How do you truly know what’s right and wrong when it comes to storytelling?
How do you know if your twist is right?
How do you know if the ending makes sense and if the plot is strong enough?
In my opinion, you can’t know these things with any level of certainty; but, if you let them, the story and characters will lead you to logical places that feel right. You have to trust your instincts. And, it helps to have a good editor—one to whom you entrust your baby. We all need an editor.
Guest column by Bobby Cole, president of Mossy Oak® BioLogic®. He is
an avid wildlife manager, hunter, and supporter of the Catch-A-DreamTM
Foundation, who loves writing in his free time. Bobby lives with his wife
and daughter in West Point, Mississippi. THE DUMMY LINE (2011) was
Bobby’s first novel. The sequel, MOON UNDERFOOT (Thomas & Mercer)
will be published in January 2013. To learn more about Bobby, visit
his Facebook page.
Much has been written about How to Write, but only you will know what feels true.
Every aspect of writing my first book, The Dummy Line, was an adventure into the unknown. I had no preconceived notions about what to expect. With zero training or knowledge of what was the “right” and “wrong” way to write a novel, I simply did what felt good to me and didn’t do what didn’t. I had a vague idea of what story I wanted to tell but no formal outline. Ah...the simplicity of it all. As I was working, I remember wondering if it was “normal” to not know how the story would end and if it was “normal” for the characters to speak to me, explaining what they would do in certain situations. It was at least a year after publication of The Dummy Line before I admitted to anyone that my characters talked to me and told me where the story was going. I was petrified that my family would have me involuntary committed if they knew. I kinda suspect that they might have anyway had The Dummy Line not been so successful here in the States and abroad that it’s even been translated into German—Jagdrevier. Go figure.
Writing in my free time around my real job, the months turned into a year; yet, through it all, the process was so engaging and so satisfying that I really hated for the story to end. The characters had become part of my life as I weighed various outcomes of the storyline and situations for them. I enjoyed every late night and weekend we spent together. I wanted to write. It felt good. And it certainly felt right.
I write the same way a friend of mine builds spec houses. He builds each one the way he likes it, figuring that if it doesn’t sell, he’ll just live in it. My stories are written the way I want to read them. I figure that even if no one likes them, at least I will. I’ve been blessed that they’ve found an enthusiastic audience.
Years ago, I sat down and typed “Chapter One” because I believed that I had a good, unique story to tell. I’ve been rewarded by readers’ comments, whether it’s an anonymous Amazon post or someone at the local pharmacy. It’s why I write. The story is out there to be consumed for the purest of reasons, the story itself. The underlying essence of the narrative really becomes clear through the painful weeks and months of editing. Every decision has to be centered on the single goal of advancing the story. Cut it or re-write it if it doesn’t. Again, the need for an editor appears.
I’ve been told, “Writers write. They cannot not write.” That makes perfect sense to me. I want to write. I love it but I can only enjoy doing it when I’m inspired. I don’t try to force it. To do so takes the fun out of it and I’m not interested. At certain points during the process, when it’s really flowing and I get inspired, I can’t type fast enough. The opposite is also true.
So, we Writers write, but we must also promote our work—that’s the painful part I’m working though. Speaking to a group of bored Rotarians who only wanted to get out of the office for an hour or so may feel awkward to you but it’s the right thing to do and it will eventually help you write. Do it enough and someone will say something that encourages you to push on, to advance your craft. Someone will say something that makes your writing right.
My first story was barely finished before I began work on number two. The story came to me through my characters and once again I enjoyed our adventure together. As I await Moon Underfoot’s release, I can’t help but wonder if I got it right. My family and Publisher sure hope I did!
But what is right? To my simple mind, it’s when an entertaining and inspiring tale allows readers to disengage from their world for a few hours or days and to become submerged in my characters’. Right is when the reader enjoys it and wants more.
Right now there is much to do to promote the books, but deep in my heart...all I really want to do is write. That’s what feels right.
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Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:
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- 170 Agent Interviews and Counting -- Read Them Here.
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