Lettin it Out
Write to Engage, Not to Market...
I've spent the last few days working on my book about a cynical bridesmaid whose world gets turned upside down by the groom's older brother. (Yes, it's a romance.) It's funny, when I'm writing a book, I just write my ideas into chapters and sometimes I do some plotting. I do create a basic outline, but it's rarely ever the complete book. I am an edit-as-you-go type of writer, so it takes me a long while to complete a book. (I think I've mentioned this in other posts about writing.) Anyway, it's been months since I've really sat down to write on this story, but lately, I've been in the mood, so I've gotten back into it. I went off on a deviation from my original idea on the outline and I discovered that it was not going to create enough tension to sustain the reader's interest. I had to go back and rewrite Chapter 10 to get back on track with my outlined idea. The story is much better now.
When I drive anywhere, I listen to YouTube videos rather than the radio to keep me entertained. Lately, I've been listening to writing videos, namely how to write romance. What I'm finding is that if I paid attention to all that stuff, I'd be second-guessing myself throughout the writing process and I'd never finish the damn book! I can honestly say that I do not sit down and think about whether I'm writing a slow-burn romance, or a friends-to-lovers trope, or how many pinch points I should have in the story. I can also say that I don't avoid adverbs or -ing words but I also don't really, really overuse them (Lol!). I just write to tell the story and when I edit, I add in stronger descriptions, create a little more tension, or change or take out anything that doesn't fit or flow.
My goal isn't to follow all the rules and hit all the marketing points so publishers can turn a healthy profit, it's to tell an engaging story that readers will enjoy simply because they develop an emotional bond to the characters and/or the situation.
One writers' group I attend is more of an editing group. People take in a chapter and then the group edits the crap out of it. On the one hand, that's a good thing. Sometimes some of the stories need a bunch of grammatical corrections or notes about consistency or show don't tell. The problem is that the actual story is not addressed beyond "I liked it" or "It needs work." Once I took in an already edited piece and because there were no problems with the sentences or setting, the group argued (and I mean argued) over whether or not it should be a prologue or chapter 1 as a flashback. (I had written it as a prologue--and I left it that way because that was what I intended it to be.) I thought it was strange that they had to find something to nitpick rather than just say everything was in order.
I've learned in attending this writing group and a few others that too many editors spoil the story! I think it's okay to have one or two people read your writing, but any more than that puts you at risk for getting too much feedback that will be hard to sort through, it'll mess with your head, and it will potentially fuck up your story. This is why I don't use beta readers. Me and my editor should be enough to get an engaging story down (and really, with AI as it is right now, you can get the majority of your writing edited using that and just enlist a human editor to double-check context and the mark of your own individual style).
In case you're wondering, yes, I use AI. I have Chat GPT and I use it for research and to help me with descriptions mainly. I'll ask it to suggest some things for me and it does, and then I pull the ideas, words or sometimes sentences it has suggested and I give them my voice before I incorporate them into my chapter. What I don't do is ask it to write my chapters for me and then copy them and call it a book I've written. I don't care that I've crafted the question in such a manner that I've told it what to write, and in what tone, and for what purpose. It's an AI generated piece and I cannot in good faith pass it off as my own writing. I have to change it so that it's written in a way that I would say it based on my knowledge and experiences. I'm very grateful, however, for the ideas it spits out. It's a great tool to spark inspiration.