Go Set A Watchman

Jul 16, 2015 by

At 12:30 p.m. last night, I finished reading Harper Lee‘s Go Set A Watchman. It’s 277 pages and I bought the book Tuesday morning at 9:15 a.m.

There was a period of time Tuesday when I thought about how I wanted to Go Set It Aside, but the story compelled me to keep going.

At one point Tuesday I thought it should have been titled, “Besmirching the character of a character.”

But I endeavored on.

Editing

HarperCollins, the publishing company, did a poor job of editing this book. There is just no other way to put it. From misspelling Judgment Day by adding an extra letter E on Page 65, to the absolutely ridiculous changes from first to second to third person interchangeably, worst on Page 120, to beginning the second paragraph on Page 170 with a lower-cased letter L, I do not for the life of my understand how these things would have made it past a half-dozen red pens at the publishing house. Italics would have been nice when we jumped into Scout’s head in first person from the previous sentence being in third. Or in second (think of listening to the world’s worst quarterback Tony Romo trying to talk sense … you, you, when you…) GSAW Pic

A friend of mine says there’s no way Harper Lee would have penned the sentence atop Page 24 where Scout is studying her beau Henry and says to herself, “I never tire of watching him move, she thought.” No, said my friend, “That’s a line out of Thelma and Louise, but the only way to know if Harper Lee wrote that would be to go visit her in the nursing home and ask. It’s clear she wasn’t involved in editing this book.”

Which leads me to the theory that that is what happened. Harper Lee wasn’t involved in editing this book. Maybe I’ve just not dug deep enough online, but it appears  they took this unfinished work of Harper Lee’s and published it like an archaeologist would leave a find in situ–undisturbed, as they found it….

One of my most valued writing mentors told me she was going to pass on Go Set A Watchman and not read it in order to not damage her perspective of Atticus Finch and “Keep my childhood intact.”

Another writing colleague has said she will juxtapose Go Set A Watchman with To Kill A Mockingbird and use them as examples of GREAT writing and not as much.

Worth Reading

Go Set A Watchman is worth reading. In many ways the scenario penned in this story is still being dealt with today and applied to more issues than just relations between white and black foke. Maybe that’s what some of the foke who are reading it are getting upset about. It’s been a bitter summer in 2015 for many across the land and in many of the same ways, the liberal Yankee media they complain about in the book and the Supreme Court still don’t have a clue as to the mindset of most Southerners and probably never will. What happens because of that eventually is going to get far uglier than what we have seen already. For every action there’s a reaction and the pressure cooker’s steam seems to be rising.

A Writer’s Declaration

After reading Go Set A Watchman, I now declare that if after I have died or have been struck down by a debilitating stroke and my daughters, loved one, or my agent or someone else goes through my drawers of umpteen notecards, notebooks of drafted manuscripts yet unpublished, or finds files on my computers they think the world should be privy to, they CANNOT release them unless they have been well-edited. And by that I mean no style errors, no head-hopping, no changing tenses on one page without logical breaks in between. No, nothing that would make people be as frustrated as I was Tuesday afternoon trying to figure out what in the Hell Harper Lee was trying to share with us in her book. Got it?

 

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Writing A Novel – Learning From Mistakes

May 2, 2014 by

Writing A Novel – Learning From Mistakes

Airplane Sunrise

Airplane Sunrise (Photo credit: ClaxtonCreative)

The most powerful lessons we learn in life are from our own mistakes. Sometimes they’re silly mistakes. Sometimes they’re gross miscalculations. Sometimes we gambled too much and lost.

Over the past two weeks we’ve been going through a series of daily exercises designed as a self-study, even for someone who may not ever write a novel, short story or screenplay.

The gist of the exercise is simple. Take out a stack of blank 3 x5 notecards, title, number and date them, and then add a list of items associated with the exercise.

EXERCISE:

So here’s today’s challenge. Make a list of what you have learned from the mistakes you have made in your life. Maybe this just needs to be one lesson per card.  It’s up to you and as always, there are no wrong or right answers and you don’t have to share them with anyone else but yourself.  But the premise here is that when you go to writing and creating your characters, you’re going to want to create an arc for them over the length of the story.  That means they start at one point and hopefully, after crossing a couple bridges from which there is no return, they end up at a different point in their lives. Usually in storytelling that means they go from a negative aspect in their lives to a positive one.  They go from being a lazy drunkard to an energetic community leader hero and find redemption, etc.  Over simplifications, but I hope you get the point.

