Monday, December 13, 2010

When Non-writers Write

I was at a party the other day talking to a non-writer friend who had shown interest in my writing.  Briefly we discussed the fact that my novel was now available.  One point I made to him was that I am busy working on the next book because it takes so long to write a book and get it ready.  Given the number of books I want to complete that the amount of time it takes, I have to wonder if I will finish all the books in my head.

He said to me, he has the same problem.  But being a non-writer he can't even start.  So his plan is to dictate the book into the computer (he wants to use the voice recognition program, Dragon) and then hire an editor to clean it up.

While this sounds feasible, I have to wonder if it could really work.  My concern with this approach, which I voiced to my friend, is that the spoken word and the written word do not obey the same rules.  Well, not always.  Certainly poetry, plays, and good speeches should work both when from the page and spoken aloud.

But short stories and novels really don't have this need -- despite the increased demand for audio books.  More importantly, I'm not sure my friend can pay attention to POV or word choice or dialogue of each major character just by dictating his ideas into the computer.  It is far more likely that he will create something like a fairy tale and less like the action/adventure novel he wants.

Worse still, my experience working with editors has not been a good one.  To date, every editor that I have hired to help me almost always made things worse, giving me advice that I later learned was wrong.  I'm not sure my friend will be able to tell when he is getting bad advice or how to pick a good editor.  And I'm in no position to help since I've not had much luck there myself.

And it is sad in a way because I think, in the right hands, he might have a good story.  But what is a non-writer to do?  I only hope he does not fall prey to the many spams and schemers out there that wait lurking for non-writers.

Let's all wish him luck.

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