Wednesday, May 25, 2016

It's My Story And I'm Sticking To It

   I have spent quite a bit of time lately pondering the reasons why I write and how my writing changed over the last year. When I first started a little over three years ago, it was strictly for my own pleasure and I enjoyed creating something new. Writing for others never entered my mind.
   I've written about this before how after my friends and family convinced me to get serious and learn how to write to sell, I completely changed my focus. I became obsessed with learning everything I could about writing correctly with the intent to lure the reader. Being a perfectionist didn't help as I was determined to use every new rule of writing I discovered.
   Unfortunately, this took away any enjoyment I had originally found in writing, and it became a chore just to get anything down on paper. I would over-think every sentence or word I wrote down. Was that the right word? Is the sentence structure correct? Could I have written this a better way? Folks told me I had to find a way to turn off the inner editor monster I'd created and only bring him out when ready to edit. This has proved almost impossible.
   Last week, several online friends challenged me to write a story mixing genres. It had to include a cowboy, a mermaid and be somewhat historically accurate. A complete story instantly filled my mind, but I tried to ignore it as I'm desperately trying to finish my first full length novel. I finally gave up on Sunday and just sat down with a fresh notebook and wrote the words as they appeared. It took me the better part of the day, but when I finished, I had over two thousand words. I haven't done that in over a year. I had finally written something again the way I used to without worrying about grammar, word choice, etc. It remains to be seen if I can now apply this to writing my WIP, but at least I now have the confidence that I can still write the way I used to and enjoy it.
   If you are interested in what I wrote, here is a link:

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

What Works For Me

   I'm still mulling over the revelation from last week when I learned that not everyone can visualize in their mind what they are reading or writing. The thought that others don't see things as I do never entered my mind. This explains so many things I've had a problem understanding.
   It makes sense now why some readers complained that there wasn't enough description in my story while others thought there was too much. They each visualized the scene differently, therefore needing more or less detail to complete the vision. This seems to apply not only to sight, but sounds and smell also.
   I brought this up at the last meeting with my close writing partners and it cleared up some confusion for all of us. Two of the writers can only experience one thing at a time as they're writing so several complete re-writes are necessary to add another dimension to the story with each pass. The other pictures her characters talking to her, telling their story and she writes what they tell her. For me, it's like I'm in the middle of the scene along with my characters and I can see, hear and smell everything.
   I think this has been the cause of my difficulty with writing over the last year. Many of the "How To" books on writing seem contradictory, and like I said before, it confused me when some readers loved what I wrote and others didn't. I was trying to find a process that matched the way others recommended and that pleased all the readers all the time.
   I've finally accepted the fact that I can't write that way. The only way I can be productive is to write the way that works for me. It used to bother me when other writers said they had written several thousand words in a day until I understood that those words might get thrown away or changed during the second or third drafts.It might take me several days to write five hundred words, but once they're on paper, they usually stay. I don't re-write or have multiple drafts. I will replay the scene in my head hundreds of times, rejecting or accepting new characters or situations as they appear. When I'm familiar with every sight, sound, smell and emotion, that's when it gets put down on paper and submitted to others for critique. I may change a few words or add to the scene based on their comments, but other than that I'm done.
   I've included a scene that took me four days to write. Not a single word has been changed since I put it on paper. When I submitted it to my local critique group and to my writing partners, everyone loved it and wouldn't change a thing. I know it'll need a line edit, but other than that this is final. What do you think?
   Thanks for reading.

         Nestled up against the base of Mount Baltok, where the capital of Kiplar had originally set down its roots, sat an old non-descript inn. Known as the place for late night meetings between discreet lovers and those whose actions were best kept hidden, the innkeeper never lacked for money. No one remembered the inn’s original name, but based on the faded sign above the door that supposedly sported the likeness of the first Queen of Dahlian with two pints of ale pictured below, the name “The Queen’s Jugs” had stuck. Only the innkeeper was aware of the irony of the name considering the identity of one of his patrons.
In a dark corner farthest from the door, two hooded figures sat in a booth, apparently in a lovers embrace. The pain of long buried memories resurfacing threatened to overwhelm the Queen as she softly kissed the lips of the old arms-master and gently traced the scars on his cheek with her fingers. The face of a young guardsman hovered before her as the past overcame the present and she lost herself to the feelings she had buried for so long. He reached up to cover her hand with his as she pulled back, the flickering candlelight revealing a sad smile on his face.
“The memory of your soft lips has never left me even after all these years. Please believe me when I say I never stopped loving you, Olivia. I used to curse the Eyes for the position we found ourselves in until I realized I could protect you better from the shadows then by your side.”
“Oh Malcom, I’ve missed you so,” she murmured while resting her head on his shoulder. “What happened to our love, my handsome young protector, and why have you chosen to re-kindle that love?”
The arms-master stiffened at her question and then let out a sigh heavy with regret. “The Deluti happened. It is also one of the reasons I needed to meet with you like this. The story I have to tell may not be easy for you to hear.”
It was Olivia’s turn to stiffen as she lifted her head and stared at him, the eyes of a Queen replacing those of a young princess in love. “I’m listening.”
Malcom paused to gulp down the rest of his ale and signaled for another round, which gave him the time to order his thoughts before answering. “On the day Sofia was born, I felt compelled to guard the door to your rooms. After everyone had left to allow you and the baby a chance to rest, a Deluti spirit appeared and had me under its spell before I could react.”
He shivered as the memory of that night returned and he felt caught up in its grip once again. “It was like time had come to a standstill and only the two of us existed. The spirit told me that soon the five Deluti Amulets of Focus would return to the world of men and that they had chosen a number of human children who would receive a portion of Deluti blood mixed with their own. Sofia is one of those chosen. The spirit then charged me with keeping that secret and to protect her with my life until she left to be on her own.”
He watched in admiration as the intelligent woman he knew and loved, calmly sipped her wine while processing the information he’d just given her. It didn’t take long before she leaned back, closed her eyes and blindly reached for his hand.
“Well, that explains a lot, particularly why you distanced yourself from me after Sofia was born, and why you insisted on training her in secret when she was old enough. It’s also clear to me that you wouldn’t be telling me this unless something has happened to her.” At which point she squeezed his hand. “Please tell me she is safe.”
“Olivia, the repercussions from what has happened will ripple through both our countries and the resulting consequences are too numerous for me to fathom. That Sofia is still alive I can almost guarantee, but whether or not she is safe, that remains to be seen.”
Her only reaction was to open her eyes and narrow them in concentration. He then proceeded to relay everything young Gilfor had passed on the night before. He also assured her that men and wagons were already on their way to the ambush site to retrieve the bodies of the guards and to bury the attackers where they lay.
“So my daughter has the power of a Deluti inside of her?”
“Yes, and she has already begun to use those powers even if she isn’t aware of it yet. With Ronald at her side, I believe they will be able to take care of themselves. What worries me is how are the rumors going to affect our people, and what the reaction will be from the King of Marlinor is anybody’s guess.”
The Queen set down her glass of wine and pulled him close, a coy smile dancing across her lips. “Those problems will still be there on the morrow. Right now I need you to remind me how much you love me.”
Malcom returned her smile with one of his own. “As my Lady commands.”