The Nature of Writing
by Phyllis M. Newman
It’s a bad day when the only thing I’ve written is a grocery list. Any serious writer must work every day, even if it is only for twenty minutes. I have sometimes done my most interesting writing in short spurts. But it also goes without saying that I am thinking of my story and my characters all the time. I keep a small notebook with me to jot down ideas, words, and phrases that I will want to use. Younger writers will no doubt use their phones or other electronic devices for this purpose (I have never gotten beyond the pure pleasure of writing cursive, pen in hand, on paper.) And don’t wait until ‘the mood strikes’ to create. That is a surefire way to never get anything accomplished.
I sit at the computer and compose daily, even if I have no clear ideas or goals about my project. I might start with penning interesting scenes, unusual characters and their interaction with others, or descriptions of places. I love to create mood, intrigue, or romantic interludes. When I do this, it leads me to an idea for the plot, then another. This is always fun for me, to see where just fooling around takes me.
I like to think of my writing as poetry and having a particular cadence. I try to make each sentence and each description unusual, to always capture the unexpected. I like to create original metaphors and use words in unique ways. I have used, for instance ‘impossibly green’ as a descriptor in one book, and ‘normal is just a setting on the dryer’ in another. ‘My relationships last no longer than a breath mint,’ is yet another example of a fun metaphor. The trick is to make them fit the mood of the story or the character I am creating.
I am not always able to use descriptions or metaphors that I develop in the final draft of my work, but meanwhile I am engaged and feeling creative. When I contemplate writing a new novel, I try always to make it fun. For me that means creating unusual characters or situations, odd word choices, or poetic descriptions. I find that the plot is the least important thing to me and I struggle with that most of all. I also find that I don’t map out my major themes in the beginning, but they always emerge. The impressive thing about it is, different readers see different themes. I am always surprised by that.
The biggest surprise for me as a writer is that you do not do it alone. At least not successfully. If you want to develop your very best work, you do it in a group setting. Creditable writing that resonates with the reader is done within a dedicated writing group.
I belong to a merry little band of colleagues called Company of Writers here in Columbus, Ohio, who go well beyond grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure in making corrections and recommendations. They communicate what they see (or, often, don’t see) in the mood, arc of the story, conflict, plot and character development. I don’t always see it their way, or even take their advice, but they encourage me and spur me on to thinking through trouble spots I don’t even notice. I work harder and better with their advice and support.
I am often amazed to find that most of my story is still in my head, and I haven’t managed to get it down on paper. To put it another way, I bring in rough stones for them to look at, and they polish and finish to a shine. I am grateful for their clarity, perspicacity, and advice.
My new novel, THE CLEARING IN THE WOODS, shows the effects of their brilliance. My writing is richer, fuller, and deeper because I have taken their commentary seriously. Thanks to them, I have presented strong, determined main characters inhabiting a unique story that will take readers to a unique place.
Clearing in the Woods
by Phyllis M. Newman
About Clearing in the Woods
Clearing in the Woods
Women’s Psychological/Crime Fiction
Publisher: Independently published (October 31, 2019)
Paperback: 321 pages
Digital ASIN: B07ZTZMTVS
Roberta escapes her humdrum middle-class existence and the persistent ache of her dead mother’s secrets by fleeing to Alaska. Having abandoned everything she’d spent her life building, Roberta remakes herself in another place, doing anything other than responding to the demands of her self-absorbed husband, her entitled kids, and her Pottery Barn home. Taking her first job since college, and a small room above a tourists’ shop, she contemplates new vistas. She never expected, however, to find romance in the form of a handsome federal agent involved in murder and mayhem.And it is murder and mayhem, and the discovery of other’s secrets, that causes Roberta to run for her life into the Alaskan wilderness…
About Phyllis M. Newman
Phyllis M. Newman is a native southerner. Born in New Orleans, she spent formative years in Florida, Iowa, Mississippi, and on a dairy farm in Ross County, Ohio. After a long career in finance and human resources at The Ohio State University, she turned her attention to writing fiction. She published a noir mystery, “Kat’s Eye” in 2015, a Gothic mystery, “The Vanished Bride of Northfield House” in 2018, and the suspense thriller “Clearing in the Woods” in 2019. Today she lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband and three perpetually unimpressed cats, none of whom venture far from home.
Purchase Link – Amazon
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