For the past two weeks, I’ve been working on a rewrite of my NaNo novel, “Funeral Singer”. While I received good feedback from a few of my beta readers, the total lack of response from the rest leads me to believe that the book is not compelling enough for them to continue reading it. I could be wrong, but that is the interpretation. After reading it through again, I do see some pacing issues and places where it needs more zing. With that in mind, I started a rewrite of it. While I haven’t thrown everything out, I am looking for places to tighten it up and make it more of a page turner.
I have read so many books on how to write, articles on things to do, ways to hook the reader and other tips for writing that my head is drowning in all the do and don’t tips of other writers. I almost find it crippling to approach my novel this way. The mechanics of trying to write a book that applies these rules at every line practically stifles the writing. Then I open a best-seller and most of these so-called rules are tossed aside. Good writing and telling a good story are what are most important, I feel.
Does every book have to read like an action movie? It seems like that’s what these writing advice tips are advocating. Even action movies are getting over-inundated in the action and lacking in the actual content of the story. For my movie dollar, I want a story that involves me in the story, the characters, and the emotions. Star Wars was a successful film because we cared about the characters. We fell in love with Luke and saw his hopes and dreams and felt his longing to make a difference. We fell in love with Han for his spirit, his sense of adventure, and his good heart. We loved Leia for her courage, her humor, and her dedication. We even loved Threepio and R2D2 for their human-like behavior and devotion to their owners. These are what made Star Wars work. While the action and the special effects kept the story rolling full-throttle, we still needed those telling moments, like Luke gazing out longingly at dusk to feel the yearning in him, Leia standing defiantly before Vader and showing her courage as she defies him, and Han getting drawn into the rebellion despite all his words of independence.
It’s also what makes a successful book work. It’s the part of writing that pulls the reader into identifying with the main characters and caring about what happens to them. It’s not throwing them into one crisis after another, but allowing for the ordinary and everyday part of their lives that the reader can grasp and identify with that builds the bond. Once you have that, then the reader will be pulling for your main character through the crisis and turning the pages to find out what happens next.
I call myself a writer and I want the words to be lyrical when I write. I love words and how they link together to form exquisite sentences. I like to read something I’ve written a few days after it’s done and think. “Did I actually write that? Where did it come from?”
Once, in a piece of fan fiction, I wrote this line: “Quiescent words fell on him, patient little architects constructing a long-forgotten world— a place both so distantly removed and foreign to his experience that it could have been an alien civilization.” Upon reading it, my friend, another writer, turned to me and said, “I wish I had written that.” And I thought, I can’t believe I wrote that.
When the creative brain is in charge, the words come from the soul and not from the logical side that is saying. “How does this advance the story?”
At the end of the day, the book I write is mine. It’s the story I want to tell and while it may not be a big hit with anyone, it is nonetheless, my story and I want to tell it as purely and elegantly as possible. I can only hope that someone will want to read it because it’s a good story.
Writers and readers alike, what do you think about this? Do you agree or disagree?? Let me know.