Posts Tagged ‘ write ’

Just Do It

startingblock

The Nike slogan is all too appropriate when it comes to setting and meeting goals. I’ve recently started writing a new book after several stutter starts with a separate book that I finally decided to set aside for the time being. While it’s sometimes difficult to start over or make changes in your life, sometimes the only way to begin is by just doing it. Instead of waiting until tomorrow or a special occasion or when the mood strikes. So instead of waiting until tomorrow to eat better, exercise more, write that book, mend those fences, begin today! 🙂

 

What a Character!

Cover art for the comic book Maddy Kettle by Eric Orchard

Eric Orchard’s illustrations are absolutely brilliant. There are some artists who are able to capture the essence of a character so fully it awes me. Wowzer! When I see illustrations such as these, it makes me stop and think about my own character sketches. While I do my character sketches through writing, I think that either method is a great way to spur one’s imagination and get that creative spark ignited.

While I enjoy having my character’s surprise me as I’m writing by doing things I didn’t think of (sounds weird, but if you’re a writer you know what I mean), I also don’t want to write anything that’s completely out of character either. So if I sketch – or writer – some basic physical, emotional, mental, etc. traits for my characters I have a better idea of what situations to put them out and how they’ll interact and react to the people and conflicts within those situations. I’m a really visual person and if it didn’t take me a long time to draw my characters I would literally sketch them all out to refer to as I write. Since that typically doesn’t work for me I write all those attributes down instead – green eyes, black hair, scar over left eye, etc. as well as non-physical traits – short fuse but champion for the weak, strong willed, close relationship to brother, etc. That way when I sit down to write I have all my notes to refer to, although I rely on them less and less as I get deeper into the story.

Writing Critique Groups

  I hear both positive and negative sides to writing groups/critique groups. Some writers find them very useful while others…not so much. When I began writing seriously I found myself most often chained to a table at my local coffee shop writing away on my laptop and moving only when one side of my butt fell asleep. Needless to say (sidenote: I think this is one of the funniest phrases as it is always followed by that thing that doesn’t need to be said…), I began craving human interaction if only to talk to someone outside of the characters in my head. I knew that alone if I were to have a question about character development or plot twists or get writer’s block or any number of potholes on my writing journey, I would be stuck spinning my wheels.

So I turned to the internet for help. Through a site called meetup.com (Yahoo Groups is similar), I found a writing critique group that met around my area. When the day finally arrived when I was to meet my new best friends for the first time, I found myself both nervous and excited. Through the Barnes & Noble doors lay my future. Through the guidance and tutelage of these learned souls I would excel to new heights in my writing path and propel my novel ever closer to the publishing world! So say we all…

Not exactly.

While everyone who came and went in that initial writing group was very nice and eager to help others groom their writing skills, I left after a year and haven’t joined another group since. Two good things came out of that group: 1. I met my friend and author Alissa Grosso who has helped to guide me on my own writing path while following hers and 2. I have a better idea of what I want from a writing group.

I realized I need: people who attend consistently (so many people were in and out of that other writing group there were no real connections made on my end), people seeking to better their writing and eventually seek to get published (while I appreciate that it takes a long time to write let alone get published, it would be nice to talk to people who are going through the same agent seeking, query writing troubles as me), people writing in the same genre (I write YA/MG and it would be nice to find others who understand where you’re coming from and where you might be going), and people I trust to share my work with (this goes back to the consistent thing as I don’t want to give portions of my baby novel to someone who I only see once every few months).

With those criteria in mind I signed up to attend a group that actually meets at the library I work at. Yay! I have high hopes for this one, so wish me luck. First meeting is tomorrow night. 😀

Happy writing!

Writing Revisions 101

  When I first starting writing my YA novel, I believed my first draft would be a masterpiece. Maybe not the next great American novel, but most definitely publishable. I was absolutely, one hundred percent, without a doubt, certain of this. (Keep laughing, I’m sure you’ve been there too…) Well, surprise, surprise, it wasn’t. Not even close. But despite not hitting a home run my first time at the writing table I just as quickly realized this and returned to my notes to work on revisions.

Revisions are a necessary part of any writing. And if you’re a novice such as myself, then revisions will be even more important a part of the writing process that the actual first draft. This isn’t easy to hear since we all want our fledgling books to take off as soon as we pen that final word to create (can it be true??) a finished novel. However, finished and really FINISHED are two very different things. But, if you can learn from those who have gone before you, then you are well on your way to polishing that novel to the point where you can send those anticipated query letters out without fear of one of them requesting a full manuscript.

