What is a poem? Some may think a poem has to rhyme. (I disagree.) Others believe the syllables must be counted, or that a poem must be stuffed full of alliterative language. But what about free verse? What makes a block of words, a sentence chopped up onto several lines, a poem, rather than a mere chopped-up sentence or a paragraph scattered over several lines?
To me, writing a poem is about capturing a moment. It could be a feeling, a natural occurrence, or a quick glimpse into the life of one person. Most of my poetry describes just one, very small moment. These moments might last only a few seconds, or as long as several minutes. Rarely does the poem capture more than a very short block of time. (more…)
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…)
Today I’m writing to you from Fiddleheads Café in Thiensville, WI. I first heard of Fiddleheads a week ago on the local news when the overflowing Milwaukee River was threatening to flood the café. I loved the idea of a coffee shop so close to the river’s edge and knew I had to check it out.
Fiddleheads is located in an old converted house that sits just feet away from a bend in the Milwaukee River. It’s a bit chilly to sit outside today (unless you’re here to snuggle up in a sweatshirt with hands clasped around a hot cup of coffee, then it’s perfect,) so my writer friend and I picked a large, round table inside.
The dining room where we chose to sit was a bit stuffy when we first came in, so I opened a window by our table and brought some outside in. Fiddleheads’ dining room is bright and airy, with white painted walls and lots of windows. It seems like a great place to sit and write in any season (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…)
Perc Place, located in Hartford, WI, is one of my regular writing haunts. It has a friendly and relaxed atmosphere that is conducive to writing, if you can manage to be there during the right time of day. The walls are covered in painted replicas of old Life Magazine covers and are accompanied by a variety of knick-knacks that always seem to provide an interesting focal point while you’re contemplating your next sentence.
Perc Place seems like a coffee shop at first glance, but its main focus appears to be the restaurant business. Don’t visit expecting to use their WiFi during busy mealtime hours, as it’s only available during their slow times. While the lack of internet access can occasionally be a pain, I find that it mostly keeps me from getting distracted when I should be writing.
I like to enter through the back door and avoid the crowded restaurant section in the front of the building. If you’re here to write, you want a cushy chair or couch cushion in the back where it’s quiet. Well, quiet-ER. The old regulars can get a little rowdy from time to time! (more…)
Last night, I stayed up until midnight grading papers so I could have today free to go to the library and write.
As I showered this morning, I considered how crazy it is that I can’t get any writing done at home. My house is just one big distraction begging me to do anything but write. I’m not quite a true hoarder, but I must admit that I have let things get a bit out of hand.
I just bought a new dinette set and couch with part of my tax refund money. The old furniture left last weekend, and I was left with a huge empty space in my dining room and living room while waiting three days for the new stuff to arrive. After the first day, I was ready to cancel my order.
That huge, empty space in my house, completely uncluttered—well, let’s just say that empty space looked a little like freedom to me. (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 can’t get dressed until after I’ve eaten. On mornings when I have to actually get dressed to go to work, I get up, shower, and put on fresh pajamas. I eat breakfast and have my coffee. I put my work clothes on about five minutes before I actually leave the house, so there’s no danger of spilling anything on myself.
When I buy clothes, I don’t buy clothes just to wear around the house. I can only justify the expense of new clothes when I’m buying them for work. My work clothes hang on one side of the closet. When a shirt gets too ratty for me to wear to work, I shift it to the other side of the closet into my regular wear wardrobe. I don’t eat while wearing my work clothes, ever. (more…)
I’m writing to you this morning from Café de Arts in Waukesha, WI. It’s a cute little café in a big, old Victorian house with a huge sunflower painted on the side. I so want to open my own business in an old house in my town and paint the house purple with a huge sunflower on the side. I even have the house picked out. It’s a foreclosure that’s been sitting empty for about three years, just calling me to buy it.
I have a dream of opening my own writer’s studio/café/bookstore where I can hang out with other writers and discuss our craft in a homey setting. I’m picturing fluffy couches with books lining the walls, and a barista conveniently stationed in a cozy corner.
I’d hang out all day, writing in my notebook in between talking story with my customers. Sometimes, I would offer writing classes and workshops for more focused work. Ultimately, I would create my own little writing community where I can plug in to my local writing scene and keep my creative juices flowing while offering the same service to others. (more…)
I know I’ve brought this up before, but I really wish people would spell-check their Facebook posts. I don’t know about you, but rotten spelling on Facebook has caused me to hide more than a few ignorant Facebook friends from my News Feed. Okay, so maybe you know that red squiggly line under half your words means you’ve misspelled them, and you’re just in too big a hurry to fix it at the moment. But do you realize what your momentary laziness says about you to your 437 “friends?”
My writer friend over at SlimeGreen recently shared a post where she discussed how you can tell a lot about a person from what’s on their nightstand. She shared a pic of her end table, along with an analysis of what her end table says about her. I love this idea, so I’m stealing it. Anyway, here’s a picture of my nightstand. I’m opening myself up to my readers. Please tell me (in the comments below,) what do you think my nightstand says about me?
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…)
One of the most important – and most difficult – parts of teaching is providing constructive criticism without destroying a students’ belief that he or she is capable of succeeding in school.
I recently started reading Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity and am working through some of the exercises she presents in her 12-week course. This morning’s task was to write about three old enemies of my creative self-worth.
I’ve been lucky in that I’ve had a lot of encouragement of my writing endeavors throughout most of my life, so it was hard for me to think of three. Then I remembered my high school Rhetoric tea (more…)