Monday, May 17, 2010

Writing & Indiana Jones

When I think of Indiana Jones and "Raiders of the Lost Ark," my pulse races. Who can forget the scenes where he faces both natural dangers and villains determined to obtain the Ark of the Covenant?The odds seem stacked against his success.

My adventures writing, "The Moses Conspiracy," remind me of this movie. An idea grabbed me and wouldn't let go. I started, but, oh my, I didn't have a clue what I'd gotten into. My fingers flew over the keyboard, and dashed off my book--all 55,000 words of it. I printed out the first three chapters, packed my briefcase, and trotted off to the nearest Christian Writers Conference. Fortified by my non-writing spouse's praise, my naivete matched or exceeded that of many newbie writers.

POV? Got it nailed down. Passive verbs? No problem. Uh, what's that about character development and dialogue tags? I'll make some changes. You want how many words in a novel, but want me to cut out all the adverbs and most of the adjectives? The story begins on page 10? Maybe I don't know as much about this writing stuff as I thought I did.

Back at that computer, I slashed the adverbs and gave my wimpy verbs muscles. Highlighting a paragraph, my hand poised over the keyboard. I muttered to myself. "You can do this, Susan." I took a deep breath, and hit the delete key. Instead of 55,000 words, I'm down to 45,000.

Even as Indiana got creative in defeating his enemies and reaching his objective, I prayed and dug deep for inspiration. Eureka! I see it--a way out of a tricky spot that will add a chapter. Ah, add some conflict to a relationship. A subplot will make things sticky for the hero and heroine.

Like Indiana Jones, the battle didn't end there. Trials and tribulations popped up, but new skills made the task less daunting. The first 15 pages are now in the hands of the Genesis contest judges. I'll soon know what other villains lurk in the pages of my manuscript. With my trusty fedora and bullwhip (the helmet of salvation and the Word of God), they don't stand a chance.

Tell us about the word jungles you've conquered lately. What snakes have threatened to kill your manuscript?

35 comments:

DeanO said...

I enjoyed the cross reference to the armor of God in Ephesians 6. I'll never think of Indiana Jones in quite the same light. Great Post

Jessica Nelson said...

What a cute post! I loved Indiana Jones!
Hmmm, my writing jungles include cliched plots and flat characters. Grrrr!

Terri Tiffany said...

I loved this post too! Well-written! I think we have all been there when we discover all the slashing we are forced to do and the plot revisions etc. Not fun but hopefully we get a much better product at the end.

Robyn Campbell said...

Hey Susan! Thanks for giving me the giggles this morning. I needed that. Love your post.

My snakes? Nasty adverbs and the was word. Oh, how I love that word. SHEESH! And regional dialect. I had to learn to create the world, and capture unique turns of phrase instead of altered spellings.

How have you been? I hope your life is great, Susan. =) I can't wait to catch up.

Karen Lange said...

Like the comparison you used:) I can almost picture you with your hat on, perched at a jaunty angle. Now I know what to get you for your birthday, a new bullwhip! Good post!
Blessings,
Karen

Carla Gade said...

What a creative post, Susan, and I can so relate. Although I didn't submit anything before I learned some of these things, my problem has been lack of confidence to actually send things out. Well, its a good thing I didn't because as prolific as I've been I just wasn't ready. I'm getting close and am much more equipped now, but its been a long road learning all the ins and outs.

Best wishes in the Genesis!

Cindy said...

I love the Indiana Jones comparison. I need to ramp up the conflict--so I am keeping that in mind with my new WIP.

kristen said...

Hi Susan-
Oh, so many snakes to choose from. I have characters that need development, weasel words to shoo out, and a plot that needs strengthening.
But I think the biggest snake I face is me. I've come close to abandoning my project. I say to myself, "It's just too much. There are too many things wrong with it. I can't figure it out!"
That's when I take a break to forget the weak characters and failing plot, if only for a little bit, so I can fall in love with the story again. And then, hopefully, get my passion back.
Thanks

quietspirit said...

Susan:
I like your post. I can see you in a Fedora,waving a bull whip. :)
I am at a standstill. One of my secondary characters has graduated from college. His dad and aunt and sister and cousin attend. His late mother's family is represented. The group gathers for a meal after the ceremony. I need to add some dialogue and scenes to this particular section.

