After three novels and several short stories in several months my debut novel will be published. What a thrill, what a ride. Some may say: It took you three novels? Are you kidding! Yeah, I thought the same more times than you care to know. Yet, in retrospect I know that my first works were just a pouring out from my imagination without true direction. There was no real adherence to or study of the craft of novel writing.
Then I prayed about it and God directed me to learn the craft. Yes, there are those who have written wonderful books without studying the art. To them I say, God bless. Happy trails. Yet, I believe to be truly good at this art form consistently, it is necessary to know the craft.
I began to read writers’ magazines and stumbled on articles about plotting, sub-plotting, theme, voice and such things. Great. I hadn’t thought of any of this while I was hammering away at the keyboard. I knew that such fundamentals existed, but I reasoned I had read enough books to figure it out and everything necessary would somehow naturally emerge (It turned out this kind of reasoning was like believing I could make a good movie because I’d watched so many great ones. Wait for my remake of Glory.) I picked up a copy of James Scott Bell’s Plot & Structure and poured over it, highlighted areas and dog eared pages. I became an avid reader of the Writer’s Digest magazine. I read certain articles repeatedly, searched out the meaning of voice, theme and plot; I compared writing in first versus third person and so on.
As I honed my techniques, I began to understand the parts of a novel and the way it unfolds. I wrote again. Another novel was born. But this time, because I didn’t know how to move a story along, this thing had a myriad of plots and they were going in so many directions the entire book got away from me. My reader probably would’ve given up halfway through the book–eyes crossed. Sigh. Patience is not my strongest virtue. But I patiently continued to work at it.
And finally, 2006 In Three Days was born as I sat in an office, out of work, seeking help. This time I started with the characters. I developed them until I knew them intimately. Not just their physical appearance, but their likes and dislikes, their personalities; what makes them do what they do, their walk, accents and inclinations. And then I worked it most every day, just a few pages consistently because I was working fulltime and had three kids to care for. And now it is here. It is time. And I plan to enjoy the journey and the path on which God has set me.