While I haven’t posted in some time, I do have a treat for you. I am a mentor in two RWA programs. Willy happens to be in the Edits program, which means he has completed a manuscript and is looking to polish it. So, I’ve invited the members of both groups to create a post, and Willy has written the perfect one❣️ You’re welcome kathy l wheeler

Take it away, Willy.

Cupcakes ~ Willy Mills

I got the best advice of my life while eating a cupcake. In a few weeks, I would be a first-time parent. The entire office was eating cupcakes to celebrate a co-worker becoming a father to his sixth child. Someone suggested he must now be an expert on child rearing. The man raised his cupcake as if making a toast. “I know one thing with absolute certainty. They are all different, all unique. We’ll be starting from scratch again.” I took his advice to heart and treasured every piece of parenting advice, solicited and otherwise, given by parents, siblings, books, and neighborhood snoops. But I only did what made sense for me and my child.

That new book you are writing — that’s your baby. Get all the advice you can. Read those how-to books and websites. Watch the videos and sign up for seminars and conferences. Then do what works for you and your book.

What works for me is to write that opening scene with so much intrigue that the reader is compelled to read the whole book. Then I remember that I’m the author and the rest of the book needs writing. Next, because I am impulsive and impatient, I write that closing scene, which is identical to the opening scene. Except, for the characters, everything has changed. They understand themselves and the world in a way they never did before, and that has brought them happiness.

Then I work out that glorious middle between those two scenes — the middle that starts out onerous and awful, but slowly grows with beats and character arcs. Then opening scenes disappear because there is a better place to start. But those deleted scenes dribble back in as careful back story, just enough to please the reader.

The first draft of my current novel was awful. But I printed it out and gave the one and only copy, in large print, to my mother, who was in hospice. She claimed she liked it, but I suspect she made the same claim about my kindergarten artwork.

Even with the scenes all there, the writing was still wrong. By the time the clarity in my head hit the page and then bounced through the poor reader’s eyes, it was a mushy muddle. The wrong person was speaking because I screwed up the dialogue tags. Once I fixed that, the speakers were not believable, or not worth listening to. So, I headed back to those how-to books, and the beta-readers, and a growing fleet of helpful advisors.

Writing novels is like raising children. It is a wonderful adventure that bears little resemblance to the brochure you read before you signed up for that particular voyage. It is nothing like expectations, but still wonderful. So get busy. Learn all you can. Then grind it out until you are certain your book will please the reader. Because if you don’t please the reader, they will set down your book and go search for a better cupcake.

About Willy: Fifty years ago, when the high-school scheduling demons forced Willy Mills to choose between calculus and creative writing. He chose calculus and a patent-filled career writing software. He is now exploring the other option by writing humorous novels and taking creative writing workshops from Romance Writers of America. Besides wrecking boats, cars, and marriages, his top lifetime achievement was the moment a puberty pummeled teen declared: “Dad, I’m mad at you. Stop making melaugh.”