An update on the Father Dragon’s quest to reveal all secrets and unravel all mysteries about the craft of writing. Six months ago I wasn’t sure where to begin so I read writers’ blogs. I learned many things but each answer has brought 5 more questions. Second step was to buy How to books. This was a tough one. How to choose among the hundreds of options out there? I summoned the spirits of the Mighty Ancestors to help me decide.
Mystery 1. Deep POV.
During a critique to my first draft, a friend pointed out a breach of POV. My POV character couldn’t be aware his eyes turned golden, as I had described. I didn’t understand his comment until I found out a deep PoV should not describe or talk about those things your character is not aware of. (i.e. the changes in his face, other people’s thoughts, etc.)
The ancestors sent the sign and a light shone over The Emotional Thesaurus. For a clueless writer like me, it has been really helpful. Now I have to watch out my addiction to over describe inner reactions. Yet, the book is great.
Secret 1. Suspense.
“If this were a book sitting in a shelf, I would have not picked it up.” I got this from a few beta readers of my first draft. Their opinion changed as they kept reading but it made me see my first Chapters lacked something. My story didn’t hook the reader since the beginning. Big whoops!
The Ancestors’ sign came this time in the form of a challenge. I can’t resist challenges. If I am told I can’t do something, I feel compelled to prove otherwise (as long as it is a productive positive challenge, of course.) I met with Rayne Hall in twitter. In a promo of her book, Writing Scary Stories, she had a note. “Not for beginners.” What? Why not? For me it was like the sign “Enchanted Treasure inside. Dragons stay away.” I couldn’t stay away and I didn’t, so I bought it.
I don’t write scary stories. I scare myself so I don’t do them. The scariest level I take is the one handled at Monsters, Inc. However, I found this book extraordinary helpful to see all the flaws and errors on my first chapters. This book gave me a lot of ideas to correct those mistakes and improve my story.
Mystery 2. On-line courses
Writing Scary Scenes turned me into one of Rayne Hall’s fans. I gathered all of her writer tips and I learned about her on-line courses. I wanted to take a writing course here in Mexico, but honestly they are way too expensive. The option for me has always been Internet.
The sign of the Ancestors came in the reflection of a mirror. I was beta reading for a friend who was struggling with a problem of wordiness. Observing his troubled self made me turn to look at my own manuscript and wonder how much of it was just straw. After all, I have written for many years but only recently cared to educate myself in this art. I learned about the Word Loss Diet Seminar through Lowcountry RWA and chose to give it a shot.
I was so excited. This was my first on-line workshop. I started it with an open mind and the awareness there were no rules in writing and all that. Now I must say Rayne’s seminars are not a picnic. Her seminars are hard work. At least this one was for me. It helped me to get rid of a lot of useless words without affecting the plot at all. On the contrary, all those changes helped the pace; they tightened the plot and also had me pondering about Chapters that might not work well at all. It made me think a lot and that’s always a good thing. I understood what a writing voice was and discovered my own.
She gives a fair warning. It’s not for beginners. I took it as “it’s not for the faint-hearted.” INDEED! The results of the first lessons might be shocking for some. They were shocking for me as I found nearly 20,000 words of what I’ll call “wordiness crap”. Dwarves needed to keep the salts at the ready during each lesson, but I still do not regret it. After all, I have a dragon’s heart, and those who have such kind of muscle can't be called “heart-fainted”. I considered the price paid was the money best spent in a long time. A dragon size bargain!
So I do recommend these tools to improve writing. Do you have any other recommendation for the spirits of my Ancestors to consider shining a light upon? I’ll be always grateful.