Edit Thyself, Writers!

char.analysisI just finished reviewing a poorly written book and it demonstrated the fact that writing a book is not all glory and self satisfaction at seeing your name on a book, as its author.

Far from it!  It’s grueling, damn hard work. Any one of you out there can write, the trick is writing well. It’s being willing to rewrite and rewrite some more. And then edit: does this word, sentence, chapter move my story forward?  Would my character say this? Sound like this? Behave like this?

Then there’s the delete anxnst.mousekey. Horrors!  Delete some of my brilliant writing?  Yes.  You better be willing to give up some of those self-proclaimed brilliant words and be happy about it.  Because when it’s said and done your book will be better for it.

How do you get from writing that first sentence to a finished book?  In my opinion, there is no right and wrong way to prepare.  I write my first draft from the seat of my pants; with just an idea that’s been rattling around in my head for days. No plot line, no story line, and in the case of my true crime series, I often don’t know who my killer is until later.  I will let my characters take me on their journey and the killer will always revel themselves to me.
I marinate, speculate and hibernate.

Some writers will tell you that you must prepare a story/plot outline, all nice and neat; beginning, middle and end.  How limiting that must be.  Or that you must know who your characters are, from the beginning, who populate your story.  Wrong!  I have characters popping in all the time.  And whoever said you had to write the story in order?  Sometimes I have written my ending in the middle of writing the story.  Yes, of course, I go back later and edit it, sometimes severely.

story.plot..ScanThis is as close as I get to a story outline.  I scribble along, in long hand, as my story unfolds.  It helps me tie up loose ends, keep time lines straight, and not forget a minor player that might be overlooked.  But that’s as far as it goes for this writer. Sometimes I’ll prepare a murder board, if I have multiple homicides, very similar to the boards detectives prepare. Right or wrong,  I think I get a better story in the end working as I do.  And in spite of what the ‘experts’ want to tell you, I believe that there is no right or wrong way.  We each have to find our own way. The most important action is to plunk your butt in the chair and WRITE!

When interviewing best selling authors I ask them, “What makes a writer great?” I have gotten a different answer from every one of them.  When asking the same question of myself my answer is, ‘picking the right word.’

Mark Twain said, The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”
DON’T MISS BLOGS featuring INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   In April, a long awaited interview with Kathleen Grissom (The Kitchen House)

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