Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

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I have a confession to make:  My writing brain is fried!

I’ve been furiously at work trying to make a deadline to my editor for the first few chapters of my debut novel and it’s been crazy!  I summoned every ounce of creative mojo in my arsenal, not leaving enough to put up an awesome post. 

So instead of letting the crickets keep singing their song on this blog, I wanted to share some pheonomenal blog posts I’ve had a chance to check out that are not only educational but very entertaining!

Why Your Novel Won’t Get Published (Ten Reasons) – Terrible Minds

This guy is absolutely hilarious!  I love the way he tells it like it is!

Developing Your Unique Writing Voice – Kristen Lamb’s Blog

She is one of my favorite bloggers and her posts are always full of great info and funny analogies!

When does a bad movie become a must-watch spectacle? – IO9

This was more entertaining than anything else, but it does make you think about why you  love some of the bad movies in your life!

The Writer’s Enemy List Part IV—Over-Praisers – The Best Damn Creative Blog

The picture they use is priceless and the information very valuable – (overpraisers are monsters in disguise people!)

I hope you all enjoy and I will be back on the blogging wagon very soon!

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My New Year’s Writing Resolutions

Posted: January 3, 2011 in Writing
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Happy New Year!!

I am soo psyched about 2011!  At first, I had a million and one things I want to achieve this year like write like a maniac every day or lose 20 pounds in like two week – but I know the holiday hype can lead to a lot of unrealistic expectations.  So after coming down from the midnight high I came up with a few concrete resolutions and goals that I want to make this year.

Be Fully Committed to my Story

Last year, I have made three major changes to my storyline that required duplicating a lot of time and effort.  Now I found one I really like, but I can’t help but feel uneasy about it, because I have felt “sure” about the other ones.  It’s hard when you have a concept that can take so many different story forms with a new one always sounding better than the last.  However, I can’t spin my wheels any longer and it’s time to knuckle down and toss those fears to the side.  My story and I have to recommit to each other – for better or worse!

Set a Writing Schedule

As organized as I am in all other aspects of my life, I found it difficult to adhere to a writing schedule.  I was involved in other writing projects that seemed to take up a lot of my time and I was only able to write in large chunks of time.  This year, I’m on a deadline as well as being held accountable by my writing peers and editors.  So I created a schedule with monthly goals to strive for each month that all add up to the big goal of getting my book ready for a 2011 publication.

Continue to Learn my Craft

I didn’t start visiting and reading other writing blogs until late last year.  I learned so much about writing, plot structure, story and character arcs, and world building.  I still have a lot more to learn and I plan to dedicate more of time to continue learning and improving my craft through following more blogs and getting books on writing.

I know this year is going to be a hard working one for me but that’s okay!  I am getting to do what I love and I now have a solid plan to do it!

What are your New Year’s Resolutions?  I would love to hear them!

Photo courtesy of:  images.mirror.co.uk

As you know I have been nose deep in world building work for my novel.  I’ve been researching biomes, trees, plants, animals, animals that eat the other animals, rivers, the critters in the rivers – well you get the idea.  World Building is a ton of fun and the more you get into it, the more you’re world comes alive.  It becomes this living and breathing place that exists completely on its own and independent of the story.  I saw my world coming together and the more I got into it, the more engrossed I was in my world.

Though I made excellent progress, I think I got carried away.   I lost sight of my main character.

I read this excellent blog post  on Anna Staniszewski’s Blog about world building through your character and it’s just confirmed what my writing partners hipped me too – you can do all the elaborate tree naming and fruit creating in the world but you can’t forget the person who has to navigate through it.  I got so wrapped up in creating my world that I completely forgot about my main character Damaris.  Even worse, I was overwhelming myself with so many details, not discerning first what was necessary to flesh out and what wasn’t.

So how do you keep from falling into this trap and make your world building more effective?  It all starts with a really simple exercise of free writing.

Take your main character and take him/her through your main city/forest/town/village.  While your character is “talking” to you via first POV keep the following questions in mind:

·         What is the very first thing he notices?

·         What does she smell?  Does it remind her of anything familiar or stir up a memory she would rather not remember?

·         What would he most likely want to buy in the market place?

·         Would she be caught dead in the tavern?

·         What does he think of the common people?  Does he feel at home or are they beneath him?

·         What are some things he has never seen before?  Strange aliens?  Exotic fruits?  Or even centaurs?  How does he react?

·         What does she hate most about this forest?  Too many trees?  Too many bugs?

·         What was the most memorable part of her trip?

