Take a Walk in my Shoes

I haven’t thought about this in a while but a male classmate of mine turned in a story draft told through the eyes of a woman. It’s not to say that I was against the idea and I doubt he had a girl help him write it. It got me thinking about the difficulties that can appear when writing from the eyes of the opposite sex.

I’ve only ever written from a male’s point of view once. At first, I struggled to write his thoughts because I second guess myself. Was I writing this correctly? Would this be something a guy would say? Maybe I can ask my male friend to read this and make sure it’s right. I came to realize that I had trapped myself in a stereotypical idea of what a male character should say and how they should act. I was young then, well, younger.

It wasn’t until I started seeing my character as a character. It didn’t matter if he was a boy or a girl, alien, cockroach or whatever. He had a life and a past, goals and dreams. Those goals would be the ones to walk him down a path. All I had to do was  and see where my character would go. Although, it was also my goal to make sure he didn’t succeed. It’s only when I let me character be free that I had an easier time writing. I wasn’t too worried about how he sounded or what he said and thought.

Sure, there are some things (I can’t think of any examples at the moment) that a female writer won’t know about a guy or vice versa but that’s why we have brothers, husbands, and/or friends to help us out.

Rewrite- How to?

Having trouble editing your story?

Finishing a manuscript is one of the greatest accomplishments you can achieve. It’s tough work starting from scratch and typing up the last word but the rewards are great. However, sometimes, well, most of the times, it doesn’t end there. Next, comes editing and for the most part, this also includes rewriting some scenes, entire chapters, or maybe even the entire story.

There are many ways to edit a manuscript and there are many different ways it can be done depending on the writer. However, the most important part is to let the manuscript sit for a while before actually starting to edit it. If the story is still ‘fresh’ in your mind then you won’t be able to notice anything wrong with it. The time away from the manuscript depends on the person.

I liked to find a few close friends/beta readers and ask them to read my manuscript. Not only do I take some time off but it also gives me something to wait on e.g. critiques/comments. It’s also during this time that I like to look over my characters and notes. I’m not looking to change anything but I do think about the ways in which I wrote my characters and if I brought them to life on the page. I also tend to replay key scenes in my head and re-imagine them. What would happen if I change this particular line of dialogue? Or what if I make my character do this instead?

Although I keep repeating myself I will always say that no one method of editing is wrong or right. One way may work better for one person than another.

It’s also a good idea, I found, to convert your manuscript into a .pdf file and read it like a book. You can’t edit and it forces you to read your story without being able to change anything. I typically do this during my waiting time, looking specifically for sentences that don’t really make sense or could use improvement and for small typos. Usually when I read my manuscript I can get a hint of what is missing but they aren’t set in stone until I get back some comments. Usually, my suspicions are correct and some comments point out things that need improvements.

Taking critiques comes with a grain of salt. Some people might respond differently to your writing and that’s okay. Ultimately, it’s your choice as a writer that counts. If the plot is lacking, you usually have to rewrite the entire story but even then that’s nothing to feel dishearten about. I have rewritten one manuscript five times, from scratch, and though it has taken over five years to make it feel right,  it’s the best possible version that it could be. Scenes can be written and so can dialogue.

As long as you’re willing to make changes and abandon some things then rewriting will be easier. Accept the fact that it won’t be easy to begin with and go from there.

Child as a Narrator

How young are your narrators? Do you write in the perspective of a child?

For the past few weeks I have been writing about a childhood memory for one of my creative writing classes. There’s nothing special about this memory. It just happens to be the one that I remembered at that moment. It also happens to be the time when I started to doubt that Santa was real.

For the assignment, we had to write it with a child mentality. Yes, it was really difficult because this has been like ten years ago. I was completely in denial despite all the evidence pointing the other way. I guess my professor should have called it a creative non-fiction piece. There’s no doubt that kids are smart but how do you draw a balance between what you know now and what you didn’t know back then?

I have so much respect for middle grade authors and children’s book authors. It helps that I have to write this story in third person because it creates a distance between the story, the narrator and myself. Best part is that I can’t write it as if I was the protagonist. It has to be another person altogether.

So, it’s still fiction with a hint of truth. However, when it’s so personal, is there a way to not think of yourself as a character? Would you use yourself as a character? Come to think of it, this is probably the hardest exercise I have to write. I don’t want to talk down to my readers but complexity would be harder to write.

This is just something to think about. How do you strike a balance between your age and someone younger or even older even when the memory is close to you?

Moving On

This is how I deal with rejection.

Last time, I mentioned that I sent out a few query letters. While was obsessing over refreshing my email app on my phone, I finally got a reply. My heart lurched forward and I read it. I was rejected . . . not personally, but my book. My emotions were almost instant: aww and okay. Those are what I remember. After researching and reading articles online, I knew that there was probably a little chance for my novel to get picked up right off that bat. I believe it is that knowledge that softened the blow. I wasn’t exactly sad. I think it was more of nonchalance (hmm, not sure I used that right).

I wasn’t exactly sad. I just accepted it. My obsession from waiting for a reply to my query letters now moved to waiting to hear back for a job. Either way, getting rejected was an eye opener. I need o have more patience because agents have lives and they have jobs and it’s not their fault I didn’t do a good job. That sounds like I’m blaming myself but I’m not. I feel good. Some people would argue that I’m in denial or hiding my feelings but I see myself as a positive person and I’m aware that there are some things that I can’t control.

Heck, receiving no emails is also a form of rejection. I might have been already rejected for a lot of things. Either way, I just got keep trying. I’m not giving up. Life it like a manuscript: you got keep editing  . . . or something like that.