I don’t know about you guys, but I had a wonderful Thanksgiving week. I went to Frisco (that’s just north of Dallas) to visit the wife’s family, which is huge and very close. It’s always a joyous occasion to get so many very different people together and actually get along for an entire week. There was a ton of food, and football games. Obviously I was surrounded by Cowboys fans, so they didn’t enjoy the football as much, but my team won with a dominating performance right after their kickoff that night, so I was ecstatic. Then several of us went to the Gaylord Texan and visited the Merry Madagascar Ice thing. Everything inside the place was made of ice. Everything. The walls, slides, animals, Santa, and did I mention the animals? It was a freezing 9 degrees cold and they made us all wear huge parkas, but it was a lot of fun.
|Me, Kids, Wife and a small number of the Wife's Cousins at the Gaylord Texan Ice Event|
As far as writing went, well I have had a couple of enlightening conversations with Kristen Lamb and my Dad. Not at the same time, but individually of course. They both had similar things to say about my writing. Kristen being in the writing business, and my Dad being a Vietnam Veteran from the marine core, I learned a ton in the last week about the opening of Devil Dog. I realized that my plan to add more content to the beginning was not what I needed. I just need to correct the issues with the current one. I can do that easily by removing one faction entirely, slowing down the events, and adding a few missing pieces to it to make it more authentic. Then by removing some descriptive details on gear and adding more details about characters, it will make it less confusing to the reader on who is who and what is important.
|Image via Goodreads|
One thing I’ve learned since I began taking my writing more seriously is that it takes time to truly grasp the art of writing. Impatience is your enemy. Since I’ve slowed myself down the last year and really focused on how to improve my writing, buy hiring editors and reading ‘how to write’ blogs and books, I’ve grown tremendously. So far everyone who has seen my writing tells me they love/like my voice, which has always been what I was afraid that people would hate the most. What I need to work on more is planning, structure and narration. I’ve been a write by the seat of my pants type writer in the past, but after reading Story Engineering by Larry Brooks about a year ago, I realized I was just making it harder on myself.
Since then, I’ve redone the Outline of Devil Dog twice and rewritten it a time and half. I stopped halfway on the second rewrite to restructure it. After some notes from the editor, I realized the last third of the book needed a complete overhaul. My ending was sloppy; it was originally written straight out of my head then later patched using the Story Engineering as a guide. Problem was, it really needed a complete rewrite at one time and not just patching up. I was doing it wrong again.
During my talks with Kristen and Dad, I realized something else I was missing: more of an understanding of my characters, even the ones with small parts. Yeah, I had backgrounds, personalities and appearances, but I was missing details. So, I’m going to be creating “Character Sheets” for every character in Devil Dog, even the guys with one scene so that every character will stay true, and I can stay on track when writing about them. I did have a couple characters sort of disappear without explanation midway through the book, so this will keep me more on my toes than a bunch of index cards with notes on them. I’ll break them all down with levels of strength, intelligence, durability, reflexes, stamina, intuition, charm, etc. It’ll be a big complex mess, but it’ll make me sane and will make every character unique, like real people and less like cardboard placeholders.
|Poster from thehobbit.com|
Call me crazy for going through all of that, but I’m a big stickler for details and I really need to get down and dirty to sell myself on my own writing. Also, I love making characters, always have since I played Dungeons & Dragons as a kid. Once I’ve published Devil Dog, I’ll probably start posting all of those Character Sheets on my Facebook page and put a few of the more important characters up on the blog. Of course, I’ll have to edit out all the spoiler information. I wouldn’t want to ruin the books for anyone.
Guess I’m off to spend the holiday with character building.
Just so you know, I’m currently editing a special Fantasy Weapons post for The Hobbit. I’ll have it up this week. Cheers!