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

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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