17 April 2012

A Few Words of Thanks

Last week I received a call from my dad. A surprise in of itself as we don't really talk much, and most of that on major holidays and visits. Even more surprising was the reason he called.

I'd sent him a revision draft of the story I'm working on, you know ... where computer specialist and financially broke Angie must take a contract to catch an identity thief that requires her to work with the love-of-her life that she left, tentatively titled "Broken Identity."

Before I get too far, you need to know that my Dad reads just about any sort of science fiction and fantasy you give him. (He actually introduced me to the fantasy genre long ago, to my mother's chagrin as I'd lie in bed and read and read.) The story I'd sent him has ZERO elements from those genres, unless you count the fact that people are in it.

Knowing that I'm a voracious reader with a writing habit, he'd inquire from time to time how my writing was going, give me suggestions for issues I was having, and ask when he could read one of my stories. When he got a Kindle Fire this past Christmas, I told him I'd send him something. So I sent him an mobi version of what I'd revised on "Broken Identity" to his Kindle Documents email. (BTW, Scrivener does a great job converting to mobi and ePub.)

So, back to his call...

He said he was mad at me. That he'd read what I'd sent him and he was disappointed when he got to the last page of the revision (maybe just eight scenes) and realized he didn't have the rest of the story, just when he was really getting into it, there wasn't anymore.

For a long time after his call, I couldn't stop smiling. That he would like my story, knowing it wasn't his ususal type of fiction, was just so ... thrilling. On so many levels.

A love of reading, and by extension my writing, are a few things that my Dad and I have in common. He's the only one of my family (besides my husband and children) that shows an interest in my writing, taking the time to ask about it and actually read it. And he doesn't tell me ideas are strange like others have, if anything he helps me see new ways of strange, suggesting other authors to read for even more ideas.

I know that creating something is not supposed to be all about the reactions of others, but anyone that creates something, be it photography, art, music, or writing, and puts not a small bit of their heart and soul into it, knows the joy that comes when someone says they enjoyed that art. When that someone encourages the craft and is a parent, that happiness warms the creator's heart. Or at least this creator's heart.

Now I have this gift in my writer's toolbox for those days when the words don't flow as easily, a memory of those few words of enjoyment and encouragement.

So, Dad, I hope you enjoy the rest of the story. And Thanks for the call!

02 April 2012

Stuff and Revision

It's been quiet around here, as in here on the blog not here in my life. Life has kept me busy with family stuff, kids' school stuff, and general life stuff. My 3rd grader, as well as her teacher, would gasp in horror if they saw all the times I used the word stuff rather than descriptive wording. But sometimes you just gotta use those words.

But not in writing a novel. No, not in a novel. Or at least not often.

Now that I've finished mashing my outlines for my novel, I'm back to revising. (One day, I'll finish this dang story. Honest.) I've gone back to the start of the story, making sure that the story fits with this new outline, changing the plot as needed. In doing so, I've realized that I've minimized the stuff in the story. If I wrote a detail in, it's because gives a clue to the story, to the characters and their outlook.

I've been thinking how I use detail and stuff for the past few days. My husband started to read one of my favorite books, and commented that the author spends more time developing her characters than I do. While I strive to deliver a story that sticks to readers like hers do, I'm not sure that I want to write like her. She likes detail. Me, I'm not such a detail person, I'd rather read/write dialogue or action. When I said as much to my husband, he shot me a wry glance; between the two of us, I'm definitely the detail person. So maybe, that's an avenue for me to consider: adding more details.

My gut reaction is to ignore that consideration. But it's really not about me, is it? It's about the story's need. It certainly doesn't need details for the sake of bloat, but to make the story colorful and lively, to keep the reader from putting the story down, to leave the reader wanting more.

So, I'll keep my gut reaction in check, and add a sticky note to my laundry list of things to watch for while revising, and see how it goes. And, hopefully comments from the beta readers will help me gauge how well I've managed that balance.