Writing Mentors and Hard Lessons

You won't find this quotation in a book anywhere or on Goodreads. This was given to me personally by Canadian author, Richard Scrimger, while working with me on an earlier book of mine that went nowhere.


I had written a 140,000 word historical fiction novel and didn't know how to make it better. Richard suggested we start over. That stung. It was a constant battle between me with my complicated plot with multiple players and Richard trying to get me to answer simple questions like what does my main character want and what's at stake for him personally, and then countering my responses with "It has to be more than defeating the bad guys" and "why does that matter to him?"


I scrapped that 140k manuscript, starting over with Richard pestering me with questions I didn't have good answers to. I had a plot. I didn't have a story. I had lost my way in the politics and forgotten about the driving force of any story: character motivation and stakes. I had characters (way too many) doing things, bad things happening to them, schemes and intrigue, mystery and devices.


But I had no story. Even in that new book the outcome was flat. However, I learned the essentials of storytelling from Richard, which shaped my future trials and errors until I finally got something right with my current WIP. To Richard Scrimger, I am eternally grateful.


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