Last week, I shared a link on Twitter to Jodie Renner’s terrific blog post about writing tense action scenes. I found the way she shared the information to be clear and helpful, particularly because she provided examples (much like MSW friend Margie Lawson does in her workshops!) Since I learn by example, I love this approach.
I particularly liked Jodie’s article because I was in the middle of editing a fast-paced novella and reviewing her checklist helped me remember the important aspects of thrillers. I’ve written 20 books and sometimes, while I subconsciously know what to look for in edits, I can have tunnel vision and miss big picture problems. I also think that no writer is perfect, that every writer is (or should be) learning on a regular basis. Does this mean taking classes? Maybe, maybe not. I rarely take classes, though there are some where the presenter is particularly strong or the subject matter something I need help with, where I’ll sit in at ThrillerFest or RWA. But I love reading articles that speak to the way I learn (i.e. examples.) Since I don’t have time to take a lot of on-line workshops or go to every conference and sit in on all the interesting panels or workshops, I read a lot.
Jodie seemed surprised that I read craft articles, but honestly, I think every writer can benefit from continued learning — articles, workshops, brainstorming sessions with friends, classes, reading the masters — every other profession does it, why not us?
Teachers have continuing education; realtors; doctors; etc. My physical trainer has continuing education to keep her certification, and she constantly reads about nutrition and exercise programs so that she can provide her clients with her up-to-date expertise. It just makes sense that writers don’t lock themselves in the room and think they know everything or the best way to do something.
I suspect, as an author grows in their career, they need less craft guidance–but that doesn’t mean we need NO improvement. I’ve learned so much about writing from my two editors that I hope I’ve applied what I’ve learned to my manuscripts. Does this mean I don’t need to be edited? Hell no. I expect to be edited. I expect to continue to learn not only to write sharper, cleaner copy, but to learn how to tell better stories.
Sometimes, I get annoyed with aspiring authors, who are frustrated by the slow publication process (which is, sometimes, needlessly slow) and say they’re going to self-publish. Or,...
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