Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Learning from mistakes

I'm taking a Depth in Writing class from WMG Publishing, taught by Dean Wesley Smith, and I just got my latest assignment back. I did okay, but not great. However, the feedback I received made me happy to have screwed up.

The purpose of the class is to learn how to write with so much depth that readers won't stop reading. Think about the last time you read a book you couldn't put down. It was probably written with depth.

The assignment was to write 300 words about "Ben meeting a child." I decided that my "Ben" was a police officer and wrote my scene. The feedback was that I had written the scene as a writer, not as the character. Smith was right. I had written about "Ben the cop" but I had gone no deeper in my characterization than that.

As I pondered the feedback, I realized I had made the same mistake in my current draft. I have a character who is a cop with about as much depth as poor Ben. Worse, my main character has depth in some areas but none in others.

I know why Jim is a warlock. I know why he walks with a cane and how that affects his life. That's all good. However, his profession is as an anthropology professor, and there's little about why he chose that. Smith says that if certain details can change without it changing the character, then the character is too thin. Jim could be an English professor, and it would change little about the character. Oops.

How did this happen? Paul and Dafydd have depth, so this shouldn't be a foreign concept to me. This book is a rewrite of a very thin draft, and I added some depth but not enough. One lesson learned is that rewriting a decade old draft can be a problem. It will be less so as I hone my craft, but I wasn't a very good writer then. Have I ever improved!

I knew the draft still had issues. Now I know what they are, and the class will give me the knowledge to fix them.

I highly recommend you check out the WMG classes if you aspire to be a professional author.

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