Last night, I dreamed I was reading a novel synopsis on the cover of a book. I woke at 2 a.m. with the words of that synopsis echoing in my head. I lay in a half-sleep thinking, “That sounds like a good book, I should really read that one.” Then it occurred to me the synopsis had come from my head, not from any now-published novel, and it hit me: I’d better write that down!
I tapped my tappable bedside lamp for some light, reached for my bedside pen and notebook, and started scribbling the words from that dreamed synopsis before they could dissipate into the night. I filled one notebook page then, thinking I was done, put it aside and shut off my lamp. I thought I would drift back to sleep. (more…)
Do you ever find yourself staring at an empty page, afraid to put down that first word because you do not know if it is exactly what you want to express in your story? Do you worry about each sentence, afraid you are going to write something that (heaven forbid) tells rather than shows your story?
I know you want to sit down and write a complete and perfect story. We all do. But most of the time it just doesn’t work that way. If you let yourself get bogged down in the details of perfection in the first draft, your first draft will never be complete. (more…)
This morning, I’m typing up a couple of “found” scenes I wrote in a notebook almost four years ago. (I mentioned these scenes in an earlier post.) When I wrote these, I wasn’t really thinking about them in terms of scenes, but was scribbling out a freewrite with some ideas I had for a novel.
Many of my freewrites begin with me telling myself about something I want to do, and then they morph into scenes as I enter “the zone.” So it was no surprise to me when the first few paragraphs I typed up were back-story. But as I was typing, it occurred to me that what I had on the page at this moment was a theme, not a scene or even back-story. (more…)
At Write Your Novel this Summer, we just launched our Featured Writer series where we will feature individual writers who are participating in our summer novel writing challenge. To become a Featured Writer, all you have to do is ‘like’ our Facebook page, look for Featured Writer Prompts, and submit a response to the prompt along with a link to your blog or online writing portfolio. If your submission is chosen, we will feature you and link to your page from our Facebook page (see the Notes section of our Facebook page for more details.)
Yesterday, I posted our first Featured Writers Prompt, but I have yet to receive any submissions. So I thought I would answer the prompt myself to try to get the ball rolling. I want to also encourage my readers to submit. This is a great opportunity to drive readers to your blogs and writing portfolios. It’s also a great way to find out about other writers and learn how they approach the novel writing process. (more…)
Feedback is so depressing because it always means more work. It doesn’t matter who you are, or how good you are, every round of feedback will point out *something* that needs more work.
Unfortunately, I am not yet at the point where I can decide to call it finished and just be done with it. I have yet to finish my complete first draft, so there will be a lot more revisions to come before the work is done. (more…)
I just completed the synopsis of my work in progress and thought I would share it with my readers here at Write on the World. For all of you who have been following me and wondering what, exactly, I am writing about, here it is:
Into the World of Men is a dystopian science fiction novel that explores the themes of freedom and a woman’s place in the world. It is the story of M., a young woman whose family has kept her and her half-sisters hidden away in a secluded barn to keep them safe from a world where women are nothing more than property to the men in power. M. longs to escape the monotony and oppression of life in her secret barn. When King Mentor Drak discovers M.’s existence, he insists that she attend the naming ceremony of her new baby brother, thus forcing her out of exile against the wishes of her family. (more…)
My thesis* efforts this week, while I am awaiting feedback on my first draft, are focused on wrapping up all of the loose ends: annotated bibliography, synopsis, cover letter, etc., that must be included in my final portfolio. I finally completed my bibliography, but I am struggling a bit with my synopsis. One of the biggest problems I am having with my synopsis is deciding what genre my novel fits into.
*Thesis Countdown: The final draft of my creative master’s thesis is due in 11 days!
I’ve been referring to my WIP as a “fantasy novel” for a long time, but I’m not completely sure that’s where it fits. Is it fantasy, or is it science fiction? Or is it this other thing I’ve heard of, speculative fiction, which I have no clue exactly what it is but for some reason have an inkling that my novel may fit into it? So, this afternoon, I am on a quest to determine which pigeonhole I should attempt to stick my novel in.
