From an independent editor’s perspective, there are common obstacles I see in writers’ work, and some of these are structural glitches. Sometimes when this happens, a writer begins to lose faith. The work seems to have issues, and one suspects they may have to do with form rather than content.
As with a lot of things, when we can formulate the question, we almost always find the answer arriving right behind it. Below, I have compiled a list of six common structural problems, in the hopes that by recognizing a particular issue a little more quickly, the remedy will come with a minimum amount of heartbreak.
If you like what you read, vote it up! (That’s what they say there.)
When my daughter, Fifer, was young, we were very close. I was among the first wave of fathers to do at least 50 percent of the childcare as my wife was pursuing her graduate degree in psychology … and those doctorates take time! When Fifer was little, we collected bouncing balls and Spongebob-themed stickers. When she got a little older, we invented our own card game (based loosely on Gin Rummy) and kept adding new rules that only we understood.
When Fifer became a sophomore in high school, however, I began to feel her pulling away. It wasn’t just about boys—I got that. It was about the things she thought she shouldn’t tell me. The things she thought she couldn’t tell me… (Read More).
I’m going to have to ask you to believe that the fact that the winner of the First Annual Book Architecture Git-R-Done grant is writing about a pivotal moment in the history of what became the Black Lives Matter movement AND is a nurse who has been treating people with COVID-19 six days a week for three months is a coincidence. Or fate, which is what I would go with.
(But seriously, judging was complete in later February. We just didn’t announce the winner because she’s been so busy saving lives and we wanted her to have her moment in the sun.)
Amy Wilson is writing a novel set during the MOVE bombing in 1978, when the city of Philadelphia battled what they termed a terrorist cult whose civil disobedience was aimed at exposing systemic brutality against black people. Her novel, Roof Girl, will explore the issues of family, belonging, and the power dynamics around truth. Amy plans to use the $2,500 grant stipend to travel to West Philadelphia (where the events occurred) for interviews, visit the archives at Temple University and immerse herself in the scenic detail of Philadelphia landmarks like the Franklin Institute and the Mutter Museum.
I swear it is another coincidence that she and I are both from Philly and lived there when these events transpired. We didn’t know each other, and besides, the judging was all done in a double-blind process by InkHouse PR. Speaking of InkHouse, they praised a number of contest entrants and reported the penultimate tier held many worthy candidates. I hope we will see some of you again next year.
Once, you know, people leave their house, Amy will embark on her travels and keep us updated. Go, Amy!
There are always five reasons to write a book. And to help the world may be on the list. But chances are it isn’t number one.
I know one author for whom helping the world really is number one on his list. For the rest of us mixed-up mortals, I think contemplating our five reasons is a healthy exercise.
Here are my five reasons for writing the book I just released, Finish Your Book in Three Drafts: How to Write a Book, Revise a Book, and Complete a Book While You Still Love It. Forgive me if any of these sound immodest or crazy. I feel comfortable opening myself up to you for some reason:
Because there are writers out there who really care about what I have to say. (They told me. They capitalized WE CARE.)
Marketing my business. (Need some help?)
Exercising my genius. (With a little ‘g’ – don’t get excited. We all have one, substitute ‘higher self’ or ‘voice’ here.)
To have fun. (Finally.)
Because it belongs to the grand unfolding plan of my life. (Now how do you know that?)
What are your five reasons for writing the book you are writing now? Not what are the five reasons you’re not writing your book right now, that’s a different blog. And not five bad ones either. “So my parents will finally understand,” and “as a way of escaping my present life” are two that I had to grow out of, for example.
I asked my friend Windy about her five and she gave some great ones: it gave her an excuse to travel, she wanted to see if she could do it, and my favorite one: “I want to follow the idea that was sparked that day at the museum.”
Write them down and keep them close for the times when you lose your momentum. You don’t need all five for every writing session – one will do. I just think it’s important to have some idea why you’re doing what you’re doing. I guess that goes for life in general. It can be useful in case you encounter obstacles, rejection, or misunderstanding. Why am I doing this again?
Five good ones total so you’ll know for sure – in this very subjective, relative endeavor – whether what you’ve done is as good as it gets.