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The Editing Calm before the Published Storm May 21, 2012

Posted by mattfarmer in writing.
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I have been a tad remiss in blogging. My apologies. Hectic week. They say freelance work is either famine or feast. I had one of those weeks of feast last week. It has calmed down a bit, and this upcoming week looks only slightly full.

I am into the last bit of editing my novel. Again, there have been delays getting the editing done. Technology, DARN YOU! But I have most of the notes back now. The editor gave me line edits, she read through the book, finding words to change, punctuation and grammar errors. I was amazed! She read it that closely? I thought this because I have read it so many times it is just a blur. I know when I read other people’s works for editing I read it as close. I was just, kind of excited that someone read my whole book, THAT closely. AND liked it! 🙂 I like that.

So, yes, the book has come to a crawl while I go through the editing. But when it comes out the other side, it will read so well!

And then you can read about it here –> . There is going to be a week in July – 2nd through to the 8th, where each day an indie author is going to be featured. Because I love Thursdays, I will be featured on Thursday, July 5th. There will be copies of my book to give away, and an interview with me!

A big thanks to Sarah Billington

and Clair Frith

for this opportunity.

I said a couple of blog posts back that I would share some pages, blogs, which I have found interesting and worth while. So, here is some links for y’all:

Rachelle Gardner’s 7 Bad Habits of Successful Writers. In a nutshell? Sort of yes, yes, not yet but possibly yes, not yet but hopefully no, yes, yes, yes and yes.

The Guardian has 10 Rules for Writing Fiction. I don’t like rules for writing fiction. Guidelines, sure, advice, certainly, but rules? You show me one rule for writing and I will show you a famous author who broke it. I like Neil Gaiman’s first rule of writing- Write. (Okay, my last comment, I cannot find you a famous author who has broken that rule)

And I was going to link The Write Scene? But apparently my internet cannot find their internet. So I will leave you with those 2 sites.



The Act of Method Writing May 3, 2012

Posted by mattfarmer in writing.
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You have all heard of method acting. If an actor needs to portray an emotion in a scene, and they need to sell the emotion, make it believable, then that actor remembers a time when they felt that particular emotion. They put themselves into that head space, relive that emotion as vividly as they can, and then bring it out into their performance.

The same method can and should be used when writing. Sure, I don’t know what it is like to be in a sword fight, battle dragons or fly a spaceship, but those things are decorations hung upon the characters; shiny baubles that a character who has invested emotions, uses to complete, stuff. Awesome spaceships and sword fights are not what should grab the reader by the mind and heart and hook them into your world. Unless that space ship is the Millenium Falcon, and the sword fight is from The Princess Bride.

While no story is original any more, and if you break every story and movie down you can get to the seven basic plots, or 36 dramatic situations, or look at them from a mono-myth point of view, it is invariably the characters who keep you wanting more. I wanted to be Indiana Jones, he was so cool, suave and didn’t take not s…tuff from sword wielding bad guys. I wanted to be as hard-core as the Colonial Marines from the movie Aliens, or the nobody who done good, like Luke Skywalker, Alex Rogan or Tristan Thorn.

And in the same way, a part of me wants to be the characters in my books which I write. I invest a part of me into making the characters someone who I might want to be, so they feel more than just a cut out waiting for the token good guy or bad guy to put them down. I know some psychologist could have a field day with that admission, but I am quite sure that all the successful writers, and all of us who are not (yet) successful, and who write for the love of writing, we create worlds and characters whom we would want to be, where we would like to live and have adventures.

So then, it is the next step to give the characters and worlds you have created, that extra part of you. If you want to put the character into a situation and have it carry weight, emotional investment, if you want the reader to care as much as you, then you really do need to rip that heart off your sleeve and put it on the page for a moment.

There have been times when I have written that I am teary eyed afterwards. In my science fiction series, yet to be published, there is a scene where I kill off two characters. I do it in suitably spectacular fashion by having them trapped in a space station which crashes to the planet below, but the scene takes place inside, with just the two of them, together.

The two characters are, of course, in love. He is an ex-history professor from a prominent university. (He is named after my best friend, a little tribute I gave to to my friend, since he complained he would never be in a book or film). And she was an old student of his, now a notorious space pirate and wanted in more systems than she has fingers on her hands. But for that scene, I had her say things to him, which I never actually got to say to my friend. My friend tragically passed away, well before his time was due, suddenly and without warning. I took myself back and thought- what would I have said to him, if I had known? And so, I put that into that scene. Polished and edited, of course, but, not by much. It was the first time, I believe, that I had ever done that. Ever remembered an emotion, a time when I was in that space, and put the words onto a page. There is, of course, many things you never do get to say to someone before they pass, but in some way, I got to say a few of them in a book, which was nice.

Not many people have read that scene, and that is a deliberate thing, since it was hard for me to write. But those that have, commented to me that they too, felt the loss of the character. It stands as one of the best things I have written.

Last night I finished re-writing my novel. I made the final scene raw and emotional, people dying, fighting, surviving. It was a real head spin to write. I deliberately stayed up late, deliberately was over tired, and sick with flu, but it got me into that head space. And, it was easier this time around than last time. I could put myself into the space of someone deeply in love, someone losing a friend, someone afraid of death. All of those emotions, in the one scene. Of course, knowing I went there while writing, I hope that when it is read the reader feels the same. I hope the reader can feel the love between the two main characters. I hope they feel the loss, the fear. If they do, then that is a win for me.

I am 10 novels into my writing career, and I am just learning to not be afraid of method writing. I am learning to have the courage of putting more and more of me on to the page. It is a scary things, but I do encourage people out there to not only imagine, not only create, but to feel, when you write.