Keeping it real

writer's clockI finished reading Gone Girl, which means that I didn’t get much writing done. As I do now with all books, I found myself unable to read it purely for pleasure. Between wondering what was going to happen next, I analyzed it to see how the author colored our mind’s palette to make the settings memorable and characters realistic.

The acknowledgements at the end of books usually list experts that help the authors get the technical details right. They also usually thank families for their unconditional support. However, Gillian Flynn’s thanks to her husband went beyond the usual spousal thanks. She acknowledged his help in making her protagonist act and think as a man would.

It was a great reminder that I can’t write in a vacuum. Getting another perspective is invaluable. My critique group is a great sounding board. They help me take a good idea and make it better. They can help round out a flat character. And their suggestions force me to step back and look at every element with new eyes, the eyes of a reader.

When I finish An American Terrorist – that’s not what the title will be, but I need to call it something now – I’ll ask our parish priest to give me feedback on Father Francis. I assume that being a priest is tough, always being on call, listening to other people’s problems but only being able to confide your own to another priest who understands the life. However, I’ll welcome a real priest’s suggestions on how to make Father Francis come alive.

In the meantime, I’ll finish my first chapter and see what my critique group – and you – say.

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