I’ve had lots of recommendations for great craft books that can help me think about ways to sharpen up the draft version of this work-in-progress. Unfortunately, my little library doesn’t have any of them. Fortunately, it does have two that are being helpful, so why not pass those titles along for other people to try?
Fiction–the Art and Craft of Writing and Getting Published, by Michael Seidman
Sure you should have thought of these things before you got started, but at least for me, chapters on Developing Characters, Theme, Scenes, and Style all offer someone in revision some great points to consider. After drafting a pitch and a synopsis, has the theme shifted, or emerged more clearly–and does that help focus the work better; might it give me courage for cutting storylines that don’t contribute, or that muddy the waters? Have certain characters been given short shrift? What can they tell me now that I wasn’t hearing before?
I didn’t want to get deeply into Parts Two and Three, on Networking and the Business of Publishing, until I am more satisfied that the story is ready to move on to the professionals, but I’ve had enough fun with Part One to return when I am ready.
A surprising chapter in the Writing portion offers ‘Some Random Thoughts on Creativity’ that might be incredibly useful if I could gather myself to practice with them. At least to experiment with the suggestions…let me know if you try any and if your writing results improve!
The Plot Thickens–8 ways to bring fiction to life by Noah Lukeman
Again, I found myself jotting notes for insertions, deletions, character messages, changes in scene placement to achieve better pacing. Yes, characters are on journeys, and chapters on suspense, conflict and context–though expected–yielded some new perspectives from which to spy improvements. The unexpected chapter in this one is called Trancendency. In a culture renowned for shallowness, what a joy to find a whole chapter of incentives and techniques to go beyond our cultural tendencies toward the quick sugar fix and prepare a several-course meal for savoring. While avoiding a work that is merely confusing, writers are encouraged to consider how ‘multidimensional characters and circumstances open a work for interpretation.’ Importantly, he reminds us that ‘Interpretation does not come with lack of meaning. It comes in abundance of meaning.’
Ahh. Relish the challenge of revision.