Guest post – Write Lofty and Carry a Big Chisel by Pat Bertram

A while ago when I did my blog book tour for RealmShift and MageSign one of the people kind enough to host me was Pat Bertram. She hosted the interview with Isiah, the protagonist from the books. I’m very pleased now to return the favour and host a guest post from Pat as she travels on her own blog book tour, promoting Daughter Am I. Here Pat gives good advice about a writer’s tools of the trade.

Pat BertramLike other construction workers, we creators of word worlds own toolboxes filled with necessary implements. We have hooks to hook the reader, glue to glue their attention, a feather or two to tickle their funny bones.
We find nails to nail our points and hammers to hammer them home. We find nuts and bolts to connect our story elements and trowels with which to lay a concrete foundation. And we find pliers for getting the attention of agents and editors, because we all know that task is as difficult and painful as pulling out our own teeth. (Word of caution: Do not use pliers on said agents/editors. They might take offense and refuse to look at your work.)

We need awls and augers (maybe even augurs) to poke holes in our inflated prose, and we need saws to cut away the deadwood. And we definitely need screwdrivers to screw up our courage and we need screwdrivers to drown our sorrows when agents/editors/critics shoot us down again. (A bulletproof vest would also come in handy, but they are too bulky to fit in the box, and besides, they make our clothes fit funny.)

daughter am iBut the most important and versatile tool of all is the chisel. We can use it to knock the chip off our shoulders. Perhaps you’re right and agents/editors are idiots who can’t recognize good prose. But perhaps they are idiots who can recognize good prose, and you’re not writing it yet. (Notice I say you? I, of course, write excellent prose. Agents/editors just don’t recognize my good prose when they see it.)

Chisels will help keep criticism and compliments at more than arm’s length. Too much criticism can kill creativity; too many compliments may keep us from improving. And we can all improve.

A chisel will help pare away verbiage, those superfluous words and elements that blunt the clear lines of our prose. For example, I chiseled away excess from the phrase excess verbiage, since it’s redundant. Verbiage by definition is excess.

And a chisel will help us shape our story into a world so vital and inviting readers won’t be able to tear themselves away.

So, let’s open our toolboxes and get to work.

You first.

Pat Bertram is a native of Colorado and a lifelong resident. When the traditional publishers stopped publishing her favorite type of book β€” character and story driven novels that can’t easily be slotted into a genre β€” she decided to write her own. Daughter Am I is Bertram’s third novel to be published by Second Wind Publishing, LLC. Also available are More Deaths Than One and A Spark of Heavenly Fire.


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15 thoughts on “Guest post – Write Lofty and Carry a Big Chisel by Pat Bertram

  1. Thanks for this, Pat. You are right – we are builders, and must practice and develop our skills just as a real builder does. Perhaps if we better recognised the need for our apprenticeship (unpaid as it often is), we’d need to use that chisel less πŸ™‚

  2. Pat, you’re more than welcome. Glad to have you here.

    Nicole, perhaps recognising the need for that chisel IS our apprecticeship? πŸ™‚

  3. Nichole, I used that chisel so often, I stopped writing! Well, maybe it’s not the chisel that curtailed my writing activities, maybe it’s more my addiction to the internet.

    Alan, I bet you’re right about recognizing the need for the chisel being our apprenticeship. I thought my first book was great, but when I understood about chiseling, I saw how horrid it was, and now it’s packed away in a very dark closet where no one will ever see it.

    Harold, thank you for stopping by. It’s always nice to meet new people.

  4. My grandfather got ticked off at me when I was a kid and used the wrong tools because (a) it was faster and/or (b) I couldn’t find the right tool.

    Using fliers as a hammer was forbidden. So was using a screw driver as a chisel. I thought I was being creative and flexible, but grandpa didn’t believe each tool was what I perceived it to be.

    Can you tell I read your delusion post just before stopping here?


  5. Hi, Pat! Nice to meet you, Alan. I’m dropping in ’cause I’m sort of stalking Pat. She’s asked me to post all of her blog stops on my Win a Book blog, so … I am! If I can ever be of service to you, Alan, holler.

  6. As a builder by day & writer by night I can identify with this post in a big way.
    There are times, in my case anyway, when dynamite is used. Cool in the construction biz, not so cool on the writing.

    Great post – nice site.

  7. I’m like you, Malcolm — any tool that gets the job done is the right tool! As you say, it’s all in the perception.

    Susan, I am so pleased you are stalking me. Though how can you stalk when you’ve been invited? Thank you for posting my tour stops on your blog.

    Dave, glad to see you here. All the way from St. Augustine to Australia in the blink on an eye! Amazing tool, this internet.

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