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Improving the Craft

On the massive list of things I need to do to make these 20 books work is improve my writing. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to look back at my first book, Girl Meats Boy and while not completely unpalatable, the writing was, (and I am consciously avoiding another food pun here,) not good, ok? It was finished, and that's the absolute point of NaNoWriMo, but that's it. And that's ok.


I learned so many things from participating in National Novel Writing Month, the most important being. I can write a novel. It's well within my ability and even though the editing of Girl Meats Boy will take longer that the actual writing, (I say 10 years later,) I truly believe the story in and of itself is pretty good. As far as Vanessa VanDuyn goes, I have committed to this series completely. I don't want to look back 20 books down the road and realize it was a giant waste of time and effort, frankly I can't afford to waste either, so I am going to have to learn how to improve my writing.


If you're not a pattern person, maybe you haven't noticed, but most of successful storytelling is formulaic. Some may think that capitalizing on these tried and true patterns is cheating, but in reality, it is what the average consumer of books and movies craves. We are all comfortable with formulas and even when we are expecting the plot twist, we nestle into the formula into which that twist is built.


Maybe someday, when I am really good at this, I will venture away from the formula and take a huge risk and write something really new and innovative. Until then, I am going to stick to what works and utilize the myriad of resources that will help any aspiring author in doing so.


Out of school, how does one improve any skill? Eventually, I will have to join some author workshops. I am utterly terrified of this, but thanks to my highly developed sense of denial as a coping mechanism, there isn't much I can't force myself to to with faux confidence.


But, before I bare myself completely and this nightmare of mine manifests, I have been practice writing, these blogs for example are useful for stretching my mind and my fingers. I have been reading about writing style, technique and form. I will be participating in some writing prompt contests in a few writers groups I joined on Facebook. Yesterday, I found an amazing resource, www.StoryGrid.com. It breaks down the skeleton of a novel and will be a huge asset when it comes to the most important part, outlining.

For a person like me who is pretty much split right down the middle between creativity and logic, outlines are crucial for my writing process. Breaking down the story into acts, and acts into scenes, and scenes into dialogue and action, and knowing how many words each bit should approximately be, is an incredible tool. My dad always said, big goals are best achieved when broken up into small goals. It's a philosophy I try to live by and fortunately, it totally works when trying to craft a better story, with improved writing that appeals to the readers I care about, all of you.


Much love and thanks for your support!


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