21 Things Writers Know that Non-Writers Don’t

You know that we talk here all the time about why we do this work we do, what inspires this madness, how writing makes our lives so much more alive.

So this month let’s talk specifics.

We’ll start off with the things you know that no one else knows:

  1. What it’s like to be transported

    . . .to a parallel universe of incandescent vision through your own small words.

  2. How it feels to unravel

    . . . the mystery of all human endeavor into a web of light that pulses delicately in your hands.

  3. Everything poignant and heart-rending

    . . .about your protagonist’s’ childhood, which doesn’t fit into the story you have to tell today.

  4. What shadows lie

    . . .in your protagonist’s heart that makes them gesture so gracefully, lie so effectively, turn their head with such sudden tenderness.

  5. Where your villain has been

    . . .to make them burn so deeply, grasp so strongly, care so powerfully about destroying everything that’s ever been against them.

  6. What really occurs

    . . .when the secondary characters go in the other room while the protagonist is watching out the window for the villain.

  7. What hilarious jokes

    . . .those secondary characters are telling in the background during the pivotal bar scene.

  8. All the subtle and complex

    . . . minor subplots going on between the secondary characters that would only distract your reader from following with bated breath your protagonist’s driving agenda.

  9. How every single detail

    . . .looks in every single room in every apartment or house, down to the patterns on the upholstery and the type of wood the coffee table is make out of.

  10. Your protagonist’s favorite

    . . .books and movies, the ones that helped shape their relationship with their world so that their life expands into all those stories that have taught them what it means to be alive.

  11. Your villain’s favorite

    . . .books and movies, the ones that turned these normal people into only partial humans, those who can no longer empathize with the lives of others.

  12. What great or bizarre or utterly distinctive

    . . .clothing your protagonist is wearing in every scene. And why.

  13. What your villain knows

    . . . about hatred and malice that you wish you didn’t know.

  14. In exactly what way

    —although it would disrupt your reader’s epiphany for you to spell it out in so many words—your protagonist and villain understand each other in the final moment, when they face each other across the abyss of their irreconcilable differences.

  15. What lies beyond the hill

    . . .in that panoramic view in front of which your characters enact their mesmerizing climactic scene.

  16. How their dark figures against that view

    . . .epitomize everything you know and feel and believe about the vividness of living.

  17. What your protagonist means

    . . .when they say, “I’ll just let you wonder.”

  18. What your villain means

    . . .when they say, “I don’t have to.”

  19. Where your characters go

    . . .when they walk off the last page.

  20. Just how your protagonist felt

    . . . before it all fell apart, when they were lying in the arms of your own imaginary beloved.

  21. Where your villain hid

    . . the steak knives.