7 things I’ve learned so far by Douglas Brunt…ie cute guy

Writer’s Digest

Douglas Brunt




1. Don’t write more than 3 hours at a time. I write three hours in the morning, 9am – 12pm.  Other people are best late at night.  I try to go to the same place when I write, but that doesn’t matter much.  I’ve done lots of writing on planes and in cars, hotels.  The important thing is to write when your brain is at its best.  Work edits or do outside reading with the rest of the day.

Don’t worry about a daily word quota.  Stephen King has said he likes to get 2000 words each day.  That’s a mistake for most people.  Good for discipline but bad for a well written novel.  Three hours of creating is taxing on any brain and you should stop there.  Some days you may stop without any words at all.  It’s much easier to write new stuff the next day than to go through painful deletions of a day’s worth of crap you already wrote.

2. Try it again — without the adverbs (and never used “padded” as a verb)

Adverbs lead to overwriting.  Try taking them out and reading your prose again to see how it sounds.  Simple and less words are more powerful.

Also, I can’t stand the word ‘padded’ used as a verb.  It shows up in almost every spy novel now to tell us how someone walks undetected.  It stops me from reading more.

3. Don’t imitate anyone else’s writing style (except for the “no adverb” thing).

Don’t copy another writer’s style because that is not authentic and that’s how it will sound.  You develop your style over your whole life and through countless influences.  Don’t impose something artificial.  Style matters, but the real force of writing is ideas, not style.  And a writing style isn’t something you can just change like clothes anyway.  We’d all sound like Hemingway if that were the case.  Only Hemingway sounds like Hemingway so don’t try it.  Sound authentic instead.

I love reading Milan Kundera.  I read in English.  He writes in French and Czech.  I can’t comment much about his writing style because I’m reading the translator.  It’s his ideas I love to read.  Don’t worry too much about style.  Focus on your ideas and let your style be natural.

4. Find trusted readers and discuss.

Your spouse, a sibling, a friend need to read your drafts.  They have to be people unafraid to tell you what sucks.  For early feedback, that’s more important than professional editorial skill.  Most people know what sucks.

(How to Deal With Writing Critiques.)

5. Research.

Spend more time working before you write page one.  Then the story, at least parts of it, will feel as though it is writing itself.  Offer to take people to lunch or dinner to interview them.  People in power don’t say ‘No’ to two types: students and fiction writers.  They want to help us.  You can write off the meals as a business expense.

(How to Research a Novel.)

6. Keep the Story Moving.

I mean this in the physical sense, too.  I sometimes fall into dialogue and observations that are inert, the characters never leave their chairs.  Along with advancing the story, readers want to go places and see things.  They want to feel varied pacing and some urgency now and then.  Think of Tom Cruise sprinting (as my agent once advised), which he has done in every movie he’s ever made.

This isn’t high-literary advice.  It’s something basic.  Don’t bore the reader.

(Tips on getting your novel edited.)

7. Get thick skin.
You get criticism from agents, publishers, family, friends and reviewers on Amazon.  Some is meant to help, some not.  Use what you can for good and ignore the rest, which is easier said than done.  I still read reviews on Amazon and get bothered by them.  I like all the fours and fives.  I’ve decided that after those, I prefer the ones.  I’m certain my book is not worth one star out of five, so I must have connected with those people in some way and that’s better than indifference.


It really helped this guy was cute, FYI.  Just putting that out there.

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