By Catherine Hedge
I used to shake my head at some of Leonard Bishop’s teachings. He’d harrangue us with writing advice. His voice would bellow with authority…insistent, commanding, and frightening!
Frightening because he said it with such force, I figured whatever he said must be true. The only problem was, I couldn’t figure out what he meant. I needed more experiences and experimentation to understand.
Later, I heard him say, “Everything I say is absolutely right! And, everything I say is absolutely wrong!” He went on to explain that the final determinant is the writer. A strategy that works extremely well for a writer in one situation might be disastrous in another. Whenever I still was confused, asked him to repeat, to explain, he’d often say, “Just remember. Keep your story interesting, hold the reader to the page. Then, you readers won’t be paying attention to what you DON’T do. They will be paying attention to what you have written.”
That always made me feel better!
I think about him often as I am in the process of reworking an old piece. I pull out my list of favorite quotes and realize he is talking to me now, helping me to push myself to write better than I believe I can. One of the best lines he ever said was, “That was a very professional scene. Now that you know you can write well, you have no excuse to write poorly.” Dang. No slacking…ever!
The best part is in trying to meet his expectations? I’m finally reaching some of my own. Thank you, Mr. B
What I need to hear now…..
“Think past, present, and future, not beginning, middle, and end.” 2/4/99
“Put characters under pressure. It is the only way to reveal them (again and again!).” 11/5/98
“Write scenes that are only middles.” (Use the scenes before to set it up and those that follow to show the implications.” 10/9/98
“The only time we care about characters is when they are involved in something dramatic.” 10/9/98
“The first chapter is a grain of sand, a dramatic microcosm from which you develop a whole novel.” 3/20/97
© 2013 the Estate of Leonard Bishop and Catherine Hedge
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