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Old Dog, Old Tricks

What if I'm a terrible writer? What if people are disappointed in my books? What if I completely fail and this is all a massive waste of my life? In reality, as a writer, I think I am maybe average? I KNOW I'm not great. I know better than to strive for perfection. But what author doesn't have a feeling of panicked self doubt every now and then?


This doubt can be a paralysing beast, or a powerful motivator. For me it's the latter. I have been doing everything I can to learn as much as I can about technique and strategy. This includes listening to wildly successful writers teach their craft.


So yesterday I learned something. Stay with me. Now, even if you haven't been in a play or read a screenplay, you are probably familiar with the general idea of scenes. You have a time and a place, you have characters, and something important happens, right? Well, I am mortified to say I have NEVER thought of books the same way. I don't know when the disconnect started or why it's had such longevity in my reading and writing, but I hadn't thought of books as having scenes. Not in a formal sense.


As I listened to David Baldacci's Masterclass on writing thrillers, I kept flinching at that word. I was feeling really good, ahead of the game even, with respect to my research style and my methods for outlining, but again and again with the scenes. I had to really bend my thinking to wrap my mind around the idea of scenes in a book. Up until yesterday, books had CHAPTERS.


But, duh. Chapters have a time, and a place and characters, for effs sake, something important happens. This revelation, this ridiculously simple shift in my thinking is already proving to be invaluable as I fill in my outline and eventally start writing these books. Now, I can see the action as I want it to unfold for the reader. I can edit my writing down to its essence. Every word has weight. And writing more skillfully is a huge weight off my shoulders.


...and scene.


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