Some introspection on where I’m at as a writer today #amwriting

Writing is a journey.

When I was a new author, I knew a hell of a lot more than I do now. Back then I was probably egotistical enough to believe I was even a good writer. Beginning in 2011, my first couple publications and assorted dead end novels showed me exactly how little I knew.

zip. nada.

My experience with The Wild Rose Press was hugely educational. I learned so much about good writing and also the editorial process. I can’t ever quantify it in a single blog post. Likewise, I met Michelle Devon about that time and she taught me an enormous amount about both writing and publishing. (And also something about amazing people.)

In 2014, I suffered a rather devastating setback with the first draft of Battle Cry. I went into a developmental edit thinking it was pretty good and just needed polishing.

I got my ass handed to me on a platter by Jennifer L. Carson.

(Thank you!!!! One of the best things that’s ever happened to me.)

Of Battle Cry’s original 60,000 words, 20k got cut and tossed, 20k got reworked. Another 40k got added. Somehow, it came out to 96k, and–in my opinion–it’s my best book to date.

Determined to learn from the lesson, I submerged myself in the study of story structure. I’ve read just about everything I can lay my hands on. Break downs of the three-act structure. Save the Cat. Writing from the Middle. It started to pay off when Blood Brothers’s plot finally came together and my vision for Viking Love Slave coalesced. I’m even going to edge out on a limb and even venture to say that I’ve grown as a writer.

Earlier this week, a friend said to me, “You pay a lot of attention to characterization and story structure but you miss opportunities to exploit emotional conflict. You’re not digging deep. Tension isn’t built up to its fullest.”

And I heard myself replying in a fairly desperate way, “Yes, but the underlying story structure was sound. Wasn’t it?”

Le sigh.

I’m off now to find resources on techniques for cultivating conflict. Recs are welcome.

(Originally posted on Facebook. I’m copying/pasting it here because the thoughts are ones I’d like to preserve.)

8 thoughts on “Some introspection on where I’m at as a writer today #amwriting

  1. Cyndi

    I tried reading Valkyrie’s Vengeance” but I lost interest soon after the word “stupider.” Either your editors are “stupider” or the character is very “stupider” to use a nonexistent word. Don’t writers nowadays use editors or is it carte blanche to wear ignorance and carelessness on your sleeves? It’s too bad because the story seemed very interesting but misspellings and use of nonexistent words ruined the flow of thought so I couldn’t make it past the first chapter. Sorry!

    • Was the word used in dialogue??? Too often I see people upset about improper English in dialogue but dialogue can often be a mess because characters/humans don’t speak with perfect English.

      • missy.snark@gmail.com

        Nah, it was within prose. “Stupider” is cited in several dictionaries but isn’t considered proper formal English by traditional standards. However, I write in the common vernacular. My books are fiction and pop cultural. As a matter of style and voice, I prefer the sound of “stupider” to “more stupid”.

    • missy.snark@gmail.com

      Cyndi,
      I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy the book. Thank you for dropping by and sharing with us.

      Warm regards,
      Melissa

    • Michelle Devon

      http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/stupider

      Adj. Stupider, stupidest…

      …………….

      http://www.grammarly.com/answers/questions/6904-stupider-or-more-stupid/

      ……………

      http://www.thefreedictionary.com/stupider

      To throw out an entire book because of one word, when you are actually incorrect about that word, is elitist and unfair.

      Love and stuff,
      An Editor

    • I was part of a writer’s group once that kept dinging me on word use, I finally got frustrated enough to say, “It’s called a dictionary, folks. It has words in it and I use it on all y’all’s work!” As an editor (not of Valkyrie’s Vengeance), I NEVER comment on word use till I look it up. I’ve seen estimates that put the size of the English language at 600,000 words (which is three times the size of the next largest language). To think I might know them all would be hubris…and lead me to embarrassing mistakes.

      When I saw the above post about the comparative of “stupid,” it didn’t sit right with me. One syllable words and MANY two syllable words take the –er/-est form in the comparative and superlative. So you know what I did? I looked it up in the dictionary. Dictionary.com is a good one for that because it lists when an adjectival form takes the –er/-est form (and lists nothing when it takes more/most). What I found was that Melinda is right. The correct form is “stupider.” Go see for yourself. So my advice to everyone out there, before you correct someone, be damn sure you’re right, ‘cause when you’re not…you look the stupider for it!

  2. Aren’t we all just perfect little snowflakes in the beginning? Only to melt into a puddle of despair!
    If only I was as good as I was with that first book. Over 100,000 rambling, disconnected words which I hope no one else ever reads

  3. I feel you, Melissa. I’ve been at this business for six years after forty years of heavy reading. Yes, I am a book addict. I majored in English in college, taking honors courses and retired as a technical writer. I certainly knew how to compose a sentence. What I didn’t know was the craft of writing. I’ve been on a giant learning curve since my first two horrendous books were written. I still take online writing workshops even though I’ve been fortunate to contract exclusively for one of the Big Five. Sometimes I do well with my writing. Sometimes I flounder. I struggle with going deep into emotions of my pov character. It requires many, many rewrites to even scratch the surface. It must be a mind thing for me; others seem to do it so well. I damn near pull my hair out to get things where I want them. It is a journey and a good writer faces the fact that learning is continual. Readers’ tastes and expectations change. Editors follow those whims. We have to bend like a willow to keep current. It’s a rough business, but the characters in our mind keep us plodding forward.

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