currently playing on my iPod: Sadrang by Niyaz
Do you have critique partners? If not, you should. This is not a post about that.
Do you put your manuscript away for a few months before coming back to revise it one more time? Do it. This is not a post about that either.
Are you going to workshops/conventions/watchingyoutube/readingblogs about craft? Put it high on your list of to-dos. This isn’t a post about learning.
“So what’s it about, woman?” you ask.
It’s about improving your story through unconventional methods.
About a month ago, my kids, nine and six, (those are ages, not names—I didn’t get all Divergent on you there) begged to read my young adult fantasy about a sailor turned treasure hunter. I finally agreed to read it to them, one chapter at a time, at bedtime, thinking, Aw, this is cute.
But it was more than cute. WAY MORE.
Not only did I get to hear my chapters aloud, listening for rhythm and overlong sentences, but I also snagged two fresh takes on my characters’ actions.
Children, being brutally honest and unencumbered with writing dos and don’ts, asked simple, basic questions such as why the MC didn’t run right when she saw the bad guy’s ship. They quizzed me on how a secondary character felt in a certain scene where that character was pretty much ignored. They said if the MC was nice, she would’ve noticed that and done something. My kids also brought up fatigue, claiming if they had been through all of that, they would’ve fallen asleep in their paprika chicken dumplings.
My point is this: Reach far, far out for feedback and inspiration. Not only did I reevaluate character motivations and actions due to my kids’ questions, but I was also motivated to finish revisions in order to read to them nightly.
Not everyone has a captive audience (aka immediate family) to work with, but I’d bet a dirham (piece of silver money) you have resources out there you haven’t mined. You should. These people/programs/environments could put a nice flame into your writing. Think about it. Teen cousins as readers, nieces and nephews as listeners, the actual library and its wealth of non-wikipedia knowledge for a resource, a paint program where you fashion mock cover designs for motivation, Pinterest for inspiration, Panera for interesting character facial features. The list goes on.
Thought of anything you’ve previously ruled out as not important to your writing? Share! I want more!
And thanks for reading.