Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Writer's Wall - by Rita Stella Galieh

Give me a WINDOW anytime, but not a WALL! Walls block you and you can't see through them.

But, from a writer's perspective, I've got to admit they make you THINK. Hmm, there's just got to be a way around this. It's all about plotting, and everything is chugging along with the story, until BLAM! You've just hit the wall. Mind you, I consistently make it happen to my characters, but I don't like it when it happens to me. Writer's Block is it's unfeeling name.

When I first started writing, I believed an author just sat down to write the story on their heart. As it unfolded, it'd just click, click along on the keyboard. How naive was I? And, oh, how little I understood about the craft! The very first thing you discover is this set in concrete fact; publishers aren't waiting on your story. Huh? There are thousands of other experienced authors out there with great stories who are also trying to interest publishers. Hmm, well, you hadn't thought of that.

Naturally, you read "how to" books and find you probably need to cut out the first couple of chapters. Ouch! My precious words all gone. You discover your story should be like a three act play. You briefly need to let a reader get to know your character and their goals before you hit them with the inciting incident which pushes them into a new situation. Then complications and conflicts follow which threatens to defeat them. And finally they surmount their problems which turns out to be the climax. You study Point of View and realize you'd slipped up on that a bit. Quick job of rectifying. Now the real headache; the MRUs. What? Simple, they tell us. Motivation Reaction Units must be part of every scene. Please explain? Phew. The motivation is something that happens outwardly. That's external. Now your character reacts. They feel it emotionally. They show some sort of physical reaction. Then rational speech or action follows. Well now, I think a bit of rewriting is called for here.

Then you learn all about the BOOK PROPOSAL. What? I have to write out why the publisher would be interested in my story? I have to write a hook to catch their attention? I have to explain what it's all about in a sentence. A whole book? Then give them ideas about how I'd promote my book? And how I'd market it? Then say why it's maybe a little like some other authors' books, but different; a new twist? Mm, complicated!

So you get yourself a substantive edit from a very understanding, but very honest editor. You really learn scads. This gives you confidence to rewrite, realizing ( like the determined authors we are) that like any true work of music, art, literature, practical mechanics, and especially the Christian life, there are guidelines to follow. Yes, it's hard work, but what a sense of accomplishment. And, hey, you've just climbed over the wall!

Rita's second contracted book Signed, Sealed and Delivered will be published this September by Ark House Press. More on that later. Her weekly blog of true life stories of how couples found each other is featured on  Some are amusing, some fascinating, but all give hope that the Lord is interested in every detail of our lives. Several authors on this ICFW blog are featured, and will be shared with you on future blogs. So, if you have a personal story, please contact her at ritagalieh at gmail dot com.


  1. Had to smile during your post, Rita, - and sigh too. Unfortunately I have found it all so true. Am really looking forward to your new book.

  2. Like Mary, I had a laugh and a sigh too.But you know you're doing something right with another book due in September. All the best with it,

  3. Thanks, Mary and Dale. The funny thing is, even when they say they'll publish your book, you still want to change things. You should add this, or rewrite that. Sometimes you think it's never going to be finished!

  4. Very well put, Rita! It's amazing how something that is already pretty good can still be improved... improved... and improved some more:)
    I also look forward to your next book!

  5. I think that when we all start out as writers we have no idea just how long it takes to lear the craft. Very instruction posting, Rita.

  6. Excellent advice, Rita. I often use the hole/tunnel analogy. I hate feeling I'm in a hold, but a tunnel is okay. If I can just see a glimmer of light. . .

  7. Marg, you are so right. I don't think you can ever stop with the corrections & improvements.

    Christine, one thing I know for sure, I'm a historical gal, I write what I love to read.

    Donna, yes, that glimmer of light gives you a mountain of hope to keep on going!

  8. A warning? The trouble is there does come a time to stop the revision, corrections of a manuscript. Notice, I didn't say "editing" of a manuscript. If you are a perfectionist like myself, one of the dangers to be wary of is that we sometimes can OVER revise so that a section loses that first emotional input while "living" the scene so vividly when in the characters minds and hearts. Has anyone else discovered that? Nowadays I never delete a previous manuscript because I have learnt the hard way that I should not have changed something because it affected too much somewhere else in the story.