Saturday, July 16, 2011

Patience is Part of the Craft

By Keith N Fisher

I read the Deathly Hallows again. Since the new movie was just released, I figured it would be prudent to remember what’s supposed to happen. Before I see the flick. I feel sorry for those people who see the movies, but have never read the books. There is so much more story in the book.

Besides, sometimes my imagination of a setting is much better than depicted by the moviemakers.

Anyway, while reading the book, I noticed a few writing and craft errors I hadn’t noticed before. I’m not going to refer to them directly because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. I noticed them, I think, because I’m in the middle of editing one of my manuscripts and the mind grows oversensitive.

I’ve always contended that you can find errors in every writer’s work, no matter who he/she is. Some authors get lazy and nobody corrects them, because of who they are, Some authors, make honest mistakes that aren’t caught. The whole thing can be discouraging to unpublished writers.

It takes time, and a lot of practice, to become a great writer. Another truth is, some people are born storytellers. The problem arises when someone with a good story has trouble writing it. Have you noticed there are eight stages every writer passes through on the way to perfecting the craft?

Stage one-inspiration.

An idea hits and the person decides to write. The manuscript sucks. The person keeps writing.

Stage two-rejection.

The writer discovers he needs help. The story wants to be told.

Stage three-assimilation.

The writer learns about craft through conferences, workshops, and books about writing.

Stage four-transformation.

The writer is getting better, makes changes in their manuscript.

Stage five-second rejection, denial.

This usually comes when a critique partner finds a problem. The writer disallows the opinion. The editor doesn’t understand. After all, I made all those changes, didn’t I? This is a dangerous time because the writer sometimes gets argumentative.

Stage six-humble recognition.

After a great amount of soul searching, and more rejection, the writer discovers the critique partner might be right. Besides if one reader has trouble with the manuscript, others will also.

Stage seven-depression.

Why did I ever think I could write? By now, writing has become a way of life and cannot be given up. A writer must continue.

Stage eight-cognition.

The writing is getting better all the time. The writer actually edits his own sentences as he writes. He has written several manuscripts.

As in the case of many authors, sometimes a writer gets published at stage one, sometimes they travel through many more stages than eight. Some writers combine stage one with stage eight. It’s a matter of talent. It’s important to learn patience in the beginning, and remember a few things.

Great storytelling does not necessarily, equal great writing. Also, the reverse is true. As in some author’s case, getting published often comes down to being in the right place, at the right time, with the right story. Isn’t it better to have written a great story well, then to have trouble getting a second book published, because the story is mediocre and the writing sucks?

The most important lesson for most of us, I think, is to keep an open mind during step five. Getting angry is never a good idea, especially when that anger is turned on those who are honestly trying to help you.

Good luck in your writing—see you next week.

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