Sunday, August 7, 2011

Surprise Vacation

I was away on vacation for a week in sunny Minnesota (just kidding... it wasn't sunny) and plum forgot to tell anyone that I was leaving.

So, oops!  Sorry!  I'm back now, and I'm back to my schedule of updating approximately three days a week.  I did publish a chapter of my novel while I was there, which you can find here if you so choose to check it out.  It's totally 100% free, so please, take a look.  This is my experiment with learning to edit, so I'm offering this book for free the entire way through the process.  After each of the chapters has been edited I'm going to offer the book for free on every platform I can, just to get it out there.

While on vacation, I read a book by John Truby called The Anatomy of Story, and I cannot recommend it enough for writers or screenwriters or playwrights or anyone else who needs to tell stories.  It's a book about formula, but formula that works because of the emotional highs and lows that are necessary to bring the audience closer to your story and your characters.  I've never been one to like tropes.  I despise cliches, and I try to never use them in my writing.  But there is a reason that there are cliches and tropes, and really, this book opened my eyes to the fact that the audience expects certain things, and the emotional points are set in a story in such a way as to maximize the audience participation.

I learned, also, that I have some natural talent as a writer, but no formal training.  No one ever taught me how to write novels, I taught myself.  I am also slowly teaching myself to edit.  The things in the book that he covers, like the three ways to begin a story, I was already aware of, but I didn't know their names.  A lot of the way I write is based on gut feelings and instincts, which are pretty good for someone with no training.  But they can be improved greatly.  The book also gives examples from books and movies to emphasize the lessons, and it's a huge help to read a section on say, character, and then to read about how a movie you're seen or a book you've read shows perfectly the lesson he's trying to teach.  It makes me want to watch The Godfather, even though it's a movie I don't know if I can stomach, just to see how excellently all the parts flow together.

I'm also reading A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by James Joyce.  I've never read Joyce.  In fact, I've read very little of anyone from that time in history.  I've always seen that in order to write, you must read, and I never quite understood that.  I read.  I love to read, and I always have.  But Joyce is challenging my mind, and I've never quite read a book like it.  Ulysses is on my list eventually, but maybe after I read some Woolf or some Faulkner or both.  I need to read the books that have made an impact on literature, not just the stories in genres that I enjoy reading.  I've always read for pleasure, now I need to read to see how the masters of my craft do it, and to try and learn what they do so I can do it also.

I know, I know, these all seem like revelations that I should have had already, as a writer.  I've been writing my whole life, and just now I realize that I need to read the masters and learn why each part of a story matters?  It's silly to me too, but now that I know it's something that won't soon be forgotten.  I can't just write books, I need to work on my craft, and make my writing better.  I'm filled with a new desire and determination!  I will be the best I can be, and I am willing to put in the work to get there.

Sorry for dropping off the face of the earth for a week.  It wasn't intentional.  But it's not like it really matters anyway, right?  I'm talking to myself, here.

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