writing inspiration

Your unconscious mind

April 29, 2015

Walter Mosley, best known for his Easy Rawlins book series–the first of which was made into the movie Devil in a Blue Dress starring Denzel Washington and Don Cheadle–wrote about writing in 2007. The slim volume, in six chapters, lays out the general disciplines that every writer needs; the elements of fiction; where to begin; rewriting, or editing; miscellany; and a two-paragraph in summation. Here are some of my favorite nuggets of Mosley’s writerly wisdom.

The first thing you have to know about writing is that it is something you must do every day…There are two reasons for this rule: getting the work done and connecting with your unconscious mind…A novel is larger than your head (or conscious mind)…The way you get to this unconscious place is by writing every day. Or not even writing. Some days you may be rewriting, rereading, or just sitting there scrolling back and forth through the text. This is enough to bring you back into the dream of your story…

As often as possible the fiction writer shows us events and active characters, vivid images and real dialogue, rather than telling us about the inner workings of someone’s mind or the reality of a situation…If you can include the physical reactions to the emotional situations that your characters find themselves in, you will be bring your readers closer to the experience of the novel…

A novel is the one and the many. There is an overarching story, and then there are all the smaller narratives that come together to make up that larger tale…

Most writers tend to overwrite…Every time characters in your novel speak, they should be (1) telling us something about themselves; (2) conveying information that may well advance the story line and/or plot; (3) adding to the music or the mood of the scene, story, or novel; (4) giving us a scene from a different POV (especially if the character who is speaking is not connected directly to the narrative voice); and/or (5) giving the novel a pedestrian feel…

All novels have similar elements. They have a beginning, middle, and end. They have characters who change and a story that engages; they have a plot that pushes the story forward and a sound that insinuates a world…

This process [of writing a novel] will transform you. It will give you confidence, pleasure, a deeper understanding of how you think and feel; it will make you into an artist and a fledging craftsperson.

–Walter Mosley, This Year You Write Your Novel

photo courtesy of npr.org
photo courtesy of npr.org

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