Since my last post, I have been busy with editing the first 100 pages. Those chapters take place in Dublin, Ireland and two of my writer friends in Ireland offered to read the chapters. I got one back from Mick Helpin by email with suggestions and then yellowed shaded areas that he questioned and/or had suggestions for.
Paul T. Lynch and I Skyped for two days and he went chapter-by-chapter with suggestions and corrections.
While I’ve been to Ireland a few times, and been lucky enough to meet and become friends with many writers there, I am in no way an expert on Dublin. I know what I see. Last June/July there was a lot of construction as workers laid trolley tracks on many of the streets, including O’Connell Street in the City Center.
When my friends offered to read the Dublin chapters, I jumped at the chance. I visited and did research on Dublin, with Google maps, etc. As a writer, even a writer of fiction, it is important to get real destinations correct. No quicker way to turn-off a reader than show him/her that you don’t know what you’re writing about. That’s one of the reasons I stay as true as possible to the businesses and people of Key West.
One of my rewards is receiving emails from readers mentioning they know the bar and where there just last month! Or that’s where they celebrated their anniversary. It’s a lot better getting those emails than one saying ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about!’
Mick Helpin gave me some suggestions about changing the opening. I liked them, but the opening is done and to change it would mean major re-writing. I like the opening, so I will stick with it.
One of the reasons I don’t usually read my own books after publication is that I find places I realize I could’ve done differently. Maybe better or added a clue.
I think we can, as writers, look at others’ work and think of how we’d do it differently. Human nature, I guess. What we have to do is send in the best copy we are capable of at the time and go on to the next project.
My last book is always my best, or so it should be. I learn from each book I write and from books I read. The day I stop learning is the day I stop writing and that day I’d better be dead!
With Mick and Paul Lynch I hit the jackpot. Both are familiar with Dublin, its character as a city and its language. Most big cities have a language of its own, be it Dublin or Boston, or NYC, or L.A. . . .
With their help I am able to get the Irish character speaking properly even when slang is involved. Harp beer, a big seller at Irish pubs in the States, isn’t sold in pubs in Dublin. A real error on my part, if my friends hadn’t pointed it out. You can find it in pubs to the North.
My point is, if a writer can find people who will read his/her works with a critical eye and offer an honest evaluation, grab that opportunity. It’s golden!
When I finish the book, I will go back to the first section and work on the corrections and suggestions my friends gave. If I tried to do it now, I just be putting off the job of finishing the book. That’s why it’s called re-writing!