I’ve spent most of last couple of weeks working on editing a finished story. I began with a full-day workshop on structural editing. Sometimes, courses I do are presented with so little organisation that I get little out of them. This wasn’t the case with this workshop. The presenter was experienced and professional and knew exactly how to engage an audience with her topic.
Not only that, she provided some really useful, practical lists of things to do when beginning a structural edit. The lists make it all so much easier to identify parts of the story that don’t work and know what to do to fix it.
I’m a pantser. I rarely begin any plotting until I get stuck—usually around chapter 4 or 5. I rarely consider things such as theme or character arcs until I’ve written most of the story and realise it’s not working the way the nebulous images in my head suggested it would. A lot of things I do instinctively. For example, my stories usually have a clear theme, but I don’t recognise it until after I’ve finished the story.
It didn’t really surprise me that structural editing began with all those things I don’t think about until I have to: Theme/essence, central event, major dramatic question.
Those are the things I’ve been thinking about this week. I’ve been asking myself:
Theme: Good vs Evil, True Love Conquers
Central Event: The Lunar Eclipse (from Warrior Pledge)
Dramatic Question: Will Gaelan find and win his Concubine? Will Fisher be able to build a new, peaceful life for himself?
Where to from here?
I’ve been working on a scene map so I’ll finish that. I do scene maps for every book I write but I usually use them to check things such as POV balance, character consistency and emotional depth. I need to take it a step further and check the three major things against the scenes.
That’ll be one of my jobs over the next few weeks.
As I read a book of poetry I bought this week I have a definite feeling I should be sitting on a bean bag in an obscure, sweetly-smoky club that has walls hung with batik and beaded curtains. Nearby, someone would be playing an oud or a lute while the poet reads their poetry aloud.
Poetry isn’t usually my thing. It’s not something I read regularly or have a passion for analysing, so I’m unpractised, but I’m a reasonably intelligent, well-educated person so I should be able to understand a few poems, right?
At least it is with the poems I’ve read from Luke Beesley’s anthology Jam Sticky Vision. One positive: the titles all sound interesting. I can see how a person would be living their life, see, hear or experience something, and simply have to write about it. All the words make sense, I see the images the poem describes (in some cases), but at the end of every poem, I look up and say, “What?”
I kept reading and will continue to do so until I reach the end of the book because, surely, I’ll begin to see through the miasma of run-on sentences, unfinished phrases and disconnected words to the meaning beyond. Call me plebeian, but I can’t see how a collection of random nouns and adjectives, with no articles, verbs or participles, invokes an understanding for the purported topic.
NB: This is not a review of this book I bought, or the poems I’ve read. I’d have to understand them to review them. The lack of understanding is mine, not a fault of the poet.
This man has won awards: multiple people out there think his writing is good. I attended a workshop presented by him several years ago at a writers’ festival. It made a lot of sense and I produced some interesting work.
So I’m not giving up yet. There must be something in his poems that I’ll be able to connect with, or at least make sense of. I’ll keep looking for it until I finish reading the book.
Has anyone written a beginner’s guide to Beesley’s poetry? I think I need one.
E E Montgomery
About writing, life, and random thoughts.
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