Come to My New Blog!

If you followed a link here from a comment I made on somebody's google blog, I would love to have you visit my blog, but this is no longer it. While I may occasionally post things here again once in a long while, virtually all my content will be at from here on out. If you were curious enough to come this far, why not give me one more click?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

On Polish

I'm done with chapter 21--sort of. I ended up splitting Chapter 20 after all, because it was just so damn long. So not much new writing to report.

I do seem to have found my attention and motivation, though.

I was oddly emotional last night. I don't know if it was my emotions mirroring those of Chris, my protagonist, or if it was something else. It made it hard to write, though.

I finally got my hands on Dwight Swain's book that everyone swears by. It's almost thirty years old, hard to get, and written in a rather twee style. It also tends to spend a lot of time in generalities before getting down to specifics. But get down to specifics it does, eventually. I'm on chapter three and I found some good, concrete, practical advice that I've no doubt heard before, but here it was presented with explanations for why these techniques work. It may be that it was the right advice reaching me at the right time--maybe I'm ready to learn this now, and wasn't before.

I spent several hours editing chapters 20 and 21 with an eye toward the techniques I read about last night. I don't want to get too specific until I start to get feedback that notices the difference, because I'll feel silly if I make a big deal about it and it turns out to be nothing. But basically it's about making your writing more active and less passive . . . about the momentum of prose and how to keep it going.

I think I'm pretty proficient with words, and yet, I generally feel that there's some element of polish I can't put my hands on that the writers I love have that I lack. I've got a good vocabulary, a good grasp of grammar, a good ear for sentence variety, and yet somehow the passages that sing only come along occasionally, and I haven't figured out how to make those less of a minority. It may be that some of the things Swain talks about in the second chapter of his book are the pieces I'm missing. After reading this chapter, I was looking through my manuscript and seeing all sorts of places where I committed the sins that Swain says stop a narrative. Perhaps I've been writing a lot of passages that are technically sound, but I haven't grasped how to hook and keep readers. Maybe I just learned some of the keys I didn't even know were there.

I hope so.

I'll report back as I get more of a sense.

I just noticed that every paragraph in this post begins with "I." Huh.


ORION said...

I made a comment after your comment on Nathans blog but hope it didn't sound snotty...
while yes paying for co op placement does cost money the publisher doesn't have the say- the book store has to offer it and yes if its offered the publishers ordinarily snap it up but the book sellers have to be convinced that the publisher is behind your book for them to order...It's the number of copies printed and how aggressive the sales force is AND publicity- I have found after the first month the publisher loses interest unless it's an oprah pick lol!

Joe Iriarte said...

Didn't sound snotty at all. :)

ORION said...

Good! and people do TO read your blog lol!!

ORION said...


Joe Iriarte said...

When I rule the universe, Blogger and LiveJournal will let you edit posted comments. :)

Ray Wong said...

Congrats on being so close to your target! Wow, I still have a way to go with mine.

Keep writing!