Trust The Process

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Every writer, through trial and error, develops their own way of approaching their work. While some use the “leap and a net will appear” approach, I outline. I like to know where I’m going. An outline allows me to see the story, to work out plot or characterization problems. I want to catch them before I’m a hundred pages in. I also outline each chapter as I come to it. I do back stories for most of the characters. I create a back story for the story itself, so I know what went on before it began.

I did all that for Alex Bullied. But thirty rejections tells me that it may not be good enough. The agent who asked for the full manuscript and then rejected it did give me some suggestions. He felt the plot did not hold  his interest as he had hoped and that the secondary characters needed more strength. With the help of my critique group, I am editing. I see what I missed and am correcting it.

A woman in that critique group, Amy, recently scored an agent for her young adult novel. She has worked on her book for three years or so. She has workshopped it at conferences and writing retreats. She hired a professional editor. High five to Amy. What this tells me is that it is accomplishable. That it is not a pie in the sky dream to try for an agent. What it tells me is to keep trying.

I try to remember: there’s no glory in easy.

There are times when my brain and creativity go on hiatus. Weeks go by while I do everything except sit my tail bone down to do the rewrites that I know are going to improve my book. I do not believe in writer’s block. I know the ideas and words are there. I trust the process; knowing that I’ve never take a break that I didn’t benefit from in the end. It always results in a pay off that I would not have anticipated and could not force.

Eventually I get out of my own way. I let it come to me, I let it flow. I think that’s part of it. We get so uptight, worrying that we’ll never get it right, that we stand in our own way. Relax, enjoy the process. Trust the process, whatever yours is.

And stay tuned.

 

 

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All The Help I Can Get

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When I wrote my first book, I knew nothing, Jon Snow. I wrote by ear, from a lifetime of reading. I’d had one creative writing class, but I think it was a love of words, turn of a phrase and beautiful, unusual description that influenced my initial writing.

I wanted, and knew I needed, instruction. I am an information junkie. I want to learn, which serves me well when I write historical fiction. I love the research.

I discovered Writer’s Digest and The Writer magazines. Every month I learned exactly what I needed at that moment in my manuscript. Living in Lost Angeles at the time, I took extension classes through UCLA.

I’ve devoured books on writing. I read Anne Lamott’s, Annie Dillard’s, and Ray Bradbury’s books on writing. I bought a lot of how-to books through Writer’s Digest. (this was before Amazon and the cornucopia of writing books available there).

I’ve been writing for awhile now and I learn with every new effort. I still read how-to books. I still feel I need instruction. I suppose I’m looking for that magic pill in print, that one suggestion that will resonate so strongly that I will finally write the story that no agent could reject.

In the meantime, here are some of my most recent finds. I hope they can help you as well.

Hooked by Les Edgerton and The First 50 Pages by Jeff Gerke will help you with those important openings. For overall storytelling there’s Story Physics and Story Engineering, both by Larry Brooks. One of my new favorites is Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies by Deborah Halverson.

For more specific information I go to Make A Scene by Jordan E. Rosenfeld, Word Painting; A Guide to Writing More Descriptively by Rebecca McClanahan, and Show Don’t Tell by Robyn Opie Parnell. Some of my favorites this year have been Writing Active Setting by Mary Buckham, The Negative Trait Thesaurus and The Positive Trait Thesaurus by Anglea Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, and my final recommendation is Strong Verbs Strong Voice by Ann Everett.

Writing to get published is not an easy road to choose and I think we all need  help. Whatever can make our writing stronger, clearer, and smarter should not be ignored. It’s about learning the craft, the rules, and getting an education. I know I need all the help I can get and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I want my writing to shine and I’m willing to do the homework. Are you? Do you have books you’d recommend?

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