Revisiting the Basics

- by Tawny Weber

This is my first post here on the NINC Blog, so I should probably introduce myself while I wave HI.

I’m Tawny Weber.  I write for Harlequin Blaze and I’ve been published since 2007 with my 8th and 9th Blazes hitting the shelves later this year.   It took me 4 years to sell, and I sold my 6th manuscript.  So really, while I’ve been at this for awhile, I’m still a newbie in the wild world of publishing.

When I first started writing, I was a glutton for information.  Craft books, writing workshops, charts and worksheets – I couldn’t get enough!  When I wrote my first few manuscripts, I spent a lot of time in the pre-writing.  Story charts, character charts,  GMC worksheets, plotting boards.  Then, after a few years, a few books, I stopped spending as much time with the worksheets.  I didn’t really need to fill in GMC to know my characters, right?  I had a pretty decent handle on the who, what and why.   Then my first few book revisions focused on specific plotting issues, so I focused my pre-writing and attention on nailing plotting issues.  After a few more books, my revisions were less about plot, and more about character.  Was I going backward?  Oops.

That was clue one.

About a month ago, I attended an all-day writing workshop by a well-known presenter.   The whispering around our table was a little jaded.  Everyone knew what he was saying already.  Show don’t tell, motivate your characters, strengthen your turning points.  As we were nodding and wondering when he’d start dispensing the magic secrets, I did a couple of the exercises he was leading for a story I’d almost finished.  And in doing so, I found out so much more about my story than I’d realized.  Sure, I was familiar with the tools.  But I’d stopped using them as much as I should.

That was clue two.

Last week, my editor called and we were discussing a writing craft book she’d recently read.  She suggested I read it and try applying a few of the tools it offered.  Since one of the main tools was a plotting board, and since I was staring at the plotting board currently tacked to my wall, I could only wince.  Yes, I was using the tool -but, again, not as deeply, not as intensely as I could.

And that was clue three.

Add up the clues, and it’s obviously time for me to revisit the basics.  To head on back to square one and start trying out different tools, re-read craft books to revisit plotting ideas and processes.  So I thought it’d be fun to make that the focus of my blogging here on NINC.  The basics, since I don’t think they ever go out of style.

I’m starting my revisit this month by reading two of my favorite craft books; Writing the Romantic Comedy by Billy Mernit and Story by Robert McKee.  And on a friend’s suggestion, I’m also reading Save the Cat by Blake Snyder to use his beat sheet to redo my plotting board *g*

What do you think?  Are the basics something you still focus on or do they, at some point, simply become so ingrained that you don’t have to think about them? And do you have any suggestions for my tour of the basics?

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