Last weekend I revisited the Eighties–Blue Thunder was on television, and wonder of wonders, I actually caught it right from the beginning. Now, I grew up in the 80s (I graduated from high school in ’88), so I remember when Blue Thunder came to the theater, and later to network television. Of course, BT couldn’t hold a candle to the sexier, sleeker Airwolf that came on around the same time.
Anyway, I always remembered the nickname they gave Daniel Stern’s character: JAFO (Just Another F**king Observer). Loved the premise of the movie, was less enamored with the TV series. Besides, when you have a choice between watching a boxy Gazelle (French helicopter)-Apache (military kick-ass helo) mashup or a sleek Sikorsky Bell 222, well, there’s no contest. Oh, and the Airwolf theme music was so much cooler!
I finally got around to reading some of the various blog postings I subscribe to, and came across this one about passive versus active media consumption. The active vs passive article mentions how we pay attention to media. As readers who migrate into writing, we go from passive consumers who just want a good story, to active consumers who notice the various mechanisms other writers use to keep us reading. We take those devices and use them to strengthen our own writing.
I find I do this when I come across a great story–analyze why the techniques the author uses work. The first time I remember doing this is when I read The Sword of Truth, by Terry Goodkind. OMG. I read the book in, like, two days, but what amazed me was how effective Goodkind was at drawing me on to the next chapter. And the next. BTW, the whole Sword of Truth series is an excellent read. Just as with any series, a few of the books aren’t as good as the others, but overall, his series is at the top of my list of favorites along with Jim Butcher’s Dresden series and J. D. Robb’s Eve Dallas series.
Since then, I’ve tried to pay more attention to how other writers do it, and I’ve tried to make mental notes to recall (hmm, easier said than done some days) while I’m working through my own writing.
I managed to snag a fave at the latest #PitMad fiesta, and figured I’d better go over the book one more time before I submit. This is the same manuscript that brought home the top honor in last year’s Critique My Novel contest. I’ve had some agents ask for the full manuscript, but so far, no takers. I’m trying a few things differently this time than I have in the past. One, I printed the entire book out. I bought a laser printer about a month ago just for this purpose, and doubled-up the pages to conserve paper. It’s easier to see some issues when the writing is on paper. Two, I read somewhere that going through the manuscript backwards helps you to notice things that you miss when you read from front to back. I started at the last page, and I’m just about finished working my way through.
These new-to-me techniques have helped me find the nits in my manuscript. I don’t know how I missed some of them, but reading the book backwards definitely helps, especially for those sneaky passive sentences that need to either be shot or reworked into active ones. The next time you go through a revision, try doing it from back to front. I think it works because it forces you to look at each sentence pretty much on its own; your brain isn’t used to reading that way.
Now, if I can get the beets and kale weeded tonight, I can spend tomorrow actually doing the edits. Aiming to get the mss submitted by next week. Crossing my fingers that this time will be more fruitful than the rest.