The Productive Writer on Audience, Storytelling and Editing
Last Thursday I thought I was going to a writer’s club meeting, but instead it turned out to be a book club meeting. The speech I had prepared was about my writing process. Therefore, that writer’s group speech was not exactly the best presentation for a book club. However, I should have been a Boy Scout because I had already prepared a speech to present to a book club so I went with that speech instead. The meeting went well and I made a bunch of new friends.
Grandpa and the Big Car
Early in the last century, Grandpa was just locking the gate after putting the cows across the road when a huge car with mirrors extended out from body of the car came barreling down the road and in the process the mirror extension caught the strap of grandpa’s bib overalls, and the car dragged him seventy-five feet before coming to a stop.
Grandpa wasn’t hurt. While grandpa unhooked his overalls from the mirror, the driver of the car got out and rushed over to the passenger side of the car. After unhooking his bibs, grandpa started brushing road dust from the side of his pants.
The man whose car hit him was frantic. He asked, “Are you okay? Are you okay?”
“I am alright,” Grandpa replied.
“Is there anything I can do? Can I take you some place?”
Grandpa stopped brushing the dirt from his pants and stood up straight and looked the guy in the eye and said, “No thank you. I have driven far enough with you already.”
It’s the Story, Stupid
The most important aspect of writing fiction has to be—telling a story. We can get so caught up in the mechanics of the writing process that we forget that with fiction telling story is the most important aspect of fiction writing. We forget that storytelling is an ancient art that precedes writing. Each generation had stories to share with the next generation, just like my grandfather’s story about getting dragged by the big car and they were passed down from generation to generation.
I write historical fiction which for me is relating those stories to future generations. I discover in old historical accounts that I want to share and write about them in a way that people find interesting. One of my most memorable accounts of this trip will be when a boy of about ten came to my book table and started asking me about my books. As I told him my stories, his eyes lit up and he asked me a number of questions. His last question was if I could make a children’s chapter book with pictures so that someone his age could enjoy them. It is certainly something to think about—developing a new audience for my stories.
Another account of this trip that has been memorable was when I went to a nursing home and an older lady there was excited because some of my characters’ names were her husband’s family name “McCray”. McCray is a name I used because it was also the name of my great-grandmother whose ancestors had come into the area about the same time as my characters are doing.
Seek Another Perspective
Another part of my speech involved the editing process and how after I was done editing, then I gave my book to someone else and they edited it more. I showed them my galley proof of my book where the editor went through and recommended changes to the story as well as point out proofing errors.
I then planned to tell about how it wasn’t the fact that I was a poor editor that I couldn’t do the final edits on my own work. I told about how when I was doing my edits on one of my books I was also ready The Pelican Briefs by John Grisham. In casual reading, I found two mistakes in that book. All of this then reminded me of a poem that Dad had written when I was a young girl called “Faults”. Although it wasn’t written about the editing process, it certainly fits.
When it comes to faults in others,
We use our eyes, tis true,
But to the faults which are our own,
We use our eyelids too.
Donna Brown is pastor at Faith in God Church 1 1/2 miles south of Brandsville, Missouri on Hwy 63. Sunday services are at 10 am and Wednesday night Bible Study at 6:30 pm. As Author Cygnet Brown, she has published a nonfiction book: Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener
She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga. The next book Book IV of the Locket Saga: Sailing Under the Black Flag will be out in the near future.
Her most recent publication were two booklets Help From Kelp and Using Diatomaceous Earth Around the House and Yard. Available in paperback
.For more information about Cygnet Brown and her books, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com .
I love the message…telling the story…it is so easy to forget that this is our job. We are storytellers. Thanks for the reminder.
Thanks for your comment Bill!