Team Hugs for Writers

A week has passed. I’m not sure what number I should use for the week: Week 1, because it’s been a week since I started the blog; Week 5 since I started counting this time around; Week 167 since I decided to try and write a book and get it published?

Let’s call it Week 1, eh?

OK – week 1 has passed and I spent more than 8 hours on the book, working on backstory issues. Chronology stuff, like where various characters are on a given day, where their paths cross and so on. Does this sound like too much detail, like I’m procrastinating when I should be writing? Character location is important in the plot – important to me, that is. Some characters are fugitives being pursued by other characters. Some get caught. Some don’t. People have to arrive in certain places on certain days. Battles need to happen at the right time of year.

Yeah, I know – it’s anal. What can I say?

I’m looking at my competition deadline; less than 3 months away now, so time to get the first 9,000 to 14,000 words in shape for submission. Unfortunately, I’d like to submit about 22,000 words. Dramatic things happen at that point but the competition guidelines are clear; a maximum of 14K only. This might be a good thing, forcing me to trim unnecessary words and produce some really neat, succinct writing that still gets us to the big ‘Oh no!’ events. If I really can’t get it down to 14K, I either accept not getting to those scenes or edit the submission to include those scenes. Could be dangerous… I may leave readers wondering what on earth happened.

Sounds like a job for the Fairly Fabulous Four!

FFF are the faithful team of readers on whom I depend for constructive criticism. They are:

The Beholder: My husband, a man with more belief in me that I have in myself – hence the name. My number one fan is a big-picture kind of reader – someone who tells me about the overall feel of a passage or the way a character is behaving. He doesn’t always have the words to tell me where I’m going wrong, but a shrug or an unconvincing ‘hmmm’ tells me everything I need to know. If he doesn’t like it, I need to work harder.

The Demon for Detail: DfD is a very good friend I can trust to identify 99.9% of typos, missing or incorrect words, strange punctuation and inconsistencies in the narrative. He has shown an amusing tendency to invent details, e.g. something I now call the ‘Barbarella Incident’, where DfD mentally transformed a modestly-dressed female character into one you’d see in a Boris Vallejo illustration, complete with torn leather mini-skirt and plunging neckline. I’m putting this down to his creative side feeling oppressed and attempting to outshine his analytical editing side. In future, I’ll be sure to snuff out his creative side immediately before providing him with material to read.

The Evil-Minded Plot Mistress: She’s the woman with a heart of darkness who sees right to the pointy crux of plot twists and tells me whether they’re working or not. I can’t get anything past EMPM; laziness and fudging are exposed in the white-hot light of her keen comprehension. She has an insight on deviousness – best not to ask why – and if the story doesn’t excite her, I’ve failed.

The Matriarch: My Mum. The woman who infused my infant brain with a love for the written word. She was Dux of her high school in English literature. She knows important stuff – participial phrases, dependent clauses, prepositions – and she wants to read my stuff.

They say never let your Mum read your writing, but I think – I hope – I’m past that now. It’s not like when I was 15 and I wrote about a ‘procreation room’ when I meant ‘recreation room’ (although it was science fiction and a procreation room is just the kind of forward-thinking, Heinlein-esque concept you might expect of the future). We’re both grown women; we can acknowledge that we both know about, and engage in, naughty things like sexual intercourse without getting all pink-faced and awkward. Surely?

So, that’s my team. Yes, they’re all family and friends. Yes, they’re all horribly biased and probably unwilling to be brutally honest with me, despite promises to the contrary. Fact is, they’re usually right. If only one of them picks up something, I might be tempted to disagree and leave it unchanged. If all complain a scene or phrase is senseless, contrived, silly or ugly, I know I have to change it. They have diverse opinions on what makes good reading; their feedback touches on different aspects. It all helps improve the overall appeal of my story. I’m already indebted to The Beholder, DfD and EMPM; their feedback helped me win a short story competition and get shortlisted for an award. Whenever I talk about the magic ‘if’ – as in ‘if I get a book published’ – you’ll hear the FFF cry ‘When, not if!’ in glorious four-part discord. It’s like a verbal team hug, with me in the middle feeling all warm and loved.

That’s the kind of team every writer needs, ’cause the cold, lonely, left-brain, self-critical, I-can’t-write-to-save-my-pathetic-soul days are thick and plenty. It’s nice to get some sun now and then.

Come on team – give us a hug!

Explore posts in the same categories: Writing

One Comment on “Team Hugs for Writers”

  1. The Beholder Says:

    Not if – when!

    Hugs babe.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: