Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Writing Groups

Join a writing group, they said. It'll be fun, they said.

Hopefully your writing group won't look quite this intense, but the truth is, for them to be any good, they must be honest. Sometimes that honesty is quite brutal to our egos. No matter what, if there is a writing group, join them. Before you do though, check your ego at the door. None of us are as good as we could be and that should make us want to improve. That constructive criticism will help you polish your writing and help you overcome some of your bad habits.

Why is it important? The truth is, because we all read our work like we THINK we wrote it. Someone who is unbiased, or at least less biased than we are, will find the errors in what we thought was the perfect "Great American Novel". Our friends and family are great for boosting the ego, but sometimes we need our bubble burst in order to improve. 

I remember my first foray into the "coliseum". I was fresh and excited and looking forward to hearing how wonderful the first chapter of my book was. Coliseum is the right term. After reading the first few pages, the half dozen other writers shredded what would later become a highly recommended western novel. "Lone Oak" is now a much better story with fans clamoring for the next book in the series thanks to their honest critiques. 

These groups will also help you, should you decide to publish your work, in finding editors, publishers and book distributors. They can be your toughest critics, but they are also some of your greatest fans.

Signing off for now.

Phil Hardy

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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

How to organize your thoughts.


Organizing your book

A lot of people debate about how to organize your book. I mean, how do you keep on topic and keep the story moving forward? You can't go about it all willy-nilly, can you? You'd end up with a mess that no editor could possibly fix for you. The truth is, there are numerous ways to organize your writing, and no single way that works for everybody. However, there are some principles that apply to all of them. Know your characters, know your plot and know where you are going.

I think that most authors use the outline method. What that means is they write down, in outline form, the main points of their story and then flesh them out. This helps them to keep the story flowing in a definite direction. The outline can be as simple as a single page or as detailed as you decide to make it. The main point is, if this is how you work best, write the outline so you can work from it. Make sure to include the main characters and action sequences. You don't want to put things out of order, nor forget names and places critical to your story. Readers will notice that.

Others write completely “freestyle”. In other words, they write whatever is in their mind at the time and let the story develop itself. This can work, if you write continuously. The problem arises when you leave the story for a few days or weeks and then try to return. While it does lend itself to your imagination, there are times when you may forget critical elements or go off on a tangent that doesn't enhance the story. That means you will have to rewrite parts of the story in order to make it coherent. Your editor will be a critical asset when you write this way.

Others write as if writing a screenplay. What I mean by that is, they think of the story in scenes and write the scenes, tying them together to make the story complete. When writing this way, you can write a scene out of order, knowing where it fits into the story and insert it at the proper time. It sometimes leads to the issue of how to tie all the scenes together into a comprehensive product. In this method, as with the outline, you must know the beginning, middle and end of your story.

These are a few ways that people organize writing their books. Whichever way you choose, one of the most critical things is, select the one that works best for you and try it out. You may decide later to change your method of organization, but try them until you find what one, or combination, works for you.

Which one do I use? Well, let's just say, I still use a pen and paper most of the time and leave it at that. Until next time, keep writing.

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