a guest post by S. S. Turner
There are many great books available on how to write well. It’s one of those subjects most authors like to believe they’re an expert about. There’s also a marketing angle behind it for many of these self-proclaimed writing experts with the underlying message being: if you want to become a better writer, the best thing you can do is buy my books. Full disclosure… I’m writing this article during the launch of my second novel The Connection Game. But I’m not here to suggest buying my book if you want to learn how to become a better writer. If that’s your goal, I’ve got an entirely different piece of advice to offer, one which is rarely emphasized as much as it should be in my experience…
First, an observation about great writers and their writing… We all know the masterworks of great writers are full of awe-inspiring writing. It’s usually their best stuff. However, I believe great writers can also write poorly and in direct contrast to their masterworks. Sometimes it’s hard to believe two books are written by the same author. For example, I adored Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, and was quite excited when he followed it up with Beatrice and Virgil. I bought a copy from a bookstore as soon as it was released and started reading it that very day. However, I was beyond disappointed. While Life of Pi was rich in meaningful metaphor amidst a fascinating emotionally-charged story, Beatrice and Virgil lacked all of those merits in my opinion. It was perplexing to me that it was written by the same author. And it inspired the question… Why do great writers also write books which are mediocre at best? And what’s the defining factor that separates their great works from the mediocre?
After reading a lot of writers’ biographies, I believe the answer to this question lies in the very nature of the stories writers are penning. Invariably, when a well-known writer is writing about a subject based on their own personal experience which they are passionate about and understand better than most readers, the quality of their writing is excellent. Conversely, when they’re venturing into subjects and stories they don’t know or understand at a deeper level, the quality of their writing generally suffers. I recently read a Mark Twain biography which confirmed this state of affairs. Whenever Mark Twain wrote stories centered around the Mississippi River, he knew as much about the subject as anyone else since he’d worked for many years as a river boat captain. More than that, he was passionate about river life. He loved it. This love for the river oozes onto the page in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in profound ways that give the novel unusual depth. I believe it’s this love for a subject that allows great writers to create their greatest writing.
With these observations in mind, my practical advice to writers is to write out a list of subjects, themes, and settings that you are passionate about and know a lot about. Include anything on the list that you are an expert in which also inspires positive emotions in you. For example, if you’re passionate about travelling, include that on the list along with the countries who know better than most. Then, when you’re thinking up story ideas, I recommend using this list as the source. For the writer passionate about travel, I can almost guarantee your writing about travelling to your favorite countries will be better than your writing about subjects you are less enthusiastic about. This isn’t rocket science, but in my experience writers don’t spend enough time considering what to write about. I think too many of us mistakenly believe we can write well about any subject. Just remember, the world’s best writers have generally unlocked their best writing when they’ve written about subjects they know and love.
“A one-of-a-kind tale … a surprising and entertaining piece of work.”
– Bill Fitzhugh, author of A Perfect Harvest.
Benny Basilworth makes connections. A rare intellect, he sees things that others don’t see and draws conclusions that others completely fail to grasp. He has the kind of mind that can make a person a national sensation on the television gameshow “The Connection Game”– and the kind of mind that can be the target of predators.
Despite his brilliance, Benny and his family find themselves destitute, living in a basement apartment with one tiny window that affords them only the view of the feet of passersby on the street above. It is from this vantagepoint that Benny once again starts making connections. Mad, inconceivable connections. Connections that can change lives . . . and turn the entire world upside down.
Humorous, surprising, wise, and remarkably perceptive, The Connection Game is a novel unlike any other and one that you are unlikely to forget.
About the Author
S.S. Turner has been an avid reader, writer, and explorer of the natural world throughout his life, which has been spent in England, Scotland, and Australia. He worked in the global fund management sector for many years but realized it didn’t align with his values. In recent years, he’s been focused on inspiring positive change through his writing as well as trying not to laugh in unfortunate situations. He now lives in Australia with his wife, daughter, two dogs, two cats, and ten chickens. He is the author of one previous novel, Secrets of a River Swimmer.THE CONNECTION GAME Book Tour Giveaway
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