[authorme] PUBLISHING NEW WRITERS, JANUARY, 2006

  • From: "Bruce Cook, AuthorMe.com" <cookcomm@xxxxxxx>
  • To: authorme@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 2 Feb 2006 21:35:42 -0800 (PST)

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In this issue...
 
RUSH-WRITING, by Bruce L. Cook
ON NOT SELLING YOUR BOX OF BOOKS, by Bruce L. Cook
LIFECYCLE OF A CHARACTER: BIRTH, by Sandy Tritt 
 
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============================================================

RUSH-WRITING, by Bruce L. Cook

In writing fiction, I usually get my action together,
clear my schedule (if possible) and write up a storm.
Reminiscent of an accomplished musician, my fingers
fly on the keys like butterflies on the run. In doing
so, these unruly digits create a monstrosity of
misspellings and misplaced grammar, but I tell myself
?I . just . have .  to .  get .  this  . all  . down!?

This is fine, providing that I take the time to
revise, proofread carefully, and rewrite several
times. Now some writers feel this rush to write is
self-authenticating ? the words are from above and
must never be tampered with, but this is misguided.

Nonetheless,  rush-writing can hinder the delicate
balance between action and meaning. 

For example, in rush-writing I may write the
following:
?Billy Wilson hurled the rock at the widow, but turned
to run when old Macomber appeared in the opening.

Now, this writing is acceptable, and could lead the
reader into completing the story. But think of the
opportunities the writer has missed just in this short
passage.

For example, let?s take a look at the boy, Wilson, in
the revision below.

?Enraged at Macomber for refusing to answer the door,
the usual redness in Billy Wilson?s face deepened and
he pressed the tiny oval of his lips together as he
searched the ground for a rock. Finding one, he flung
it at the window where Macomber would be seated.?

Already the scene has moved from action to meaning, at
least when it comes to description. But now try the
same scene with meaning ? whatever it is that you
wanted to say, whatever you wanted to leave for future
generations to read.

?Enraged at Macomber for refusing to answer the door,
the usual redness in Billy Wilson?s face deepened and
he pressed the tiny oval of his lips together. He
could see it now, his father?s disapproval when he
returned from making collections on his paper route.
Again he would be told how he was giving away money
when he delivered the paper to people like Macomber.
It wasn?t fair, with the giant newspaper making young
boys do its dirty work. But he, and only he, could
make this collection from the old man. He had tried
for weeks and it was impossible, so he decided to take
action.

?Wilson searched the ground for a rock. Finding one,
he flung it at the window where Macomber would be
seated, was always seated when Wilson came to collect.

?Immediately Macomber appeared, his face drawn from
weeks with only the barest of sustenance. The delicate
web of his ivory face turned to an ugly mask as the
realization set in. He would have to pay more to
repair this window than it would have cost to pay the
boy?s bill. But he could afford neither, and again he
would have to go days without food.?

I submit that the writer?s genius is to select the
depth of description and comment in a scene of this
kind. But, above all we need to avoid the rush to
write when it forces us to write a shallow account.

I offer two solutions, and beg you to choose what?s
best for you.

1. Write in deep thoughtfulness on the first time
through the scene.

2. Do rush-writing, and then come back to plug in
descriptions and content.

Option 1 suggests a fusion between action and meaning.
But option 2 might help you achieve better continuity
in action. 

It?s like viewing a book?s design vs. reading a book?s
content. Both are essential to success, but they are
viewed and considered separately. Now, in the writer?s
struggle between action and meaning, perhaps the same
is true. Think of action. Think of meaning. But don?t
neglect one or the other.

============================================================

ON NOT SELLING YOUR BOX OF BOOKS, by Bruce L. Cook

Undeniably, we writers are fellow-crafters, like
skilled artisans selling art objects at a marketplace
or craft show. And, like these artisans, we gather
together and share our dreams, experiences, and
frustrations.

Inevitably, in these years since the ?vanity press?
went the way of the dinosaurs, being replaced by more
respectable self-publishing, writers meet and share
stories of books they cannot sell unless they go out
and do personal appearances in their local area.

Too often, these writers are selling books to Mom and
Pop, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, and close
friends at work. And, while they dreamed of Borders,
Barnes and Noble, and other giant stores, their works
have never graced the doorways there.

One outcome of this problem might be the fatalistic
notion of writer failure. But this is not advisable.
Instead, many writers realize the web offers many
writers websites of different kinds, and they publish
there. This, I believe is the correct response and one
which will permit the writer to eventually achieve his
or her goals of greatness, or at least the goal of
becoming read by a fair-sized audience. (And, for most
of us, this is all we wanted anyway.)

