This blog keeps growing, which means I’m reaching more and more people with my tips and ideas. In my opinion, it’s important to consider the source when evaluating the merit of a writing suggestion. I think, then, that I should take a step back and make sure I’ve expressed clearly exactly what I’m trying to achieve with writing.
I’m an engineer. Literally. I’m registered in the state of Louisiana as a mechanical engineer.
As you may guess from my profession, I approach life analytically, and that extends to writing. The development of the story fulfills my need to be creative, but, when it comes to translating those ideas into the written word, I apply a thoughtful, systematic methodology.
My way of doing it isn’t for everyone. Many authors come at it from an artistic side. Feel replaces analysis for them. It’s important to understand what works for you.
For example, I had a beta reader tell me that a particular point didn’t stand out as well as it should — an astute observation. An artist, presumably, would rely on feel to correct the problem. I went into analysis mode.
Problem: an important point isn’t standing out
First, I had to figure out why. After reading the passage, the answer was readily apparent. I had buried the relevant sentence at the end of a long sequence where a lot of fast-paced action took place. The reader didn’t have a chance to digest what happened before being thrown the important information.
Next, I had figure out how to fix it. Since the pace was too fast, the obvious solution is that I needed to slow the pace before the important point.
Solution: insert a short paragraph of description between the end of the action sequence and the important point.
More importantly than just fixing this one issue in one scene in one chapter in one book, I took the lesson to heart — Make sure your important points aren’t buried. Now, I don’t have to rely as much on beta readers to point out this kind of mistake. Most of the time, I either no longer commit the error in the first place or fix it before it ever gets to the beta reader stage.
As an analyst, I believe that writing can be broken down into a series of techniques that each achieve an effect. Some have criticized this philosophy, thinking that it reduces an art into something cookie cutter that could be replicated by a computer.
What you’re trying to achieve with your combination of techniques is inherently a creative exercise. The ways you can combine techniques are infinite. I simply analyze how best to convey what’s in my head to my audience.