Saturday, September 26, 2015

James Patterson MasterClass Week 3

I’m starting to see why my friend didn’t continue with the lessons. When I started—and I suppose this was true of my friend as well—I was eager to get to the “good stuff.” I figured all the introductory material would soon be expanded with details and pithy secrets and methodology. With Week 3 completed, it’s becoming obvious that there aren’t going to be any details or secrets revealed.

The first Week 3 lesson is Writer’s Block. According to Robert B. Parker, it was Elmore Leonard who said, “Writer’s block is just another word for lazy.” I heard him say this at a book signing in Massachusetts and, having heard it and the explanation, I’ve thoroughly believed it to be true ever since.

I’ve hung out with writers for a long time, and I’ve heard several complain about having writer’s block as if it was mononucleosis or some other physical disease that takes a long time to recover from. One person told me they’d had writer’s block for three years. And they were serious. They were looking for sympathy. My thought (which I didn’t say out loud) was if they hadn’t written anything in three years, they weren’t a writer. They were a wannabe.

Because writers write.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

James Patterson MasterClass Week 2

The second week starts with a lesson on Research. Again, nothing terribly new in this video. One part is about interviewing people for their expertise in an area. He doesn’t talk about how to locate these people or approach them, probably because all he has to do is send off an email or pick up the phone—or, more likely at this point, have his assistant do this.

The second topic is locations. He recommends actually walking the locations you’ll use in your books, making notes about what strikes you. I concur, if at all possible. Years ago, a writer friend asked me if I could answer questions about Tucson for her because she couldn’t come here to see it herself. Of course I said yes. I was relatively new to the area, so I had to ask other people I knew for help. After I read one of her books, I realized the limitation of this technique. You don’t know what you don’t know, so you don’t ask about it. She had a glaring inaccuracy, describing something as if it were like the area where she lives. She assumed it would be like that, so didn’t know she should verify her assumption.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

James Patterson MasterClass Week 1

I’m the first to admit that I’m a writing book junkie. I have two shelves of craft books, ranging from Lawrence Block’s “Telling Lies for Fun and Profit” to McKee’s “Story” to the Writers Digest “Elements of Fiction” series. I have another shelf of more technical references where I put my dictionaries and grammar books and thesauri. I’m not even going to count the half shelf of crime reference books or the assorted “this sounds interesting, I wonder if I could work it into a novel someday” books I’ve collected.

I’m also a writing class junkie. I’ve attended multiple classes on how to plot. I’ve taken three of Margie Lawson’s classes on emotion and editing. I’ve taken two of Holly Lisle’s Big Classes.

Last year, when I noticed my expenditures for books and classes far outpaced my income from actual writing, I declared a moratorium on buying any more books or taking any more classes. I realized that I had reached the point where I already knew what was going to be in them, even if the author or teacher had some new, clever term for the basics of how to write. I told myself that I didn’t need more classes or more books. I needed to write more.

And then this ad popped up on Facebook.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Play Time!

I’m sure I’ve talked about how severely left-brained I am, but in case you didn’t read those posts, or have forgotten what I said, I’ll do a short recap here. The left side of the brain is primarily responsible for thinking and logic; the right side is the creative side, the part of the brain where dreams come from. I was employed as a computer programmer before I retired. A very left-brained occupation. Writing requires using more of the right brain.

My left brain has been very happy for the past two months as I edited and formatted and set up “A Game of Murder” on Amazon. I’ve created Facebook posts and tweeted and participated in a Facebook event to promote this latest book. Even as I did this, my right brain was crying, “What about me?”

So, throughout this process, I promised my right brain that once I was done with launching the book, I’d give her a new toy.