Lessons in Writing – 3

Characters are real people.

I know at first glance it would seem ridiculous for a character to be real, but they are and I can prove it.

Reality is subjective by nature. It does not rely on any truth greater than “because I said so” to exist. The experiences, memories, sensations, and meanings of existence to you are interpreted, scientifically, by an unseeing, unfeeling piece of mush protected by your skull.

If we are real because we say we are, why would our characters not be real as well? They have dreams and desires, they think and feel, they fall in love and have their hearts broken, these are all the same things that make us who we are in our existence. Just because we see them and “dictate” their actions onto the page does not remove the concept of their being real. Arguably, anyone that believes in fate could say they are simply characters in some great author’s prose.

Personally, when I write, I don’t call it dictation. I prefer to think of it as observing my characters as they work through the scenario. I’ve often wondered if the reason why authors write, rewrite, edit, and revise is not because of lack of definition in their work, but alternatively because what is on the page doesn’t reflect what they witnessed. Every published author will tell you that their favorite character is real to them.

Take the time to get to know your characters and let them share the details with you, and your readers, because ultimately, given enough time with anyone, they will divulge everything and your story will be better for it!

~ Jon~

Lessons in Writing – 1

I am by no means a “professional” writer. I decided very recently that I was going to pursue a career as an author and since then it has been an uphill struggle.

I’ve spent as long as I can remember writing stories, hoping that someday I would write a novel. Seven years ago I finally began working on my first manuscript and three and half years ago, I self published the work online.

I was convinced, after only a single pass at editing (mostly for continuity) that it was complete and ready to be presented to the world. Six months ago, I took down the manuscript from where it had been published as I was working on its sequel.

I pulled it down because during the writing of the sequel. I had to look back and find something I knew I referenced in the first book (I was horrible at keeping notes when I wrote it) what I saw, written on only two pages of more than three hundred, I found appalling.

My first manuscript, my baby, my ego swelling accomplishment, was complete garbage. I say this not from an “artist is never satisfied with his/her own work” viewpoint, I say this because, objectively after so long not looking at it, the work was near unbearable to read.

The point of view switched too often, leading it’s own author to confusion, the dialog was too formal and didn’t flow well, and, finally, the grammatical error count was astronomical.

I have since finished the rough draft of the sequel, which now resides in a dark corner of my hard drive, and I have begun the process of truly writing on the first. In the few months since starting the daunting task of trying to capture my vision, I have learned more than I’ve ever thought possible, and I continue to learn every day.

My first lesson in writing, that I had to unfortunately needed to learn on my own, was to not rush the process and be prepared to start over. Furthermore, edit, revise, edit, edit, revise…

Just Write…

Being a part of a fiction writing group on Facebook has led me on a journey filled with discovery and understanding. The group, Fiction Writing, consists of thousands of members, many of whom are published both traditionally and on their own.

Over the last few weeks of being a member, I have read a great number of posts where people are doubting their ability to set a scene, create natural sounding dialog, or even tell a story in general. I have commented on some posts, those that I know the correct answer or may help them gain inspiration in their endeavors, but in reality being a writer is much simpler than the write, edit, revise, rewrite, repeat, process.

Writing is digging deep inside ourselves to uncover truths we ourselves may not even realize until it is typed or written on the page. We struggle at times to figure out the story in front of us because in truth we struggle sometimes to figure out our own story. Life is a giant web of decisions, one after the next, that leads, I hope anyway, to a better understanding of ourselves and the world we live in.

My advice to all those who aspire to write, are writing, or have written works, published or not, that find themselves in that hard spot between “I’m so excited” and “Where the he’ll is this going” is this, Just Write.

It can be hard sometimes, but we are writers. It’s not like we aren’t going to sit down with our favorite writing medium and write anyway. It’s more than a want, it’s a need, and at the end of the day, all it takes is just one thought to stoke the fires of creativity in us again.

Just write…

~ Jon~

The Dreaded Process of Self-Editing

Over the past three weeks I have been attempting, seemingly in vain, to edit a novel I wrote three years ago and promptly refused to look at again. This is that story thus far…

In the middle of 2017 I started the process of writing a sequel to it, and subsequently had to fact check some information in the first novel. I cringed at what I had written. Only one person I know read the work after I had “completed” it, and upon reading a single page of the work I contacted that person and apologized for what they had read.

This is not an overstatement of how bad the work was, it is terrible. I feel better knowing that I can tell myself honestly that my pride and joy first novel was a total piece of garbage. Yet, probably because it’s my baby, I still have faith in the overall story contained in the jumbled, incomplete, and sometimes completely incoherent storyline contained in its pages.

Everyday I sit at my desk and stare at a page from it. It’s grueling to even proofread, and ultimately I am slowly rewriting the entire thing. Truth be told, that’s what it comes to sometimes. Even if I dread deleting all that work paragraph by paragraph, most days accomplishing nothing on it.

In three weeks I have only managed to make it through about fifty pages, and the only thing that makes me keep going back to it is the hope that when I reach the end it’ll be a decent story. I’m being honest with myself on my writing in all aspects. There are good qualities and bad qualities about every author (which is why editors exist) and I know that if I can make it through this I can edit anything else I’ll ever write.

So the things I’ve learned already in the last three weeks that I’m going to share with you tonight are as follows:

Always be honest with yourself!

Commit to the project, even if you falter at times, it’ll be better than the first run through it. (It has to be, right? :-P)

Sometimes it’s quicker and easier to rewrite than it is to edit.

Thanks for reading my rant! I hope your creativity is flowing and your self doubt is minimal! (considering that we can’t be artists without it…)

~ Jon~