Thursday, August 09, 2007

On Writing - The Good and the Bad

What I'm reading: High Noon, by Nora Roberts, Kiss me Deadly, by Susan Kearney

What I'm writing: Chapter 8 of my WIP, and making revisions on Dalton & Miri's story.

Last week, our chapter hosted a workshop by author Debra Dixon, and she joined a group of us for dinner the night before her session. As we ate, she put each of us on the spot asking for the best and worst things about the way we wrote. There were almost as many responses as there were people there, but it did force me to think about what I'm really doing when I write.

Some spoke of specific points, such as dialogue, or description as strengths or weaknesses. After some consideration I realized that because I love character-driven stories, I tend to spend far too much time on the page with them. I can put my characters on the page, and they'll talk and talk and talk—about everything, and too many times it's not something needed for the plot. That's probably why my first writing mentor said, "You write a beginning, a middle, more middle, and more middle. Wrap it up!"

My strength, at least as far as being a "writer" goes, is probably that I can sit and write for long stretches of time, and usually produce a halfway decent word/page count at the end of the day. Where some folks said they were too easily distracted by the chores of everyday life, I see from the other side. If I wasn't writing, I'd have to deal with laundry, ironing, grocery shopping, cleaning…the list goes on, and none of it includes anything I really like to do. For me, it's a no-brainer.

After dinner, we convened at the Barnes & Noble across the street where Deb conducted a mini-session on first chapters. Getting started is usually a problem, since I don't plot much in advance. Starting with deciding whether or not your opening scene begins with the characters already there or making an entrance, and moving on to what should be included in that chapter, and who's point of view to use, she had us all eager to get home to our manuscripts and see if we were on target, needed to tweak, or do a massive rewrite.

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