Hey there, I am a professional writer and I have written quite a number of stories in my life. I even got two novels published, but telling you the names would make no sense. Both of them were rather unsuccessful and only sold a small number of copies. Believe me, being a writer can be tough at times.
These days I mostly do specific assignments or I write articles for various publications. It is not bad, I am earning some decent money, but I always detested writing articles. Or let’s say nonfiction overall. It is simply not my thing. I have always been a storyteller. But what can I say, one has to eat, right?
Well I am here today to talk about writing. As I said I love it and did ever since I was a child. I am happy to see how big this community is and how many people can appreciate the written word in these times of cheap and easy entertainment. One thing I noticed though was that many of the writers here make one single grave mistake: They don’t pay enough attention.
Not to their writing mind you, but to the world around them. As writers we have to look closer. We have to watch, see and learn. The reason is simple, without doing it you aren’t able to tell the truth and in turn your readers can’t truly see what you are trying to show them. I read a lot of the stories on here and while I found a couple great ones, the majority lacks the qualities I am look for. Things simply don’t feel real. I am not able to create a vivid picture in my mind, but instead it is just a general blur.
Good writing is different. Much different. But it also takes a whole lot more effort.
You see if I am writing about nature, I first go and take a walk. I look at the grass and let my hand slide through to feel each individual blade between my fingers. I study the strange patterns on the bark of a tree and how each individual leave is shaken in a slightly different way by the wind. I watch the birds sitting on the branches. Once I get back I put all the things I just saw on the page. That is what it truly means to paint a vivid picture in your readers mind.
The same holds true for other activities. If one of your characters is a painter, but you never held a brush in your hand, than chances are high that you will get everything wrong. Many people focus on just doing research or talking to people working in the respective field, but I feel that one is not really able to put things down as they really are. There is just something missing.
Take the example of the painter I talked about before. When I wrote a story about a painter, everything felt stilted and wrong. Even after looking into it and watching some actual videos I still couldn’t shake the feeling off that I didn’t know enough.
I got myself some paint, a few different brushes and set out to paint my neighborhood. The result was a horribly bad painting, but now I understood just how delicate brush strokes have to be at times. I learned that taking even a little too much paint at once can make it drip and run down over the rest of the painting. I know those are just amateur mistakes that good painters are able to avoid, but I didn’t know any of this. After this new experience the writing was easier and it felt more real, more alive, more true. It was an amazing feeling. The story itself was well received and I heard some of my readers wondered if I was a painter myself.
This took place a few years ago and ever since I held true to this principle of mine. I would only write about things that I had done before or I would put in the energy and try them. It didn’t mean that I had to become an actual painter or work as a chef or become a public speaker, but trying things out a few times or even once usually gave me the input I needed. I highly recommend that you’d at least give it a try.
This obviously restricted me in my choice of topics and limited my output quite a bit, but I was ok with it since my stories were so much better now. I was always the type of person who put quality over quantity.
There was one time when things took a turn for the worse in my personal life because of this. I am going to share a little private episode here. At the time I had been in a relationship with my girlfriend for over three years. I was a little pressed on money so I accepted a few questionable commissions. One of these was a story about a weird sexual fetish. I was a little deterred at the prospect of writing it, but there is some damned good money in this market.
I am not going to elaborate on what it was, but let’s just say it took a lot of convincing to have my girlfriend go through with it. The big problem was though that I didn’t seem to get the story just right. I didn’t want to miss out on the payment so we had to repeat things a couple more times during the week. She hated every second of it.
What I sent out this week was one of my finest pieces. And shortly after my girlfriend as well. She told me that she simply couldn’t deal with it anymore. She had been annoyed at me trying out and doing weird things only to be able to write about them, but it was the last straw when I got her involved in it as well. She said she felt disgusted with herself because of the things she had done. It was simply enough for her.
In the end, I guess it was for the best. She never understood the meaning of true art anyways.
From then on I was able to do a few more things that I couldn’t do before because of my relationship. To be honest, writing this sexual story had been a lot of fun. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not a writer of erotica or ever will be, but the prospect of working on another, similar story seemed very exciting.
The internet is great for this type of thing. It was easy to find a girl online who was interested. She liked that I was a writer and was more than delighted to take part in some sort of fake rape scenario.
To be honest I didn’t enjoy it at all. The sex wasn’t fun, the whole thing felt weird and it left a strange aftertaste. The story turned out great though.
I did other questionable things. Nothing sexual anymore though. After the fake rape thing I had pretty much decided to close that chapter of my life.
I had a friend who owned a night club in one of the rougher areas of town though. I spent the better part of the night there, working with the bouncers and the next day I wrote a story about it. Many people asked me why I described the breaking of bones not as the usual crack, but as a wet snap or a crunching noise. Well, because that is exactly what it sounds like.
I also wrote a story that almost got me into some real trouble. Wanting to write about drug dealing, I followed an acquaintance on his rounds selling weed and some cocaine. I was pretty nervous at the beginning, but the guy told me that things were cool and most of his customers were just college kids and some hippy potheads.
The evening ended with my acquaintance laying in a pool of his own blood and me being chased by a degenerate with a straight razor in his hand. Not a great night at all I can tell you.
Now you might be wondering why I am posting here, right? To tell you the truth I am pretty new to Reddit. A friend of mine introduced me to this sub here. He had been reading some of my newer work and had wondered why my writing had gotten so much more violent and dark over the course of the last months. I simply told him that it was what I was interested in these days. A sort of morbid curiosity.
That’s when he pointed me to this sub and told me that I’d probably enjoy the stories here. To tell you the truth, I like many of the stories here. Some writers here are very talented indeed. The problem is that most, not all, but most lack what I described in the beginning. They don’t pay attention. They don’t go the extra mile to learn a little bit about the things they write about. I on the other and am willing to. It is the core principle of my writing after all. There are many things I am eager to write about. This sub introduced me to so many new ideas.
I am sure that many of those will make for great gruesome tales. Look forward to it.