Questions Answered!

Q    What is the first, second and third person in writing?

A   These are your choices for the voice, or viewpoint for your narrator to tell the story.

First person is the “I” voice, allowing the narrator to tell only what he sees or

experiences. He cannot get into the heads of the other characters. It’s

traditionally used in detective stories.

Second person narrators use the “you” voice in two possible ways. They address

the reader and encourage him to imagine himself a character in the story.

Alternatively the narrator speaking in the second person “you” is substituting for

“I”, but is distancing himself, his ego and his emotions. Second-person narration

is uncommon, but striking.

Stories written in the third person provide an omniscient narrator who can

describe everything, get into the head of any and all characters. He is not a

character himself.

A story need not restrict itself to one voice throughout. Often different chapters

are presented in different voices.

Q    When is the best time of day to write?

A    There is no right answer to this. You will discover your own best time.

Some writers choose early morning, before the world wakes up, when an

uninterrupted hour beckons. The light is growing brighter and thoughts are

uncensored. For others, inspiration strikes while they are walking the dog, or

heading to work. Have your phone or other device with you to record thoughts,

or words. Public transit passengers can scribble in a notebook on the way to

work. Fifteen minutes during your break, or at lunch, or in a coffee shop is enough

time to write a page or two. Night owls are prolific. Thoughts they’ve nursed all day 

now bloom, flourish, and grow into paragraphs. You’ll find your time.

Q Do you find music helps you concentrate?

A I tend to focus pretty well when I’m on a roll writing on my screen. But I do find

that some background music or other sounds can help. I use Coffitivity. It’s a website

that plays the background sounds of coffee shops and offers different moods or

times of day - the lunchtime crowd, or the lower notes of evening, or more excited

tones of morning for example. It makes me think other people are around me and

keeps me at my task. will get you there.

Q Do you find writing in a cafe stimulating?

A Yes I do, although I know it’s not for everyone. I don’t use coffee shops much

these days (for a great simulation see Coffitivity above), except when I’m away from

home. I once spent four weeks in Florence and almost every day spent a couple of

hours at the local coffee place. It moved my novel on at a terrific pace – and the

environment was just as terrific.

Q Do you find alcohol helps stimulate your creativity or calms your mind to focus?

A “Write drunk, edit sober,” is a maxim attributed to Ernest Hemingway, a well-

known drinker, and an even better-known writer. Seems, though, that even

Hemingway didn’t follow that line of thought, since he usually wrote in the morning

and didn’t start drinking until the afternoon. The point is that drinking and writing may

seem to go well together, until you read what you’ve written the next day. Don’t drink

and drive. Don’t drink and write. Drink and read by all means as you wish. Writing is

a serious business. Your head needs to be clear, and your creativity needs to be

flowing much more than the booze.

Q How many words are there on a page of a book?

A There are 250-300 words per page in a book. The word count varies with the

typography and font size the writer uses in the text. Smaller font sizes give room for

more words while bigger fonts take up more space.

Typically, a novel’s word count ranges from 50,000 to 100,000 words or approximately

150 to 350 pages.

Q What are some of the habits of successful writers?

A Read, read, read. Try to read every day. It will enrich your vocabulary and you will get

more ideas for your writing. Be sure to diversify your reading material.

Write, write, write. Develop a daily writing habit. Set aside time to free-write 200 words a

day, approx. 15 to 20 minutes. It will allow you to get your thoughts on paper without

worrying about grammar and punctuation. Keep a journal.This is different from 

the daily 200 words. Journaling is writing about yourself, your goals and motivations. 

Learn about writing.Take free on-line writing courses.Take in-person workshops and courses.

Carry a small notebook with you at all times to jot down ideas or phrases wherever you

are. Imitate writers you admire by discovering their style and trying to emulate it until you

develop your own. Make story/plot outlines. It is important to have a solid plan in mind before sitting down

to write. A simple framework may be enough. Share your writing with others. Join a Writers’ Group or start one. 

Get honest feedback. It is the only way to learn and improve. Don’t give up. Accept that 1st drafts always need work.

Two of the best books on writing are:

Stephen King / On Writing

Everybody Writes by Ann Handley