A cousin-friend recently sent me the first page of a novel she’s writing and asked me if I thought it was any good. She writes some beautiful prose, but I thought she was a little too worried about the “goodness” of her novel at this stage in the writing process. So, I gave her the following advice:
I’ll tell you what I recommend (and a lot of famous published authors seem to agree): Just sit down and mind-dump your story without thinking about whether it’s any good. Stephen King wrote a really great memoir on writing, where he talks about how you should never spend more than a season (3 months) writing a rough draft. Your rough draft will probably seem like garbage, but that’s how it is for everyone (even Stephen King). Once you have your story dumped out on the page, then you can go back and start revising it to make it “good.” (more…)
My six-year-old paid me a visit this morning as I lay in bed considering which part of my creative thesis I should focus my efforts on today.
Do I work on the POV shifts I don’t completely understand and try to muddle my way through filtering my entire story strictly through my protagonist’s POV?
Is it more important to focus on the much-needed world-building? My fantasy novel so far takes place in a jumbled mix of worlds that I don’t completely understand myself. It’s no small wonder my first reading left my thesis advisor feeling confused. (more…)
I recently downloaded the Google Reader app to my phone and have been catching up on a ton of awesome blogs that I otherwise wouldn’t have the time to even glance at. One of my favorites is by author Charlotte Rains Dixon who shares tons of writing exercises that I can’t wait to try out. Last week, Charlotte answered a few questions about her current book via The Next Best Thing Blog Hop. I wanted to answer the same questions on my blog, so I asked Charlotte how I could get involved, and here I am today!
As part of the Blog Hop, I get to tag 3 – 5 other bloggers who will hopefully play along. (But I’m okay with them if they don’t, as I know how busy they all are.) Even if they don’t answer the questions, please check out their blogs anyway, as they are some of my personal favorites. I have listed their links at the end of this blog post. (more…)
I’ve been zipping through the story line of my novel for the past couple of months in an effort to get the entire story on the page without worrying about revisions. I’ve hit 46,472 words, and I’ve been feeling pretty good about the whole thing. That is, until a few days ago when I got the idea that my story line had somehow veered away from where I wanted it to go.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m open to changing direction when it’s appropriate. However, it seems like this time I have turned down a dead-end. The story train has derailed, and I’m left wondering how to pick up the pieces of the train wreck and put it back on the right track. (more…)
This morning, I came across a cute plot skeleton graphic on Pinterest, and I couldn’t help comparing it to my novel and my own personal life story. It’s funny how every good story seems to follow this same organizational pattern. Luckily, my novel so far has all of the basic parts. As does my life!
I am currently working my way up to the “bleakest moment” of my novel and am finding it harder and harder to write as I draw ever closer to doing some horrible things to my protagonist. I think part of the problem is that some of the horrors I am about to put her through are drawn from certain incidents in my own life. As I am writing these scenes, I’m personally transported to a time in my life that I’d rather not relive. (more…)
Names and titles used to be the bane of my existence.
I can’t begin to tell you how much time I have wasted agonizing over names for characters and titles for stories. I have recently realized that those names and titles will eventually reveal themselves to you once you learn to listen for them.
I’ve had a name for my current novel-in-progress for some time, but I haven’t been entirely happy with it. It’s okay, but it doesn’t really sum up the novel in the way I want it to. But, I hate thinking about titles, so I just went with it and kept writing. After all, there’s no sense agonizing over a title at the expense of writing the story. (more…)
Do you remember a while back when I was talking about my new project and how it had just come to me out of the blue? At the time, I thought my new novel project was this fresh idea I had that just took off like I’d been mulling it over my entire life even though I just thought of it a couple of months ago. That was until this morning when I stumbled across an old journal.
I was digging around for a notebook I could use for freewrites and scene ideas so I could keep those separate from the chronological chapters I’ve been writing one after another in my current journal. I remembered seeing a pretty notebook in the bottom of a desk drawer the other day while digging around for something else I never found and figured that one would do the job.
So, I went back and dug this notebook out of the bottom of that drawer and flipped it open to see if it had enough empty pages in it for me to squeeze in some free writes. Imagine my surprise when I realized this notebook was full of old freewrites that turned out to be directly related to my current story! (more…)
I wrote the BEST scene last night after coming home from class. Isn’t it funny how a vigorous workshop can totally recharge your creative batteries?
