I've been soaking up the information on how to deconstruct a novel on the Jenny Crusie Forums. I wanted to figure out how a favorite author wrote a story, made it work for me so that I was completely engaged, and answer why I stayed up until 2 a.m. to finish it.
There are many books I read and either don't get, or wonder how they got published in the first place. I've had my fair share of "how to write lessons," whether these came from books, classes, conferences, critique groups, forums, online classes, it doesn't matter, if I can't see the big picture, I just don't get it. Oh, I'm good at seeing other authors slip-ups, just not my own. That darn ego, it can get you into a lot of trouble. *grin*
By deconstructing and looking for the turning points, the spine that holds the book together, the symbolism, the internal and external conflict that drives the story, I'm finally seeing that big picture. It's not enough to just sit down and write a story. Maybe I'll always be a storyteller and engage my audience if sitting around a campfire, but to get it onto the page and make it work, now that's tough. This is the closest I've come to understanding how books work and when and why they don't work, at least for me. You can tell a story with emotion and feeling, you can smile, or scowl, and throw your arms around, you can sit tall, hunch over, lower your voice, scream, rage, simper sweetly, BUT, when you write it you have to show that emotion and feeling on the page through words alone. Big task.
With recent rejections still stinging, I've taken a long hard look at my past two manuscripts and can now see ways they can be improved. I've begun the first deconstruction and if I don't deconstruct myself, *grin* I'll do the second one also. The first one is shaping up beautifully and I'm very pleased with it.