Monday, March 15, 2010

A friend of mine told me about a time she was having difficulty with her writing. She and one her friends were at the book store. He had her buy a book, then told her to tear it up. She didn't understand, so he took the book and ripped it in half down the spine. She couldn't believe it (neither could some of the other patrons in the store). Anway, he told her to start writing, from page one, the book she had bought and he had just torn. Start writing every word. By doing so, she was able to understand a little more about putting sentences together, how paragraphs were structured and a general sense of scene flow.

No, she didn't end up writing the entire book but she benefited by what she had written. I think it is an interesting idea. I haven't yet torn a book in half and started writing it, but my current project is giving me a new view on writing. I'm editing a short story and finding it a unique experience. I won't go into the quality of the work I'm reading, but I will say, even though I've had no classroom training, I think my years of writing, critiquing, taking and offering suggestions has given me a little insight into correcting the mistakes I've thus far found. Reading this piece of material, I've seen what errors I've made in the past and my future writings will be better.

If you are constantly reading your own work, you get blinded and defensive. You need to read other authors and other writers who are trying to get published. Critique and writers' groups are great for this purpose. Sure, you may not be interested in a particular story-it just may not be what you would normally read-however, visualize the writing style, listen to the rythym and flow of the story. Would you change anything to make certain passages clearer, or more exciting? Are there problems with Point of View, run-on sentences, passive voice, etc.

If may cite an example. I'm not a romance fan but I do like Nora Roberts as J.D. Robb and her Eve Dallas series. Sure, after thirty or so novels, they've become almost formulaic, but pick one up and you will see the action and the tension never bottoms out. Of course, there are scenes when she's not taking down a bad guy or discovering a vital clue; usually, they're the humorous moments when she's getting her hair done or tolerating her partner's quirky whims. Even those scenes and the obligatory sexual rounds with her husband are enough to keep up the interest. I've never put down one of her books because I'm bored. I never feel as if I slogging through the book just to get to the end so I can read something better. That's what you're wanting in your own story.

Sure, Robb has some errors and I've discussed some of them with other writers. We can see problems even with the successful authors. Recognizing these can help those who are not as succesful. We can strive to avoid the errors others make.

Am I worrying about my editor's corrections and suggestions for my stories? Of course, I am. However, since Echelon accepted my stories for e-publication, they must have seen potential and the fact that I am able to write something of quality. And...when the changes do come back, I'll still learn something.

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