I can honestly say that I have never succumbed to the constant bevy of invitations I receive daily from Facebook Friends, asking me to join them in a game or contest. I don’t accept the gauntlet thrown down demanding that I have to re-post something to show support for a cause. I’m not trying to be rude. The simple fact is that I won’t waste one precious moment to something that keeps me from writing.
So just why did I accept this Facebook challenge from author Gayle Carline – A CONTEST – of all things??
It wasn’t easy – giving in to this. I worried that “just this one time”, would begin an avalanche.
But, part of the reason I did accept the challenge is because it’s from a fellow writer…someone who understands the torment of having that deep-seated desire to sit and write everyday…every minute of our lives – thrown up against the feelings of selfishness for wanting it.
We daily face the reality of life that constantly pulls us away.
You have to admit, that is a connection hard to sever.
And I admire Gayle. And she included me in a list of fellow writers I admire.
So how could I not accept?
Clever, clever, Gayle!
Second though, was the fact that I saw this as a unique writing exercise. But I’ll get to that later.
So here are the rules:
1. Go to page 7 or 77 in your current manuscript (fiction or non-fiction)
2. Go to line 7
3. Post on your blog the next 7 lines, or sentences, as they are – no cheating
Following are my seven sentences, taken from page seven of my current novel, which is a work in progress…seven lines down from the top…(please remember–the key word here is work in progress!)
Nataya watched the murky clouds roil and tumble over the mountains in slow motion, but steadily advancing closer.
“Won’t be long now,” Walker said. He turned and unlocked the door.
They entered the cabin and stripped off the heavy buckskin shirts they both wore for tracking. Nataya hung them on wooden pegs by the door, to air, and slipped down the hall to get fresh clothes for them as Fox Walker strode beneath the high-beamed ceiling of the large open room that comprised the living and eating area, then knelt to open the door to the wood stove.
When Nataya returned to the main room she hung back, quiet, observing Walker as he used the poker to stir the ashes until he found a few glowing hot coals. She watched him place pieces of tinder on the embers and blow on them until the flames flared back to life—thought about how he had done the same thing to her, in a way. Brought her back to life.
As she had for him.
So what did I learn from this exercise?
It gave me a valuable tool to use for editing my own work.
Every writer struggles with the fact that after they create their work, they are too close to it to have a proper perspective for editing it. We can’t see the obvious. We know all the details in our heads – details that may or may not be present on the page. We can’t see the missing pieces because our minds automatically fill in the blanks.
So what I noticed, as I counted down my seven lines on the page and pulled out the next seven sentences was…does this section stand on it’s own? Does it make sense to the reader of this blog, who has absolutely nothing else in context to bump up against these few lines? It made me notice mundane words that could be replaced with better adjectives…it made me hear the rhythm of the writing…see how it could be improved.
I’m going to use this tool throughout my novel as I do my final edits – checking that I have made each section the very best it can be. Time consuming? You bet.
But I propose that even if you don’t want to scrutinize your writing to this degree, at least remember this exercise for those passages that just won’t work for you, or places where you struggle and can’t figure out what is missing. Try it – maybe it will give you that fresh perspective you need, to see it the way the reader will see it.
So – Gayle – thank you for listing me in your contest. I’m glad you gave me the opportunity to do this. I learned a valuable lesson! Now, to that editing…
But for the rest of you – don’t get any ideas that I’m ready to add games to my schedule!! Ha!
I would love to hear feedback on this – Do you want to try this? If you tried this exercise, did it help you?