Aha! Moments in Writing

Thinking back over the years I’ve been pounding away at the keyboard (at the beginning I actually typed stories on Dad’s old police-issue Remington. It wasn’t pretty), got me thinking about moments of key realisation in the writing craft.

I guess for me the first one of these points would have to be understanding the need for true inventiveness. As for most writers, when I started off I wanted to recreate what I loved in fiction. In this case, sword-and-sorcery in a fairly familiar fantasy setting. My first ‘aha’ – triggered by the advice of a more experienced writer – was understanding the need to be original in the worlds I created. That more than anything shaped my later work.

Following that was less of an ‘aha’ I suppose than a gradual understanding of point of view. Again, like most newbies, there was plenty of head-hopping in my early efforts, although to be fair this was more common in the sort of work that was inspiring me than what is on the shelves these days.

Then the sinking realisation that being as good as what has gone before is not good enough – the writing craft moves on.

Next was probably the daunting realisation that just because I was feeling something when I wrote and/or re-read a particular passage of my own work did not mean anyone else would. That opened up a whole issue of writing craft – kind of like realising the solid bridge you were standing on was really a tightrope over an abyss. Evoking something in a reader’s mind was a lot harder than I thought.

There were plenty of others: active Vs passive, ‘show don’t tell’ , ‘direct’ experience through the use of physical sensations in a character, the ever-present struggle to create emotional resonance in the reader.

What were your ‘aha’ moments?

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