Sunday, April 11, 2010

delightfully depressing

I was given a great book on the practical aspects of fiction writing, and read the whole thing in a couple of days.

I absolutely loved it . . . and it depressed the hell out of me.


Well, the author held nothing back and had so much practical advice on exactly how to write, and what needs to be in your writing to make is sell. So, what did I do with this newfound knowledge? - I looked over the start of my novel, of course.

And therein lay the problem.

I found, in just the first two paragraphs, about everything that he had pointed out in logical reasonable detail as the failings of dull writing. I had pretty much made every gaffe you could, and by all accounts, and in his words, my novel beginning had “the kiss of death” stamped all over it.

I suddenly found myself driving in a large city, looking for the library (or any place) without a map, just letting my feelings and intuition guide me along until I would happen upon it.

Stupid method to find someplace, don’t you think? Oh, you would eventually end up there after a tank of gas and several days aimless driving, but so much simpler to have map to follow don’t you think?

This book lays out the map for fiction writing, which is what I need for doing revisions of my novel. It will be so much better now because of this book, but how depressing to think that before I read it I thought I knew what I was doing - fact of the matter - not really.

What does all this mean, besides depressing the hell out of me? Well, as a writer you never, ever know it all and never will, that’s what. It also illustrated to me that there is help out there in many forms, pieces of the puzzle a writer must collect and put together if he wants to move forward and grow and above all, sell.

Love of writing may get it done for you, eventually. But for me, I don’t have thirty more years to figure it all out myself through trial and error.

I figure this book will save me many years of fumbling in the dark, reworking things until they seem correct.

It’s called, “Techniques of the Selling Writer” by Swain, and it’s damn good practical advice - best book on the subject I’ve read with regards to the nuts and bolts of good fiction construction. If you have aspirations of becoming a paid writer, you need to read, understand and assimilate the contents of this book.

With that in mind, I’ll need to re-read it a few times to totally understand it, but I figure every minute spent going over it will save me and hour in the long run.

Now, to get back to my novel and all the necessary revisions that it needs.

In reality, I will need to do at least three more drafts, but they will be far smarter drafts now that I have a clear and detailed roadmap to follow.

Until next Sunday . . .


  1. Zilla's Other Half4:19 pm

    Keeping in mind, of course, that not every successful novel or writer fits a particular mold worth copying...

  2. Grondzilla10:11 pm

    What she said. I appreciate that you're doing the best you can to write the best thing you can but this post was just a teeny bit 'drank the koolaid'. You've published in the past and you know that all the 'polish' in the world isn't gonna matter in the face of 'chance'. I suppose I always suspect that one mans polish is another mans 'overthought'. Yes a better product improves chance but where does one say *enough*.

    Keep at it...just make sure the koolaid is for quenching a thirst.