Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Taking Risks - Lessons from my crit partner
Not only did she marry her troll (her word, not mine) after 14 years, she also completed the first draft of her paranormal-ish romantic suspense, Thoeba.
I've blogged about Donna before. But right now I'm missing her while she's on her honeymoon in Prince Edward Island and I'm home, trudging through revisions. (Again)
If she were here, she'd say that I've taught her a lot in the almost year we've been critique partners, but I'm only now beginning to fully understand everything she's taught me.
Like about taking risks.
I had the honor of being Donna's official photographer at her wedding and I took my job seriously, snapping almost a thousand pictures of the beautiful bride and her new hubby. There's some awesome, traditional shots I'm proud of. But the photographs that make me smile the most are in the non-typical series - like the one on the left.
I wish I could claim this as my own idea, but truthfully, Donna's troll requested a bodice-ripper / Fabio-ish picture - something one might find on the cover of Donna's books. Donna hates having her picture snapped, but when I look back at this picture, I grin every time. She took a risk. A relatively safe one, mind you, since she could delete the photo if she hated it.
But she wasn't afraid to try something new -- a philosophy she carries into her writing.
Donna's mind is like a sponge. She sucks up every piece of writing advice anyone is willing to give her, and she applies that new knowledge the next time she sits at her gorgeous solid wood desk (*envious*). But don't think that means she simply does as told. Donna has an incredibly firm grasp on what her story is about, who her characters are, and the kind of writer she wants to be. She isn't afraid to stand her ground.
And she isn't afraid to take risks.
I've had the pleasure and honor of studying writing craft with some amazing authors. I've memorized Steve Berry's 8 Rules of Craft, studied Gary Braver's 10 Ingredients for Writing a Thriller, and recited (repeatedly) James Rollins' list for creating sympathetic characters. I've given myself permission to write crap, and given numerous faces to my muse for inspiration. Technically, I'm covered.
But this draft isn't about the technical craft. It can't be. If this book is to stand out in a vast sea of really great novels, the writing must be much more than technically sound.
It has to take risks. As a writer, I must take risks.
Just one of the very important lessons I've learned from Donna.
What risks have you taken in your writing? Or in life? And how have they shaped you as a writer or person? Did some not work out?
The Book In My Bag Today: The Summoning, Kelley Armstrong