by Rebecca Cantrell
Where did I learn to write?
By reading. Reading. And then some more reading. When I was a kid I read a novel just about every day, and I miss having the time to do that. Now I’m
lucky if I get one novel finished a week. But I’m glad I did it before I had a kid and got a job and
started working as a writer, because all that reading taught me about story, characters, description, voice,
Formal education helped. I studied creative writing in college. It was one of my triple majors. After that I took courses in the craft afterward in the evenings and at conferences.
Learning on my own has been essential too. I am still trying to learn more. Every day I try to push the boundaries of what I think I know and find new ways to tell stories. Remember iDrakula? That was a wonderful experiment in how to tell a story using only a fraction of my regular writing tools. Today I’ve been thinking about the nature of evil and the evil characters in my books, and if they’re not too Lawful Evil and not enough Chaotic Evil and why that might be. If I figure it out, that’ll help my writing. If I don’t, the time I spent thinking about it, will also help my writing.
Paid work gave me a new perspective. From technical writing I learned how to communicate clearly and efficiently, how to write to a deadline, and how to research the tiniest details because they are always more important than you think (especially when documenting things that can kill people if used incorrectly!). I also learned to expect to be paid for my work. No one thinks you will write a troubleshooting guide for a multidimensional database without someone ponying up some bucks. That taught me that words have value.
But, really, it’s mostly about the reading.