Starting Over at Sixty Three…The Hard Way
Like every new adventure in my life I jumped in without thinking. I began writing at the age of sixty three. Over the last four years I have written three books of a series. During that time I began learning how to do it. To any writer out there you will recognize the folly of doing it this way. I have made many mistakes…and still do.
I will begin by telling you what motivated my leap. I am a retired Manufacturing Engineer. After getting under foot of my wife I needed something to keep me off the couch and out of her hair. I explored art by burning, building small furniture pieces, boating, and fishing. I was passable at most, except the fishing, but none sparked real passion.
To this day, being someone who lets life interfere with falling asleep, I incorporate storytelling to myself to accomplish it. I have done so for as long as I can remember.
I made up my mind… why not try writing those stories… so I did. After several months I completed my first book called “A New Beginning”. I let a few people read it, my wife and my brother-in-law, and received rave reviews. I was on my way.
My brother-in-law, a tactful Englishman, and his wife, my sister-in-law, bought me a book to celebrate my new career.
Author in Progress by Therese Walsh, David Corbett, and the members of Writer Unboxed, is a great read for the new author. The Writer Unboxed website (https://writerunboxed.com/) is a good resource for them as well.
I read it cover to cover.
Here is what I learned.
My first draft was a disaster. I had not been paying attention to character arcs, which character was my protagonist, where the story was going, back stories of my characters, the plot…etc.
But I also discovered I did some things right, what most were I cannot remember, but there are a few that stuck.
First drafts can be purges, just get your story written and fix it in future edits, there will be many. I had certainly done the purging correctly.
Pants it or plot it, I did the first, but learned I needed both. I now outline my stories but let them drift as they will, changing the plot as it flows from my mind to written word.
So I began the process anew.
I outlined the book. I know, it had already been written, why did I need an outline now? But I realized I needed to understand where the story was heading, how it would setup the next one, and the one after. I also wrote back stories for each character so I would understand them better. I didn’t even know my own characters yet?
I looked at the flow, changing it to grab readers quicker. My story meandered in the beginning, too much setup and not enough action.
I also began searching for advice online, there is a ton of it from successful authors out there, and sifted through what made sense to me…and what did not.
When learning how to do something new, burn an art piece, repair a device not working, or pressure wash my driveway, I go on line and watch You Tube videos, several of them, and blend the various different ways to accomplish the task, manufacturing a process that will work for me. I did the same for writing… except not watching so much as reading. I know the process will never be done, learning and changing never end. I learned that many years ago.
As a result my first draft changed a lot, different storyline, more evolved characters, and even a different book title. It will change much more before I attempt to publish it.
In my newsletter I intend to focus on the art of writing, but more importantly, the mistakes I have made along the way. Return often to my web page stevenmarcotte.com to see how my new career evolves.
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