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The Soul of a Writer

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Good morning! How was your weekend? I don’t have any complaints. Took my daughter back to school over the weekend. We didn’t get to do half the things we wanted to do together, but the school year is almost over.

I’ve done some necessary back tracking with my writing. I had a writer friend who pointed out some things (in a very helpful matter), which I put into play and I’m happy for the discovery. My critique partner pointed out what wasn’t working with A Demon’s Birthright. Of course, I always have the choice to listen and adhere or do whatever I want, but why go with the latter option? The whole reason for having a critique partner is to help your writing improve. If you dig in like a relentless bull, you might as well give up the partner and give up writing. Not only do writers need a thick skin to withstand criticism. We need to have enough common sense to know when the horse is dead and move on. If the horse is merely dying, then we need to sit down and figure out how to resurrect it. More on this in a minute. Let’s see how I did last week…

1) LAST WEEK’S PROJECTIONS:

*Continue revising A Demon’s Birthright. The plan is to revise Chapters 20 – 22. Devote chapters to Cullen’s POV. The horse is dying. Actually, this horse is missing a limb or two. The draft is too heavy on back story. What I deem necessary is dragging the story down. So I’ve done a hatchet job, so to speak, and culled the irrelevant. It means going back to the drawing board and revising the earlier chapters. It’s not all bad news. The story is stronger, I believe.

*Sketch out at least TWO of the remaining scenes for Restore. Add details where needed. (May 1st I start writing the rough draft.) Didn’t touch it.

*Continue re-reading of Rescue. Went back and looked at some things another author friend pointed out. I’m liking the changes.

2) THIS WEEK’S PROJECTIONS:

*Continue revision of A Demon’s Birthright. I owe Prologue – Chapter 3 to my critique partner. My goal is to also complete Chapters 4 – 6 as well.

*Continue re-reading Rescue. I’m half-way through. Hoping to reach the 3/4 mark this week.

*Sketch out at least TWO of the remaining scenes for Restore. Add details where needed. (If I don’t do any sketching, I’ll need to consider starting this rough draft either toward the end of May or first of June.)

3) A FAVORITE LINE OR PASSAGE FROM MY STORY THAT SUMS UP WHAT I WROTE/REVISED: It’s not a line or passage, but how I rewrote the plot overview.

Evil must be destroyed before Hell on Earth happens. It’s up to Raevyn, the infamous Blackbird of Beauty, and a bonded mate, Cullen Loki, to find a magical ring of protection and a sword forged in dark magic to take down the demon king, Dorian. Standing in Raevyn’s way is her Aunt Wyn, a witch with her own agenda. Wyn plans to block the girl’s success by keeping her from traveling to the Otherworld (Chimeria) on a search for items to kill the king. Raevyn will have to trust her heart, accept her dark side, and look beyond her pride. If she’s successful, mankind will be saved and she’ll discover love. If she fails, she won’t live to see her nineteenth birthday.

That overview is more in line with what I intended to write. It’s more succinct than what I was working with. This recovering pantser is learning how to stick with a plot outline. What I developed was too broad of an idea. I introduced enough back story to either write another book (perhaps the prequel) or line the circular file. A choice had to be made. So I ditched all the irrelevant back story. It’s in a slush file. If needed, I’ll introduce snippets into the story, not the entire thing.

4) THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE I FACED LAST WEEK: Inaction. As I said earlier, A Demon’s Birthright was heavy in back story. It lacked enough relevant action. Sure, there were people doing things, but those actions weren’t moving the story forward. The protagonist wouldn’t reach her goals doing those things.

It’s like when we say we’re going to do something—let’s say learn to paint. We buy supplies. We buy books. We spend hours on the Internet reading about our new hobby. Great actions, but we’re no closer to painting a picture than when we said we wanted to learn. Until you put paint on canvas, you’re taking the wrong actions. There’s no progress.

Same thing with this draft. How to fix it? I sat down and rewrote the story goal (the aforementioned plot overview) with a clearer focus. Second, as my critique partner suggested, I culled all the events that happened prior to my protagonist’s story. At some point we may need these details, but not now. Third, I moved elements from later chapters to earlier chapters. The key, the question to ask for each scene: is this moving the protagonist closer to her goal? If the answer is no, the details have to be reworked, if needed, or scrapped.

It’s a hard part of writing. It’s tempting to want to include everything on the page. After all, it’s the story we want to tell or the one we think we want to tell. But is it the story we should tell? It’s the dilemma we must solve every time our muse delivers an idea begging to grow into a manuscript.

Which is why short story writing, in my opinion, can be easier. Depending on the number of words allowed, you don’t have room to get bogged down in details. You have to use those words judiciously. Otherwise, you’ll hit your max and discover you wrote a long summary and not a story. Summaries may sell books, but no one wants to spend money, or time, reading page after page of one.

5) SOMETHING I LOVE ABOUT MY WIP: I love the possibilities of this story, and thank God for that. If not, I’d be lost with words on a page which didn’t offer the hope of conveying a story. I worked hard over the weekend to rewrite the Prologue and first three chapters. We’ll see if the effort was in the right place.

That’s it for this week!

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