When I was in mortuary school, I had the good fortune of being surrounded by a number of dead bodies. A dead body is always a shock, and the shock continues. I never really got used to walking into a room and feeling the presence of a dead person. They were not breathing shallowly. There was no actual danger; the closer and closer I got to the body, its eyes did not shoot open, nor did its arms reach out and grab my wrist like in a horror movie. The fear was all internal.
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.
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.
Finish Your Book in Three Drafts provides these and more mantras to help writers with whatever draft they’re in. For the second, or “method draft”, it’s all about change.
Or not changing.
The second draft is re-visioning your manuscript, and Finish Your Book in Three Drafts gives you the tools you need to take the best parts of your book up a level.
To help you ASAP, here is a package of free screen savers of the book’s Draft Two Mantras. You can download them: HERE. And if you’re a technoklutz like me, you can get the instructions for how to install them: HERE.