For those of you keeping track I napped my way out of the post-finished-manuscript funk after about 48 hours. For someone who has problems bouncing back from depression I consider that fairly good. I couldn’t let go of that fictional world, so I spent the last week typing up the short stories that occur about the same time as the main story. They may never see the light of day, or they could be freebies for those future readers interested in my world.
So now, I am tackling the Editing…
<cue dramatic music>
While I was writing this manuscript, I realized my extremely shaky grasp of spelling (due to undiagnosed dyslexia) and a high school level of grammar (from thirty years ago-eek!) was just not going to cut in the fast-paced World of Publishing, independent or traditional. So, OCD Capricorn that I am, I studied, I organized, and I thought it through.
The books I found in my local used book store, because I’m broke, were my starting points. I learned from Stephen King that my new method of writing was OK, even though it was the opposite of what I was taught. Terry Brooks explained how to do it properly, like I was taught, but to just keep going if that didn’t work. Christopher Vogler took me on the hero’s journey in a way I understood, while Kim Hudson gave the female counterpoint. John Warner taught me to laugh with the muse. Alice W. Flaherty explained exactly what was wrong with my brain to make me a writer. James Frey helped me push the story deeper, with hooks for the reader. Noah Lukeman, while rolling his eyes, and in a Sahara dry tone, explained how to not be a total idiot, and bore my readers to death.
Currently, Elizabeth Benedict is explaining to me that it is OK for a book to have sex scenes, while not overdoing it… unless that is what the story needs. Next on the pile is my very own Strunk & White, just brought home from a used book store like it was the Holy Grail. (I’m not kidding, angelic voices sang as it was brought into the house.) Below that is a couple of grammar books, written in catchy ways that will hopefully push past my weird memory blocks, and giving me a better working grasp of rules and modern usages.
I’ve learned a ton of things from these writers, and they have pointed me toward even more books; both about writing and great fiction that I have missed. My ‘To Read’ list is massive, and judging what is next is becoming impossible. Still, I persevere, hungry for more. And frankly, all this newfound knowledge should have ripped my manuscript to pieces.
But, it didn’t.
It tweaked, it clarified, and it deepened. It showed me ways to reach the reader without hitting them over the head with my ideas. While I was learning to tell a ‘damn good story’ with words, I kept finding my characters and story, hitting the important points these teachers were making, over and over. I started to think that I may have something, maybe something good enough for someone else to read, maybe even enjoy.
It gave me hope.
I have stories to tell, and I’m going to do that. I hope you’ll join me, and tell me some in return.
Do you have any favorite books about writing?