Archive for May, 2008

AAAAHHHHHHH!

I believe speaking of the devil usually brings him to your door. My editor sent me back See Megan Run for yet another round of edits. The high point is that she’s specific in what she wants to see changed. I’m also cutting as much backstory I can as I go. I know that’s going to make her scream (for formatting issues), but I’m still trying to salvage my reputation. I can list all the things that I could have done differently, but I think writing this story was a lesson for me.

1. The story should always come first.
2. Don’t let being and staying publish screw up your belief system.
3. Just because you wrote THE END doesn’t mean the story is ready.
4. Don’t complain about a book on your blog. Vent on your writing forums only.
5. It’s probably all in your head. (When it comes to the quality of your story.)
6. When in doubt add more dialogue.

So, I’ll let you guys know when I have a release date, because trust me I’m going to promote this book like none of what I said ever happen. I will be open to hate mail or even for you to tell me I must have lost my mind because it is a good story. Yup, that’s the note I’m leaving this post on. I didn’t promise the ending would be cheery.

Have a great weekend.

May 30, 2008 at 1:46 pm 4 comments

I’M BUILDING CHARACTER, REALLY!!!

WARNING: Umm, this is a post after a funny post. Lower your expectations.

So, I’m waiting on word from my editor, which isn’t so bad. This is our last book together. If you never lost an editor then I can tell you it sucks butt. She loved How Much You Want to Bet? enough to contract the story. She saw potential in See Megan Run and pushed me to do whatever it would take to make that story shine the same way How Much does. She’ll always be my favorite person breathing. Second, I’m waiting on word on the PARTIALS I’ve submitted.

So, what am I doing while grass grows?

I’m spending time in my head. One of the best ways to write a book. No, really. I’m still on the revising wheel with I Said Never and was blindsided with an incredible character insight that I can add to the character. Okay, I stole it from real life. If you have been around here longer than two seconds, you know I can sometimes be funny. In real life I’m a hoot. When I’m irritated or angry there is no stopping me.
So, why not give that trait to my character? Well see how that goes.

And I’ve given up on my romantic comedy. The spark for me to write it just isn’t there. I can’t see what the next scene is going to be, much less what the heroine’s next turning point will be. I’m all for pushing through writing a story, but I’ve lost interest not once, but three times to write this story. I know my process. I lose interest around 5k or 10k then like a bolt of lighting I can get through the book long enough to finish it. I’m still waiting for that bolt of lighting.

So what have I turned to?

Another humerous women’s fiction. And guess what? I know all four turping points. I even have a glimmer of the end. Now it’s all about finding out who this character is. All that does is circle me back to writing in my head. Hours of daydreaming. Asking insightful questions: who is this person?

All in all, lollygagging.

Oh, and I should mention I stole the opening scene from real life. This character meets with a nutrionist and is told she must go on a “life change” diet.

What do you call this stage in writing? Procrastination is not an answer. Go at it in the comments.

May 28, 2008 at 1:25 pm 10 comments

I’M NOT A DREAM CRUSHER


Little Ms. Diva(who is 8 years old): My tooth fell out.

Cynical Mother: Aren’t you too old to have teeth still falling out?

LMD: See? *shows mother bloody gums.

CM:*gags* Eew. Where is it?

LMD: Under my pillow. So, when I wake up the Tooth Fairy will leave me money.

CM: Hmm.

LMD: How much do yo think she’s going to leave me?

CM: Little Ms. Diva, the Tooth Fairy doesn’t exist.

LMD: *narrows her eyes* Then why is there always money under my pillow AFTER I put my tooth under it?

CM: Me or Nana takes your tooth while you are sleeping and puts money there.

LMD:*eyes are still narrowed, but walks away*

CM*filled with guilt.* It was time. She’s eight. God, I’m going to have to tell her about Santa soon.

LMD: Then when I was at my grandma’s house who left me money then? Huh? Do you have an answer for that?

CM: She took your tooth. Everyone knows the Tooth Fairy doesn’t exist. It’s up to me to tell you these things. Plus, I’m broke, so now is a good time as any.

