Practicing what I preach

Last week at the Birmingham SF Group meeting the interviewer asked me whether I was still learning, as a writer. The answer I gave was, of course, yes. Improving in the craft of writing gives me satisfaction and pleasure, though it does mean I’m sometimes leery of reading stories I wrote before I got to the stage I’m currently at … which means that in a few years I expect I’ll be dissatisfied with what I’m writing now.

However, as any writer will tell you, the last thing you wrote is often the best thing you’re ever written. Or so you believe, for a period of time varying (in my case) from one hour to a couple of months.

I belong to a workshop group called Tripod, made up of fellow writers experienced in giving critiques. These poor suckers get to read pretty much everything I write in its raw form, because if there’s a gapping plot hole or an unbelievable character, I’m hoping they’ll spot it.

This week Tripod critiqued the final section of ‘Bringer of Light’, including that multi-strand fight scene I was so pleased with a few weeks back. They weren’t impressed. They thought the drama was manufactured, and that the fundamental premise behind one of the strands of action was flawed. They weren’t remotely malicious in telling me this, in fact they were quite apologetic, and I quickly saw how right there were and how, in my haste and hubris, I’d messed my ending up. They even suggested fixes for some of the problems, bless ’em.

Now, a couple of days later, I’ve gone through their notes and had a good long think. I can make this book work, but it’s going to involve rewriting one of the plot-lines that was already in need of some changes, plus an almost completely reworking the novel’s climax. In all, I expect to discard and rewrite between a quarter and a third of my work so far.

Fortunately, I don’t mind rework. Unfortunately, the amount of rework that needs doing might not be possible to fit into the time available, at least not unless I can manage to give up stuff like sleep and the day-job. As a result I’m afraid that my already sporadic posts to this blog are likely to get even more thin on the ground for the next couple of months. Sorry about that. Wish me luck, I’m going in…

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