Dear Fellow Noble Penners – as the oldest (as in ancient) yet newest member of the group, I have only been writing fiction in earnest for the past three years – prior to that you know I was a syndicated columnist and non-fiction author for almost two decades, and I now see how difficult the hurdle is to overcome when an author attempts to transition from the world of non-fiction into the world of fiction.
I particularly wanted to share with my fellow Noble Penners some eye-opening experiences I have had with the group in the reviews of my first 31 chapters.
Aside from learning to banish the cop-out verb “was” from my vocabulary, there are two other significant changes I am making in both my manuscript and my writing style.
First, I am learning that in many cases ‘less is better,’ particularly when it comes to explaining physical situations, environments, how things operate, etc. (a good example would be my three page explanation of the GADS-I program and its subsequent transition to GADS-II, which did nothing to move the story line along). My engineering/non-fiction backgrounds have always pointed me in the direction of detailed explanations. In the fiction world, I now appreciate the beauty of leaving the process of discovery to the reader.
Second, I am learning that in many cases ‘more is better,’ particularly when it comes to emotional responses of my characters. While I use ‘character prompt sheets’ developed in detail for each major character to thoroughly understand their emotional responses to specific situations, my readers are not privy to this knowledge; hence they lack sufficient detail to understand why my characters act (and react) as they do (a good example would be why in the hell Brooke kisses her professional partner Lance). Again, my engineering/non-fiction backgrounds have thought me for several decades that good science and good non-fiction is fairly devoid of emotion (this world devoid of emotion was further enhanced by my lifetime of experiences as a twenty-something combat helicopter pilot in the Vietnam War).
Therefore, my time these days is being spent in fairly major edits to my earlier chapters in Revelation to ensure my physical detail is abridged sufficiently to engage the reader thoroughly, while my emotional detail is enhanced sufficiently to allow the reader to fully realize how and why my characters react as they do.
As I submit new chapters to the group (you are currently almost half-way through the manuscript), I will try to include some of the additional edits I have made to the earlier chapters to better facilitate you understanding of my characters.
And for Bill and anyone worried about how my quantity of characters that keeps growing, they have pretty much reached the limit, except for a few characters about to be introduced and immediately killed off.
My sincere thanks for your feedback to date, which I believe has made me a better author already. See you June 18 after the Writers Workshop on Sci-Fi.