I’d been feeling a bit stagnant lately, writing mechanically, cranking out *blah* chapters that I knew I’d have to come back later and ‘fix.’ This in-class discussion of the chapters I’d submitted for workshop was exactly what I needed to wake up and reengage with my story. (more…)
I stumbled upon Kickstarter quite some time ago and played around with the idea of launching a Kickstarter project to fund my writing. Unfortunately, I really didn’t have an actual project to work on at the time. It was more of a general wanting to settle into the writing life and write *something.* Not having an actual project to launch, I gave up the idea and moved on. But recently, my professor and fellow writer, Shana Deets, brought up to my class the idea of setting up Kickstarter projects for our current novels. So, I headed over to the website to give it another look. (more…)
I’m working on a novel-writing assignment that is turning out to be far more difficult than I had ever imagined it would be. The assignment is to go to a public place, listen in on a random conversation, and write the conversation down word-for-word, being careful to capture the inflection in the speakers’ voices and imbue the dialog with the mood of the “scene” without the use of description. I thought writing the dialogue would be the hard part, but it turns out that eavesdropping on random conversations is extremely hard when you set out to do it on purpose for a school assignment.
After class Wednesday morning, I decided to stop by a small coffee shop near the school where I teach. I had never been in this particular coffee shop before and did not realize it was a Christian book store/coffee shop until I was halfway in the door. (more…)
Last night, I sat down to write chapter 10 of my novel, and I just couldn’t get into it. I knew what the chapter was supposed to be about, but I simply could not get excited about it. Then I remembered author Rachel Aaron’s advice on getting excited about what you’re writing.
“If I had scenes that were boring enough that I didn’t want to write them, then there was no way in hell anyone would want to read them.” ~Rachel Aaron
So, I sat down with my notebook and began to scribble my thoughts about why I thought the scene I was about to attack was too tedious to write. (more…)
Is your story stuck? You’re trying to hack out that next scene, but all you can seem to do is, well, hack at it? Put the pen down. Back away slowly. It’s time to stop writing your story and start doing some free writing. This morning, I was sharing with a writer friend some advice that I’ve heard from my professor on more than one occasion, and I think this advice is worth sharing.
Here’s what you do: pick a minor character and try to get into that character’s voice. Pretend like that character is sitting at a bar telling the bartender about what is happening in the story… look at the story from a new perspective. Don’t worry about whether or not the character can tell the story well, just let him or her have his say. Also, don’t worry about writing complete sentences or stopping to fix typos. Simply sit down, tell that editor that’s sitting on your shoulder to be quiet for a while, and start writing whatever comes to mind. (more…)
Has this happened to you? You create a solid outline of your novel, and you think you have everything figured out, and then BAM! You realize your story has taken off and is completely running away with you. There is far more to your story than you previously thought. You realize you have more to figure out than you could have ever imagined, and it scares the shit out of you. This is where I’ve found myself this past week. (more…)
Is your story making you angry? Maybe you’ve written several chapters, and each of them alone seem like a great start, but you’re having a hard time getting them to work together as a whole. What do you do when you hit these rough patches that make you feel like you will never be able to make your novel “work?”
One strategy I suggest to help you get over that rough patch is to take yourself out of the “official” story for a while, have a couple of glasses of wine (or a couple of beers,) and sit and do some free writes looking at the story from the point of view of the most minor character in the novel. (more…)
I’ve recently made the decision to throw all of my writing focus into novel writing. This is something I should have done a long time ago, but for some reason paying the bills always seems to come first. Anyway, I’m working on a series of free-writes designed to work out the details of my novel as I am writing it. Over the next several weeks, I hope to post several writing prompts devoted to working out these details.
For this week’s Wednesday Writing Prompt, the focus is on setting. Specifically, the setting in which your main character grew up. Where we came from often has a major influence on who we become. It stands to reason that the setting where your character grew up will have a major impact on who she is in your story. (more…)
As a reader, I expect a lot from a first chapter. I want to be drawn into the story immediately, from page one. I can’t stand a novel that makes me wade through three or four chapters before something “happens.”
Choosing a natural starting point is key. I wrote the first draft of my chapter one last week after completing several writing exercises for class. I was looking for that seemingly small action in my character’s life that would help set the story in motion.
I provided my character with a choice to make in the very first chapter. It may not seem like a huge choice at the time, but it’s one the reader will look back at four or five chapters later and realize that none of the conflict of this novel would have ever occurred had the main character chosen differently in chapter one. (more…)