Monday, May 20, 2013

Woodypaige.com takes a rest

Yes, I am up in the middle of the night to write and edit again. Nothing new there. It's just that the subject matter of my writing and editing has changed. I must explain.

I served as editorial director of woodypaige.com since The Denver Post columnist and ESPN personality launched the website in the fall. Well, the title "editorial director" is a bit misleading. That implies I could actually edit copy that went onto the site. Maybe wire editor is a better title. I also said "was" because Woody decided to pull the plug on the .com venture on May 1 because we couldn't get a national advertiser to help pay the bills.

But for all those months, we gave it a heckuva try. Our biggest problem: We just didn't have the right business model. We posted links to 28 to 30 sports-related stories every day. It was designed to entertain that valuable 18-to-34 age demographic, but we never entertained enough of them. That led to lower numbers than advertisers wanted to see, which led to the lack of an advertising contract, which led to our demise.

I am sorry to see the website go. I learned so much about getting a new venture off the ground, and about adaptability as plans changed, and getting to know the complex world of advertising options on today's Internet. Do I begrudge my time with woodypaige.com? Far from it. I got to work more closely with Woody, who is a heckuva good guy. That blustery guy you see on "Around the Horn"? That's more act than reality. I also learned so much about creating a website, devising plans, executing those plans, encountering problems and trying to find ways around those problems. All of us associated with the website worked hard to make it work. It just didn't pan out.

Live and learn. Take your lumps and recover. Look to the future, and get back to AIC every day. Those are all good things.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Thank you, James Scott Bell

They say a reading of Ten Commandments can change a guy's life. I am sure that is true. But there are Ten Commandments, and then there are the Ten Commandments for an author. Those "tablets of stone" for writers came recently from James Scott Bell, one of the better writing coaches in the business. Bell's Commandments have forced me to take a long look and a wrecking ball to my second novel.

I won't detail which commandments had such a great impact on me, but Bell taught me two lessons in the plainest language yet: refine character, complicate plot. I took those lessons and took a hard look at what I had written. There was only one conclusion to make: I had work to do.

So, at 3:42 a.m. Saturday morning, with the music of Bach playing in my headphones, I reentered my novel. I had Bell's commandments playing in the back of my mind as well.

This won't be a short exercise. I am taking entire sections I wrote and refining them. I am tossing out sections of plot and substituting new ones. I am looking at details of character, especially for my protagonist. I am built him well; now I need to build him better.

So, thank you, Mr. Bell. I hope my finished work adequately fulfills your commandments.