Dig Don't Pile by Marie Dry

This week we have author Marie Dry talking about how to dig deep in your characters motivations.

Please welcome Marie dry. She also has a new release, Alien Betrayed. 



Website       Facebook          Twitter



DIG DON’T PILE

The best craft advice I ever received was from Liz Pelletier during an online editing course and from Debra Dixon through her book Goal Motivation and Conflict.

A few years ago I was unpublished and very excited to take an online editing course with Liz Pelletier from Entangled Publishing. I was sure I was about to wow her with my brilliance. Needless to say the stage of writing I was at then I maybe managed to horrify her but I definitely did not wow her with my brilliance.

At the time I worked on a manuscript which happened to be Alien Mine and it was still called Alien on my mountain. I had a lot of aliens in the cave with my heroine with the idea that I’ll have four more prominent in the first story and when I’ve written their stories I had a lot more to write about. 

Liz told me to get rid of all of them except three and that three was including the hero. I was not impressed. I needed those aliens. I quickly invented a space ship and put them on there but didn’t ever show her the scenes with the space ship in it. I also kept four aliens in a brave act of defiance.

The plot was rather convoluted at that time and she told me when something is wrong with a story to look at the structure and the character instead of piling more adventure and happenings onto the story as I was doing. Needless to say I tried very hard to learn from her and apply what she taught, but I only had a vague understanding of what she meant. I simply needed more experience with butt in seat writing. Liz also cut a lot of unnecessary scenes out of the story and I mourned each one of my brilliant scenes. Only another writer just starting out can understand how hard it is in the beginning to cut scenes and chapters out of your manuscript. Today I want to say to her thank you so much for doing the pruning when I didn’t have the knowledge and heart to do it myself. Without her guidance I would never have sold more than 7000 copies of Alien Mine. Every time I wrote a new manuscript I kept in mind what she told me and applied it until little by little it started to make sense and it became natural to do.

Shortly after doing that online editing course with Liz, I bought Debra Dixon’s Goal Motivation and Conflict. I really think every author should have a copy on their shelves. In it she says when you have problems with your characters dig don’t pile. It sounded like good advice but I again struggled to really dig into my character. Since then I learned about the inciting incident, the fatal flaw and the special skill characters should have and now whenever I get stuck with a story I tell myself dig don’t pile. And it works like a charm.

Something funny happened after Alien Mine was published. Someone asked me how many more books there would be and not knowing if the publisher wants more I said very cautiously probably three and she came back to me and said she know there’s a lot of aliens on that space ship orbiting the earth and she wanted more stories. Music to an authors ears!

The other person who made a big impact on my writing is my CP Cassandra L. Shaw. She pointed me toward savvy authors and Margie Lawson’s courses and gave the kind of feedback on my manuscripts many authors pay loads of dollars for.

In honour of Cassandra being the best CP anyone can wish for I am giving away two copies of her book Twin Flames.

Alien Betrayed

In a bleak and apocalyptic future, where the Zyrgin Warriors are getting ready to conquer Earth, Marcie is sent to infiltrate the alien stronghold in the Rocky Mountains, only to be betrayed by her own people. Instead of stealing the alien’s technology and accomplishing her mission of causing mayhem and destruction among them, she is captured by Larz, an arrogant alien, who wreaks havoc with her heart when he insists that she will be his woman. Still, he may no longer want her when he discovers her secrets…ones she doesn’t even know she has.



Buy Links:




21 comments:

  1. Thank you for hosting me on the Revising and Editing Blog.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's great to hear more about Marie's journey. Wishing her much success! Happy weekend!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I understand Liz's advice, but I'd never heard of the fatal flaw/special skill dichotomy. Luckily, I put those in my most recent book. I'll have to make sure they get into my next ones, too. I love the way you explained about your trials and improvements. 7000 books? Go you!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lexa, I only learned about the skill/ flaw in a course with Lori Wilde. That special skill can really make a differrnce to the story.

      Delete
  4. I had a similar experience with my second book. The publisher insisted that I take out a major thread because it detracted from the "real" story. Huh? I was devastated because it meant shredding the story, unthreading a main story line and rebuilding. But the publisher was so right. Now, I understand. Then I didn't. Thanks for the great post today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Big pleasure cleemckenzie. Dis you also find that once you started cutting whatever isn't needed the writing is going much better. I used to cling to each precious word, but now I ruthlessly cut anything not moving the story forward or showing the characters.

      Delete
  5. I hate cutting scenes as well, especially after spending so much time getting them just right. Those statistics on books sold is impressive.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Tamara, with every book cutting scenes is getting easier. I just wish I could get to the stage where I write a rough draft that I don't end up basically rewriting.

      Delete
  6. Lots of great advice here! Cutting scenes is one of the hardest things to do. Congrats to Marie on her new release!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks lorilmaclaughlin.com, I couldn't wait to have at least three books out. It feels like I reach a milestone.

      Delete
  7. I love the title Alien Betrayed. And it was smart of you to put those other aliens on a spaceship. Now you can write about them later. :)

    When I edit for clients, I do point out unnecessary scenes that need to be cut. I'm a writer, so I know it's not a fun thing to have to do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Chrys, I worried about starting each book with Alien and running out of titles but I've got the next titles already. Somehow they just fall into place.

      Delete
  8. That's pretty awesome, it's really good that you learned how to let go of some characters... that can't have been easy.. xox

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Launna, chapters and scenes yes. But I couldn't let go of characters. Luckily I had the spaceship to park them on.

      Delete
  9. Great advice. I used to pile things on in my early writing days. I have no problem cutting things today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Medeia, when I had the course with Liz Pelletier I knew she was giving me good advice but I had trouble applying it. The same thing with the first time I read Debra Dixons Goal Motivation and Conflict. I knew I was reading excellent advice but what I thought was digging into the characters was merely scratching the surface. About two years later I worked through her book again and it suddenly clicked and I knew how to apply what I was reading.

      Delete
  10. Sometimes it's tough to let go of scenes. But you have to do what you have to do for the greater good. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sherry, it took me a long time to get to that stage. But I can see the difference in my work now that I cut everything that doesn't drive the story forward or illustrate the characters.

      Delete
  11. Sweet! It's true. When I get stuck on a story, I know it's because one of the fundamental aspects is off--either in character or arc. That fear of chopping is one we all face, but one we have to get over. In fact, I was editing yesterday, finished a chapter and stopped. What had happened in that chapter that furthered the plot? Nothing. What had happened that deepened the characters? Nothing that didn't happen in other chapters. Goodbye chapter. Do you know how liberating it was to be able to hit delete and not even flinch? (I'm betting you do.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Crystal, it's the best feeling in the world. It's as if you've arrived at a certain place in your career as a writer. Also I now recognise when I'm writing and something is off. If I go back to where the writing became forced I always find its not my character speaking anymore but me.

      Delete

Join the discussion. What do you think?