I learned so much about my character when I wrote about her visiting the city of Ophira for the first time.  I learned about her favorite places, what she has never seen before, and those places she would rather not go.  Taking that information I was able to tailor my world building to my character’s experiences, using her as a guide to what’s important in my world.

How about you?  How has your main character help your world building?

Photo courtesy of:  gossamerstrands.com

If you’ve read my world building post from last week, you can get a glimpse of the writing frustrations I’ve been experiencing lately.  Because I did my worldbuilding half ass before writing my novel, I’m paying the consequences by having to go back and start from square one.  It’s been three weeks now and though I’ve been working quite diligently, I’m not even close to where I need to be.  Just when I think I’m done with one aspect, another funky one shows itself and I’m like “Aaaah!”  With every new tree I make up, another scene in my book will face the editing ax. I mean, I knew this was going to be work but geez!  It seems like my whole novel might have to be redone – one that took me two years to write in the first place!

Please point me to the nearest wall so I can bang my head into it.

Last night I found myself getting a little depressed about it. The more I seem to work, the larger my manuscript hole is getting and for the first time in a very long time I found myself asking, “Is all of this really worth it?  Did I get in over my head?  Will I ever get done with this thing? Am I even good enough to do this?”  The doubt monster was working crazy overtime last night and my funk was only getting worse.

Please, please show me that wall….wait a minute…

I had to stop myself from engaging in my head banging (followed by a pity party and the temper tantrum of “I’m done with this piece of ****).  I had to do that one thing that has kept me going this far with my book.  This particular “thing” has me attending my 4-hour long writing meetings, reading my favorite writing blogs every day, researching until my eyes bleed, and writing that damn first chapter over and over.

I have to start dreaming again.

Dreaming of HBO, Showtime, or heck, Universal Pictures knocking on my door wanting to option my book for a movie or cable TV series.

Dreaming of people going to MegaCon, ComicCon, and all the other Cons dressed up as my characters.

Dreaming of being on panel discussions on fantasy literature at major writing conventions

Okay, I’ll be a tad more realistic!

Dreaming of seeing my book on the book shelf along side other notable fantasy authors.

Dreaming of showing my future children that their mom set out to do what she always wanted to do.

Dreaming of where I want to be damn sure helps me get through all the frustrations, doubts, and fears that come with the writer’s territory.  And that my friends, is what kept me from banging my head into oblivion and keep it moving.

What has kept you pushing through you tough writing moments?

Photo courtesy of:   domesticdivinity.blogspot.com

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After my weekly meeting with my publishing team/business partners over at Visual Adjectives, I received a very hard lesson in world building – a lesson that is practically making me start from scratch.

You see at my first world building go around, I delved into the social histories, came up with some noteworthy customs, and covered things like climate, vegetation, and animal life.  I had a ton of fun, thinking of things on a whim and taking real world things and twisting them to my own fancy.  My work began on the ground, so to speak, starting with my hand drawn map and taking a region at a time.  I spent about a good two weeks on my research and then went back to my novel , tailoring it to my findings.

That was a few months ago.  Now numerous meetings and a professional editor review later I’m told that my story is great but my world needs work.   After going through my friend SM Lawrence’s epic fantasy novel series the Endaeria Chronicles that is so detailed I’m almost intimidated, I had to agree.  She covered things I hadn’t even thought about and if I had, I probably wouldn’t have made my novel go under the serious re-constructive surgery I’ve been putting it through this past month.  It hit me that I wasn’t as far along with this story as I thought I was and my deadline of having the professional editors have my entire manuscript in their hands by next month was clearly out the window.

My pity part didn’t last too long though because my team came to my rescue.  We started from the very top – the planet.   When you think of your world, especially if it remotely resembles Earth, you have to think about your planet’s relation to the sun,moon (or moons in my case), and in what geographical biomes your continents exist in.  For instance, my planet Epsilon has three moons which are relatively the same size.  Having three moons means that the tide changes along the coastlines will change more frequently, which affects the way of life of my coastal cities.  My main city Epsilon is located very far from the planet’s equator, so that place has to be very cold, almost tundra like (so there goes my scenes of lush green grass, tropical fruits, and Romanesque dresses!)

Yes, I did take the easy way out when it came to my world building, placing everything neatly into what I wanted it to be.  The way I had, though, didn’t make any sense, especially to those die hard fantasy and sci-fi fans that would probably tear me apart if I left the world how it was!

So the moral of the story – when you begin to build your fantasy/sci fi world, start from the very top of your planet by asking yourself these few questions:

  1.  How many suns and/or moons are there?  Where are they in relation to your planet?
  2. Where is your equator line?  What land mass does it cut through?
  3. Your continent(s) position in relation to that line will determine its biome.  What type of climate does each region of your world have?

