Step Two – Following the Right Wizard

Part of a series of blog posts that chart my progress from couch potato to published author. See Perspiring Authors page for a sequential list. 

I’m a huge fan of Jim Butcher and I’m going to say it flat out–I love his character Harry Dresden. Who wouldn’t?  Harry’s a wizard. He’s smart, sarcastic and noble. Add it up, and he’s damn near irresistible.

Take C.S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower, strip him of his uniform, and you have the same sort of mythic hero. All right, I can agree it’s a stretch. Horatio Hornblower is a laconic, naval officer during the Napoleonic Wars. Harry’s a quip-tossing wizard from Chicago. But they’re the same type of man. They doubt themselves, constantly. Despite that, they’re the type of guy you’d pray to have beside you when the world is falling down around you. Brave. Capable of seizing the moment. Stoic. Unflinching. Rule breakers who don’t knuckle their eyes and go boo-hoo when it comes time to pay the price for their transgressions.

Both characters had something else similar – they were created by talented authors who made you believe. Different writing styles, different genre, but the same magic. With C.S. Forester, it’s the sound of sails snapping to the wind. With Jim Butcher, it’s the scent of sulphur; it’s the perfect detail that shuts down your disbelief.

Yes, I’ve gone off on a Jim Butcher tangent, but there’s a reason.

I was licking my wounds. How was I going to drive the Leigh-bus to publishing success if I blew my tire at 10K?  I still wanted to write a book, even if my storyline resembled a tribble. What I needed was someone to break the writing process down for me — preferably someone with whom I felt a deeper connection than an anonymous how-to book writer.

Yup, enter Jim Butcher.

I’d finished the latest Harry Dresden book, and was on his site, trying to find out how much longer I had to hold out before his next book was published. And lo and behold (yes, it felt faintly prophetic), I noticed a link to Jim Butcher’s old blog, wherein he laid out his thoughts on story craft. I printed out the whole damn lot, took scissors to it so that I could put it in reading order, and inhaled. A plan, I thought with an evil grin. A route. I hit the dining table with paper and pens and tape and tea and cookies. I made notes and I thought myself well equipped.

I started again. A new setting. Another type of world. Same character.

This time I got as far as 20K before my words spluttered out like the last bit of oil in a hurricane lantern. My brain didn’t even bothered admonishing me. It just patted me on the shoulder, told me not to stay up too late, and waddled off to its bed.

I’ll always be grateful to Jim Butcher, who showed me that his way of getting from the first word to the last one. He kept me from shutting down after my first defeat. I’m glad he posted those thoughts. I tried to use them, but discovered his way was not my way.

Lesson for this one?

There is no perfect way to write a book.

You have to find the things that work for you.

Now, because you’ve been so darn patient and read all the way to the end, here’s the link: http://jimbutcher.livejournal.com/

 

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