if you're like me and don't plot, you'll probably be discovering back story as you go.)

    Terry's Place
    Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

  9. Hart; Thanks for sharing that wisdom, which is so, so true!

    Terry; What a marvelous way of thinking about back story! Thank you. I'm going to remember that.

  10. Mine is: Keep your eyes and ears open for your next story. Everything is fair game. :)

  11. Keep a notebook of characters/traits.

    Love this idea!


  12. JM; Too true!

    Mary; That notebook is a great idea - it can save your sanity. Or, add to the madness.

    Thanks to everyone for adding their Wee Writing Wisdoms!

  13. I love this idea! And being a Height-Challenged Person myself, I like the use of Wee, which to me means Small But Packed With Amazing Stuff.

    I'd like to add another angle to the back story advice: I like mysteries of all sorts and have learned that keeping the back story secret as long as possible can keep things interesting. An odd choice or behavior that seems out of character but is rooted in the character's past can make the reader ask "why?", a question that needs to be answered eventually, but not too soon. Allow for little mysteries.

  14. Just for once a writing ´rule´ that I agree with wholeheartedly.

    Quite often I find myself thinking ´yes, but´... but for once I´ll just shut up :)


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