You can't wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club. Jack London

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Where is your VOICE?

I thought I’d write about Voice for this post. Then I found some wonderful posts on voice HERE.
No matter how many times I read about something, sometimes I still need to read more to understand.
Perhaps another person can explain it one more time, another way for me to get it. So here’s my take on voice.

On Saturday night Narnia, the Lion, the Witch and the wardrobe aired by C.S. Lewis. I have never seen or read it so I sat down to watch it. I was amazed this story was about Heaven and Hell, the righteous and the sinners. It jumped out at me during the battle with the Witch and all her comrades were pretty ugly looking creatures.

Edmond, the youngest brother believed the Witch would make him a king and betrayed the others. When Edmond escapes the Witch, the Lion speaks to him in private, and then tells his siblings there is no need to talk of his betrayal again. His brother and two sisters hug Edmond and welcome him back to the good side.

I was disappointed with the fact the lion killed the witch and not one of the protagonists. After all we are told our protagonist or hero must initiate and do what is needed to correct the problem. In C.S. Lewis’s view of Narnia, only the Lion could save Narnia. That is the writer’s voice telling his belief through the characters.

I googled C. S. Lewis, and lots of links about him and Christianity showed up. (this definitely shows my ignorance about him)

My point here is that your voice is what you believe told through your characters. Not a sermon, but how you see and interpret the world. Everyone has values, ambitions, and opinions. This is how you look at the world, everyone’s truths have an influence on their writing. When your truth comes through your character in a subtle way, it is your voice. And what we all hope is that our truths are unique enough to stand out from the crowd.

What are your ambitions, values and opinions. Whisper them into your characters ears, and create an antagonist who believes the opposite, this will create the tension you need in your WIP.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Premise, What is your story about?

I have read my how to write books, searched the Internet for premise. It finally dawned on me how to write my one sentence of what my story is about. Maybe what I have realized will help you.

I tried to write my premise from the inciting incident which is at the beginning of the book or the opening conflict. The inciting incident is what happens to cause events leading up to the protagonist's point of no return. The point of no return is what happens ¼ of the way through the novel that changes everything the hero knows. This is where the story begins. The first ¼ of your book is bringing all of the characters together. It is the normal for your character even if the character’s life changes in some way.

Your one line summary would be:

When (point of no return happens) protagonist must do something to stop antagonist or what’s at stake will happen or won’t.

Now I’m trying to figure out through lines, but that will be another post.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Loglines, log-lines, one-line summary GEESH

Have you tried to write one sentence that sums up your story? I have, and tried, and again and again. Crap.
Let me demonstrate.
A log line should include your protagonist, her goal, and what stands in her way. Let me demonstrate.

Susie wants to sell sea shells. What's standing in her way? She lives in the mountains. She needs money to buy sea shells. How is she going to raise the money to buy sea shells? She'll sell her body. Those mountain men are insatiable. Now she has a shit load of money and sets up a shell shop. Problem is with the economy, no one wants to buy her shells and the hours she puts in standing around are tiresome. She needs to rest.

In struts Johnny Walker. He doesn't want sea shells. Susie has a chance to lay down for 100 bucks and about 20 minutes of her time. Now her goal has changed, screw the shells.

 Lets write what this story is about in one sentence:


Susie's shell business is put on hold when Johnny Walker enters her shop and asks for cherry pie.

No, that's not it.

When Susie realizes selling shells is hard work, she lays down on the job and stops shining her shells because she's takin' a shinin' to somebody else.

NO, that's not it either.


When Susie Sunshine opens up a shell shop, Johnny Walker demands more time and Susie feels obligated to give it to him.

No

Oh Wait, Susie's real goal is to earn money. I think she's doing a hell of a job. Do you think an agent will ask for more pages?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Why I Write?

There are many blogs with explanations why they write. I'm not sure why I write. I sure don't think its as noble as Sharon Messenger's reason. Who thought this up anyways? At the teaching authors blog , they have all written why they write.

Why do I write?