By taking the time out to answer these few simple questions, I was already on my way to a more believable fantasy world by providing real world anchors my readers can relate to! 

The next step is filling out your World Building Table of Contents, which my friend Ms. Lawrence lays out brilliantly in her blog post today!

Have any of you writers experience some world building hard knocks like I just did?

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After coming back from an emergency trip out of town, I thought my writing schedule that I had perfected to a T so I could enjoy my weekend would be shot.  I thought my heart wouldn’t be in it.  My mind was wandering all over the place.  My motivation for sure was done and thought trying to play catch up would be the ultimate chore.  Instead of starting out with my initial to-do list, I decided to work on some short stories I promised my Visual Adjectives colleagues awhile ago.  I stared at the blank screen, not having a clue what to write about.  I typed a few words and it was all she wrote.

I ended up doing two short stories in a few hours (while starting on a third).  I felt awesome not only because I finally got those stories done (and thought they came out rather well).  I felt awesome because it was a great release from all of the stress I encountered with my novel and my personal life that just went batty in a matter of days.  I was able to forget things for a little while by letting my mind stretch and take me wherever it wants it to go, not where my heart was taking it I found myself taking stock of all the little things around me that life can make me ignore.  Things such as the way the leaves blow in the wind ,how my husband makes that crazy face before bursting into laughter, or how soft my pillow feels when I finally get to bed.  Suddenly my deadlines weren’t so pressing and I was able to get up today and knock out so much of my neglected to-do list,

It’s moments like this one that I am thankful to be a writer.  Putting my words to a page is my therapy, making me appreciate everything that is around me right at this second and thoroughly enjoy it.

It’s Thanksgiving and I’m Thankful to be a Writer.

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After fighting my POV monster, I must admit that my manuscript is looking so much better!  I’m still going through and chopping, rewriting, and reordering scenes and chapters and all of them are going pretty smooth.  But this wasn’t so bad, at least not as bad as writing the first chapter.

Why is that first chapter so freakin hard?  You would think the middle would be an issue, due to the fact that it’s where your climax dwells.  The end I thought would be hassle only because if my book ended on a sour note, it would make reading everything before it a waste of time.  But no, the first chapter has been the bane of my existence ever since I started this novel two years ago.  At this point, I could probably make a novel out of my chapter 1 rewrites! 

After thinking about this for a little bit, I have come up with a reason why the first chapter can seem like the hardest:  It’s called:

Chapter 1 Pressure

What is this pressure exactly?  It’s the pressure to hook your reader in the first three pages.  It’s the pressure to introduce your main character, your setting, and the conflict, while making your reader actually care about your story.  It’s the pressure of not dumping back story but give your reader just enough information to keep them reading.  As a fantasy writer, it’s the pressure of not boring my reader with tons of details about my new world but letting them know that this story doesn’t take place on planet Earth BUT not confuse the mess out of them either!  First impressions are often lasting impressions and this is my first novel.  If the first chapter totally sucks, the rest of it doesn’t even matter.

So how do you get over this Chapter 1 Pressure?

Well after you have a glass of wine (or mixed drink of you prefer), just write the damn thing.  Write it knowing that it will probably stink the first go around and it will take you a few tries to get it right (and you still may not like it!).  You have to get over that hump and take your novel to the end of the line, i.e the end.  When I finished my first draft and saw where my story ended up, it made rewriting the first chapter a lot less painful.  That’s because:

I knew where my destination was.  I knew where my main character Damaris would end up plot wise as well as in her emotional development.  As for plot, I have already written the climax and resolution of the plot of this book by finishing it.  Now I can go back and make sure the first chapter doesn’t start too far away from the climax.  That alone helped me eliminate a ton of back story.  When it comes to my main character, Damaris is on the verge of being a total bad ass at the end of this book, so I have to make sure she’s the naïve and sweet little girl in the first chapter. 

I know more about my world now. In the beginning, you can do all of your world building to a T, but I learned firsthand that during the course of writing the story, certain things have changed.  I also took opportunities to introduce new things about my world Epsilon through other chapters, scenes, and character exchanges.  Therefore, I had a better grasp of how much the setting I need to explain without a massive info dump – which is a chapter 1 no-no.

Have any of you writers had this much trouble with your first chapters?  I would love to hear how you dealt with it!

myseveralworlds.com

This day has been absolutely hectic!  Holding down a day job and trying to establish yourself as an author can be downright bananas (oh yeah, I forgot I have a thing called a “home life” too!)

