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A Writing Journey: Jacob Hess

From Audio: Jacob Hess interview - Episode 454

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station description Interviews with authors about their books, their writing habits, their favorite nov... read more
Reading And Writing Podcast
Duration: 06:33
Author Jacob Hess discusses his writing process and gives some advice for hopeful writers.
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Author Jacob Hess discusses his writing process and gives some advice for hopeful writers. Listen to find out how he first got into writing and the journey that led him to write his novel, The Bright Abyss.
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And what are your earliest memories of books and reading? Yeah. At least memories. I wasn't actually big into reading growing up interestingly enough it felt more like homework or just work. But I loved stories and I loved when my mom would read to me a lot growing up and she actually read to me Lord of the Rings when I was growing up and I watched a lot of movies and stuff like that. But I didn't connect that with reading until probably more college. And for me it was just helping me to like when I started to enjoy reading was when I started reading things I was really passionate about and it helped to connect like my passions with the world around me through these books. And it really felt like joining someone like bringing someone else into my journey with me through these books. And so I think that's what's so amazing about books is they can they can help really broaden your friends basically and the people that you can know and learn from. And so what was your riding journey that led you to writing and publishing The Bride of disk? Yeah. I like I said I always had a love for stories. So I was a big story nerd but I didn't start writing fiction until after college. I did enjoy writing in in in school but I didn't enter into the fiction realm until I think it was right after I graduated and I was just I had this story in me that I wanted to get out. And so I just said I just decided to sit down one day and start writing. And this book eventually came out of that. But it took about six years though on writing it on and off because it was like like I said, I was entering into writing fiction and and it's a different world and it's really difficult to write this story that has a great, great beginning hook that captures you, a middle section that really brings you along. And then an ending payoff that is really satisfying. And through that whole thing, developing the characters in a way that is impactful and um meaningful. And so it was really difficult to find out how to do that in a way that readers would enjoy it and follow along with the characters. And so it took me a while, definitely. It was there was some long, just frustrating periods and moments when I just put the draft aside for a while and because I didn't like how it was going, but I think just continuing to press in and not giving up eventually led me to a space where I actually enjoyed what the book became. And what do you think that you had to learn along that way? I think you said it was six years working on it, putting it aside and from what you're saying, it sounds like it it wasn't in the beginning at least adding up to what you wanted it to be. So what did you feel like you had to learn along the way? Yeah, part of it was just story craft. I didn't know um just really what I was doing totally, I I knew what I liked, but I didn't know how to recreate that. And so I had to learn a lot about story craft and just character development and all the like genre and all that good stuff. And I also had to find out what the story was about it takes, I think a little while to do that, and the best way to figure out what the story is about is by writing it. And so I had to start start stop, start over again quite a few times. And what was your writing process when you were working on The Bride Abyss? Did you outline it or just jump into the story and see where it leads you? Yeah, so when I first started, I just kind of jump, I did a preliminary outline, just bullet points and then I just jumped in and started writing. But it wasn't until are you familiar with the story a little bit? But you can tell me more. Yeah, so, the story grid is it's basically a way to Look at your story and critique your story and make it better that this editor named Sean coin made after 30 years or so in the book Publishing Realm. And so it stumbled upon a podcast that he was doing with this other guy where he was critiquing this guy's story as he was writing it. And it really helped me to think more critically about my own story. And I got his book and it really helped me to understand what a good outline is. And so I changed my outline, helped me to understand really find my problem points. So I could change them like in the story because the biggest hurdle is I think it's pretty obvious when a story is not working. The biggest hurdle is figuring out why it's not working. And listening to some of that, like learning story craft from someone experienced, really helped me to figure out what wasn't working and how to fix it. And what was his name again? I didn't catch. Yeah, so Sean Coyne is the name of the editor. Got it. Yeah. They have lots of resources on their website, a story grid and he has a book and there's also podcast. Yeah. And so what fiction or nonfiction books have you read recently that you enjoyed? Yeah. I recently read Treasure Island actually, which is like an old classic but I really like that I'm reading I'm reading a retelling of the stories of King Arthur and the Round table by uh Steinbeck right now as which which is interesting. Is have you read any have you read any of the King Arthur? Yeah. It's just written in a very interesting way where like it feels very ancient. So it's it's interesting. I've been enjoying that. What I'm most of my reading. I'm reading a few nonfiction books as well. But I think those are the fiction that I've read recently. And given your experience of working on your novel The Bride Abyss Off and on for six years and then publishing it, what writing advice would you offer for those who are working on their own stories and novels? Yeah, I would I would advise if it's not the story grid finding some way to up their craft, especially if they're just starting out whether that's taking a class or are you getting involved in some sort of group or something like, it's hard to just grind on your own and to and it's really hard to analyze your own work without an outside voice just really speaking in. And then I would also just say, don't give up because because I could have given up a million times and or I could have just given up by publishing something that wasn't good and that I didn't feel um just good about. So I would say just keep going, keep grinding at it and find help when you need it.
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