Have you read a book you have been lost in? You're there, going through every conflict, every laugh, and the life of the Hero/Heroine in the book.  Your family is lucky to get dinner. You'll skip your favorite TV program to read farther, you just can't put it down. I'm bewitched. Maybe that's why I write. I want someone to not put my book down. I want them to be so engrossed in the story, my story, that they have no idea what is going on around them or what time it is. (unless their belly growls, they ignore it, but then everyone in the family is growling at you) How dare they interrupt? They're worse then commercials.

I want to bewitch someone.

I want to send my high school English teacher a book with my name on it. Not in it, on it.  He never encouraged me much. He could be dead. I don't know.

No, I guess my reasons are not noble, but they're my reasons.

Now that I have been writing, giving my whole being to it.  I have learned so much. Read lots of  "how to" books and I want to do it right. It's a challenge. I'm not giving up till its done right.

Go, find that book, READ.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Public Stakes

Raising the stakes for a protagonist is what keeps conflict in the story.

I have had a problem trying to figure out what public stakes are when my protagonist is not going to save the world or stop some horrible interference from a villain that will change the world of my characters. It isn't SF or Fantasy, or some serial killer on the loose. So what would be the public stakes in my novel?

I believe it is family. My character has lived with her mother for 14 years. She knows no other life, and now her mother is going to move her closer to her grandparents. Grandparents she has never met and don't even know she exists. Family is something everyone cares about, whether yours is dysfunctional or not. With this move, she, my protag, will lose everything familiar and meaningful to her. Her life, her best friend and being the only one in her mother's life. 

I need to make this family thing so important to her that it is important to everyone. (at least the readers)

She is worried that her grandparents won't like her, that they live differently, that her mother won't only belong to her. These are her personal stakes, I think. Okay so I am going to make them personal.

I think what I am trying to tell myself is that my reader needs to care about the "stakes". Even in a save the world story, the stakes must be personal to the character. The character has to care enough so that I, we, the reader cares what happens.

Donald Maass has a chapter on stakes in his book Writing the Breakout Novel. I read it again.

The writer must ask the question, "So what? Why should anyone care?" The reason anyone cares is we care about the protagonist.  We must make her sympathetic. She has to be someone people like.

That's it. Family is universal, no matter what kind of family you have. People will identify with family, with the struggles and the love-hate relationship in the circle.

What's the public stakes in your novel?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Reasons to Outline

I have been busy outlining my MS for NANO. (Outlining is something I have resisted since I started writing) It's a good thing, because I can't stop and write now or the words don't count for NANO.

Using the scene tracker from the Plot Whisperer, I have filled up a couple of pages. One of the columns is Thematic Significance. If I don't know the theme, I am supposed to write details from the scene in this block. While I did this in several of the blocks, I realized these characters keep secrets.  Not every scene has a secret but several of them do. My theme could very well be about secrets, and I would have never seen it without filling out the Scene Tracker.

I was asked to watch the office yesterday for a few hours.  I took a book with me. It was Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint by Nancy Kress.  I took this book because I have a hard time writing characters thoughts.    In one way it's a good thing, I don't write much backstory, but it can be bad when I can't seem to write what the character is doing or thinking during a stint of dialogue.

After I sat and read for a while I wanted to write. (a writer writes, right?) I can't write any of the novel and I only have scraps of paper, so I tried to write a query. I know it is much to early to write a query, but hey practice makes perfect. In trying to sum up my story, it took me several sentences, crossed off etc.  No the query is still not perfect, but secrets came out in my description for my query.  So now I'm thinking secrets must be some sort of theme for my book. I haven't thought of a title yet, but I am sure Secrets is taken.

How are you doing preparing for NANO? My head is spinning with dialogue, comments and sentences that sound absolutely ingenious in my head. But we'll see what they read like on paper on Nov. 1.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Get Your First Draft written and never get out of your Sweats.

