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Susan Sleggs

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts

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Thank an Author

This day was originally designated to thank the many authors that you lean on for entertainment, a bit of learning and for filling many hours with new friends and characters you can’t forget.

I have a new reason to thank an Author. In my quest to become a published author myself, I have joined a local writing group whose members are already published. Each month they have a speaker that teaches a fundamental of the writing process. One such talk was about “building the world” or location of the story and the characters will come automatically. I tried it, it works! Another talk was about build your hero and heroine so you know how they will act in a situation. How do you do that? Say you name your hero Jim Bob because the story is set years ago in the Tennessee hills. If you plan ahead on paper his looks, personality, religion, birth position, education, whether he likes animals, etc., as you write about the situations Jim Bob finds himself in, you will know how he would act. It really is that easy. I learn something useful at every meeting.

On a personal level, one of the authors has helped me learn some key ways to shorten my sentences while at the same time making them more active. It was a “trick” I knew nothing about, yet is so simple once someone shows you how to do it. I am indebted to B.L. She has quickly become a friend and mentor.

The fact authors want to help other authors be successful by helping them learn how to write better has made me thankful in a whole new way. I am now reading their books with a new appreciation. It is a big rush to be able to tell my family and friends, “The lady that wrote this book is a friend of mine.”

The next time you read a book by your favorite author take a minute to think about who helped him/her become a better writer and maybe even send them a thank you note for a story that touches your soul.

 

What are you reading?

It’s National Read a Book Day.  Give yourself permission to take time for yourself and read something you like; an old-time western, a poignant love story, the biography of someone you admire, a kids book about animals (because you still like the pictures), a spy novel,  a young adult story so you can remember how innocent we once were.

I’ve mentioned before, this long family saga novel I have written.  I’m working on the fifth draft, tightening and removing the fat.  (It’s harder than writing it the first time!)  I have had about ten people read it so I can utilize their feedback to improve my work.  It’s interesting to discover each person wants me to slant the story to fit how they think.  My most recent reader was the only one under the age of 30.  When she got to the ending, at 4 AM, she woke her husband to tell him the outcome.  I had surprised her.  That’s a good thing.  Personally, I’m glad it wasn’t me she woke up at that time and told her so.  Her husband defended her and said he does the same thing to her.

So what is my book about?  It’s about how far a mother will go to secretly stay in touch with her only child after his father has disowned him for not following family tradition of becoming a doctor; about the wife that can continue to love her  husband and protect  his reputation because she has that secret contact.  It’s a portrayal of friendship and support between different sets of people and how many secrets they keep from some to help others; the story of four generations of a dysfunctional family that knows how to present themselves as happy and whole.  It’s fiction, not about my family, but each character has surprisingly similar characteristics to someone I am close to, and/or parts of myself.  That frightened me when I first started the project.

In one of the writing groups I belong to, most of the members are published authors.  One of the ladies has offered to help where she can; her advice was to make sure I don’t have too many was’s on a page.  If I do, I am telling the story, not showing the action.  WOW!  I just read page 16 of my manuscript and I found seven was’s in one paragraph.  I have a lot to learn! At least now I know one thing to look for.  After thinking about it for a time, I am actually looking forward to rewriting that segment.  It will definitely be better when I get done, maybe not the best it could be, but certainly better.

As you read your book, enjoy the story, then think about the fact it was probably not the author’s first draft.  In fact, it could have been the 50th or 100th draft.

 

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