Writing Prompt: 05/31/10

"Your phone rings. When you answer it, you make a startling discovery: the person on the other end is dead. What does he/she say and why are they calling you?"

Write for 15-30 minutes. My response will be posted 6/02/10.

Friday, April 2, 2010

What Can You Do In Six Minutes?

I want to shout out about a friend from Twitter who has a neat writing site called "Six Minute Story." I haven't used it fully yet, since at the time I went there I actually didn't have six minutes, but I'm gearing up to use it every day next week while I'm drilling.

Here's the premise: when you decide to write, you click on where it says "write" and a box opens up that offers you a hero, a villain, and a goal. A timer starts and you have six minutes to write the story. At the end, you can save it to the site and publish it, or keep it private.

This is a neat idea. One of the main problems with writing, as I see it, is that I am more or less constantly writing non-fiction. Sometimes I sit down to work on fiction and I'm stuck-- and then I start thinking about why I'm stuck and the next thing you know I've kicked out another damn blog about writing-- but no actual writing.

The only way to get good at writing fiction is to write it. Write it as often as you can. Ingest it wherever you can find it, stories, webcomics, novels, historical perspectives (which are mostly made up out of whole cloth by people who think they know what happened). Assimilate all these methods and means of fiction and then hork out some of your own.

Here's the best advice I can give: don't get attached to it. I've written stuff I thought was great and had people say it was flat, boring, and tasteless, sort of like Diet Coke. I've also written stuff I thought was dead dogshit and had people offer me publication and money for it.

The more you write, the less attached you get to your individual words, and the more practice you get at fixing/adjusting/altering when things aren't quite the way you want them to be. It also helps you take critiques more easily. People are going to criticize your work. David Eddings is one of my favorite authors and I have ripped him to shreds for everything he published from 2003 to his death last year. Chris Bunch is another one I love, but there are a few of his series that flat out stink. David Drake is probably the nicest man I've ever met, but I can't get through all of his writing. Some shines like a star, and some glitters like talcum powder.

And that's okay!

None of those writers were writing for me, personally. I'm glad that some of their books resonate within me and take me to places I'd never see on my own, but not everyone is going to do that.

You're going to be criticized. Get used to it. Don't hide your stuff away. Get it out there where people can see it and comment on it and make it more gooder.

Six Minute Story can help with all of that. It'll get you actively writing, and it'll get you a place where your writing can be read and commented on. Ask for criticism. Beg for criticism. Every time someone tells me, "I couldn't connect with that character." or "You spend too much time telling without showing us," my writing gets better.

Write on!

Christopher Rivan

Virgins Slain, Dragons Rescued.
Reasonable rates for all budgets!




  1. Now, where the hell am I gonna get six minutes these days? Just kidding.

    Sounds like a great site and I'll check it out. You're absolutely correct about writing fiction — it must be done regularly. Hauling my butt home from work, doing chores and other stuff could have been an excuse to not write every day, but I didn't allow that to happen. Instead, I carved a piece of the night for my very own. From there I birthed two books and have two more about ready for a beta read. It can be done. It should be done. If you want to be "gooder," you must be good about writing on a consistent basis.

    - Julie

  2. What a great concept! I struggle as well, caught up in a bit of a catch-22. Blogging is how I shook (some of) the rust off my long dormant writing skills, and I'm loathe to give it up. But making time to write fiction is something I rarely do. Inspiration pretty much has to beat me over the head with a metaphorical stick to get my attention these days. Great advice, Chris!

  3. I blame a lot on AADD. Not diagnosed, it's just an excuse I throw out 'cause I'm easily distracted by - SQUIRREL !!! Sorry.
    I really should check out that site, and maybe I will.
    What struck me most in this post was your line "The more you write, the less attached you get to your individual words" THAT was my biggest problem when I first started writing. I was attached to each and every word I chose. It was like painting a picture and each one was NECESSARY. I can see now how ridiculous that was/is. Just look at impressionism ...