I attended the most awesome online writing conference this past week. The workshops I participated in were valuable with professional instructors. If you haven't heard of or atteded The Muse Online Writer's Conference, you're missing out. I worked on character, scenes and description. Ann Hite, Devon Ellington, and Margaret McGaffey Fisk. These workshops taught me STUFF. There are many more informative classes too. Like, horror, suspense, dialogue,book trailers, villains, I can't name them all.  I've already signed up for next year.  Lea Schizas and her mods are wonderful and this had to be a large undertaking behind the boards! A big thanks to all of the creators.  And a big thanks to the participants, the bravery they have to put their writing out there to be critiqued, analyzed and read by strangers so we can all learn something is amazing.

And that is why I am participating in NANOWRIMO this year. I had come across it in my travels on the internet, but never thought that I would be able to write 50,000 words in a month. I am damn gonna try.
I think a little preparation will go a long way to reach this goal.

I am going to apply what I have learned at the Muse Conference:
  1. Interview my cast of characters and find out what really makes them tick.
  2. Outline, oh drat. It must be done. I'm going to use the plot line I learned from Martha Alderson.
  3. Write descriptions of the places my scenes will take place in.
So, Thanksgiving is in November. If you want to join me and many others, get invited somewhere for dinner, get your significant other to make dinner, volunteer at a soup kitchen for a few hours, purchase your dinner from a grocer for heat and eat, or remember what it's really about. Being thankful. I'm thankful for my family although they all live far away from me. I am thankful for my hubby, who works, so I can do what I want, and right now it's writing.

Leave me a comment who you are over at NANO so we can be writing buddies. You still have time to get ready...NOW

Monday, September 27, 2010

Plot

In my neverending blog reading I have found informative links for writing.  I have so many bookmarks and favorites that my menu bars are covered with them.

Today I want to tell you about another great source I have found. Martha Alderson. Also known as the Plotwhisperer.

Don't ask how I found her, I'm sure it was in a round about way. I purchased a DVD she made of a workshop for children's and YA fiction.  (I will add that it was a fast ship too. Always nice to know.)
This workshop teaches you about plot and has great direction on tools to use BEFORE you start writing.
She uses the MG novel Al Capone does my shirts as an example.  If you haven't read it, read it.  It is a great, fun middle grade fiction by Gennifer Choldenko.

I have finally decided after writing for several months.  A person really needs to do the stuff I hate.  Outlining your novel.  There may be some of you that can sit down and write from start to finish and get a rough draft of a story.  But to me writing 50,000 words seems like a daunting task that I will never reach.
Martha also has a series on You tube that I think may be of interest to new and seasoned writers. So check her out.

And now, I must do my 10 minutes of freewriting and go on to outlining.




Thursday, September 23, 2010

A website for writers

In my procratination to do something, anything, but write, I found a website! One that I think will help me with my unthoughts. Maybe, none of you have "unthoughts" but I sure do.  It's when your brain thinks of a thousand things (or more) and none of them is what you should be thinking.

This website is in its infancy? However, the owner is not.  She, Barbara Baig, is a writer, teacher, and a cheerleader to people she doesn't know that want to write. Me.

I decided I need lessons. I need some sort of organization to my writing thoughts. 

The first lesson is to write for ten minutes.  OMG. I thought, ten minutes? Not something I can do, sit and write for a solid ten minutes.  This morning, I did it.  I made a new folder in my documents and labeled it for writing practice.  I opened a new word document and dated it.  I set the timer on my cell phone for ten minutes.  I started typing. The ten minutes ended in faster time than I imagined.  She states if nothing comes to your head keep writing the last word until something does.  I have four places that my head emptied with a repeated word.  But, to my amazement, my mind told me more to write.  And now I believe doing this ten minute exercise each morning will help in clearing my head, directing it in the right places and hopefully STOP my procrastination.

Check it out, Lessons, and see if her suggestions help you.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Read

Trading Faces by Julia DeVillers and Jennifer Roy

Great MG fiction written in real time.  Twins, Emma (the smart one) and Payton (the social butterfly) start 7th grade in a new school.  For the first time, ever, they have different schedules. A little scary for these sisters that have been together forever. After Payton has an upset with new friends, Emma offers to take her place. For the day. The girls soon learn trading places is a little more complicated than originally planned.