LMD:*narrows her eyes and makes the “I’m watching you motion”*

CM: *throughly amused that she even knows that motion.* Little Ms. Diva, I’m telling you the truth.

LMD: We’ll see who is right.

Night falls, CM sleeps on her decision to crush child’s dream….
CM: *at 5 o’clock in the morning goes to an ATM withdraws $20, breaks the $20, and leaves three dollars under LMD pillow while she slumbers.

********************

I tried and couldn’t do it, because next it will be Santa. I’m not ready to take Santa away. So, what’s a few dollars under a pillow? Yeah, she’s going to be like ‘in yo face’ all day, but I think I can take it. I couldn’t take the pouting, the tears at the realization that no, the Tooth Fairy, is fake. And that me and all the people she loved has lied to her all these years. What else have we lied about? Nope, I’m not a dream crusher. *I’ll make her Dad tell her.*

When did someone break the news to you? Or when did you break the news to your child?

May 26, 2008 at 1:16 pm 32 comments

THINGS IN WRITING YOU SHOULD NEVER DO

Since I love irony:

1. Be wary of anyone who says “never do” in the same sentence as writing. For every never there is an exception to that rule. At the same time when you’ve revised your work and you’ve left a few “nevers” you better come up with the why you left them. One, to make sure you’re just not breaking the rules to be breaking them. Two,so you know the purpose. Three, if ever asked to cut it out of your story you answer just won’t be “but I like it.”

2. Start your book with backstory. Here’s an example:

Mary glanced across the street and there stood Evan. Her mind went back to that summer when they were lovers. It had been three years ago. She couldn’t remember why they’d broken up she just knew they’d been good in bed. Three years ago he had…..

Here’s the harsh reality, I don’t care about three years ago in the first paragraph. I want to know what is Mary’s problem right that second. This is more compelling.

Mary glanced across the street and there stood Evan. Crap.

Now I want to know who is Evan. So, the main reason that backstory in the beginning doesn’t work is because it’s not making the reader work. The first one the author is telling you everything. The second example, well, I’m sitting up. Hey this is a lesson I just learned and trust me it’s invaluable.

3. Never not bleed on the page.

I know that sounds weird so let me explain:

Open a vein, baby.

Not that this phrase sounds any better, but think about the books that resonates with you. 9 times out of 10 the book you’re thinking about told a truth you could believe in. Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie, I bought that book hook, line and sinker. The truth that I walked away with was it’s okay to believe in fairy tales. It’s okay to be the princess and want a prince charming. Best damn book ever written and it could just be the “truth” I bought into. Or it was just Jenny bled on the page. She could have been bleeding for others, but blood nonetheless.

Another Example: Lani Diane Rich’s Little Ray of Sunshine. Best damn book ever written. Again I bought the truth: Angels can exist and they may not exactly have wings. Forgiveness is really the one thing that separates us from animals. (And our opposalbe(sp?) thumbs, of course.) Real love is loving someone for who they are. People can change if they really want to.

All this sounds like themes, but to me their not. Bleeding on the page is intangible. Some writers know how to open a vein and go at it. Some, it takes them a while to see that they did. Bleeding on the page is much like voice, it’s already there and the good thing, you can hone it. Because as long as your telling your character’s truth (which I believe is some truth you also believe in) then it’s there. Don’t staunch the blood.

4. This one is closely related to number 3: Never, NEVER filter what you write in the first draft. No one will ever see it. Just let the writing happen. I know you shouldn’t trust anyone who says trust me, but Trust me on this one. You’ll get a better first draft. Don’t think about marketing, does this scene drag on too long, I need to do laundry–Just let the words come. Write it and they will come…

Okay, I have no idea what the last line means. I had no idea what it meant in Field of Dreams.(Until ghosts started to come out of the share crops. Then it was just creepy) So, to wrap up this week of craft blogging: Keeps what works, discard the rest.

