I made it to Chapter 7 in Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings.
When I first started reading the book back in the fall of 2014, I only got to chapter 2. I was doing the short story thing and decided that novels lingered and that I didn’t want to finish reading it. Now that I’m trying the novel thing again, I didn’t start the book over. I just kept reading right where my Kindle said I’d left off. I was surprised at how much of the novel I remembered. What I learned from this experience was that, for me, it’s okay to stop and start again. I’ll just try not to wait two years before going back to it again.
I’m liking the book. The setting is what I expected, but different enough to keep me sight seeing. The apocalyptic storm thing is interesting. The characters are good. The names are annoying. All of that being said, there are some places that I’d scratch out if it was given to me to read for a workshop.
Here’s the thing about me and workshops; people who let me workshop their stories don’t like me after I give back their story. I’m used to workshopping short stories. Short stories don’t linger. No wasted space.
I write and work a certain way when it comes to my own short stories. I scratch stuff out. I scratch out word by word everything that I don’t like or that I’ve decided doesn’t work. If something is not working for me, I scratch it out. If I catch the words telling me something I could have gathered without those words, I scratch them out. If it’s lingering too much, I scratch it out. If I just want to see what a wonderful paragraph would be like with some stuff scratched out of it, I scratch it out.
If I like something, I don’t scratch it out. I do the same thing when I’m workshopping someone else’s story.
I’ve tried workshopping stories without scratching things out. When I do that, my feedback is just kind of shitty. Well, a lot shitty. I feel that when someone gives me one of their stories to workshop, they are trusting me to treat their stories with the same scrutiny that I give mine. I guess people don’t like that.
Since Brandon Sanderson’s book is already published, since I believe that he has probably developed a pretty decent thick skin when it comes to his writing, since I’ve never been and probably never will be in the same room as him, and since I’m just a student still learning anyway, I’ll go ahead and say that what I would have scratched out of The Way of Kings was all of the moments that ask questions in the third person or mimic the thinking of a character. There aren’t too many, but they broke the narrative for me even though it’s written in the third person correctly and doesn’t break tense. I don’t know if those moments foreshadow some moments later in the story. They may help add some tension, also. But either way, I had issues wrapping my brain around those question/hypothetical/outcome-posing moments and it stopped the narrative of the story for a bit. If it pulls me out, I scratch it out.
I should say that I want to work on my workshopping techniques. It’s almost easier to be able to say that part of my instinct to scratch those bits of Sanderson’s words out are an old me. Afterall, I’m a different person now than I was last semester. That’s also true for the semester before that, and the year before that. But I’m not going to. To be completely honest, I hate workshopping anyway. I’ll settle for just trying to figure out as I go along why those parts of the story work for the book by the time I get to the end. After all, it’s published and my stories aren’t.
I’ll continue reading Sanderson’s The Way of Kings. A short term goal would be to be finished with the book before classes start back in August, but I don’t want to set that deadline because I’ll get stressed out about it and stop reading it, a pattern I’ve begun to recognize about myself with reading and maybe even writing. I’m also writing my own novel as an exercise while I read, just because. I’ve gotten to page 10 in my own fantasy novel. I don’t know how many words it is because I’m writing it on paper, which is also a change for me. I’d like to write a bit faster, but I’m worried I’ll overdo it and get stressed out if I try to make hitting a page count everyday a big deal.
Gotta go. Lethal Weapon is on.