Jump to content
jadijohnson

Playing Teacher For A Day

Recommended Posts

I'm a collector of writing books.  Some of my favorites are: "Dynamic Characters" by Nancy Kress, "The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing" by Evan Marshall, "Techniques of the Selling Writer" by Dwight V. Swain, "Plot Versus Character" by Jeff Gerke, "Plot & Structure" by James Scott Bell, and "Scene & Structure" by Jack M. Bickham.  My problem is, I don't know how to apply all the great writing advice in these books to my own writing.  Here is where YOU come in!!  I never went to college, but perhaps you did.  If you were a teacher and one of these books was the assigned reading for your class, how would you go about teaching your students what is in the book?  What kind of assignments would you come up with?  What do you think is the best way to learn the material?  Please play teacher for the day!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I never went to college either.  I have heard of some of those books but not read a single one.  Why would I pretend to be your teacher for a day?  Because I teach for a living and it is a gift I have straight from God.

My advise?  WRITE!  Vomit words.  Splurge on the word count.  'Follow the headlights' (I learned that one from something Phy posted).  As you write, get others to read what you have written.  Share widely, with the usual caution when applied to the internet.  Ask for, beg for, bribe people to give you critique.  Take it all with a grain of salt.  

In the end it will not be the books that make you a better writer.  Writing horrible trash will.  

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, Nicola!  It's good to know I'm not the only non-college graduate who longs to be published!  I highly recommend the books I listed.  They are very good!  I DO write a lot, but there are so many rules to keep straight!  I know the first draft is just for getting the words down on paper.  It's the second and third drafts that I'm concerned about.  I've read revision books before, but they just leave me feeling like I'll never get it.  

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are so many great teachers on this site!  And there are so many great writing books.  And writing classes.  And writing conferences.  And writing discussion panels.  And so many valuable writing videos.

 

But I can personally introduce you to the best writing instructor I ever met, who will flatten the wrinkles in your writing  like an industrial iron crashing down on a pair of badly wrinkled jeans.   

 

It's called a drawer.  It's a precision machine that, according to a recent study by readers, you must follow the operating instructions for to the letter to get flawless results.  Here are the ten things the manual outlines when you've gotten to the point you are now at:

 

1.  Open drawer (or file).

2. Insert troublesome manuscript (or save file).

3.  Close drawer (or file folder).

4.  Pray for guidance.

5.  Do not open the door (or file) or expose to sunlight (or desk lamp) for six months

6.  Do not water.

7.  Deny the existence of said manuscript to anyone wearing a black trench coat or displaying government credentials.

8.  Do not think about said sequestered manuscript because that will cause your nose to itch and distract you from your mission.

9.  Wash hair daily and ignore the heart pounding emotions that will shudder through your very being because you are beginning to realize that something incredible is happening in your drawer or file folder.  Also, do not feed it after midnight,  That would be bad.

10.  Open drawer (or file).

11.  Gaze at the wonder that has miraculously appeared in your drawer (file).

12.  It will now be clear how to handle the precious new, life altering manuscript you now hold in your real or mental hands.

 

Your heart and soul will now take over as editor (if you remembered step 4, that is).

Edited by suspensewriter
housecleaning edits
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, Suspensewriter!  I've never seen it put that way before!!  I'm aware of the "cooling off" period, and I just naturally do that.  I work on a manuscript until my interest shifts to one of my other stories (I have quite a few!).  So plenty of time passes between the time I pick up a manuscript to read through and edit.  I find this does help me spot errors more easily.  :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

LOL I love that, SW! It surely does help to ignore those first multitudinous thoughts. The more we write on that manuscript, the closer we get to it. Distance is needed for those fresh eyes and thoughts. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe a better question is, How do you go about revising a manuscript?  Are there any tricks you've picked up along the way that really help you spot errors?? ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A point that might help is that we generally use 5 different copyeditors per manuscript, looking for errors including everything from spelling to syntax, all using the Chicago Journal of Style.  Then the editors attack it.  The reason is that no one person can possibly catch all the errors or inconsistencies.  I worked as a quality control statistician for a few years and later that helped set up our system for editing and revision.  Consider: the last novel we published was 250,000 words.  How many people do you know who can flawlessly evaluate documents of that length?  Most people just are not built for that.

 

Here's another statistical methods issue that is relatively disturbing from one standpoint and joyous from another.  Low IQ'd people are better at error checking than high IQ'd people.  The original studies were done with quality control inspectors who were evaluating tomatoes for black spots.  It was quickly found that not all inspectors were able to perform error checking at the same level.  An IQ of 80-85 beat the heck out of Mensans in consistently finding unacceptable black spots on the tomatoes.  How is that relevant to revisions?

 

After all is done, we use readers with who love the genre but have never read a how to write, how to revise or how to edit book in their life.  Why?  Because they are the consumer who will actually be reading our work.  Copy editors, editors and writers are all second fiddle to readers because they also actually buy the books we write.   And most of them are not talented in creating either fiction or nonfiction.  That's why a writer's deadliest sin is often spending too much time talking to other writers.

 

Another example from the field of chess.  I know many chess players who have wall to wall collections of chess books on opening tactics, opening strategy, middle game tactics, defensive chess modalities, the Schevinangan variation of the Siciliam, the Winawer Variation of the French Defense, rook and pawn endings and every other variation of chess data ad nauseum.  The vast majority of these collectors and readers of fine chess books are considered to be below average in skill and will likely stay so if they spend all of their time reading and learning how someone else played instead of using Nicola's approach of writing or playing chess until they're sick.

 

One of these struggling chess players once asked a grandmaster how he get improve his game by 200 points.  The grandmaster's answer was simple: "...burn your chess books and go play chess like it was the last game you'd be allowed to play.  Be audacious."  When asked what "audacious" meant, the grandmaster said, "Try for once in your life to play with no safety net.  Play your own game.  Don't spend your life trying to imitate someone else's game."

 

Good advice.  

 

But I'd add this: readers are your best bet for feedback.  Ignore other writers.  Learn to challenge your readers with the audacious thought that you're a fresh, new voice and one they'd better pay attention to.  If you come across like the chess player I mentioned- like someone trying to learn someone else's game- well, they've seen that one before.  They don't want to read students, they want to read the masters, and the master's probably got that way by following Nicola's advice.  Wait, did I just say that???  Well, I guess I did!

Edited by suspensewriter
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you, Suspensewriter.  You made quite a few good points.  I used to have my younger sister read my stories.  Then my oldest daughter wanted to read some of them.  Both are avid readers, but I didn't think they would be very helpful at catching errors since they hadn't read the books on writing that I'd consumed.  But they did point out a few things that I wouldn't have noticed no matter how many times I read my stories.  So you don't always need an expert to edit your books!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

SuspenseWriter: My head won't fit through the door anymore. Do you have something to do with this?  Good thing you're editing Paris to bring me down a size. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

About Us

ChristianWriters.com is a friendly community of writers, readers, publishers, and other literary professionals who share a love for the written word and salvation through Jesus Christ.

 

Follow us

CW on Facebook

Recent Tweets

×