Believe it or not, sometimes my own ignorance just stuns me. I've known for a long time I wasn't the smartest kid who ever came out of Kingman and I'm daily reminded of all the things I can't do (I just got back from hauling a mattress for Kathy and we borrowed those damn fancy bungee cords with the adjustable straps and the mechanism just defied and all but defeated me and only a half-assed, half-hitch saved me. Thank you Boy Scouts of America.).
But, like an idiot, I digress.
It dawned on me a couple months ago that perhaps I need to take a class on how to tell a story. I know. I know. I tell stories all the time and in every issue of True West and in every blog post I post, but do I know what I'm doing? As it turns out, barely. Or, more accurately, not really.
I saw a Facebook post from best selling author James Patterson that said, "Focus on the story, not the sentence." Whoa! That is exactly what I wasn't doing. So I clicked on the link and bought the $90 video. Here's what I learned:
• Pick out the things you can handle.
• You may have to write a million words to get to word one of your story.
• It's a gift to have passion.
• Story is about revealing character.
• Write an outline of your story, and then do three or four drafts, fleshing it out.
• Villains need to surprise us: "I didn't see that coming."
• Suspense is questions that must, must, must be answered.
• It's not writing, it's re-writing.
• Do not polish until the story is done. Eliminate everything that doesn't get to the core of the story.
• When you get to the ending, write ten possible endings, just the dumbest and craziest things you can imagine. Narrow that down to four, massage, and then pick the one that makes the most sense.
"I will go to my grave changing a word, and there is always the right word."