How to Write for Fun
by TG Wolff
Everyone has a different reason for writing, but one thing should be universal: writing is fun. For many, the mandatory writing on uninteresting subjects forced on us from elementary school on up has left a bitter taste in the preverbal writing mouth. It’s akin to my distaste of plaid after twelve years of Catholic school even though I haven’t worn a schoolgirl’s skirt for thirty years. But fear not, you can overcome the rigid constraints of noun-verb-noun and intro paragraph-body-summary paragraph. It may be hard to overcome the Pavlovian habits, but it won’t be painful.
So, here’s the secret of how to write for fun…write like nobody’s going to read it.
Counterintuitive, right? Well, I’m sure you’ve heard these other popular sayings…
Dance like no one is watching, sing like no one is listening, work like you don’t need the money, love like you’ve never been hurt.
Writing, like any another other form of art, is personal. Which means how you do it is completely unique to you. When you feel like you have to follow certain rules, or if you worry about how nameless, faceless readers will react, you stifle the very part of you need for good writing. Ergo, put aside all the rules and write like nobody’s going to read it.
If it’s a funny scene, make yourself laugh. If you don’t, nobody else will.
If it’s a sad scene, make yourself cry. If you don’t, nobody else will.
If it’s a thrilling scene, make your adrenaline pump. If you don’t, everyone else will be bored.
If it’s a sexy scene, make yourself…well, you get the picture.
True story, in one of my books, the soon-to-be ex-wife of my main character dies and he has to go back to arrange the funeral. He comes back from the funeral determined to walk away from a budding romance. My editor told me I had to write the funeral scene, without it, the hero’s actions weren’t believable. It took me three days to figure out how to frame the funeral of a failed love affair, but I did. When I wrote it, I cried so hard, I gave myself a headache that lasted for three hours! The husband laughed with me, not at me (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)
I started writing to entertain myself. I was doing a lot of driving for my day job and found the radio just didn’t hold my attention. I began playing with characters in my head, which evolved into storylines. I wrote them down when I could, often in 20-30 minute spurts. Much of writing is in the figuring out of what is to be said. Some people “figure” in front of a keyboard. For me, it happens everywhere else. Walking the dog. Swimming. Chilling on the back porch. Driving across the Midwest. Writing is my reward at the end of a long day and where I go to play when life is heavy.
I had over ten manuscripts completed before a friend dared me to see if I could get published. In my opinion, one of the reasons my story connect with people is they were written to entertain me, and by doing that, they entertain others. Here’s an example from my newest release, WIDOW’S RUN. The chapter is title Wanted: Sophisticated Slut, Must Have Three-Inch Heels.
The stiletto heels of my knee-high boots clicked as I stepped onto small islands of concrete adrift in a sea of rubble. The city long ago forgot this patch of nowhere existed, leaving it to reclamation by feral beasts of all species. My target was the squat building wearing a mish-mash of sixties, nineties, and Y2K renovations. Looked like everybody ran out of money before the job was done. Still, the building stood when others had fallen, surviving the urban apocalypse like a cockroach without the good sense to die. Around the joint, an ad-hoc parking lot took over the space demoed buildings left behind. Crushed glass sprinkled across the parking lot like sugar on a donut, glistening under the happy-ass afternoon sun. The Hideaway.
Yeah, it was hidden…like a zit on the tip of a nose.
It was fun to put myself in the role of an ex-CIA agent going into a seedy bar to do a little side job I got blackmailed into. How would I walk? What would I be walking on? What would the place feel like? How would it smell? I pulled on my attitude and let my fingers fly.
There is a lot of advice out there for writers and so I’ll add mine. Start by figuring out what type of writer you are. If you like to go to the grocery store and winging it, you’re a pantser—some who writes by the seat of their pants. You’ll likely find your fun in the spontaneity of creation. Tell that critical angel on our shoulder to come back during editing and set the words free. There’s nothing that can’t be fixed in editing and you just may be amazed at where you end up.
If you meticulously plan out meals, organize your list, and then ruthlessly consult it at the story, you’re a plotter. You’ll likely find your fun in the development of order. Whether you outline, storyboard, or make notes, creating the tool will give you a sense of completion and satisfaction. Then sit down, with a smile on your face, connect the dots and color in the scene. There’s nothing that can’t be fixed in editing and you just may be amazed at where you end up. (I feel like I just read that somewhere.)
Here are a few things you may be asking yourself and my answers.
Q: What if I write for fun and the first draft sucks?
A: The first draft will suck; that’s what first drafts do. That doesn’t mean the story sucks, it means you’re ready for editing. Expect several rounds of edits for content and for copy. With each round, the story will get tighter and better.
Q: What if I write for fun and nobody else likes it?
A: What will actually happen is there will be a small number of people who thinks it’s horrible and a small number of people who think it’s perfect. The truth is somewhere in between. Readers have a broad taste spectrum. You won’t please everyone. Trying will drive you crazy and ruin your self-esteem. Know what you want your story to be, then challenge the haters to explain what didn’t work for them and critically evaluate to determine 1) if it is valid and 2) if it needs to be fixed. Challenge the lovers to make it better by asking open ended questions like
· Did the story make you (laugh, cry, angry, etc” if yes, where)
· Were you bored anywhere? If yes, where
· Were you confused at any point? If yes, about what?
Q: What if I write for fun and I can’t get an agent or publisher?
A: You’ll be in good company, but you’ll be richer for having enjoyed creating the story. There are two times in life you can do whatever you want: when you have nothing and when you have everything. You have nothing to lose…enjoy it.
Q: I have a story that is really important to me and I want to tell it well, should I write it for fun?
A: Yes, but not first. Writing is art, but it’s also a skill. Your third story will be twice as good as your first for the experience of editing and feedback. Your sixth story will be twice as good as your third as you hone your style and process. You don’t expect to paint like Leonardo when you’ve never picked up a brush, have the same expectation with writing. Write. Enjoy. Learn. Grow. Repeat.
Writing Prompt: You are four years old and just came home after the best weekend ever with your grandparents, describe it to your parents.
About the Author
TG Wolff writes thrillers and mysteries that play within the gray area between good and bad, right and wrong. Cause and effect drive the stories, drawing from 20+ years’ experience in Civil Engineering, where “cause” is more often a symptom of a bigger, more challenging problem. Diverse characters mirror the complexities of real life and real people, balanced with a healthy dose of entertainment. TG Wolff holds a Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering and is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.
★ WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS: ★
Website → www.tgwolff.com
Twitter → @tg_wolff
Facebook → www.Facebook.com/tina.wolff.125
One night in Rome. One car. One dead scientist. Italian police investigate, but in the end, all they have are kind words for the new widow. Months later, a video emerges challenging the facts. Had he stepped into traffic, or was he pushed? The widow returns to the police, where there are more kind
Enter Diamond. One name for a woman with one purpose. Resurrecting her CIA cover, she follows the shaky video down the rabbit hole. Her widow’s run unearths a plethora of suspects: the small-time crook, the mule-loving rancher, the lady in waiting, the Russian bookseller, the soon-to-be priest. Following the stink greed leaves in its wake reveals big lies and ugly truths. Murder is filthy business. Good thing Diamond likes playing dirty.
"TG Wolff's novel is for crime-fiction fans who like it action-packed and hard-edged. Written with feisty panache, it introduces Diamond, one of the most aggressive, ill-tempered, and wholly irresistible heroines to ever swagger across the page." --David Housewright, Edgar Award-winning author of Dead Man's Mistress