Monday, September 15, 2008

Two Heads Are Better...

I've had the pleasure this past weekend to have friend and author Stacey Klemstein aka Stacey Kade as my houseguest. Besides the fact that Stacey and I get along hilariously well (even though I'm near her mother's age) it's wonderful to be able to talk--at any time--to another writer. Writing is such a solitary occupation (other than the five hundred or so people living in my head). And yes, while I certainly chat a lot with other authors and authors-to-be via email, there's something special about sitting in side by side rocking chair, feet on the railing, sucking down a beer (me) or Fuzzy Navel (her) on my front porch, debating plot structure, conflict and why we like dark-haired male protagonists better than blonds. Or whatever.

No, it's not the same as speaking to another author on the phone. It's just not.

We've hashed out a number of issues this weekend--she, on her second book and proposal for Hyperion (her first YA paranormal--The Ghost and The Goth--will be out in 2010) and me, the follow-up book to Hope's Folly (the third book in the Dock Five series.)

The fun thing about this Linnea-Stacey combo is we approach the craft of writing fairly differently. She's very much in the Vogler/Writer's Journey camp. I'm solidly Swain's Techniques of the Selling Writer. We both subscribe to Deb Dixon's GMC but even with that, we come at ideas and structure in different ways. Which means she gets me thinking and I get her thinking.

Over the past few years that we've been critters for each other, we found it works very well. We've even started teaching writing workshops together.

I know there are authors who don't use critters or beta-readers (I use both). I was in a workshop this weekend with Romance Divas where a few posted that fact. That's great if they don't need the feedback. Me, I do. That doesn't mean I incorporate every comment. But I do consider andl listen to them. Sometimes they prove I'm wrong in my writing and I make changes. Sometimes they prove I'm right. Sometimes I can see why the comment was made but I feel strongly that what and how I wrote it is how it has to be.

But I still need the feedback. Understand--for those of you who aren't authors--that by the time a manuscript gets to the final draft, the author has likely read it over (and over and over) dozens of times. The brain fills in words or meanings that may not actually be on the page. Honest, it does. Fresh eyes and another brain, to me, are very helpful.

On the flip side, helping Stacey dissect her work makes me see more clearly how and why I do things. Explaining a concept to her helps me incorporate it more effectively in my own prose.

It's really a win-win situation.

So I'm in final edits now on Hope's Folly. Bantam has the manuscript and my editor, Anne, is giving it her fresh eyes once over. She, too, will have changes or suggestions. Which, yes, I'll run by Stacey. She knows my characters and worlds as well as I do. Maybe even better.

So I guess that makes three heads...

BIC HOK! (Butt In Chair, Hands on Keyboard: the writer's war cry)


1 comment:

  1. "On the flip side, helping Stacey dissect her work makes me see more clearly how and why I do things. Explaining a concept to her helps me incorporate it more effectively in my own prose."

    I've always found as a teacher that I understand concepts far better after I teach them. Seems like the best way to learn or study is to explain something to someone else. This seems like a similar phenomenon.

    Makes sense to me!