And from the wise words of JC (he, he I still get a kick out of those initials) Many Roads to Oz

May 23, 2008 at 2:55 pm 4 comments

I HAD THIS WONDERFUL POST ON SCENE STRUCTURE

And the blog Gods ate it. So, you are going to get the condensed version.

Scene: Has a beginning, middle and end. It moves the plot forward. It’s also a small portion of the book as a whole. And it better have a purpose.

Now what do I mean that it has a beginning, middle and end:

Beginning: Scene opens. The reader is presented with the protag and antag and their overall goal.

Yes, there needs to be a scene goal, just like your character needs an overall goal for the book.

If you have that then you will have a middle:

Protag and Antag both try to get their goal. Through that you’ll have conflict for your scene. Don’t confuse conflict with argument. Conflict can be as simple as Mary(the protag) wanting to go buy red shoes and Sarah (her friend and antag of scene) thinks that red isn’t her friend’s color. Yes this can turn into an argument, but it doesn’t have to.

The End of a scene someone has to win, lose, and/or the scene ends with more goals.

Ex:

******************************
Mary: I’ve had my eye on some red shoes.

Sarah: I’m sorry to say this, but you know I love you.

Mary: Then don’t say it, but I already know what you are going to say.

Sarah: Red shoes makes your ankles look fat.

Mary: *sighs* I know, but they’re Prada.

Sarah: Prada?

Mary: With an ankle strap and fabric with cherries embroided on them.

Sarah: *shakes head* Tempting, but the ankle strap will only make the middle part of your foot look fat. I say get the black Gucci ones.

Mary: But I really want the red ones.

Sarah: Okay, you’ll be the one with the fat looking feet.

Mary*every other part of me is fat enough. I really shouldn’t get shoes that…* I’m getting the red ones. Fat foot be damned.
**********************************

This may be a horrid example, but there is conflict, mention of fat feet which can be hilarious. The scene moves forward by the mention of weight issues and her friend adding to the misconception. And you can see who the protag and antag is in this scene.

Breakdown of scene goal:

Mary wants to buy red shoes. (P wants B)

Sarah thinks red shoes make friend’s foot look fat and wants to talk her friend out of buying some. (A wants C)

Mary and Sarah both have a goal and there goals are locked together and someone has to lose. (This particular scene it’s Sarah who loses.)

Since this scene isn’t really a book I can only weave tales (lies) about how this scene fits into the whole. This scene can be the foundation for character, what type of friendship these women have (I know if someone told me I had a fat foot we better be friends or things will get very ugly) or it’s feeding into the whole that Mary has to deal with her weight issues.

Lastly the purpose is equal to the goal. Mary wants red shoes.

Hopefully that helps. Tell me what you think about scene structure. If you have any questions I’ll direct you to someone who really knows. Lastly, if you disagree with everything I said, go ahead have fun in the comments. I love a great debate.

On Friday I shall ramble on another topic: Things you should never do in your novel…since I’m in a craft blogging mood.

May 21, 2008 at 3:20 pm 4 comments

SPEAKING OF DIALOGUE

I found this on Nathan Bradford’s blog. He’s an agent with a great sense of humor.

Are you brave enough to enter?

I know I am, well as soon as I find my flash drive. Let me know if you do and you have to do it by tomorrow.

May 20, 2008 at 2:04 pm 2 comments

WRITE TO YOUR STRENGTHS


I’m in a craft blogging mood, so this week stay tuned.

What I’m talking about today is finding that one thing that is effortless for you. That thing is going to help you write your first draft. Now I’m saying this because I realized I wasn’t doing it. (You should see all the introspection I have. Well, you will when See Megan Run comes out. Lessons learned and all that.) But I can’t blame that alone for my stall in word count in my WIP, but close enough.

What is my strength?

Dialogue, baby. You can’t pay me to get my characters to NOT nod, grin, smile or shrug. I really don’t know what else they can do. I’m okay at description. If I close my eyes I can see the room. Or I just open up a magazine find a picture that I think a room or scene looks like and describe it. But dialogue, I can write that stuff in my sleep. Case in point:

“After a hard day of work, smiling nicely at someone is the last thing on my mind. Come to think of it, what type of work do you do?”

