I have friends who take the whole New Year resolution, fresh page thing seriously. They view the new year as the first fresh page of a new narrative. I like this notion, but I have to confess, I rarely follow through. This year, feeling inspired because someone actually asked me about my writing goals, I decided to put some thought into the question.
When I think about goals for this year I divide my writing goals into two kinds…writing and publishing. No matter what happens with publication, I want to become a better writer. So, I set specific writing goals for myself that come from critique group comments, reviews and reading books I love. For example, I want to get better at writing action scenes. They’re hard for me. I realize that in a movie, a fast paced action scene is often where I tune out. That tells me something. I need to pay attention to writers who do them well. No matter how much I long to get back to character and atmosphere, things I love to read and write, I need to linger in the action. So, I’m spending time with Elmore Leonard and read his 10 Rules of Writing.
That’s where I met the word hooptedoodle. Leonard got the word from Steinbeck who says Hooptedoodle should not get “mixed up with the story.” What is hooptedoodle, you ask? Steinbeck says, “Spin up some pretty words maybe or sing a little song with language.” Anything fancy that takes the reader away from the dialog and action of the story. And I realize I’m a sucker for good hooptedoodle, but maybe there’s a time and place for it.
Publishing goals are different. I see them as much more sequential than writing goals. We’ll each have our own list depending on where we are on the journey. I like to think of them as the next step. What is the next thing I should do to move my career forward? Maybe it is to research agents or to get a chapter to my critique group. Mine for this year are to finish edits on my two contracted novels, Beyond the Door and Time Out of Time and make them the best books possible. This isn’t always easy because the book that compels me is always the one I’m writing now. I’m currently near the end of a futuristic SciFi noir set in Seattle with the working title of Andrew and Emmaline. I need to go back through the action scenes with a critical eye for hooptedoodle. No commenting on the weather, no matter how interesting the sky looks, during a mob scene.
Here’s a goal for all of us to consider. What’s one thing I can do to encourage another writer and help move her towards her goals? Happy New Writing year!