Wednesday, February 5, 2014

How and Why of Writing

Today at my favorite writing blog, The Kill Zone, the topic of the day was the "What, How, and Why of Writing.

The What is fairly straightforward, genre and style. For me it is thriller short stories and novel-length with an occasional cross-genre foray into sci-fi and romantic suspense.

The How called back to the previous day's comical post about what kind of writer you are. Pantsers, out-liners, word-count Terminators, and the harried frantic writer. Some days, I'm all of the above.

There were no great surprises in this part of the discussion. Writers do share some characteristics.

The big discussion came in the Why we do it.

To quote Joe Moore:

"Because if you know beyond a shadow of a doubt why you write, it will come out in your work. It will make your words more believable, stronger, and heartfelt. Your reader will know."

This post struck home with me because I just typed the fateful words, "THE END" to my manuscript. Because of how I write and revise, that was the end of the seventh revision of the third draft. It was ready to go out to beta and into intense copyediting. I sent two packages out today, waving goodbye like I was sending a kid off on the bus to kindergarten.

So why write?

I can only answer for myself, but, for me, it's the way to explore and wrangle my emotions, memories, and dreams into coherent form. All those feels bouncing around my head and heart make their way onto the virtual page.

My WIP, with the working title "Jewel," when all the muscle cars, shotguns, tattoos, legal wrangling, taskforces, and international smuggling are peeled back, is about trust and what happens when it's sundered. That dead zone of betrayal and loss of faith.

It didn't start out that way, but as the story and relationships developed, that's the theme that emerged (gah, did I say theme?) I had wells of emotion to draw from to craft what I hope is a credible story that resonates.

It is also fun to put my memories and experiences to work. Not just a love of muscle cars but the memories of dating someone for his forest green '70s Challenger and my dad's '69 Camaro. The droning tedium of a courtroom when all the action that got you there is reduced to a three-minute speech and lives can change because of a single-page motion. All those little experiences that clutter my brain can be put to work.

And Springsteen . . . I can damn well make my hero look any way I want.

There is one intensely violent scene in the book. Lots of mayhem throughout, but one really gutting scene. It was hard to write. The fear, the pain, and the loss of hope made me walk away from the work for a couple of days while I processed it.

When the notes come in we'll see how the betas think of it. Structure I have no problems with. I can take an edit. I welcome it. But I will be most interested in finding out if it resonated. That's why I did it.



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