Well to write about those things, wouldn’t it be easier to have something of a list in hand BEFORE you really get going down the path so you have a better idea where you’re going?  And what better a thing to weave in some realness into your characters by dealing with things that you have truly experienced or seen in the lives of others?

Thinking about writing a novel? Now do you understand why this is so important for a writer?

Now thing about how important it still might be to someone who may never write a thing in their life, but instead used this one blog post to make an important life change….

 

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Writing a Novel – What Do I Dislike?

Apr 28, 2014 by

Writing a Novel – What Do I Dislike? 

An essential part of a good story is being able to add conflict into the lives of your characters. I’m finding that’s much easier to come up with based on this series of exercises about ME.

Now as I have been saying, these exercises could be helpful to people writing books and all, but as importantly, they might also can be helpful and beneficial to someone who just wants to learn a little more about themselves.

Last week we began this series and did some exercises. Saturday’s was to get a stack of 3 x 5 notecards and write about things you like.

To do the exercise, just fill out the top of a card with a heading, in the case of today’s exercise–Things I Dislike–and then number the card in the top right corner. I also like to add the date somewhere so that two or three years from now when I come back to these, I’ll have a better frame of reference as to what was going through my head now versus then. When you fill up a card, start a second, third … as many as it takes.

Remember, there are no right or wrong answers.

And if you’re doing these exercises for the benefit of your future characters, think about situations they might need to get in where they have to face these aspects. If you’re writing about something you don’t like, chances are your characters won’t either, but more importantly, chances are your READERS won’t like them either, and then you have the opportunity to either have your character address the issue or run from it, both good story lines….

Okay, so here’s today’s exercise. Later in the day there’ll be a post about Netflix’ House of Cards and the characters in that series….

EXERCISE

What do I dislike?

Collaborative writing exercises—such as the cl...

Collaborative writing exercises—such as the clustering shown here—can be used for development of ideas. Colored tabs of paper—attached to the large page—are used in a collaborative voting exercise to gain consensus. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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Writing A Novel: A self-study?

Apr 22, 2014 by

Writing A Novel: A self-study?  Over on DaddyClaxton.com today we’re writing about an unexpected benefit of writing a novel–doing an in-depth personal self-study of oneself in order to be able to write a novel. Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 7.16.57 AM The logic makes perfect sense. If one is going to get into the minds of multiple fictional characters, there are many things that seemingly would need to be straight within the mind of the originating author as well, right? So today, and for several days to come actually, we’re posing a series of questions that we believe all authors, and even those not wanting to write, should ponder and do so seriously. Did you know that almost 95 percent of the population will never do such an exercise? In our mind, we’d rather be in the five percent who does. Life will seemingly make a little more sense. We hope. We encourage you to jump over to DaddyClaxton.com and read the set up and then do today’s exercise and the ones to follow in the days to come.  We think you’ll be glad you did.

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Writing a Novel: The project has initiated on DaddyClaxton.com

Apr 21, 2014 by

Writing a Novel: The project has initiated on DaddyClaxton.com

Today on my companion website, DaddyClaxton.com, I’ve begun with announcement. I’ve been working several months now to begin the process of writing a novel. Actually, it really began sometime last year when I began with a print copy of Robert McKee’s book, Story, and spending untold hours with it and an ink pen making active notes throughout the work.

That has spring boarded from a desire as a publisher of online books to an itch to become an author as well. The Beginning Of Writing A Novel

And an even better discovery has happened along the way. I’ve found that in order to be a good novel writer/play write/novella writers, etc. one has to be in very good touch with himself. That has led to a massive self-study effort that you will find reflected in the posts that are to come on DaddyClaxton.com and here on ClaxtonCreative.com.

This is by no means meant to be a week or two-week series. It’s already survived longer than that pre-announcement.

I encourage you to bookmark this site and check back often for new information. Check out DaddyClaxton.com, too.

My friend, mentor and digital book colleague Ron Rose has cautioned me about the enormity of the effort I’ve begun.  I’ve responded in saying that I get it, but in all likelihood, I can’t possibly “get it” until I have completely weathered the task.

If you have tips and ideas along the way, I encourage you to share them.  I don’t believe for a second I will have all right answers and suggestions from those of you at various places in the process will be most helpful.

So here we go. Onward…..

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