Back in the Saddle

My title is a cowboy phrase having to do with getting back on your horse or any horse and riding again.  Unfortunately, it’s also a rather rude referral for sex.  I don’t blog about sex because I consider it personal and private.

After two months, having little to say about anything, I’m back to blogging.  The world is going to hell in a hand basket, one full of deplorables, of which according to some family members, I probably am.  It has nothing to do with my education or political affiliation but the fact that I don’t buy into any of this crap.

However, this post isn’t about politics but what I’m passionate about, which is writing and humanity.  I write about humanity, not just being kind to each other, but all the problems of being human.  And, yes, I know politics is part of being human.  But there are enough people writing about it, throwing out fear and hatred in order to deceive  and control, so they can gain or regain some personal power over others, so why should I write about that?

I’m passionate about adventure.  That’s what I write, science fiction adventures.  And sometime this year, I going to write a western, too.

My characters suffer from politics, the politics of organizations, the politics of governments, even the politics of family relationships and friendships.  Isn’t that enough politics to write about?

What politics is all about is conflict and I write about conflict.  The conflict within ourselves, the conflict with others, the conflict with Nature, even the conflict with science and the universe.

 

 

Let’s get back to writing.  I constantly state in my posts how important editing is, how unprofessional misspellings, bad grammar and other mistakes are, but even I make mistakes.  Even I misspell words.

In my rush last year to get out my latest e-novel, “Chaos Allies”, I skimmed through the completed document rather than read it line by line.  Fortunately, my wife decided to help me edit it.  She found tons of mistakes.  So, I decided to read through it again and found tons of mistakes she missed.  That meant a boatload errors.

Even worse, I had sentences that made no sense.  Now, the essence and purpose of good editing is the willingness to get rid of the stuff you can’t fix.  So, if I couldn’t find a successful way to fix these sentences and paragraphs, I deleted them.  Most of the time they just distracted from the narrative anyway.

I often say that dialogue is The King in storytelling.  But I also insist that conflict is The King.  Well, as important as those two kings are, they are secondary to the narrative.  The narrative is the empire, the land the inspiration, imagination, character creation, description, conflict and dialogue moves through and occupies.  Anything that distracts from the narrative distracts the reader.

If the reader’s distracted, then he or she is bored.  And boredom is the death of all stories, whether or nonfiction.

You see, the hardest part of editing is getting rid of dialogue and description and pithy lines that you really love.  Lines that you know someone else will love.  Lines that may make your story memorable.  Even famous.

But love, fame, and being remember are illusive.  You won’t achieve them through individual moments but through interesting and exciting narratives.  Some cute thing you said or did when you were three, something pithy you said to a bully that drove him away when you were twelve, winning an Olympic gold medal when you were twenty, won’t mean much of anything to anyone when you’re thirty and looking for a job.  They want to know the narrative that you bring to a job, a relationship,  a career.

That’s what people are looking for in a good story: a good narrative.  Without the grandson of Darth Vader turning to the dark side, without the young woman discovering her ability to control the force, without the search to find Luke Skywalker, you couldn’t make a memorable movie with just Han Solo saying to Chewbacca, “We’re home.”

The film, “The Force Awakens” works with more than just great sets, great costumes and great special effects.  There are lots of films and stories that have all those things and more, and fail because they don’t have a great narrative.  In “Rogue One”, it’s the narrative that carries the film more than the characters.  I’m not saying that the characters and costumes and special effects aren’t good in that film, but the narrative rules.

Plot and narrative can be the same thing, but the narrative is also the story.

Think about it.  Think about “Rogue One” again.  For anyone who hasn’t seen it, I going to give you some spoilers, so be prepared.  As far as I’m concerned, they won’t take away from the film when you see it for the first time.

In “Rogue One”, when the leaders of The Rebellion realize that our heroes have left to sneak into the well-defended fortress world where The First Order, the successor to the Empire, keeps its archives, and that a fighter squadron has left to assist our heroes, the Rebellion’s leaders scramble and launch the entire Rebellion fleet to aide of our daring heroes.  The narration, the story about this whole part is so exciting, how can you not get involved with it?

Well, those who only wanted the continuation of the Skywalker family narration were not too interested in “Rogue One.”  No matter how good of a story and narration you have, you can’t please everyone.

So, even though you can’t please everyone, have the courage to get rid of anything and everything that slows or distracts from your narration.  Of course, you may have missed lots of stuff you could have gotten rid of, but that’s okay.  As long as you are honestly are trying to make it better, it will be fine.  And that honesty isn’t with others so much as it is with yourself.

Writing is hard, there’s no doubt about it.  And if it seems easy, its best if it seems so because you love it so much.   If you’re lazy, well you still might have a following and even a best seller.  But that may not always be the case.  And most likely, it won’t even happen.

Good luck.

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