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corrections book Mara Turing

The wise ones who have helped me along the way

I dream of being a good writer someday, that’s why I like to draw inspiration from those whom I hold in such high regard. When Mara Turing was nothing more than a blurry plot, lacking nuances and with faintly drawn characters, I ventured to ask a few people about structure, creative process, inspiration, and so forth.

There have been many along the way so far, but I would highlight two: Juan Gómez-Jurado and Freddy C. Schwaneberg. The former serves as that “close” example for me (we follow each other on Twitter!) in whom you (think you) can see yourself.

I remember one afternoon I asked him for some advice to start out in this storytelling thing. “Read On Writing by Stephen King,” he said to me via a direct message on Twitter. In less than two minutes, I had it on my Kindle. I devoured it eagerly. You could say it’s a useful biography where the genius of mystery and horror has the great deference to tell you the important points of literary genesis —as he understands it— while seasoning the message with lesser-known details about the life that led him to write as he does.

Discipline, the place to write, the importance (or lack thereof) of the plot… King dissects many relevant aspects in the book. It’s his vision, and many won’t agree with his methodology: let the story flow. He’s not a fan of structures much beyond a brief skeleton. But not all of us have the furnished or trained brain to create Carrie, It, Misery, and so many other masterpieces.

That’s why, when I finished distributing the initial draft to those around me, I looked for someone who knew a lot about structure. In reality, it didn’t take me long to figure out who the perfect person was. A year earlier, during a dinner, he had offered his help in the tone he always uses. “Send me the draft when you have it. I have a blast doing that [correcting and helping], really, for me it’s not work; it’s only possible that I might take a while to respond because I’m really busy“, Freddy C. Schwaneberg told me when I outlined the initial idea of my novel to him.

Freddy is someone I admire for many reasons. First for his intelligence. He’s a VERY smart guy. Then, for his simplicity and accessibility, both necessary to spend several hours with me via Skype dissecting the structure of my book, subjecting it to fatigue, explaining the importance of discipline in certain phases of the creative process (especially when you’re not Stephen King), and much more.

And finally, for his vast knowledge. Freddy knows a lot about storytelling. Millions of kids who have gotten hooked on the world of Sendokai, Mutant Busters (and other things I’m not sure I can talk about), can attest to that.

What is your goal with this book?” was his first question. Shortly after, he wanted to know if I was willing to accept constructive criticism to improve the first draft he had read. “Of course!” I said without hesitation. He told me what, in his opinion, were the strengths and weaknesses, both in terms of storytelling and structure or characters.

In between, Alex Guerra, Migue J. Jiménez, or Alma Alanís have also helped me with their comments. The first two have been careful when conveying their technical doubts or possible inconsistencies to me. Of course, they don’t know that Mara Turing is not a character. She exists in reality, and everything that happens in the book is a reflection of the life led by a group of hackers and the ‘villains’ they fight against in our world.

Special mention to Amparo Baca, who has read the entire book twice, pencil in hand, and has been relentless. What a capacity to find details and suggest changes! Polishing a book can be an exhausting and endless task. Luckily, I spent 12 years working at a newspaper and learned to leave the Newsroom every night knowing that the product for the next day would have typos and that they also had a right to life…

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