Happy Birthday, Karen! You’re an amazing writer and writer-friend, loved by all who know you. Thank you for your willingness to be a patient teacher of the craft, manuscript after manuscript, draft after draft, year after year. Even more heartfelt thanks for being a treasured friend who walks this path with us every day. Don’t know where we’d be without you!
The First Ten Tips On Writing and the Writing Life From Karen Lin
1. If you know of a writer-friend who’s been accepted, rejected, discouraged, or approaching a deadline, take food! Writer-friend food possesses magical powers.
2. Search and delete your ms for the word “then.”
3. Don’t be afraid to be a poet and use words in unusual and evocative ways, as long as it doesn’t distract your reader.
4. When using color in a description think of something that evokes a vivid image of that color, not the name of the color itself, e.g., emerald grass.
5. There is a shadow side to even the sunniest story and character. Don’t ignore it, or your story will suffer.
6. Don’t circle around what you want to say; come out and say it directly. Help the reader (and the acquiring editor/agent) move through the story effortlessly and without distractions.
7. Your villain is the hero of his own story. Give him his due.
8. Be careful not to pop the balloon of suspense. Tell the story as it unfolds, not by looking backward from a position of safety, which reveals that your character survived to tell the tale. (Unless you’ve chosen that style deliberately, for a Daphne du Maurier effect, with all that entails.) Also, don’t remove tension by starting with temptingly dramatic statements like “It was over” before you describe what happened.
9. Keep the thesaurus open on your screen!
10. Be on the lookout for passive statements that suck the energy out of prose.
Happy Birthday, Inkpot, with heartfelt thanks from a grateful Sister of the Quill and all your pupils!