Thursday, July 15, 2010

Coming Back Stronger by Drew Brees

I just read Coming Back Stronger by Drew Brees, quarterback of the New Orleans Saints. It might appear that I’m a bit biased since I am a die-hard Saints fan, but in reality, it makes me a tougher critic because I would be very disheartened by a lack-luster attempt at an autobiography.

By age thirteen, I proclaimed myself an atheist, then a few years later agnostic, but now, I’m back to atheism. I had always told my friends that if God is who they say, then he/she won’t mind as long as I live a good and moral life. If there is a God, he/she will tell me, ‘hell, you lived at a higher standard than those who chose to represent me.’

Drew Brees is very devoted to God and it is reinforced throughout the book and that is not an issue with me. It’s perfect for New Orleans as most of its residents were raised Catlick. Religion is an argument that you cannot win, but can only respect. What Brees triumphed over is an inspiration in itself, but there were certain parts of the book when he talked about New Orleans and the people and the detestation that I had to stop reading because of my tears.

It doesn’t take much for me to become emotional about my home town and what they went through (I live in Chicago now, but I was involved in my family’s plight) and I have the same appreciation for the team that the current locals do. I teared up when they got into the Superbowl and when they won it.

Brees maps out his rocky road to success with all the speed bumps along the way. I loved the details of his draft and his injuries and his dealings with Miami. He was an underdog and fought through where many would have given up. This book has just enough football, mixed with a perfect portion of inspiration and he gives a lot of credit to his faith and God. Like I said, I don’t mind that. He says God, I say good.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Creative Process

A lot of people have asked me how I find the ideas for my novels and the process that gets me to a full length book. It has to be different for every writer, but in my case, I take several factors into account.

First, know what you like and what excites you, because if you lose interest half way through, you're done. I like to think of an overall concept or the big picture and if I think it is interesting, then I break it down into an idea - a specific idea. Then, I need a beginning, middle and climax.

If I can get that far, then a main character has to be developed. Who is this going to happen to. He or she has to be likable and has to have flaws. They need a personal life and they need conflict. If a reader doesn't care about your character then they don't care what happens to them. I make a list, create some names and make some general points of personality and looks.

Create the outline. Like I said, you need the start, middle and end. From there, I interject moments, situations and plot specific points that need to happen to reach the conclusion. This is the hard part because you don't want any boring, non-related paragraphs that the reader will want to skim over. It might be fine to do for a fully developed story at first, but I tend to weed them out in the final editing.

Plus, the outline is usually trash half way into the book. Things change. My characters start making decisions for themselves and I can't help it. Once your characters are developed, they will write themselves and then your story will start taking a tangent, but its very important that if you slice, you curve back to the main thread of your story.

If you find you have a rough draft of your novel at the ready. Try this, go into the first few chapters and find a spot where you can start the novel and cut out the original beginning. Most times, my introductory beginnings can be assimilated into the following chapters and if I find a place where intrigue or action starts, then that's where you want to be in chapter one, line one.

Finally, edit - edit - edit. Every few months, go back and read it as if you had bought the book and edit. And finally, this was very unexpected; with every one of my novels, I've found that X-factor idea, that glue or uniting concept that had been missing long after I thought the book was finished. It's like a light goes on and then after incorporating that, I feel I've finally finished.