Hey Dollfaces! (Feeling very Nathan Detroit here I guess 😉 heh) We’re trucking along nicely through February (although I’m still feeling like I need a “pause” button on life…) and today we have a new friend to ALBTALBS! Please welcome Bridget Midway to the fold! I want everyone to come play because Ms. Midway is a first timer so we need to make a good showing, yes? 😀
The Importance of the 3 Rs: Reading, (W)riting, and Rewrites
As a published author, I’m often asked about my writing process. Am I a plotter or pants-er? Do I do an outline? Do I perform any rituals like praying to an altar of my muse. Before I reveal the details, let me start from the beginning.
As I child, I LOVED books. I loved it more than playing with my friends, or even cake. Well, maybe cake came a close second. Even before I could read, I loved the way words looked on a page. I loved the smell of books. Yes, books — especially old books — have a distinct aroma. Woody and earthy and something fragrant. I remember putting my tiny hand on the page and run my fingers over the typeset words. I didn’t know then what reading those words meant. Until I learned to read, I didn’t realize that books could transport readers to new worlds, experience different lives, make them forget their problems for a moment.
After I understood the power of books and the amount of entertainment they brought, I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to have readers get lost in my words, my stories. In order to do that, I had to learn about the process. It wasn’t enough for me to have a great story in mind. If I couldn’t craft it in a way that allowed readers to get lost in the words, I wouldn’t be doing myself or the readers justice.
In school, I took every English and creative writing class that I could. I learned things like characterization, point of view (or POV as the authors call it), setting, plot, climax (the literary kind — I’ll talk about the other kind of climax later), conflict, and happily-ever-after endings. What I learned helped me craft each and every story. When I got to undergraduate school, I continued learning about the writing craft by writing my own short pieces of fiction that got judged by my peers and graded by my professors. That would be my first taste of getting reviews, but certainly not my last.
When I reached graduate school, it was there that I learned about writing a full-length novel, mainly because my novel would be my thesis. After I graduated, like many students who finally are able to get that piece of paper of achievement, I thought I knew it all. I thought with my education and my love of books, certainly any editor or agent would love to have me. Boy, is life funny.
I might have known how to formulate a story, but I didn’t have “it.” “It” is the quality that makes a written work grab a reader and never letting him or her go. “It” gets your work on the best-sellers lists. I didn’t have “it” and couldn’t figure out the reason why. Instead of lamenting about the great number of rejection letters I had received over the years (and still get now), I buckled down to improve my craft. Did I go back to school or join a writers group? No. So what did I do? I started reading again.
Sounds simple, and sounds like something all authors do, right? Wrong. Between promotion, writing, editing, and daily life, most authors cannot carve time out of their day to do the one thing that brought us to our dream vocation in the first place, which is reading. I have always said, and will continue to say, that great readers make great authors.
Authors can learn so much by reading works by other people. It’s like musicians listening to other types of music to learn new techniques and new sounds. Authors should do the same thing. If you write romance, read a mystery to learn about pacing, plot, and characterization. If you write historical fiction, read romance to learn about tension, setting, and characterization. To improve myself, I started reading both fiction and nonfiction works. For fiction, I read romances, which are my favorite, mixed in with other works that I may not ordinarily read, like romantic suspense and paranormal. I’ve learned so much by doing that. I pay attention to my technique more. I’m willing to take risks.
In my quest to take risks, I wrote a science fiction/futuristic erotic romance called Adam and E-V-E. It took me way outside of my comfort zone, but I loved it. It pushed me to do more. I continued writing longer works so that I didn’t feel confined to only writing short stories and novellas. I even tried my hand at writing a story with a paranormal element to it. I wrote Silly Fears for the same reason I wrote Adam and E-V-E. I wanted to see if I could do it, and do it successfully. I did.
My true test came when I toyed with the idea of writing a story with BDSM elements in it. If that wasn’t risque enough, I made these stories interracial romances. I was not only pushing the boundaries, I kicked down a wall. As I nervously wrote my very first full-length contemporary interracial BDSM erotic romance, Corporate Seduction, I was completely terrified that A.) I would turn people off, and B.) I would make a fool of myself. At the end of the day, once I finished the story, I was proud of myself.
That’s what writing should be. Readers should get immersed in the story and forget about the taboos. I have carried that ideal with me with every story I write, including one of my latest BDSM releases, Licorice Whips, which is up for an award at the Romance Slam Jam conference.
Writers, keep reading. There’s no shame in it, and it’ll help your writing. Readers, explore different writers and topics. The main thing to keep in mind is that writers all want to tell a great story.
With that said, I have to do some writing myself.
Thanks for visiting with us today Bridget! So, have any of you read her books today? Do you have a response to what she said? Come on now, let’s not be shy! 😀