Monday, February 4, 2013

Tamera Alexander on Moral Premise Coaching

Tamera Alexander is a best sellling Historical Romance Fiction novelist whose recent novels center on postbellum (Civil War) Nashville. Although she's consulted with The Moral Premise on her work before we met, I've had the opportunity to help Tamera directly on her last two projects. Below is a link to our coaching page on which is a 3.5 min audio snippet from a recent radio interview where she plugs the Moral Premise and how I've helped her in the early stages of her writing.

Tamera's Audio Endorsement is on our Coaching Page.

But as much as she says I help her, I must say that Tamera is very resourceful and comes up with wonderful character ideas, how the character's generally interact and how the story ends. Before she comes to me she's done a ton or historical research. All of that research along with her initial ideas gives me wonderful fodder to help her envision and construct the story's turning points and metaphors.  

In my own fiction writing, I'm a plotter -- and I see metaphors abundantly and clearly. Thus, it is very easy for me to outline scene-by-scene, and establish most of my turning points and twists before I start writing. However, when I write the freshness of the prose suffers from knowing way too much about where the story is going. Thus, I need help keeping the prose spontaneous.

Tamera, on the other hand, is a pantser—she likes to write by the seat of her pants. As a result she says, massive rewrites have been required to fix the novel''s structure and to integrate a consistent conflict of values and the consistent use of metaphors. She claims that as the result of The Moral Premise and our coaching sessions the rewrite process has been dramatically reduced, the metaphors are richer and the plots and subplots more tightly interwoven. Thus, the meaning of the story is richer. On her last book, To Whisper Her Name, her editor at Zondervan wrote this to her.... followed by a comment to me from Tamra:
Dear Tamera,
I have never struggled so much to add value to a manuscript.  To Whisper Her Name is a beautiful love story set against the backdrop of a healing nation.  I loved the characters and couldn’t find a single one that I thought we could do without!  You have captured Belle Meade and its rich history perfectly. 

Tamera here: Thank you again, Stan, for your contribution to plotting this novel. You helped me tremendously in "seeing" more of the story than I've ever seen before. Ready to plot another one? : )
Later, Tamera explained that her editors could not find any story threads to shorten or eliminate because the subplots were so closely interwoven to the main story. They published a book that had many more words in it that they had planned. And all her fans cheered.

Tamera is a very skilled writer. There are times when I will re-read a paragraph several times to enjoy the language. And when we talk about her plot and the metaphors to weave, she gets it quickly.  I'm thrilled to help her see what she's obviously and subconsciously already knows deep in her writer's heart. She is one of my proofs that a good understanding and execution of the story's moral premise, deftly applied to each character's arc, and the attending metaphors reinforce the story's emotional heart and dramatic core. I'm proud to have helped her do that, and it's always fun to read scenes that we devised a year earlier.

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