He parked in front of the SeaSide Restaurant. “Lately I’ve been a reporter, but I’m thinking of becoming an architect.”

She shook her head, chuckling lightly. “The sad things is, I think you’re serious.”

“What’s not to be serious? If you don’t like your job, change it.”

Neil blinked several times, looking unsure of what to say. A first. When he reached across her to open the door, she practically jumped out of the car. “I said, no touching.”

“I barely touched you.”

“The gleam in your eyes told me your intentions weren’t completely gentleman-like.”

“Really?” Gib closed his door. “I must watch out for that. I don’t want you to see it coming.”

Neil turned from him to the restaurant, mumbling what sounded like, “Me and my pride.”

Now you may say there are tags and the like, but let me show you something:

“After a hard day of work, smiling nicely at someone is the last thing on my mind. Come to think of it, what type of work do you do?”

“Lately I’ve been a reporter, but I’m thinking of becoming an architect.”

“The sad things is, I think you’re serious.”

“What’s not to be serious? If you don’t like your job, change it.”

“I said, no touching.”

“I barely touched you.”

“The gleam in your eyes told me your intentions weren’t completely gentleman-like.”

“Really?”… “I must watch out for that. I don’t want you to see it coming.”

“Me and my pride.”

Isn’t the scene still moving? Yes, they are gaps, but you can still see it. Now in the opposite way:

He parked in front of the SeaSide Restaurant.

She shook her head, chuckling lightly.

Neil blinked several times, looking unsure of what to say. A first. When he reached across her to open the door, she practically jumped out of the car.

Gib closed his door.

Neil turned from him to the restaurant, mumbling what sounded like,

My poor, poor tags lose this match. You can’t see the scene at all. In this particular scene the tags and action are fillers, but important ones nonetheless, because even though the dialogue moves it feels empty without the tags. And then there is this):


“I can’t get the(tarot)reading without you.”

The heifer never fought fair. “Can’t I just pull out a hair and give it to you? I’m up to pricking my finger to give you blood if that’s what you need.”

Shelise glanced heavenward. I tried to not tell her that wouldn’t work either. “I’m not into voodoo.” She spread her hands out as if to call a truce. “All you have to do is shuffle the deck.”

“See, now that’s like saying, ‘all I want to do is put the head in.’ Many babies have been made that way.”

“I’m being serious.”

“So am I. Statistics have shown—.”

“Phoenix.”

Here is the break down(Introspection first, which to me is another form of dialogue if used right and not too much):

The heifer never fought fair.

I tried to not tell her that wouldn’t work either.

Now tags/actions:

Shelise glanced heavenward.

She spread her hands out as if to call a truce.

Lastly my favorite, dialogue:

“I can’t get the(tarot)reading without you.”

“Can’t I just pull out a hair and give it to you? I’m up to pricking my finger to give you blood if that’s what you need.”

“I’m not into voodoo.”…“All you have to do is shuffle the deck.”

“See, now that’s like saying, ‘all I want to do is put the head in.’ Many babies have been made that way.”

“I’m being serious.”

“So am I. Statistics have shown—.”

“Phoenix.”

Honestly there isn’t any need for tags. You know who is talking when. It’s like a tennis match. You can damn hear the sacarsm on one side and the frustration on the other, especially with the last line. It’s kind of like when your parent used to just call your name. Didn’t matter if they didn’t follow up, you just knew you better go see what they wanted. Again the introspection and tags/action help out this scene for clarity and to get a better picture, but this part can ride on dialogue alone. (You can disagree in the comments of course.)

Now how can this help you find your strength? Cut your scenes apart. Pick at least two of your favorite scenes. Don’t ask why, just see what’s in it. Look at the dialogue alone, then the description, then the tags and/or actions. Yes, you need all of them to help paint the picture, but I’m telling you one side is going to win. When you find this out and you are at a lost on how to write a scene play to your strength. you can always add the rest later.

Hopefully this has helped you. So, tell me what is your strength?

May 18, 2008 at 3:25 pm 12 comments

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