I began watching Drew Wagar’s Twitch stream on its second episode. He started out by teaching viewers the basics of good story telling, and his personal process of writing. Through his weekly streams I rediscovered a love for writing which I had set aside years ago. Soon I began to consider the personal challenge of writing a novel myself, but that seemed like an insurmountable mountain to climb.
Drew decided to offer a new challenge after we had gone through most of the basics of good writing. Rather than learning in a lecture / question and answer style presentation, he suggested we could collaborate on a sci-fi anthology. We could learn what it takes to create a book by participating in it hands-on. That was an easy choice for me. I was all in. The idea of contributing a short story or two, supporting each other under Drew’s guidance, and assembling and actually publishing a book was an exciting, reachable goal.
We began by brainstorming, envisioning new worlds, and creating a timeline of events into which our individual stories could be grounded. The goal was to write a series of independent short stories, told in our own personal styles, that could stand on their own – yet be interconnected in a grand plot.
We began the process of individually writing our first drafts. I read and re-edited my initial story over and over. Edit after edit, revision after revision, would I ever rid it of the flaws that popped up like weeds? We each experienced the challenge of critical review before our peers. It was a vulnerable feeling, but we realized the critiques came from someone who had our best outcome at heart. We learned to edit and integrate our stories together, to bridge the gaps, and connect them. We learned how to work together.
My favorite part of the creative process was seeing ways that we could insert references of events, places and characters into our stories, tying them together into a complete adventure. When we finally got them all assembled, we had a novel-length book.
Those of us who were new writers had no idea how much effort it would take. However, as I look back on what turned into a year and a half long project, I’m proud to have seen it through to completion. I know I have personally grown from the experience, and so have my fellow authors (wow, we can call ourselves authors now!) I worked with a great group of strangers from across the globe, strangers whom I now consider good friends.
Thanks Drew, for the inspiration and the willingness to share your gifts and skills.
I finally had my short story critiqued by someone who knows how to write novels, and well… He said I have a good story and did my conversational text well, but my story was doing a lot of TELL and not SHOW in many places. I knew about this concept but somehow I was blind to it until Drew went through it with me and showed me where I was doing it and how I could make it better. Now it seems so obvious to me. I am surprised how I didn’t realize it before.
So this week I did some major revisions to “Shattered Worlds”. I added a lot more character dialog to replace the boring telling I had let creep into the text. I added more physical description of character actions SHOWING what they were feeling and pulled out the plopping down of overt motivations and emotions which I was just TELLING the reader.
I am sure it is not done yet, but I am feeling a lot better about it now, and I think this short advice that Drew gave me really brought some new life to my story. Really appreciate your “brutal review” @drewwagar.