Jean Fischer said...

Since I write mostly for kids, my "snakes" consist of telling a great story without using a lot of words. When writing for little kids, you have no wiggle room to develop characters, setting and plot.

I love the Indiana Jones comparison :)

Blessings.
Jean

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Dean -

Thanks. It's amazing what the Lord will use to help us over the hurdles of life. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jess -

Maybe I should see more movies. LOL! I'm not a big movie buff.

I'm sure if you looked at your earlier writings you'd see a great improvement. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Terri -

Thanks! I hope the Genesis judges felt that way about my manuscript.

Have you received the feedback from the Genesis yet? I haven't.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hey Robyn!

I'm glad the post started off your day with a chuckle. It's good to see you again.

Wow! I had a hard time with adverbs myself. I love adverbs, but have to admit the experts were right. They slow down the action, and my book needs to keep the pace brisk.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Karen -

LOL! I think I'd look pretty good in a fedora. Hopefully, I won't need a bullwhip for my Genesis entry. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Carla -

Thanks for the compliment. Unfortunately, I had the over confidence of a newbie. I wish I'd waited until my skills were more developed before submitting my fiction.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Cindy -

After someone's Ozzie & Harriet comment about my characters, I added conflict to the relationship. I also introduced it into my heroine's relationship with a family member.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Kristen -

Discouragement is a normal part of the writing life. The lyrics of a song just popped into my head:

"Pick myself up, brush myself off, and start all over again."

You may want to remind me of this comment after I get my Genesis results back. LOL!

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Quiet Spirit -

Actually, I can see you in that get up for your drama team. :)

Whenever I've gotten stuck, I've tried to follow some advice I read on blogs: get your character into trouble and ramp up the stakes. Since you write mysteries, how about someone getting shot at the graduation. (Most of them are deathly boring anyway.)

Blessings,
Susan

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jean -

Writing for kids is a lot like writing devotionals. You have to get to the point in a few words.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Everyone -

Yes, I'm back online and wading through hundreds of emails. I'll catch up with all of you ASAP. I've missed our conversations. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Faith Imagined said...

Susan, good luck with the contest!

I'm so confused about my manuscript that I have no idea what I'm doing....hopefully, God does ;-)

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Good for you!

It's eye opening the first time you realize all the things you did "wrong". When my story lost 10k, I almost panicked. But it's definitely better for it. And that's how we learn, right?

Jody Hedlund said...

What a great analogy, Susan! Sometimes slashing through our manuscripts is truly like fighting our way through a jungle. I'm finishing up my manuscript and I'll be heading into the revision jungle very soon!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Alisa -

Why don't you email me? Maybe I can brainstorm with you. My email is susanjreinhardt (at) gmail (dot) com.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Kristen -

Losing 10,000 words scared me, but I survived. I hope other writers will see it's not the end of the world. They can go on to finish their books.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jody -

I've been slashing through the second manuscript. Did you find going through your second was easier?

Blessings,
Susan :)

Sherrinda said...

GREAT Post, Susan! I love Indiana Jones!!!! And I can safely say I've got the passive "snakes" running around in my book! Me and those wimpy verbs....sigh!

Kathryn Lang said...

I love this post - and it inspired me to take a fresh look at my own novel.

I am excited to read about the adventures of Moses!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Sherrinda -

I think we all have problems with passive verbs. Bad habits take time to break.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Kathryn -

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

I wish I could get an agent interested in reading, "The Moses Conspiracy." It's futuristic suspense.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Becky Lange said...

Interesting! I've never tackled a manuscript - it sounds daunting. I'm very much a "leave me be while I'm working" person, so it's always painful for me to offer up my work for criticism. That is something I need to learn to take gracefully (and gratefully!). It looks like you used the critiques as step stools to raise you up instead of letting them weigh you down.

Sandra Heska King said...

Loved this! I need to check that movie.

I need to get enough words down to create a jungle to hack.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Becky -

I won't pretend it was painless - it wasn't! Walking away and allowing the initial sting to subside helps.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Sandra -

LOL! Even with 1,000 words, there's plenty of jungle to hack down. :)

Blessings,
Susan