So before I run off back to the million things that has kept me from writing like I want to, I thought I would take the time to share some great reads I’ve come across reading some of my favorite blogs.  Developing my secondary characters is something that I’ve been doing a lot of lately during my editing  and these blog posts have been SUPER Helpful!

Structure Part III–Introducing the Opposition from Kristen Lamb’s Blog (Awesome read on crafting your Big Bad Troublemakers, as she calls it!  I also suggest reading Part I and II as well!)

The Flip Side of Our Character from Mystery Writing is Murder (A great way to take different approach to your character’s flaws)

The Dark Side of Your Novel Hero   from Publetariat (my hero definitely has a real dark side so this came around just in time!)

Five Steps to a Strong Main Character from Scribe Sisters  (this is a new blog I just discovered and so glad I did!)

Bringing your Characters to Life series from Visual Adjectives  (this is a great series that my friend and mentor Ed Stinson has put together and has helped me put together the fundamental groundwork for all of my characters)

Hope these posts help! Happy Writing!

Fighting the POV Monster

Posted: November 15, 2010 in Writing
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Last week has been one of the roughest writing weeks for me – EVER! 

I had a great friend of mine do a critique of the first chapter of my novel and one issue she pointed out to me related to POV (Point of View).  Up until a certain point and even after a certain point, my story was being told in Third Person Limited, or, through my main character’s eyes only.  I thought it would help maintain a level of suspense in my story as well as have my reader go along and discover my world with my main character.

However, as I was going along, I realized that I was doing some head hopping, or revealing what a supporting character felt, quite often.  So my first method of attack was to just eliminate all of that head-hopping all together.  What I was left with was a dull, shell of a story.

The POV monster totally kicked my ass.

After a day of doing some serious (yet unnecessary) panicking and (figuratively) beating my head up against the wall, I did some reasearch into POV and I realized that for my story and consequently my epic, I needed to expand my point of view.  Instead of my book being told through one point of view, I would tell it through a few of the main characters points of view.

I got that POV monster dazed a bit with that punch.

To not have my reader confused, I only changed POV with a new chapter, with my main character having a few more chapters in her POV than the others.  So I basically had to break my novel down, start some major rewrites of my chapters, and give my supporting characters a lot more depth and a lot more story to them while keeping the focus around the main character.

The POV monster is about to fall.

It took me all of last week plus all day Sunday to get through three chapters.  But, I’m seeing my story take on more life and have more depth because through other actors I was able to reveal a lot more about by world and how my main character was perceived by others that I wasn’t able to do before.  Is it a lot of work rewriting some of my chapters from another POV?  Hell yeah, but it was all worth it!

The POV monster is down for the count.  I totally kicked it’s ass!

Have you had any serious issues with POV?  How did you overcome your POV monster?

Yes, Writers are Superheroes

Posted: November 8, 2010 in Writing
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You probably read the title and are like, “What is she talking about? Superheroes?  Seriously?”

Sure, we can’t leap tall buildings, pick up cars with one hand, or even turn an object to dust just by looking at it.  We don’t wear capes or crazy uncomfortable jumpsuits or even our own TV shows and comics.  Our pens don’t have magical powers and our laptops can’t transport us into the future.

But we are superheroes and here’s why:

Writer’s see things non-writers don’t

I got this idea from this post I read on What I saw about seeing something extradordinary that others my find just plain ordinary.  Writer’s have this special power because what may seem like a lowly picket fence for instance, can be the fence to a girl who watched her father get arrested from that picket fence.  (See what I mean!)  We can’t help it because anything and everything can be story. 

We have skin of steel

When I think of this superpower we have, I think of JK Rowling, whose manuscript for Harry Potter was turned down so many times it would make the ordinary man shrivel up in a corner and drown in pity.  Not her.  She got right back up and kept pushing (and I don’t have to tell you how huge she is now).  That’s why writers have skin of steel.  We can survive the snares of agent rejections, the knockout blows of publisher’s negative responses, and when editors tear our work to shreds.  Fame may elude us and money may seem like a treasure never to be found, but you know what?  We write anyway, getting back up after every fall and many times getting stronger everyday! 

We have multiple identities

Clark Kent has nothing on a writer!  He only had to manage one secret identity.  Many writers, on the other hand, have multiple secret identities – editor, mom, office assistant, college student, freelancer, marketer, promoter, social media mavens – I could go on.  Even as a professional, full time writer, you still have to play the role of a marketer and social media expert regardless of what publishing route you take.  I’m an administrative assistant by day, a writer by night, and a blogger/social media maven/businesswoman/wife on weekends.  Is it tough task managing all of those roles?  Sure.  But that’s what make writer’s superheroes – because we can handle it!

Writers unite!  What are some superpowers that you think writers have?