I began to notice a trend while watching television back in the seventies. It seemed that different shows repeated scripts from other shows. It was obvious that the writers of those shows were borrowing form what had come before. Well, not really borrowing, because in most cases, it was almost the same script with different characters.
I realize, it’s hard to write a whole new plot each week, but I remember being disappointed to know the outcome before each story played out.
Through all the reading writers must do, much of their writing is influenced. We tend to write copies of what we have written. Rather than take from others and improve our style, some writers become clones of their favorite authors.
Although I understand how it happens, It really irks me to discover elements of other work in my own. I wrote a piece once my wife read, and said it sounded like Diagnosis Murder. In fact I had written it while watching an episode of that show.
Most of us write from our experiences. That includes what we’ve read and seen. The problem lies in the fact that many readers have read and seen the same things. Be careful what you allow be published. You might find out its been done before.
Our critique group met in an unusual place, this past week. I’m not going to tell you where it was. Like all good restaurants, fishing holes, and parking spots, a little word of mouth can ruin the exclusivity. Let me just say, It was one of my better ideas.
I’ve been threatening for years, but lately, I returned to my humble beginnings. I went back to my first novel. I started re-writing because I believe in the characters and the plot. It was painfully obvious from the poorly executed writing craft, that I didn’t know what I was doing back then, but it’s also been like visiting an old friend. I love the characters and they chastened me for leaving them on the shelf.
I’ve also discovered a technology gap. I had to give my characters cell phones and bring them up to date on the Internet. I’ve got to get that thing published before we have more breakthroughs.
I’m still writing my other stories, waiting to hear back from a publisher on one, and taking another to critique group, but it’s been good to return to the beginning. I’m getting excited again.
I had an idea for another, new book, the other day. It would be based on my observations of the current political climate in the USA. It would be a good story full of intrigue, but I won’t write it.
I added it to the list of books I’m going to hire someone else to write, someday, when I become famous, like James Patterson. I’m sure you know his prolific success has come because he drafts some of his stories and gives them to other people to write. It’s a great way for new authors to make a name for themselves. Patterson also benefits, because he shares his name, and makes a lot of money.
Anyway, I have a file of drafted novels I’ll never have time to write, so I’ll save them for when I’m famous.
As you might have noticed, I check Facebook a lot. For me, it’s a nice way to support my friends and family, and it entertains me. It’s also a great way to procrastinate writing, but lets not go there, right now.
You also might have noticed a slight depression in my attitude over the past year. I’ve been discouraged, and I couldn’t figure out why. Which, leads us to what my book idea and Facebook have in common. About six months ago, I realized to my horror that many of my good friends and family had succumbed to hate and negative comments originating from political points of view.
We, here at the Blogck, have managed to keep politics out of our blogs. We didn’t want to offend anyone and we don’t all agree. I’ve also been proud of some of my Facebook friends for taking the high road, but the hatred has been grating.
Now, the book idea: A while back, at the rise of a certain political movement I predicted a sad condition that would envelope our country and lead to a second civil war. I wondered how long it would take for conditions to degrade enough to make it happen.
During this last election, we’ve all noticed the polarization. Most of us, in our arrogance, have convinced ourselves that we are right. The attitude that followed was curiosity about the stupidity of our friends. Many became convinced that God was on their side in the fight. None of us, I assume, considered the effect we were having on ourselves. I noticed more negative mud slinging politics on Facebook, than came from all the superpacs combined. They don’t need to spend money on their ads. Status updates and rebuttal comments accomplish their goals much better.
For a while, right after the election, there seemed to be peace on the Internet. People were trying to move on with their lives. It was wonderful to read about cookie recipes and how many words were being written, but the hatred has begun again. Why can’t we realize that political opinions and agendas just aren’t important in the eternal scheme?
My book idea explores the beginning of the end. The time when the whole world goes crazy and the civil war begins. Then again, it might have already begun. I get depressed to think about it, therefore, I won’t write that book.
It started on a Saturday morning, after a Storymakers conference. There were two published writers, A beginner, and two wannabes. Our work was varied and original, like fine wine that needed a chance to breathe. I brought contemporary fiction; there was a romance, a contemporary mystery, a true story, book one in a string of romances about a group of sisters, and a cozy mystery.
We lost one of the group right away, because of time restraints, but we kept meeting.
Shortly afterward, I cooked a Dutch oven meal in my backyard and we read our chapters. Cooking was my way of giving back to the ladies who helped me so much. Soon, we were taking turns hosting our weekly exploration into the fine art of novel writing.
There have been weeks that we couldn’t meet, but we always managed to provide homework chapters to keep the work going. Through it all, I’ve been learning my craft, but most importantly, I grew closer to my sisters, the ladies of my group.
I found I could relate to Jeff Savage when he spoke of his group, and called them The Ladies of Thursday Night. I was the lone testosterone laden voice in a room full of estrogen. With all this romance being written, is it any wonder that I changed my genre? After my contemporary novel about two brothers, was rejected, I brought another story. It had a more feminine feel to it, and I became the writer of women’s fiction.
I discovered a wonderful symbiosis that was my group. Each of the ladies specialized in a different aspect of writing. I received extremely helpful critiques and plot suggestions from a woman’s point of view. I tried my best to fill their pages with red ink, but often, I settled for being the lone masculine voice.
I often got so caught up in their stories, I forgot to look for errors, but the ladies were patient with me. I became a better writer, and cooked for them as often as I could.
After a while, we added a long distance member, but she has her own, more local group. We also auditioned others and added a few who left us, but five of us have stuck with it. When one married into a combined family of ten children, her time was spent elsewhere, but she tries to keep in touch.
I’ve heard stories about critique groups who didn’t mesh with each other. I’ve heard authors tell about writers who just didn’t get it, but I’ve never met five people who care more about each other than we do. We’ve cried about rejections, kicked each other in the pants, and cheered our successes. There have been many, published books come out of our group. I’ve included cover pictures here. Now, with Nichole’s contract, one of those books will be published in the national market. We met at my house this week, and turned a page. I cooked in Dutch ovens. We cried because one of us is moving to Texas. No worries though, we’ll keep meeting through Skype, or in email, but it won’t be the same. We still have to take the road trip we always planned, but we won’t be able to meet, physically, once a week.
Perhaps, when we’re on the Times Best Seller list, we can meet each week in Honolulu, or in the Cowboy Bar. I promise to keep Tristi out of trouble.