A while ago when I did my blog book tour for RealmShift and MageSign one of the people kind enough to host me was Pat Bertram. She hosted the interview with Isiah, the protagonist from the books. I’m very pleased now to return the favour and host a guest post from Pat as she travels on her own blog book tour, promoting Daughter Am I. Here Pat gives good advice about a writer’s tools of the trade.
Like other construction workers, we creators of word worlds own toolboxes filled with necessary implements. We have hooks to hook the reader, glue to glue their attention, a feather or two to tickle their funny bones.
We find nails to nail our points and hammers to hammer them home. We find nuts and bolts to connect our story elements and trowels with which to lay a concrete foundation. And we find pliers for getting the attention of agents and editors, because we all know that task is as difficult and painful as pulling out our own teeth. (Word of caution: Do not use pliers on said agents/editors. They might take offense and refuse to look at your work.)
We need awls and augers (maybe even augurs) to poke holes in our inflated prose, and we need saws to cut away the deadwood. And we definitely need screwdrivers to screw up our courage and we need screwdrivers to drown our sorrows when agents/editors/critics shoot us down again. (A bulletproof vest would also come in handy, but they are too bulky to fit in the box, and besides, they make our clothes fit funny.)
But the most important and versatile tool of all is the chisel. We can use it to knock the chip off our shoulders. Perhaps you’re right and agents/editors are idiots who can’t recognize good prose. But perhaps they are idiots who can recognize good prose, and you’re not writing it yet. (Notice I say you? I, of course, write excellent prose. Agents/editors just don’t recognize my good prose when they see it.)
Chisels will help keep criticism and compliments at more than arm’s length. Too much criticism can kill creativity; too many compliments may keep us from improving. And we can all improve.
A chisel will help pare away verbiage, those superfluous words and elements that blunt the clear lines of our prose. For example, I chiseled away excess from the phrase excess verbiage, since it’s redundant. Verbiage by definition is excess.
And a chisel will help us shape our story into a world so vital and inviting readers won’t be able to tear themselves away.
So, let’s open our toolboxes and get to work.
Pat Bertram is a native of Colorado and a lifelong resident. When the traditional publishers stopped publishing her favorite type of book — character and story driven novels that can’t easily be slotted into a genre — she decided to write her own. Daughter Am I is Bertram’s third novel to be published by Second Wind Publishing, LLC. Also available are More Deaths Than One and A Spark of Heavenly Fire.