THINGS LEARNED 11-15-2015
You’ve not heard much from me lately. I’ve been focusing very hard on finishing Fettigrew Hall - The 13th Century. The first book in the series was quite an education for me. Fettigrew Hall – The Biography of a House was started as an exercise. I had no “storyboard” for the plot, I just started writing. I did not know I was going to finish it. But with the egging on by my dear friend and her pushing me to go on, I wrote a whole book.
It was during the writing process that I realized it was possible to write about Fettigrew Hall over hundreds of decades. I could tell about people who had lived in the house over 6 centuries, explain why certain artifacts where there and detail the reasons the ghosts lived there.
What I learned was how my mind works (or does not in some cases). I am unable to just “show up” and write, as some writers can force themselves to do. I have to have something I intend to say or I cannot write. Sometimes it takes me a long time to find the next part. While writing Fettigrew Hall, I got myself in a bind a few times. I was struggling to make my story believable – which is not easy sometimes when you are talking about ghosts and supernatural events. I liked what I had written but could not figure out how to get out of the corner I had written myself into.
So, any number of times, I was nearly panicked thinking I would not be able to work this out. The good news is – I always did.
This time, in the 13th Century, I had the same issues. What I’m learning is that this panic spurs me on. It forces me to think through the plot thoroughly and to find ways to expand it that I did not think of initially. As with Fettigrew Hall, the 13th Century has some interesting twists and turns of plot. Sometimes I’m surprised by this so I know that if I (the writer) am surprised, my readers will be too.
Another lesson was about structuring a story. When you are just a reader you don’t often think about the technique a writer is using to tell you something. A writer has a choice in how information is imparted. Her characters could talk to each other, they could write, remember, tell someone, have a dream . . .you see what I mean?
How to structure the physical book is an exercise most readers do not think about. Do you want the title of your book on every page, where do you want the page numbers to be, do you want to right and/or left justify the print? How about that cover. You want something that relates to the book subject but you also don’t want it to distract from the title or the author’s name. This type of decision making goes on and on. Fortunately we have many choices to make the book exactly how you wish.
One last thing you learn. YOU WILL NEVER find all the typos and mistakes on your own. Why? Because you wrote it and it looks right to you. Yes, I know the difference between a bare butt and a bear butt but I may not see the mistake when I’m proof reading my own work. Having several trusted people to do that for you is essential. No one will find them all.
I now think (really it is just hoping) that all the errors in Fettigrew Hall – The Biography of a House have been found. The last one (I hope) was found by me but not until the book was being recorded for audio. The reader read aloud exactly what was printed on the page. Sitting in the control room I heard my character called Jean and Jane. No one ever saw the mistake. I only found it through hearing it.
So I certainly want to do a better job of editing on the 13th Century. Forgive me for any mistakes you find, but do let me know of them.