I’m excited to introduce you to Denise Bossarte, a self-proclaimed thriver, award-winning writer, and artist. I met Denise when she contacted me for help with polishing her book proposal. Denise’s subject is one that takes a lot of courage to examine in writing, and I know other writers will benefit from reading her story. Take it away, Denise!
(Update 04.24.21: Denise’s book, Thriving After Sexual Abuse: Break Your Bondage to the Past and Live a Life You Love, is now available! Learn more at https://thrivingaftersexualabusebook.com/.)
Writing takes a lot of courage. It doesn’t matter what you are writing about; you are putting pieces of yourself down on paper. And if you want to publish what you write, your poetry, your novel, your nonfiction book (traditionally or self-published) then you are stepping up to a whole other level of courage to believe that your writing is good enough and your work compelling enough for other people to want to read it.
My first effort at courageous writing was in fiction.
Genesis of My First Novel: My Process
My first novel, Glamorous, started off literally as a dream I had while living in Atlanta. I was sick with bronchitis, as I often was in the winter. In that state of too-tired-to-sleep, I daydreamed about a PI and a case he took that had paranormal aspects to it.
It was years later that I decided to write the full novel. My good friend was writing a science fiction novel, and we would meet once a week to talk about his book. He went on to be a very successful self-published author and was eventually picked up by 47North, the science fiction and fantasy imprint of Amazon Publishing. I had my friend there to guide me through the steps to get a novel self-published—all I had to do was write it!
Some authors plot out every detail for each chapter on sticky notes or notecards. Some just jump in and see where the writing takes them. I did a combination of both. I am a data analyst by trade, so I’m used to working with structure, and I needed a bit of that to feel comfortable knowing the main points of the novel. For that I used what had worked so successfully for my friend: I followed his interpretation of Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat!: The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need into beats for a story with four parts: Orphan, Wanderer, Warrior, and Martyr.
And I let the artistic side of me daydream about the characters’ background, motives, and behaviors as well as the plot. Each chapter I would run through my mind like a movie, exploring what would happen and how the characters would react, what they would say or do.
Once I felt I had the “screen” version firm in my mind, I would sit down and capture it on the page. Usually I spent about two hours of writing per chapter. And I had to learn the hard way to just be brave enough to put down whatever flowed through the keyboard and worry about perfection later. Trust that it was good enough and that I could make it better later, otherwise I wouldn’t get farther than the first sentence!
Courage came into play once again when putting my work in front of development editors and having to hear them say how much work my manuscript needed. I had slaved for months on the book, and it was heartbreaking to learn I was still very far away from a publishable book.
So I put on my big girl pants and dug into it. I learned to be vulnerable and open enough to take what they said and make it my own, to put it into my own voice. And the results were a night-and-day difference in the quality of the story. Continue reading “Courageous Writing: Guest Blog Post by Denise Bossarte”