By Martha Rogers
Since I began writing from Deep POV, my writing has become tighter and much more efficient with much less telling and more showing. This proved once again that I’m never too old to learn more effective techniques for my writing. I refuse to be bound by “I’ve always done it that way” because a closed mind to learning is a mind closed to opportunity to grow and become better.
True, not all things I learn are a real benefit, but that’s where I have learned to discern what fits me and what doesn’t.
As writers, we must know our own voices, set our standards, and then be willing to listen to those who have more experience. Even for the experienced writer, workshops can provide new insight and depth as we listen and then examine our own writing. If there’s any part of writing giving me a struggle, I look for workshops on that topic to help me improve.
I taught freshman composition classes at the college level and the attitude of the students amazed me. They came into class believing they’d learned all they needed to know about writing essays. So many times their first graded essay startled them into the reality of college although most protested the lower grades. However, too few of them had an actual grasp of the usage and mechanics of our language. Those who listened and paid attention to comments on their papers ended up with greatly improved writing and better grades by the end of the semester.
That’s the way we should be. That doesn’t mean that every comment from an editor or critique partner needs to be implemented into our manuscripts. However, they can give us suggestions or new insight into what we need to do to make our characters come alive and our plots grab the reader.
Our goal is to make our writing the best it can be, and the way to do that is to be open to suggestions, comments, critiques, and advice. Yes, the manuscript is your baby, but you want the best for your “baby.” Listening and learning will bring about that best.
Now, I could sit back on my near 80 years and say I’ve heard it all, but every manuscript I get back from my editor tells me I have more yet to learn. Her suggestions have always made my stories stronger.
Another lesson I learned came in reading the galley proofs. Since I wrote the book, I knew the story and didn’t read the galley as closely as I should. Some of the errors I found in the final printed version embarrassed me. Although they were few, they were enough to make me look very careless. Since then, each page is read slowly out loud and occasionally backwards.
This past spring and summer, I published three contemporary novels through an independent publisher. That experience taught me another good lesson about editing. Those books had gone through extensive revisions and changes, but they hadn’t been to an editor who would read it with fresh eyes. Needless to say, when the books were published, I found errors that had been completely missed. At least they could be corrected electronically, but they shouldn’t have happened in the first place.
Whatever we write should always be our best as a gift to the Lord who gave us the talent and desire to begin with. Becoming great writers begins with having an open mind to learning all we can from those who have ideas and techniques to share.
Martha Rogers is a free-lance writer and writes a weekly devotional for ACFW. Martha and her husband Rex live in Houston where they enjoy spending time with their grandchildren. A former English and Home Economics teacher, Martha loves to cook and experimenting with recipes and loves scrapbooking when she has time. She has written three series, Winds Across the Prairie and Seasons of the Heart and The Homeward Journey. Her new contemporary series, Love in the Bayou City of Houston and novella, Christmas Blessing are now available on Amazon. Find Martha at: www.marthawrogers.com