But I?d like to add one more note to the chord ? the
thought that your writing in a small book should be
something to which you can point with pride. Thus,
even though you have a favorite manuscript and a
salesman offered you a cheap print run, make it a
point to hesitate. During the delay that you
deliberately create, take time to examine the contract
sent you by he printer (calling itself a publisher).
Second, take time to make our manuscript worth the
expense.

Thus your goals become two: getting a fair deal (for
example, not paying US $2,500 ? $8,000 for a book run
just because you are in some part of Africa, compared
with the $500 ? plus it might cost in a more
competitive market), and leaving a worthwhile piece of
literature for the future.

For example, I think of the small presses of New
Mexico, where refurbished printing presses from the
past are combined with local writing to create new
books as an art form, in print runs of no more than
150 books. We who use self publishing can do the same,
knowing that 150 is probably high. But if we can
control the print quality and cover art, and write the
best we have too offer, our product will achieve its
own success. We can sell it in small quantities (what
is it they say ? ?one book at a time??), and take
pride in our product.

The point is to ignore the grand showcase of selling a
blockbuster novel (not that we would ever refuse). But
rather to have a mature view and to prepare small
print run books as a contribution to our own unique
art form, and to know we have achieved our true goals.


============================================================

LIFECYCLE OF A CHARACTER: BIRTH, by Sandy Tritt 

Birth is when we pick up that limp character that we
assigned physical attributes to, hold him in our arms,
and breathe the breath of life into him from our very
own souls. It is also the turning point?his actual
birth?and we cease having absolute control over him. 

The first breath of life is when our character has a
goal or ?character statement.? This is what our
character ?wants,? and before our character has a
want, he is nothing more than a description. The
process of ?wanting? is what gives life. So, what,
more than anything else in the world, does this
character want? 

Some examples from my characters are:

?       To become wealthy so the love of my life will return
my love.
?       To have fun.
?       To be the best teacher I can possibly be and to give
my students the desire to continue their education.
?       To keep my family together.
?       To break into the Rock ?n Roll charts and become a
rock star.
?       To know and do God?s will.

As you can see, a character?s goal can be as deep or
as vapid as the individual. Note that for some
characters, this statement may be a life goal, but for
others it may change as the character matures.
Regardless, this is what motivates our character and
we must understand this motivation if we are to
continue to add depth to his personality. Every major
character should have a character statement.
 
Now, if our characters achieved their goals
immediately and without effort, we wouldn?t have much
of a story. So, we must throw obstacles at them.
Someone or something must be at work trying to prevent
our character from his dream. This is called the
character conflict, and it can be external (another
character, an act or condition of nature, an act or
condition of circumstance, or a physical problem or
condition) or it can be internal (an emotional or
psychological problem or condition). 

Many times, our character must resolve an internal
conflict in order to defeat his external conflict.

For example, Joe wants to marry Janet, his life-long
love. His external conflict is that Janet doesn?t
respect him. His internal conflict is that he has an
explosive temper. In order to earn Janet?s respect, he
must learn to control his temper.

Not every character must have a conflict. However, our
protagonist (our main character) must have a conflict
in order to have a plot. 

Which brings us to the resolution. Will our
protagonist achieve his goal? If not, why not? While
it is generally assumed that the achievement of the
goal translates into a successful resolution, it is
not the only successful resolution. Perhaps in the
process of achieving his goal, our character grows
beyond it. Perhaps as he learns more about what he
must give up, he realizes it isn?t worth it. Or he
realizes that he doesn?t want what he thought he did.
So, the resolution can be many things, as long as the
reader understands why.

The resolution should also make obvious how the
protagonist has changed during the process of the
story. In a character-driven novel, it is imperative
that our protagonist change in some way. 

In a plot-driven novel, it is still preferable that
our protagonist learns something or grows in some way.


A reproducible Character Growth Chart is provided in
Section 8. It covers the character statement, the
character conflict, the resolution, and the character
growth. Space is also provided for comments.

So, let your characters have dreams. Let them want,
let them strive, let them achieve. But most of all,
let them grow.


(c) copyright 2002 by Sandy Tritt. All rights
reserved, except for those listed here. October be
reproduced for educational purposes (such as for
writer's workshops), as long as this copyright notice
and the url: http://tritt.wirefire.com are distributed
with the pages. For use in conferences or other uses
not mentioned here, please contact Sandy Tritt at
tritt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx for permission and additional
resources at no or limited charge.

Keep writing!
 
Sandy Tritt
Inspiration for Writers tritt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
tritt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
 
Sandy's website:
http://tritt.wirefire.com
 
============================================================
 
Publishing New Writers, February, 2006 (No. 702)
 
Publisher: Cook Commm - Bruce L. Cook, P.O. Box 451,
Dundee, IL 60118 USA. 

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