Maintaining Wind in Your Writing Sails

SailingI recently read Michael J. Sullivan’s book, The Emerald Storm, which is largely centered around a sailing voyage by his main characters, Hadrian Blackwater and Royce Melborn. I enjoyed the book which is part of Sullivan’s series, The Riyria Revelations. I’ll avoid summarizing the book but I wanted to discuss some of the aspects of the story and how these relate to writing a book.

Once the voyage is underway the ship makes swift progress due to a prevailing wind. However, the ship must round a point. But to make this maneuver the ship’s crew must allow the ship to be swept toward rocks while making a planned changed with the sails. After the tricky move is completed they sail into a head-wind which requires tacking. This means re-setting the sails at angles in order to make zig-zag headway into the wind. It’s slower and requires continual efforts from the crew. Sullivan’s technical sailing descriptions in the book are very detailed but used in such a way as to weave them into the events.

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I’m nearing the end of a major revision and realized writing has some similarities to sailing. I’ve found these sailing situations illustrative during my work on The Bow of Hart. With writing, sometimes you’ve got the wind and sometimes you’ve got to tack.

editing2Learning to tack your creative winds is important. It’s either that or do nothing. What are things you can do to tack as a writer? Can you stay productive against headwinds? I’ve had to learn a few things about deep POV and internalization which meant overhauling my manuscript. Then there were several additions and changes that I don’t want to reveal at the moment but which took a lot of time and effort. If you’re willing to make difficult, time-consuming changes and still make viable progress, then you’re tacking effectively. If it’s going nowhere then you need to try something else: look for different techniques, examine motivations, characterization, scenes that go nowhere and lack of emotion in the characters just to name a few.

There are times when there’s risk in the changes you make. Sometimes if feels like you and your book are headed into the rocks. I’ve found that if I keep working, even if it’s slow and arduous, the creative winds will shift in my favor. So keep writing, even into the headwinds and be willing to make difficult changes where necessary.

Book Cover Green Top & Bottom Cover - CopyHave you found you need to make difficult changes with your writing? Have you felt like you lost the wind in your sails trying to complete your book? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. I’d also love to connect with you over social media so check my Contact page for that information. See the News page for announcements and remember to sign-up to receive news and posts by email. I’ve added a new sign-up tab on my FaceBook page to simplify the process. New followers can download The Black Bag via free coupon today! Also, the cover of my book, The Bow of Destiny, was revealed recently so take a look.

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