While there are many tips, resources, and bastions of advice readily available to aspiring writers, here are a few I came across that I thought were particular good from the June issue of Writer’s Digest. (Paraphrased with personal comments of course…)

1. Give yourself (and your creative mind) time to rest and step back after you’ve finished your first draft. You’re so entrenched in your own story that it’s difficult to be objective and although this will never quite be achieved, you will be more objective after some time has elapsed.

2. Print out a hard copy to read through. I did this because it’s fun to use an old-fashioned red pen to correct my manuscript and it helped me to see things I may not have because of the different format.

3. Read it once through like your targeted reader. Did the overall story make sense? Are your characters developed enough? Are there any slow parts? Make a list to prioritize when you return to the writing table.

4. Analyze each scene and make notes to rewrite as needed. According to Writer’s Digest (and author James Scott Bell) a strong scene will have the following: A single point of view, a clear objective for the character, opposition (conflict) to the objective, a struggle that is felt emotionally by the POV character, an outcome that forces the reader to read on.

5. Details, details, details. Dull dialogue? Add more details! Flat characters? Add more details! Bland settings? Add more details! I understand that you might not want to reach an Austenian level of description, but if you want your readers to be transported to the world you’re creating then adding details is the backbone to doing that.

I found that I was so excited to tell the story and finish my first draft that I brushed past the rounded characters and the gripping scenes and had to go back to add those to my story. Revisions aren’t easy, but you can look at it as a way to get your novel one step closer to publishable form.

Happy writing! 😀

 

Six Signs You’re Getting Closer to Publication

1. You start receiving personalized, “encouraging” rejections.

2. Agents or editors reject the manuscript you submitted, but ask you to send your next work.

3. Your mentor (or published author friend) tells you to contact his agent, without you asking for a referral.

4. An agent or editor proactively contacts you because she spotted your quality writing somewhere online or in print.

5. You’ve outgrown the people in your critique group and need to find more sophisticated critique partners.

6. Looking back, you understand why your work was rejected, and see that it deserved rejection.

 

(This list was found in Jane Friedman’s article Revising Your Path to Publication found in Writer’s Digest, June 2011.)

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading is hosted by the lovely Sheila @ Book Journey. Stop by and see what all the fuss is about! 🙂

I figured I should write my Monday post early in case Hurricane Irene decides to knock our power out. It already winked out for a little but is back on. Hopefully it will stay on! Irene has caused a lot of chaos these past few days and probably will continue to until she dissipates somewhere over the Eastern part of the U.S. But it’s better to be overly prepared and safe then to witness the wreckage that hurricanes can cause. It’s been wild that’s for sure! We’re still getting a torrential downpour and now there are tornado warnings! This is all on top of an earthquake that was felt by at least five states on the East Coast a few days ago – crazy!!!

In preparation for the storm, I stocked up on some great books and magazines. Here’s what I’ve been reading:

  Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore – I’m a big fan of Clement-Moore’s Maggie Quinn: Girl v. Evil books, so I was excited when I heard about this latest release by the author. Although it follows a different heroine, Texas Gothic is filled with the same things I loved about the Girl v. Evil series – sarcastic exchanges, flawed characters, and intriguing mysteries. Set in Texas, the story follows a family blessed with the gift of spells, psychic connections, and mystic powers as a young college girl, Amy, learns to accept who she is while solving the mystery of the Mad Monk, a ghostly power that’s been causing havoc around a neighboring ranch. A perfect book to read while a big storm rages outside!

 

 

  Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published by Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry – I mentioned this book in my post a couple days ago and am busy enjoying all the helpful tips the authors provide. While I’ve done a lot of reading and research in regards to writing and publishing a novel, I hadn’t read this guide. The authors, known as The Book Doctors, help people realize their publishing dreams through talks, one-on-one guided sessions, and Pitchapalooza events. Always interested in making myself a better writer and learning more about the trade, this is the ideal book!

 

 

  Rail-Trails: Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York – I discovered rails to trails a couple years ago and have been hooked ever since. These converted railways make for ideal trails because they don’t have motorized traffic, they’re shaded, and they stretch for miles and miles. I usually run or bike these trails and wrote about the Columbia Trail where I usually go on my long Sunday runs this time last year. It’s especially nice because the trails are very flat and make for a perfect place for my longer runs and a welcome change from my hilly neighborhood where I run during the week. While this book showcases the trails in the tri-state area, I know there are rail-trails around the country with books highlighting different areas or you can hop over to the website: Rails-to-Trails.

 

 

Have a great reading week! 😀