When I first decided to become an author I didn't approach it as a profession. What do you mean by this? Simply: I sat down at my Compaq 2000 keyboard (yes, that long ago) and pecked out a story that had been machinating in my mind for months. I submitted a few pages to a number of agents and, like a first round NBA draft pick, waited for the offers and riches to roll in. Needless to say, they did not. A few more manuscript drafts and revisions, I resubmitted (yes, you could do that then), all but certain that the next J.D. Salinger or Harper Lee had been born. As the rejection letters rolled in for a second time, my once healthy and lofty sense of self smacked back down to the earth meteorically. My hopes now dashed and pride bruised, I stuffed the three hundred page paper weight in a drawer and hit the want ads.
Ten years later the writing bug, like a once dormant infection, reemerged. This time, however, I swore to myself it would be different. I hit the books and seminars. I consumed as much information on the writing craft as was humanly possible. I read the works of authors who wrote in the same genre that interested me. I scoured the internet for topics on story structure, pace, tension building, character development, plot and other techniques of writing. My approach this time would be as a scholar learning the profession of creative writing - a big difference from before. The work seemed familiar - it was. In another life I worked as an architect. The design of a story had many of the same elements that went into the design of a building. Larry Brooks did well in naming his instructional manual Story Engineering. I called upon these similarities to pen my first novel Sheaves of Zion. The hard work paid off. The novel received a bronze medal for mystery in the 2013 Reader's Favorite book awards.
Had I only replaced "author" with "doctor" or "engineer" or any other discipline for that matter, I would've seen the need to study the craft. My approach those many years ago seemed foolish - it was. I understand the pantzer vs plotter debate. I'm not a natural writer. I have to work at it - hard. I've failed as a pantzer but have found some success as a plotter. Perhaps, as I hone my craft more, the pantzer in me will flourish. For now, I'll continue my three and four part act plot form and story outline (Down).
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!