The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry

Fascinating read. Towner Whitney thinks her life has been fine since she moved to California.  When her brother calls with the news that her Aunt is missing and possibly dead, Towner goes home to Salem.

At the beginning of her story, Towner admits she's a liar and not to believe what she tells us.  But the further I read, I believed.

Her mixed up family, and the death of her twin sister finally comes to light and I wanted to kick myself for believing this girl from a family of women that could read lace.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Write On Con is over

If you're like me, the three days for this awesome, fun conference kept you enthralled. And now the hosts deserve a rest. 
Jamie Harrington,
Elana Johnson,


Thanks to all of you.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Anne R. Allen's Blog: THE DORCHESTER BOMBSHELL—How Does it Affect You?

Anne R. Allen's Blog: THE DORCHESTER BOMBSHELL—How Does it Affect You?

e-readers vs page turners

Being that I love to read a good mystery this decision may or may not effect me.

I haven't even looked at an e-reader in person.  I'm not sure how they work.  BUT, don't they need a battery? Does the battery last 10 hours or only 2? Will the battery die when my protaganist is about to
make the biggest decision of her life?

So, I'm from the school of the PAGE TURNER. I like the feel of a book in my hands.  The rapid rate that I need to turn the page to see what's happening. The fact that I am so involved my dog has to piss on my leg to get my attention.

As publishing evolves, and there's a lot happening right now.  More than I understand. Will I need an e-reader to read the latest best seller?  I hope not.  I love going into a bookstore and being bombarded by images of book covers, artfully done. The colors, the smell, the quiet. The way the bookshelves hold treasures as I gaze at the spines deciding what wonderful tale will be uncovered when I pull the book from it's shelf.

What will a Page Turner be called on an e-book? A Button Pusher? A Scroll Roller? A Thumb Blisterer?
It sure won't be a Nail-Biter. If your biting your nails you might hit delete.

Friday, July 30, 2010

I read it I loved it The Sugar Queen

I finished reading The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen. I went through walmart last week and they had a mess of books for $4. I decided on this one and am so glad I did. It was a good story about  family secrets, love,  and  superstition. 

Of course, today when I went back all the discounted books were gone.  Damn, I should have purchased a couple of the other ones I had considered too.  I haven't wanted to check a book from the library as we are going up to Indy to see our kids in Aug and Sept.

I think I'll read her others.  My library carries them, I checked, but I'll have to wait till Sept.

I'd love to know Titles that some of you have read and enjoyed. 

Happy Reading

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Who is the INTERN?

I love the INTERN. But who is she? She's written a book published about 3 months ago. Alas, none of her readers, that I know of, know who she really is or the title of her recent published MS.  I even sent her a partial ms for her to crit for me. (yes, there is a fee involved) But I don't know who she really is.

She speaks of her hippie roommate, her techie boyfriend.  Is this all a ruse.  Maybe the INTERN is really MALE. 

Alas, I don't care.  Some things are better left unknown.

Is she among these debut authors in 2010?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Day One and the word Purchase

I was fortunate to be picked by the Shark to win a Promotional copy of DAY ONE by Bill Cameron.  OMG It was sooo good.  I loved it.  I sure would like to see a query letter on this one.  It would be interesting to see how that was written.  To purchase a copy of Day One click it.  Ask your local library to get a copy, more than one....I'm sure there'll be a waiting list for this. I will warn you that there is some rough language, but hey it wouldn't be the same without it.

On to the word PURCHASE. I read it in one of the Twilight series, you know with Bella, Edward and Jacob.  It stopped me in the middle of my reading as it had nothing to do with money but with getting your feet on stable ground.  I read the word again in a couple of other best sellers (which sorry I don't remember which ones) and then AGAIN in Day One.  Okay, and they all referred to getting a foot hold in mud or slippery hills.
Of course I couldn't put Day One down to bother looking it up and seeing a real definition.  I had to wait til I finished the last word.  And then I got out my thesaurus and here is what it says:  3--a secure hold or grasp also: advantageous leverage.

