Rainbow Boys and other novels
about love and friendship - for teens and adults
by
Alex Sanchez

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Advice about writing?

Many of you write to me asking for advice about writing.

I think William Faulkner said it best. In accepting the 1950 Nobel Prize for Literature, he declared:

"The young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself, which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat."

"He must learn them again. He must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid… It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past."

Here are some more thoughts of my own:


When I first began writing, my thoughts would get jumbled and I struggled to put down on paper what I wanted to say. I thought I could never get past the first page, but I kept trying. Eventually I reached out for help. With the encouragement of friends, I managed to commit to finish what I started.

Have you ever been to a museum and seen an art student with an easel copy a painting hanging on the wall? They do that in order to learn. The equivalent applies to writing. Take a book that moves you and actually copy your favorite parts. It will reveal much to you about what makes good writing. It's a great way to learn by experiencing how different writers write.

In addition, read your work aloud--to yourself and to others.

Imagery:
When you write, appeal to as many senses as possible-visual images, sounds, tastes, smells, colors, and textures.

Characters:
With each paragraph, ask yourself: What is each character thinking? What is each character feeling? How do they show it?

Dialog:
Use dialog sparingly. Actions really do speak louder than words.

What to write about?

Write what you care about. Write what you're most scared and embarrassed to write. Write what you would like to read and can't find. Give voice to those who have no voice.

Surround yourself with people who will give you confidence and build you up as a writer. Encouragement is so important.

Don't worry about being published or finding an agent. First, WRITE AND FINISH YOUR BOOK!

Also, if you are a young writer, check out this website:
http://www.thisispush.com/

And, if you are writing a book for teens or children, join:
http://www.scbwi.org

And, and, and, read my writing advice post at:
The Naughty Book Kitties: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Writing But Were too Afraid to Ask

Have courage, be true to who you are, reach out for help, and follow your dreams!
Peace, Alex

Kurt Vonnegut's eight rules for writing a story:

  • Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted. It's the writer's job to stage confrontations, so the characters will say surprising and revealing things, and educate and entertain us all.
  • Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  • Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water. Characters paralyzed by the meaninglessness of modern life still have to drink water from time to time. When you exclude anyone's wanting anything, you exclude the reader, which is a mean-spirited thing to do.
  • Every sentence must do one of two things — reveal character or advance the action.
  • Start as close to the end as possible.
  • Be a sadist. Now matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them — in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  • Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.  Every successful creative person creates with an audience of one in mind. That's the secret of artistic unity.
  • Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.