I think most writers, if they have been bedding down words on paper for any length of time, have come across these questions.
Where do you get your ideas? How do I write a book? What should I name my character? How do I get published? How do I know where to start? How do I know when to stop? Why do my stories die in the middle? What does ‘show vs. tell’ mean? My best friend tells me my writing is really good so why do I need an editor? Where can I find publishers to send my story to?
Those types of questions have been asked so often that they have become clichés, and questions that make many grown inwardly when they hear them. What I can’t figure out is, why, if these are so common, do people keep asking them? All you have to do is go to the Books section of Yahoo Answers and you’ll find hundreds of variations on these same questions. It seems like these have been answered so, so many times, that the answers should be floating out there waiting to descend on the next person who asks how to get rich writing.
I think most of these must be basic building blocks in taking up a life of writing. These are the questions that weed out those who ache to tell a story and those who think writing is a get-rich-quick (and easy) job. They get asked so often because there are so many newbies out there. Does that mean we should roll our eyes or run away when someone asks one of these? Of course not, because everyone deserves to be treated with dignity. And beyond that, a beginning writer should be held in the palm of our hand and supported, because once upon a time, someone answered our questions and supported us.
We were supported until we moved past those oh-so-blatant beginning writer questions and started asking a new set. How can I make my dialog more believable? Why do my characters feel so cardboard? Help me understand scene/sequel. How do I get rid of those passive verbs?
This new set of questions become a platform for clichés, where more experienced writers step. And so on and so on. Will we ever get to the point where we don’t ask questions that someone else sees as obvious, boring, and a sign of our lack of skill? I doubt it. I just hope that no matter how many questions I ask, there will always be someone there willing to take a moment and answer with respect.
After all, I think the best thing I have learned over the years of asking questions, is that the best answer always includes empathy.
And let’s face it. After years of writing and of having days when I feel like I’m not a beginner, I still posted a blog not that long ago wanting to know how to find a title for my story. Guess I’ll cringe here, laugh, and go back to the pen and paper. But hey, what’s the most embarrassing question you’ve asked about writing, or been asked?