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“Every story choice you make arises out of who you are, at the deepest level of your soul… (It) reveals more about you, in fact, than you know about yourself… The moment you use a technique that doesn’t belong in your story, solely for the sake of appealing to some imagined reader… your story dies a little…” from Characters and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card.

With the Borders in my hometown closing I set out to use the sales to enhance my library of books in my field. I picked up Characters and Viewpoint not just because of the tone that was easy to follow or because the content was relevant, but also because Card recognizes early on that the book is not a formula for a cake or a checklist for perfection, but construction tools to dig out of the author the important traits. Too often, works on literature try to coddle the author with familiar do’s and don’t’s. This doesn’t work for creative authors!

When I teach in the classroom, I do NOT give students a lecture on how to follow in my footsteps or write the perfect novel. Instead, I teach them how to put emotion into their stories, how to turn a boring article into something they care about, and the like. This is a much more effective manner in the long run. Basics are for English class, not for the professional writer.

I am two chapters into Card’s book and I have already found it extremely helpful. I took the above quote to Writers’ Guild’s third meeting tonight to get their take on it. Unanimously and fervently they agreed that writing does come from your soul and you cannot cater to readers until you love the project yourself.

Writers’ Guild was held tonight at Paddy Murphy’s in downtown Bangor. We arrived at 6 and did not leave until the place closed at 9:30. Our largest group yet attended: 5 people. We talked for a long time about literature and passed around stories. Then we fell naturally into talking politics, movies, theology, life, college, family, memories… Our guild has a unique texture, one changing as the members grow. I look forward to seeing where it goes!

And for my avid fans: check out the new www.issym.com where you can now ‘like’ Issym and comment at the ‘about the books’ page!

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