Posts Tagged ‘Fiction’

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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!

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?

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I know that the obvious answer to the question of whether an author should read in the genre that they’re righting one is Yes.  However, there’s a little more to it than that and because there is, I answer this question a little bit differently.

For me, I made the conscious decision that I wouldn’t read in my genre while I was writing the first draft of my novel.   I even went as far as not to really look at any movies within in my genre (as well as I could anyway!  I’m a movie buff!).  I did this because no matter how hard you try, you can’t help but be influenced in some kind of way from a book or movie.  I didn’t want my novel’s concept to be a conscious rip off of someone else.  It’s easy to read a scene in one book and say “Oh, I want a scene like that in mine.”  I wanted my story to grow on its own, find its own scenes and scenarios.  I wanted to get the core of my story down and be my own.  There are so many great stories and movies out there in the realms of Fantasy and  Sci Fi and I didn’t want my inspiration to become a reiteration of something else I read or saw somewhere. 

Now that I’m done with my first draft and I’m  satisfied with my core plot, I can now read books out there in the same circle that I want my book to be in.  (By the way, if you have any good recommendations on a books, please let me know!).  I can  just be inspired because I already know my story is solid and the direction of the series is crystal clear.  It’s easy now to appreciate a book for its story and what it offers – instead of constantly comparing it to mine!

What do you guys think?  If you were (or are) writing a book in a genre, would you still continue to read books similar to the one you’re writing?