Monday, January 2, 2012

Learning from every book I write

Good cold morning from eastern North Carolina. The coffee pot is gurgling and I'm looking forward to editing/rewriting more of my latest project, The Goose Parade of Old Dickeywood, a novel about lifelong friendship. Even though I have four novels published in the Logan Hunter Mystery series, and each one was challenging in some way, I struggled with Goose Parade for months and months, sometimes frustrated enough to walk away for a while.

I was trying to write Goose Parade in first-person point-of-view, like the Hunter series. But it just didn't work. I made posters of sections I wanted in the book. You know, the lessons learned from geese? So once I divided the book into Honk, Rotate, Drag, Uplift, and Protect, I thought I'd be home-free. HA!

I have learned that not only can I not force characters to do something in the book that's out of character for them, I can't force the plot either. One morning as I stared at the pages, my mind as blank as my billfold this time of year, it dawned on me that I can't tell this story in first person. I must tell the story of all four major characters in this book.

It truly amazes me at how much of a learning process EACH book becomes. I am once again enjoying the process and moving on with what I hope will be my best work yet.

Have you had a similar experience? Do you learn something new with each book you read/write? Please share you experiences in the comment section for a chance to win a free copy of Genesis Beach, my first novel.


Anonymous said...

I definitely learn from each book I read as well as write. I find the writer in me checking out the way other writers express themselves-especially if I get totally immersed in the story. That's magic to me and I want to know how to do it! Every time I write a new novel, I find I have improved in many ways from the previous novel. I think all writers evolve and improve this way. Good luck with the new book--may it be, as you hope, your best one yet :)

Jonathan Wilhoit said...

I agree. Every project teaches you something new. It's amazing how your writing changes over time,

Good luck with your editing, Susan!

P.S. - reading Hell Swamp right now and loving it. Thanks again!

Susan Whitfield said...

I agree, Catherine, that I do learn so much from reading other writer's books too. Jonathan, I'm glad you're enjoying Hell Swamp. Yes, I think we get better over time and I hope that continues for a LONG time:-)

Augie said...

Susan when I sit down to read I use this time to enjoy the experience that I am about to go on. I don't want to tear apart another author's piece unless it does not make sense or they jump from POV to another POV and the plot, "Where's the plot," need I say more? Then the mind starts to distract a piece here and there and the next thing I'm doing is revamping the story if there appears to be a small substance. Okay, so I have gone as far as researching the author and like maybe dropping a note. Hey I did this once to Gloria Monte, who was at the time Head Executive Producer of a soap opera, you know she replied back with a thank you, the show was having a problem with continuity and it made me crazy.
Thank you for your question and all of the other posts at your site. I'm enjoying them. Augie Hicks

Susan Whitfield said...

Augie, I don't try to dissect a book unless, like you, I'm disturbed about something the author did or did not do, but I usually pick up on good techniques or a unique voice, character quality, or some other intriguing aspect of the book. And then there are those books that I put down and never pick up again. Thank you for your kind remarks. I hope you will continue to follow this blog.