Thursday, January 21, 2010

Three Men I Admire - Who Inspire

Reading the title of this blog, I hope you don't think I have only three men in my life who inspire me; there are many, both part of my daily life as well as those I respect because of their work or good deeds. But, today, I'm speaking about the three who make up the male side of my writing group.

All three write with distinctively different voices, and I find all of their work well written and interesting to read. One has recently become a published author, and we cheer his success. When I'd entered this group, I was concerned that my style of writing wouldn't be accepted or critiqued honestly, but I have come to admire these three men because of their serious attention to my efforts. Let me explain.

As a general rule, men do not read character-driven women's fiction. My book develops from the reader's caring about what happens to the characters; in other words, the characters drive the story. That is different from the way plot-driven novels, such as those the men write, are constructed. To be honest, during some of our sessions, I have had to defend my writing because of this difference. But, even when they didn't exactly follow my writing path, they gave their honest attention to what I presented.

During our most recent session last week, however, I felt a break-through. We were critiquing a pivotal chapter in my novel, one I was nervous about. It was essential that the reader believe my characters because what happens influences major moments in the chapters to come. I'd worked on these pages extensively, but still needed a critical sounding board to know if I'd "nailed it".

The break-through from the men came when they each expressed emotions about the characters and their actions. For the first time, I felt they were really into where this novel is going, and were enjoying it. Such comments as, "I hope she breaks up with this guy" and "there's something about him - I'm not sure what - but I think she's smart enough to catch on to him soon" made me know I had hit a nerve. For men who don't read these kinds of books, they were hooked! And that meant, if I had captured their interest - and they were being led exactly where I wanted them to go in the reading - I had succeeded in more ways than one. It was the fuel I needed to keep going.

As I've explained in a previous post, this novel is being revised from one I've worked on for years. I believe in this book, but I always felt it needed more. I've been happy with how this latest revision work is proceeding, but to hear those enthusiastic words, from guys I respect - well - I couldn't be more inspired! So, now, back to work.

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