As I hunker down attempting to take my two remaining completed works into print, I'm finding it difficult to improve my writing. My first two books show my weaknesses, now I must do something about them.
I try to write as I talk, try to express thoughts as I think them. I try to paint scenes and draw characters as I imagine them. When the story presents itself to my mind's eye, I'm very much in my creative / artistic mode. I'm incapable of forming a coherent and meaningful sentence: I don't remember proper names or nouns. I see images, hear sounds, smell smells, watch the inner workings of the afflicted minds of my characters as they struggle against themselves and interact with their surroundings. Its a giant immersed virtual experience I visit when I create a story. However, relating that story to the outside world requires interaction, and interaction requires left brain activity. It seems, for now, I can't do both at once.
I'm stuck. I have to write out all of the story in my own "right brained" mnemonic. Some time later I have to put myself in left brained mode and translate the story. I have to prevent myself from seeing the story on my mind's eye and pay attention to the words and the language. I'm not very good at that yet. I am making progress, however, slowly but surely.
My friend Jan is reading the book I'm currently editing ("The Warrior Finds Peace"). After reading the first chapter, he mentioned that he was bothered by my failure to name a character and instead give him the title, "the warrior." I did that because his name was unknown to any of the other characters at that point. In retrospect, I'm thinking I should introduce him to the reader but not to the other characters. I'll have to look at that when I work my way back to the first chapter.
I have to be careful though. The book is about "The Warrior." It is called, "The Warrior Finds Peace." It would not make sense to call it "Aegard Finds Peace." In fact that detracts so much from the title as to make it meaningless.
Jan and I talked about the whole third person context concept and he mentioned that he has problems with third person books where the author leaves out who explicitly said a thing. Jan indicated that if he has to spend more than a few seconds figuring out who says what, he's annoyed by the writing.
Ironically, he noted, when someone (such as myself) puts a who to almost all quotes, the language comes across like a child wrote it. He said its difficult to find the delicate balance between childish style and lack of character traceability.
Point of view is not my biggest challenge though: my biggest writing challenge has been tense. I have a tendency to switch from present to past tense without warning.
My wife (who's naturally good with language) tells me to make everything I say in third person and keep the character quotes in first person. I'm learning right now. I feel like a nine year old. Shouldn't I already know all this? Why do I have to figure this out now?
All these failings occur when I'm creating the story. Perhaps I just have to surrender to the idea that when I first create a work I will be right brained and will write incomprehensible junk, my own secret code which only I understand. I must force myself to use my left brain to translate right brain's contextual outline into something to which other people can relate.
This is wonderful. By writing this blog entry I have learned that writing is a two step process for me. The first step creates the story. That's the fun bit: I love it! The second step is translating the outline of story in a way that it can be perceived accurately by others. That part is dull, but must be done. That's the part I'm learning. And now that I understand myself better, it should get much easier for me.
Thanks for reading.
Causes Brian McKee Supports
I support the cause of peace via peaceful means.