None of the characters could get an advantageous leverage where they were walking, crawling, or otherwise in deep shit.

Since I read this word in highly advertised fiction, perhaps I need to use the word in my current WIP. Or better yet how about the title?  Hee hee.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Scene Transitions

I believe one of the hardest things for me to write are transitions from one scene to another. There are lapses in time between interesting events in real life and so even more true in fiction. We never tell anyone about the regular day we had in our lives, we tell them about the exciting things we have done or been involved in.  So, it is boring to read about a character eating, brushing his teeth, shopping etc.

Introducing a new scene may be in the same place or another.  But there must be some sort of change in your protagonist.  As I try to make my transitions smoother, I need to think of what happened in the previous scene and what my protagonist wants in the next one. Get into his/her head as his thoughts move the story forward, what he mulls about what happened in the last scene and what he hopes to achieve in the next one.

The scenes must relate to the story in a progressive order.  I cannot plop my hero/ine down in the middle of nowhere, and have the reader trying to guess where she/he is.  It's good to show in the first couple of lines where our hero is and what she is doing. 

If the scene is in the same place, perhaps now it is night instead of day. Or if the MC has gone somewhere else having her slam the car door and rush down the drive to knock on a door. 

I have found the most helpful for me is Make a Scene by Jordan E. Rosenfeld

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Hook, line and sinker

Every book on how to write always mentions a hook.  You need to hook the reader with the first lines. The first Sentence? The first Paragraph? The first Page?


The reader needs to form a question in his/her mind?  A question they want an answer to, so that they turn the page to find it.


Opening a book with action may not be such a good idea.  The reader needs to feel for the protaganist.  Why woud they care who wins that exciting battle with swords if they don't really know who they should be
rooting for?


Others have mentioned that a reader opens the book to read the first page to see if they want to spend their hard earned money on purchasing that book. An opening hook is important.  I, myself, read the flap and open to the middle and start reading. I want to know if the middle is any good.  Am I the only one that does this?  I can't be.  There needs to be "hooks" throughout the story. 


The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maas, tells us there should be tension on every page.  I agree.  Keep those inner thoughts and dialogue revved with tension.  Make the reader care about the hero, question the antagonist motives, worry about the characters. 


There are 250 words on a page.  When I open a book I am looking at 500 words, in those 500 words there better be something that intrigues me.  Do I want to read on to find out or go back and read what happened before? 


Remember to keep the tension, the questions, and the worry in the reader's mind.  When they stop reading to cook, clean or answer the phone, they think of the story, they need to return to it to find out what is happening. 

Monday, May 31, 2010

What Makes a Page Turner

I read Centennial by James Michener way back in the day. It began with the forming of the west, from the glaciers! At the time I had little kids. I didn’t have time to read about how the west was formed, I wanted the story, the people. I do remember scanning through the pages and finding a story of the first beavers. I stopped and read every word, but when the beavers went away, I scanned until I found where the story of the people really begins. Then I couldn’t put the book down.

 In this day and age, with the web and instant gratification, very few want to read about the land. They want a story. It’s important to research the information about the century you want to write about in your book. But I don’t want a history lesson.


In Prada and Prejudice by Amanda Hubbard, her research of 1800 England shows through in her writing. Not as history, though, as part of the story. Our protagonist, Callie, slips and falls and goes back in time to 1815. Ms. Hubbard tells of the dirt road with lots of ruts, trees, and the large house Callie finally reaches in her Prada heels. Interspersed throughout the story is what clothes are worn, the servants bring water up to the room for baths, and the town with its dress shop and dry goods store. I can visualize this small town outside of London without having to know how it got there. Will she get back to present day? Fall in love with the Duke? Will they find out she is an imposter? Will she find her confidence? Will she ever be able to walk in those damn Prada heels?

 Hook your reader with questions. Some answered quick, some not so quick.