This post is the second of three posts for the Blog Book tour of Melissa Delport’s The Legacy and in this post, we were lucky enough to have a guest post by the author herself! (Read the first blog tour post, a review of her novel, and the second blog tour post, an interview with Melissa)
Any good writer can write across a multitude of topics, styles, and techniques. The difference between being a good writer and a great writer is to write what you love, and do what comes naturally. I never set out to write in a specific format or to use a specific technique; I simply sat down and started writing.
If you try and curb your natural affinity, particularly over a long work such as a full length novel, you will not only stifle your creativity, but the material itself will come across awkward and clumsy as you continually battle to work against your natural style. Words will “read” as they “write” and if you, as the author, allow them to flow, then so will the reader enjoy the same experience.
The Legacy is written in the first person, in the present tense. I did use the past tense for any movement back in time or back story, so that the transition would not be jarring for the reader. There are a lot of cliff-hanger chapter endings and many surprise elements in the story, but these need to be handled carefully. You want the reader to be shocked, not confused, and it is a fine line between the two. As an author, it is easy to take for granted how intimately you know your story, and you cannot lose sight of the fact that the reader does not have all the information at hand.
Education certainly played a large role in learning how to correctly make use of the various writing techniques, but with regards to writing fiction, particularly in the speculative genres, it is important that you are not limited by what you have been taught. I have to say that I think I learned more through my voracious lifelong love of reading than I did through my university education.