Thursday, June 6, 2013

Read Your Novel Aloud - Tip of the Day

So, you have a great idea for a book. It's unique and you finally listen to your family and friends who have always encouraged you to write a book. You've never written a book before. Sometimes, you think that you could write better books than those you've read lately and at other times, you marvel at an author's artistry with the written word. You could never write a book like that. But then again, maybe you could and you should. I say you should.

One day, something inside you propels you forward and you decide that today is the day that you will begin to write a book. You might have a title in mind and you may even know how the whole book plays out. You've dreamed of your characters and they just won't leave you alone--they want you to write this book, too. There's a story to be told.

Writing your first book is much like buying your first car. You've dreamed about it, you know what color it will be and how cool you'll look driving that car around.  But as a young person or a person of any age who buys their first car, you're afraid. What if the book is dumb and you've wasted so much time on it? Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Trust me, write the book. It will change your life.

So, you decide you want to write the book more than you're afraid of it. You buy the car and you begin to write that book. Baby steps. You drive for a while and realize that could take a road trip! Why not? You have some free time or enough vacation days or a long weekend without the kids. You create a vision board of your destination aka your book with photos you've cut out that inspire you. Dreams are more vivid and you begin to meet new people who have been sent to you by the Universe because you've just made a momentous decision--you're going to write a book.

Hey, you've written a few pages! But, you stop. Who do you think you are? An author? You ignore the annoying censors in your head, those voices that have made you quit before, and you continue. What have censors done for you lately? Before you know it, you have a chapter written. Now what? You continue. You've got the bug and soon, you find that you're in deep. You can't stop now. Your characters need so much from you! They're depending on you to help them find their way in the crazy world you've built for them. You can't leave them on the side of the road and take a detour!

Armed with a map, enough gas for a long drive or a spontaneous road trip, you open the car door and invite your characters into the car and off you go. Now, you're in the middle of the book and kinda stuck. The ending you thought possible just might not be possible for your characters. Instead of forging ahead, you go back to Chapter One to do a bit of rewriting. This feels safe and you can pat yourself on the back for the chapters you have written. You take a few days off, but the book is calling you all the time, begging you to resolve the issues and celebrate with them at the end of the journey. So, you continue revising. But, remember that your characters are sitting with their luggage on the side of the road, ready to hitchhike. Call them over, trust me, they'll be ecstatic that you're continuing the journey--their journey!

While revising/driving, you come up with a brilliant ending, you change your protagonist's name just because you love that name and you know exactly what your characters must do and why. You realize you know what's best for them and you know how to achieve it. Leave  the beginning chapters alone for the time being and move forward with the next new chapter. Done. See that wasn't so hard, was it? You were afraid, that's all. Feel the fear and do it anyway! Get back on the road.

Hey, if you don't write this book, who will? Won't you hate to see someone else write a similar book? Won't you really hate it when you see a movie trailer with a similar story? It's going to bug you, trust me. You don't want to be that bitter person at the party who complains about the book that got away. Please don't ever be that person! Finish the book because no one can tell your particular story, but you.

You fill up your emotional gas tank, check under hood, change the spark plugs and you're moving steadily down the road. The drive is smooth and the way is clear. You wave at people on the side of the road who cheer you on. At times, you need to rest and you begin researching on the Web. It's a great idea. Take a breather when you need it, but get back in that car! Before you know it, you're over the middle hump and sailing toward the end. Feels great! You find yourself telling people at the next social gathering that you're a writer. Well, you are and you realize that not many people in your inner circle write books. Pretty cool, huh?

So, your book is done. What a major accomplishment! You join the ranks of writers around the world. You've written a freakin' book! Congratulations!! You've reached your destination and now what? It's been quite a journey with twists and turns, some U-turns and false starts, but you're there. Now what? You can't rest on your new author laurels for long, it's time to edit. You read your book, some friends and family have read your book, you find a great editor and now what?

You begin to edit your book. You edit and edit some more. You fill in the blanks with more research and you may find that during your research, that things might change. Your character might not have said what she said in Chapter 22 or you might come up with a gem of information that changes things around. Don't worry, it's all part of the process. Trust your gut! Yes, it takes a whole lot of hard work and determination to write a good book.

My advice is to keep reading, rewriting, take writing courses, read up on the craft of writing and keep editing. Join a writer's group, a critique group and meet other authors and writers. You're in great company. 

And, when you're confident that your book is ready, read it aloud. That's what I just did with my first book, A Decent Woman. I read it aloud last night and you know what? In the first chapter alone, I found sentences that needed strengthening and run-on sentences. I also found that in one short chapter alone, I used my protagonist's name three times. Gawd...

I'd never read my story aloud and THAT is my tip of the day. I'm going back to my novel in a few minutes to keep reading. More rewriting is in my immediate future :)

Happy writing to you!

Peace and love,

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