Does anyone else have on their reference shelf a useful how-to book, published in 1986, titled Writing the Modern Mystery, by Barbara Norville? I’m not even sure where I found mine, but the other day I was flipping through it and found an interesting discussion I thought I’d share.
Vicki Doudera here, coming to you after yet another Maine snowstorm, with a post based on a section of this book in which Ms. Norville talks about three different types of writers.
The first, she says, will want feedback as they are writing, and will seek out a targeted audience of family and friends who will most likely be pretty gentle with any criticism.
The second approach to writing involves what she calls a lot of “Dutch-Uncling.”
Is this right?No, it doesn’t sound right. How about this?
She says that as this type of scribe is testing her ideas, she is doing “as much worrying as writing,” as well as building a self-image as a writer.
The third kind of writer, according to Barbara Norville, prefers to bear the “entire weight and responsibility of ego and output.” A “type three” writer will wait until a manuscript is finished and ready to show the world.
I’ve fit into this latter category for books one through four of the Darby Farr Mystery Series. Despite my husband’s kind offers to read my drafts at various points, I would always demur until I felt I had some kind of polished whole. I would wait until I typed THE END, not just on the first draft, but on the third or fourth, before giving it to him to read.
The interesting thing is that Book 5 of the series requires a different method.
I’ve never done this, but I decided to give Ed the first 150 pages of the manuscrpt. I gave him 150 pages because that’s what I had finished at the time. Being behind in my writing, I thought that perhaps some feedback would be helpful and motivating. I asked him not to read with his trusty red pen, but simply to read.
I knew this could backfire. My husband is an attorney, trained to read so carefully that it’s scary. But he understood his task and agreed to help me out.
If you work at this business of stringing words into stories, what kind of a writer are you? Do you enjoy feedback as you go along? Do you worry as you write? Or are you someone who prefers to show the world a finished whole?
If you’re someone who reads for a writer, follow my husband’s example and know when that red pen should stay safely in the drawer. Sometimes we need a little encouragement to get those next 150 pages under our belts.