Thursday, October 20, 2011

Write Well, Sell Well, & A Swell Book to Help You Do Both

Here’s a hard question: If you end up getting your book published, do you want it to sell well?

Hard, right? ;)

I’ll stop playing and slap my serious face on now.

I’ve been reading and rereading (it’s that good) through Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain (thanks Katie Ganshert for the great recommendation) and I’m gleaning so many gold nuggets you can just call me King Tutankhamen (okay, serious face went away for only a second).

Here are some of my favorite takeaways (and my reactions) so far:

Swain: “Because feeling is the place every story starts…As a writer, your task is to bring this heart-bound feeling to the surface in your reader: to make it well and swell and surge and churn.”

My reaction: Every single book I’ve written has started with a feeling seed—some trigger emotion that prompted me to explore a character or storyline in greater detail. I’m enamored with Swain’s declaration above.

Swain: “To be a writer, a creative person, you must retain your ability to react uniquely. Your feelings must remain your own.”

My reaction: Huge one in this industry…in this “build your platform or die trying” market. Ultimately the best way to stand out is to walk in confidence, exuding exactly who God’s created you to be.

Swain: “But as Mark Twain once observed, the difference between the right word and the almost right word is as the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”

My reaction: Have you read Sarah Forgrave’s post from yesterday yet?

Swain: “So how do you make {the reader} care? You give them stake in what happens. You put them in a position where they stand to win or lose emotionally.”

My reaction: This can be challenging, but when done correctly, it’s the difference between a book tossed in a bin bound for Goodwill or a book positioned high on the shelf that you can’t help but reach for from time to time, winking at it, saluting it, or doing whatever it is you so creatively do to celebrate the way it climbed inside your heart.

And I haven’t even reached page 50. It’s tempting for me to continue sparking ongoing dialogue about this book. I’d love your thoughts on any of the above or what you think of me posting in two weeks with some more powerful messages from Techniques of the Selling Writer.

*photo from Flickr


Sarah Forgrave said...

Ohhh, I love that "well and swell and surge and churn" line...sooo good! I've read this book, but it's been a long time. I may just have to pull it out again and see what nuggets I missed the first time around. :)

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Wendy, this is such a great post! The suggestions Dwight Swain gives that you've highlighted give me much to consider as I work on my wip.

Tapping into the character's emotions can be tricky. It sounds like this book offers a lot in this aspect of writing.

Thanks for sharing them! What was your biggest take-away from this book so far?

Joanne Sher said...

Oh boy - ANOTHER book to add to my craft todo list. Reading "Writing the Breakout Novel" right now. SOO much to learn.

Casey said...

“To be a writer, a creative person, you must retain your ability to react uniquely. Your feelings must remain your own.”

That one hit me between the eyes this morning. Thanks Wendy!

Julia M. Reffner said...

I love this, Wendy. And I love "Gift from the Sea" by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. I haven't read it in a long time, but I remember some great quotes about creativity. I'll have to dig them out.

Love that Mark Twain quote, clever and ornery like so many of his words :)

Great post, I'll have to add this book to my to-read list.

Mary Vee Writer said...

I would love to read more in your next post.
When I think about my favorite books their tugging thread is compelling character emotion.
Thanks, Wendy.

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Sarah, Loved that line, too. Worth another read through.

Jeanne, Wow, biggest one...hmm, prompts me to go ahead and continue writing these posts for a while b/c there are so many.

Joanne, Have you read the workbook for that? Love it and I save myself room so I can use it for multiple novels.

Casey, That one pulled me in, too. So excited to see that addressed in this book!

Julia, Couldn't stop thinking of Sarah's post from yesterday when I read Twain's words. Yes, Gift is a treasure.

O, O, exactly the feedback I needed, Mary. Thank you!

We are ripping up our kitchen floors (to be replaced first thing tom.) I'm entirely sucked into this project. My brain is fried though. Thanks for stopping in to react to the quotes and my reactions.

Love the conversation here!
~ Wendy