My ezine comes out this week, so the final lesson of THE POWER OF QUESTIONS workshop will be available. But reading over that workshop, while practicing JOURNEY STEPS (to be given live at the NJRWA chapter conference October 22), I'm struck again by how much analysis helps our work.
Still, lots of people don't know how to "analyze" their own story as they are writing it, or even when they give it a read-through for revision purposes.
Tony Robbins, the 30 Days to Personal Power guy, says the way to analyze is to ask questions.
So the best question to ask yourself as you're reading your book is Does this make sense?
Does the story make sense? The chapter? The scene? The paragraph? The sentence?
If you're reading and you experience what I call a "hiccup" or the sense that you're jarred out of your story...go back. Ask yourself, What threw me out of the story? Did something not make sense in terms of the story? Or is it just that this scene is off somehow? Or did I simply read a bad sentence?
Lots of times when we get jarred out of the story we think that there's something horrible wrong and there might be. But most of the time it's a matter of changing or fixing a sentence. Or checking a fact that might be incorrect.
Good writers know how to ask themselves strong questions but they also know how to answer them honestly. Don't tell yourself the sentence was just off...when in fact there's a looming story problem. At the same time, you don't want to panic and say, "Oh, my God! The whole book sucks," just because you have a scene that's not working.
Take a breath. Be honest. Analyze...don't criticize. And there is a difference!
But most of all, don't say, "Oh, it's good enough." Because we all know, in this tight market, with so many wonderful writers out there...Good enough isn't good enough.
Make that your motto!