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Monday, October 23, 2006

Then and now... Learning your craft.

The opening of one of my previous novels. I didn't finish revisions as this was the piece I used to practice and learn from. I will follow up this post with a professional critique I received from an editor on an excerpt from this novel.

The Art of Death (unfinished/locked away in a cabinet)

Jamie crouched on the planks beside a luxury yacht. Its giant hull blocked the breeze that drifted in from the water. She shivered and pulled her jacket tight around her as she hugged herself to keep warm. Taking deep breaths of the cool air, she tried to calm the fear that threatened to overwhelm her. She unzipped her jacket slowly to keep from making too much noise. She grabbed her gun, waiting for a feeling of reassurance that didn't come. Boats bobbed in the water on either side of the pier. She peered at the sailboat across from her trying to see something in the predawn shadows. The wooden boards creaked eerily beneath her feet.

The only sounds were that of the water lapping against the boats. It would have been a calming sounds on any other morning, but not today. Her ears strained for the sound of human movement. Standing up, she leapt from her hiding spot. Adrenaline rushed through her body. Holding the gun in front of her, she spun in a circle searching for her pursuers. No one was in sight; she ran down the pier. Hope filled her. The parking lot was only a few minutes away.

Wow, I look at that now and say... "CRAP!" Good grief... how many pronouns did I use? I can't even count them all! I may have had dreams of slapping out a first novel and immediately getting it published. Instead, I never completely finished but I did learn a lot. Not only did working on this help me learn the craft better, it also helped me toughen my skin. When I first shared this with peers, I reacted. I would get defensive. I would hurt. I would doubt my ability. I would pout and not write for weeks because I was bruised. Learning how to cope with feedback - positive or negative is something every writer needs to experience.

I'm currently working on a novel that I'm calling "Work in Progress", but in my files it's titled "In Search of Prey". I'm only 10,000 words into it, so I haven't started the serious revisions yet. But, here is the opening I have for my new novel that I intend to polish and attempt to publish.

Light flashed through the canopy as the sun began its descent. The forest woke to greet the evening and the shadows darkened, stretching toward Norberto. He felt the deep sigh of life within its depths as creatures began to stir. A tangle of lianas wove a web of thick vines before him. In the distance, the barking of the spider monkey warned him that a predator was beginning its search for an evening meal. He shivered and looked behind him. The boat, heavy with Mogno, was silent and still.

“Hoje é dia näo para mim,” he muttered.

“Wrong! Meu amigo. Today is a good day, a very good day.” A man pushed aside thick palms and stepped onto the river bank.

Norberto frowned at the slender estrangeiro. “There is something not so good in this forest, Peter.”

You may not see the difference, but I do. I look back on items that I wrote years ago and think to myself, why on earth did I think this was that good? When someone tells you to learn your craft, it's not necessarily an insult.

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