By: Dennis Bates
I’ve been helping a fellow writer polish up a manuscript this past week and loved every minute of it. One of the really neat things about writing is how ready other writers are to help. I often get asked for a male perspective on a particular scene or piece of dialogue because, face it, most romance and love story authors are women.
In the present situation my friend asked me for that perspective and for an overall read of her revisions to a story I read at least once before. I’ve read parts of it even more than that, but that doesn’t matter. The fun for me is the exchange of ideas and styles. We all see things a little differently and write them down in our own unique ways.
Some writing groups try to discourage that or beat your stories and styles into some sort of bland, universal product that sells well in the general market. That’s not necessarily a bad thing if sales are your major goal, but it’s the opposite of what this blog and small publishing effort is all about. Staci and I used to exchange stories and ideas a lot when we first got acquainted.
We still do from time to time, but both of us have expanded our territories since we first met. It is an answer to a prayer we shared from the first few days we knew each other. At the moment my territory has been expanded to include several new friends. The woman I discussed at the beginning is one of them. I get as much satisfaction from working with her as I do from working on my own pieces these days, and I have learned so much in the process.
God is funny that way. Especially when He deals with writers. He allows us to teach but requires us to learn at the same time. The best teachers are those who continue to learn. It really comes down to that.
The story I just finished for the second time is a mixture of romance and historical fiction. It is far more formula than what I write for the most part. Yet it is so compelling to me because the author’s voice (the way she tells the story) is so open and easy to understand. I found myself wishing over and over that I could write more like she does. I am convinced that if I could, over time, I could develop a string of stories that would sell through traditional publishing houses on a regular basis and make me a modest, but steady income.
But I can’t write that way, even when I try. I have formula elements to some of my stories, but I also have very edgy elements, some more than edgy. I write from the world I know, in the manner I see it. My fervent belief is that God lives in that world too and offers us his grace even if He has to give us a good power washing every now and then.
The sweetness I read in stories like the one I just read is something that has helped me smooth out a lot of the rough edges in the stories I write. If it makes any sense, I feel the sweetness inside me while I write from a different view point. Not all sweet stories do that for me. Some border on fantasy, but when done right, they work. And they help.
The story I just read does it right. I am certain that God allowed me to help the author so He could teach me as much or more than I could ever teach her. I think some people might call that a blessing. I know I do.