Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Read to write good

After I finished "Ghost Story" by Jim Butcher, I put down the book and wanted to read the next one. Well, old Jim's taking his good old time on that so I decided to write a series of my own so I'd never run out of something good to read. (Yeah, Yeah) When I started writing, I thought "I've read for 40 years. I know what it takes to make a good novel." Turns out judging a story is a bit different than actually creating one. Who'd of guessed? Just like it's easy to criticize The Mona Lisa (I mean, can you say 'Dark and boring?') It's hard to actually create something even remotely close. So, after I pumped out three novels in as many months (I've been a frustrated writer for a long time now) and started shoving them into the faces of everyone slower than me that I could tackle. I got lots of feedback and discovered that most of my friends can't read. Damnedest thing. I had no idea we had so many functional illiterates in this country! Anyway, from the feedback I started to get an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of my manuscripts and of how novel writing is really done. The most interesting thing is that the weaknesses that were pointed out were not a surprise. I knew it, even if I didn't let myself know it. The problem was, I didn't understand how to fix them. Since Jim Butcher is the reason I got off my butt and started writing, I decided to look him up on the web and see what he had to say about it. I found a blog of his that goes back to 2004. Even though it was probably out of date (I mean it was 8 years old!) I decided to read it. It made a terrible amount of sense. I even made this little flowchart out of what he said to show how a story should be put together. Being a programmer for decades, I like stuff like this. http://jimbutcher.livejournal.com/
So, just follow this diagram and you will make an exciting and fun book. If you feel like you'd like a little more detail, go read his blog. I also found out that Jim also took CLASSES in writing. That was certainly a novel thought for me. Get it? Novel.... never mind. As a point of interest, this info-dump really helped me understand the strengths and weaknesses in my stories. I went back, rewrote them and liked them better. My interest was peaked and my natural arrogance was spanked and sent to the corner, so I started backtracking some of the books and people Jim mentioned. I've found some really good ones. I'll be sharing them over the next few posts.

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