This post is by Joe Stephens
I have a good friend who helps me with my writing. I’m sure I’ve mentioned her before. Here name is Maria, but I call her Pepper, short for Pepper Potts, who starts out as Tony Stark’s personal assistant in the Iron Man comics and movies. They eventually become a couple. The resemblance ends long before that for us. She’s happily married to another of my best friends and is more like a much younger sister than anything else. But that’s not the story I want to tell. The story I want to tell is how, among other great ways in which Pepper supports my writing, she serves as my sounding board.
This example perfectly illustrates what I’m trying to say. Earlier this week I had finished the first third of the rough draft of my work in progress and was contemplating where exactly to go from there. I had a rough idea of the general arc of the story. Frankly, I knew who the bad guy wasn’t, but I hadn’t completely decided who the killer actually was. And I
was considering whether to insert a particular section that I wasn’t sure about. It could be a valuable insight into the main characters or it could be a rabbit hole down which the plot could fall, never to be seen again. What to do?
Easy. Text Pepper. I told her about my concerns. I asked her what she thought. After I posed the initial question, I typed out how I thought the section might work if I handled it correctly and how it could even be the genesis for a spinoff book series. But before I could hit send, I received a text from her, and guess what it said. Almost word for word, she told me the exact same thing I had just typed.
Of all the people on the planet, including me, she probably knows my writing and my characters better than anyone else. She reads all my chapters as I write them and has read all my books over and over. We have both talked of how Harry and Dee are like a real couple we both know. So if she and I arrive at the same conclusion about where the story should go and how I should handle a particular scene, I feel completely confident that it’s right.
I can’t express just how important it is to my writing to have someone like this to share it with. She keeps me going when I am struggling. She points me in the right direction when I feel lost. She reminds me that there are actually people out there who like and value my writing, and even if she’s the only one, that’s enough.
If you’re a writer, do you have someone in your life who serves this purpose for you? Feel free to brag on that person here.
Joe Stephens is a teacher at Parkersburg High School. He is also the author of Harsh Prey, Kisses and Lies, and the recently released In the Shadow, all of which are available in paperback and Kindle formats. The paperback may be purchased from Createspace, Amazon, and most online booksellers. In the real world, you may purchase from J & M Used Book Store in Parkersburg and from the author’s trunk.
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