Monday, August 13, 2007

Desperate Solutions

So: I sat and thought about the book, and it seemed to me that there were real problems with the main character: that he hadn't developed into a big enough/interesting enough character to carry the story.

Time for desperate measures: print it out and give it to my wife to read. I say desperate, because this is a tough moment for both the writer and the reader, made much more tough if that reader is also spouse. Too harsh a commentary and it'll send me straight to the office in a frenzy of words and storylines as I struggle to make the story work. Too bland 'oh it's wonderful darling' and I'll be left with nothing to work on and just as stumped as I am now.

What I'm looking for is a strange blend of support, encouragement, insightful input: and thank god, my wife came up trumps. She ticked the good bits. Noted the paragraphs where the story stalls for a moment. And when i asked her about the journey of the main character and my concerns, we worked out that part of his emotional journey was missing, and identified the point in the narrative where he could think and work out some of the challenges facing him.

I say all this, because yesterday (monday) i worked on the notes from that saturday night reading, and only added about 500 words: but it is startling how differently those 500 words make the story read. But it might have just been 50 or 100 words.

Readers pick things up as subtle as body language, as unspoken as feelings. Many writers make the mistake of not trusting their readers: and readers can smell an unconfident writer in the same way that dogs smell fear.

1 comment:

Wynn Bexton said...

I've workshopped my novel through to the present time with a very good critique group though lately I feel I need more -- a mentor, or someone else who really understands the characters and time period. I'm lucky to have had contact with a couple of other published authors, one is a current favorite of mine, Steven Pressfield, the other is one Jack Dempsey who really inspired me with his book about ancient Crete. And there's another blogger, Scott Oden who has published twice now and on his third. We've exchanged a lot of research notes as he's never been to Greece and I've lived there and had the privilege of researching there. These contacts have meant so much to me and their commentaries help keep me focused. My novel has taken me way too long to write as it's complicated and of course I've stopped now and then to do other things like rework a play and have it produced etc. But it's on the back stretch now and I owe a lot to these authors who have kept me going with their encouragement.

As for the research, I've lived in Greece, have contact with several Classical scholars and there is a very good site online called where they are all Alexander fans or scholars so if I get stumped I pose them a question and it's usually answered immediately. So very helpful!