At the beginning of November, I set upon a writing project/challenge in the spirit of NaNoWriMo in which I outlined a new book every day for four weeks straight. It was at times not fun but profoundly productive and one thing surprised me more than anything else…
I’m a big fan of NaNoWriMo, (National Novel Writing Month). Every year, millions of writers spend the month of November penning an average of 1500 words a day to complete an entire book by December. The idea is not to have a finished manuscript, but a finished first draft that can then be molded into the novel you want.
Last year, I wrote a ghost story called Connection. I finished it a few days early in fact. Since then, I’ve divided my time editing it into coherency and promoting a debut novel I wrote with my wife, fashion consultant, bowling partner, long-time editor, and fellow love adventurer, Jennifer.
Before I ever ventured into fiction writing, I fancied myself a poet. I met my wife in late 88’ and my head and heart became flooded with artistic expression. It came out of me in the form of drawings, poems and eventually found a permanent outlet in song(s). I’ve spent over twenty years writing over 600 hundred songs and I have only begun to know and appreciate my muse.
My taste in music and my style of writing has changed in those twenty years. Much of it was a result of artists I became exposed to. Those whose influence is evident (perhaps even obvious) are: The Beatles, Bob Dylan, R.E.M. and most recently, Iron & Wine. (Jeez, that was quite the segway and to the untrained eye may appear to be a back handed way of bringing up my own musical endeavors, but I assure you, it was only my way of simultaneously validating the brilliant music I’m about to review, and punctuating my own personal admiration for the artist). As Theodore Roosevelt said, “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”
I’m not saying that I blame grunge music, but sometime in the early 90’s it became cool not to care. Worse than that actually, it became cool to look down on anyone who did care…about anything…or anyone who tried to succeed at or enjoy life.
Today, we live in a culture that has been so blinded by this weak philosophy that we are actually hurting ourselves and we don’t even know it. Take Fan Fiction for example – the more authors who get their FF stories published, the more it validates that community as a valid and viable source of truly excellent writing. Yet, so many in the community have adopted the view that to succeed professionally means that you are some kind of sell out.
I have been interviewed a lot this month following the release of my new book, and the interviews have all been well conducted and fun to participate in with my wife and co-author. However, it got me thinking of the best ways to conduct such interviews with maximum effect. So today I would like to share some tips on how to interview and be interviewed more successfully. By successful, I mean memorable and interestingly enough. The advice I have will benefit you on either side of the microphone or page.
With the exception of a short story called Pirate’s Booty that I posted on this site in 2012, I have stuck to topics that revolve around the writing and editing process. I seldom referred to my own work by name; however, last Tuesday my wife and I had our first novel published and I would like to write about our experience.
I have a much harder time editing my books than writing them. Mostly, I think it’s because I have to move paragraphs around and shuffle things around. This stresses me out to no end.
I happen to be a very linear writer. I begin at the beginning and write until the story is completed. My wife often times writes scenes out-of-order and builds the story around them. I can relate to this as a musician because many of my songs have a completed chorus before I begin working on the verses. I don’t mind working backwards with a piece of music, but fiction just has so many damn WORDS.
Have you ever been reading a book and the author says the exact same thing two sentences in a row? Sure, they change some words around, maybe reverse the observational order, embellish it a little, but essentially repeat themselves. It’s just a natural instinct to be understood completely and there’s scarcely an author living or dead who hasn’t been trapped by literature’s version of the double-take.
Recently, I have addressed the pitfalls of writing from too many POVs in one chapter. Today I would like to dig a little deeper and discuss the individual voices of your characters and reveal what is actually an industry wide slip-up in narration.
Vocabulary, it’s one of the ways in which we measure a person’s intelligence. A rich vocabulary has traditionally been seen as a high-born, well-educated trait and regularly celebrated. However, when you’re trying to relate to a reader, fancy words can derail them and slow down your story.