Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Why I Haven't Blogged in a While

I know I haven’t posted many blogs and updates lately. Sorry about that. My friend, Sasha, always gets onto me when I blog too much because she knows it’s because I’m not writing enough. And she’s right. Fortunately for everyone I’ve been in “blog hiding” because I’m adjusting Out of the Shadows just a bit before I turn the manuscript in to Wandering Sage Publications. I’m working on two main “tweaks.”

“Background Music”
Out of the Shadows takes place 10 years after A Prophecy Forgotten. (No real giveaway there.) During this time, I mess with world politics. (Tee hee. Makes me feel powerful.) Most scenes in the Earth section of OOTS focus on Tommy, but I need to add tension, and I need to foreshadow Book III. That’s where world politics issues come in. They add tension and foreshadowing but they really are just “background music.” That means all the research, etc. I’m doing to create the background music will equal about 3,000 words worth of adjustments. Will it be worth it? Yep. It's not even a question.

My first attempt at messing with world politics and the military was just that, an attempt that lacked plausibility. It’s one of those things that I knew I could do better, but I wasn’t really sure how. That’s where the TSME came in. (Top Secret Military Expert.) There’s nothing like running a few ideas past a person who has been in the military for a while--and actually teaches the stuff--to get the creative juices flowing. The TSME not only gave me ideas but also worked with my ideas to make them more “plausible.” Also, the beautiful thing about the TSME is his own creative streak, and he allowed me to steal a few of his ideas—including using secret societies—for OOTS and Book III.

Want to know what is funny. Now that Russia is attacking Georgia...let’s just say that the TSME and I make a good (and quite prophetic) team. (Remember, everything you read in OOTS was decided on before Russia attacked Georgia. Now you’ll have to read it!)

So, I’m currently fine tuning my “background music.” Then I will give the TSME the final Earth sections so he can comb through them for plausibility issues.

Showing Character
Every author has weaknesses, and I certainly am no exception. I’ve only got one novel published and two completed, so I know that I can use improvement. That’s why I have my advance readers and the TSME—so they can point out my errors before my story goes into print. One of my advance readers, Jill, pointed out to me way back last August that she thought I didn’t give depth to my characters. I took her comment under advisement, but I really didn’t know how to fix it. The thought went into storage.

Later, the TSME mentioned the same thing, saying, “You don’t get into the psychology of the characters.”

Hmmm. Twice now. Two different people who have never met each other. Two different genders. And both of them like bestselling fiction. I want to be a bestselling author, so….

A day later, the CEO of Wandering Sage made some corrections to the Prologue of APF, and his corrections indicated he saw the same weaknesses in my writing.


I decided to investigate. I asked some of the kids in my youth group what they thought about my characters and such. Most of the responses were positive, but Sarajane—an avid reader who held A Prophecy Forgotten up to my original publisher and said, “This is better than Harry Potter,” (I love Sarajane.), said, “I just wish I knew Gabriella more. Is she fiery? Is she not fiery? I feel like I don’t know her.”

Weakness confirmed.

But how to fix it? After reading the CEO’s suggestions and some suggestions from the TSME something clicked. I realized that I really excel at using sensory details to describe the scenery, but I rarely apply those same sensory details to my characters. If my character is pensive, I usually opt to describe his body movements, i.e. “He crossed his arms.” (Jill had actually pointed out that I used “He crossed his arms” once every 3 pages in the original OOTS manuscript.) I think I do that because I think in terms of screenplays and stage directions. Big picture stuff. What I need to do is draw out some sensory details. What does his face look like? Are their wrinkles around his eyes that show? What about his hands? Does he make any grunts or funny noises? And if he is a POV (point of view) character, what does his body feel like when he is “pensive”? Questions to consider, and I think that is what I’m missing. What’s funny is that Jill had pointed this out to me all along. It just took about four other people for me to get it.

The moral of the story: Always seek advice, and be willing to take criticism. And sometimes, you might have to hear something three to four times from different sources in order to “get it.”

So now I’ve got to come through all 130,000 words of OOTS and add in a few emotion details to my characters. So, I might not be blogging much for another week. But I really think it will be worth it in the end. And I think the best thing is that I will become a better writer because of it. That’s the most exciting part!

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