News and Reviews
Tuesday evening began with John and Roger discussing the editing process. How easy it is to see the motes in another writer’s eye while failing to suspect the beams in our own.
Avoid the passive:
It is easier said than done. For those trained in academia and / or the scientific mode, the removal of the author and the insertion of the neutral and objective observer is de rigeur. John, a scientist, and Roger, an academic, share the same problems. We each use our editing tweezers to remove those motes from each others eyes, and wow, do we need help. We share our work by e-mail and the comments help us focus and revise. We are not Beta readers or editors in the full sense of the world, but we work well together and that is what matters.
Find a good and trustworthy reader who will tell you the truth about your writing. The search for objectivity in a critical review is essential: if you find a good reader, treat them to all good things and don’t let them go.
Chuck is currently the Atlantic Provinces Representative for The Writers Union of Canada (TWUC). When he arrived (late, but just in time for his third of the ginger cookie) he told us of the meetings he was setting up for TWUC members across Atlantic Canada. Hopefully, there will be two in New Brunswick. More details will emerge later.
Chuck then continued talking about his new novel. We have discussed the plot of it before and were interested in how he had developed it. Changes are on the way, and as more problems are set, so more and different solutions emerge. The plot is intricate and convoluted and Donovan, Chuck’s main character, continues in his search to aid the underdogs in their fight to achieve justice.
Both Chuck and John bemoaned the fact that they need to write more introductory chapters to what were their previous introductory chapters. “I wrote this chapter to explain what was happening in the novel and now I need another chapter to explain what’s happening in this one.” JINX as my daughter used to say, crossing her fingers, and JINXED they are to write more and more introductions thus front-end-loading their plots. In Chuck’s case, he started at the front and worked forward; in John’s case he started at the back and wrote backwards … Chuck is now writing backwards too … ours not to reason why …
The late, and unexpected, arrival of Kevin, our computer expert, (who did not get a portion of the weekly ginger cookie) led us straight into a discussion of the many programs available for tracking plot and character. Kevin believes strongly in this style of writing: think and plan it all out and log it all into a computer program. John and Chuck believe their characters need freedom to challenge the author, to develop, and to change their minds. Roger reminded them of Unamuno’s novel [novela / nívola] Niebla in which a character doesn’t like his fate in the story and travels to Salamanca to tell Don Miguel de Unamuno not to kill him off, as he plans. Some critics think Niebla is a very poor novel, as characters cross the space between fiction and the real world. Unamuno’s answer is legendary: “I am not writing a novel / novela,” he replied. “I’m writing a nivel / nívola. Niebla is a perfectly good nívola.”
Two new books were presented to the group, Monkey Temple (Roger Moore) and The Caroline (John K. Sutherland). These circulated and one anonymous member of the group received autographed copies.
Both books are available via Amazon and Kindle. They need both reviewers and purchasers. But this is the old egg and chicken: do you purchase the book and then review it or do you review it (based on the Beta reading you have done) and then purchase it? This is a thorny question and one we left for another discussion, along with the major question — how do we get genuine and honest reviewers for our books?
We concluded with the reminder that the Fall meeting of the Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick (WFNB — we are all members) is already scheduled. If we are planning to go, we must hurry to sign up … so this is a reminder to do so. Before we concluded we agreed that a table in the Christmas Craft Fair or at the Local Farmer’s market, at which we offer our books for sale, might be a very good idea. We can certainly do this at the WFNB. But with four of us now starting to publish, a concerted effort at marketing, reviewing, and selling is most certainly needed.
Valid and reasonable suggestions on how to do this would be welcome.