Sunday, April 18, 2010

Top Ten Things I've Learned From Blogging

We've reached the end of act one, 29,000+ words, or about 30% of the story. That's about as far as I intended to go with blogging. It's been such an interesting experience I've complied my thoughts into a "top ten" list of things I've learned.

1. Great writing isn't easy. I'm not that much of a writer. In all honesty, I have a lot of work to do. I expect I'll need to do another major draft after this one before I'm ready to show my work to a professional for advice.

2. Sex sells. Blogs with pictures like "Butt Cheek Girl" (King Hur's daughter) doubled or trippled my normal readership. I trust I used the power of these graphic and literary images wisely, but there's no denying the Bible is full of them.

3. Simplify everything. The more drafts I write, the more I realize that great writing keeps everything simple. Its so easy to lose an audience. I read somewhere that Dr Zeus wrote "Green Eggs and Ham" to meet his publisher's challenge of using no more than 100 words in his vocabularly (or was it 200?). Anyway, my kids can quote vast chunks of Green Eggs and Ham, and the story still has a great message. Food for thought.

4. POV separates the men from the boys. POV stands for "point of view" - and I've tried to follow one person's POV in each scene - normally Joshua's. If Joshua is not in a scene then, a) there HAS to be good reason, and b) I choose the person who has the most at stake in the drama.

5. Every story has a beginning, middle and end - but not necessarily in that order. Hopefully, I havent confused everyone with the way I mixed up the timeline by going back and forth from Salman's dialogue with Rahab, to the actual stories he told. Its an old trick, but a good one if used for the right reasons. I wanted to introduce Rahab and the King of Jericho early to heighten the drama. Story A (Joshua) and Story B (Rahab) meet up in the second act, and then its a single time line from there. Please let me know if you found that confusing.

6. Proofread everything. I don't trust myself - too many mistakes simply slip through my guard. It's scary.

7. Images are a great hook. The key is making sure they say the right thing. I just watched "Bandslam" - a movie with poster art that doesn't do it justice. When my daughters asked to hire it, I thought "great, this is a High School Musical rip-off", but I was so wrong. It was far better, edgier and more like "Juno" (not as funny - but you get the idea).

8. Start late and finish early. I try to enter a scene as late a possible and finish as early as possible to keep things moving. This is writing 101.

9. Character is everything. I'm trying to make each character have a distinct voice. How is Joshua different to Caleb? Does Phinehas say things that Salman would never even think? I'll probably need another draft just to focus on this.

10. Know your audience. This is what keeps me up at night. Who the heck will want to read this? or watch the movie (did I mention it's based on a screenplay?). I really, really, really don't want this to appeal just to a Christian audience. That would be a massive failure from my perspective. I hope that the religious aspects of the story don't undermine the fact that its a great story - and hopefully I can do it justice. Time will tell.

Thanks for reading.

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