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…)
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…)
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…)
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…)
As a high school student, I always hated it when my literature teachers insisted that we identify the themes and motifs of the stories we read. However, as an adult, I have found that my life is laced with a few distinct recurring themes and motifs.
For today’s Wednesday Writing Prompt, I invite you to take a look at your own life and consider what themes and motifs seem to appear most frequently. Then choose one of these themes (and/or motifs) and write an essay, short story, or poem that explores the impact of this theme on your life.
You might also consider how the themes and motifs from your everyday life influence your writing in general. For example, do you often find yourself incorporating these same themes into each piece? (more…)
Do you consider yourself a “real” writer? Why or why not? What makes a writer?
Welcome to Part 4 of my blog series on the 2012 AWP Conference session titled, Now That’s a Novel Idea: Marketability (Gasp!) and Creative Writing Programs. I’m assuming you’ve at least read my introductory post, so I’ll just jump right in today and talk about the panelists’ views on query letters and agent-hunting.
First of all, what is a query letter, and why do you need one? Well, these days most publishers do not want to see your entire novel manuscript if they don’t already have a working relationship with you. In most cases, they want nothing more than a query letter, and possibly a short synopsis. The publisher will then use that information to decide if they think it’s worth their time to request a copy of the full manuscript. So, it’s important to write a query letter that really sells your manuscript.
Our session panelists provided the following tips for writing an effective query letter: (more…)
Welcome to Part 3 of my blog series on the 2012 AWP Conference session titled, Now That’s a Novel Idea: Marketability (Gasp!) and Creative Writing Programs. I’m assuming you’ve at least read my introductory post, so I’ll just jump right in today and talk about the panelists’ views on submitting and submitting and submitting and…
One of the main lessons stressed by all of the presenters on this panel is that you should submit and submit often. One of the presenters says there is no better time to submit your work than today because, “It’s best to begin the process of being rejected” sooner rather later.
Don’t avoid submitting your work because you don’t think it’s good enough to be published yet. Instead, submit everything and accept the fact that you will be rejected. Most of us would rather be rejected by a lover than by a publisher, but we have to remember that rejection is just a part of the writer’s life. (more…)
It’s been more than a week since I attended the 2012 Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Conference and Book Fair in Chicago, IL. So far, I’ve only barely scratched the surface of the convention. Today I’d like to dive into my notes and talk about one session I attended, which was titled, “Now That’s a Novel Idea: Marketability (Gasp!) and Creative Writing Programs.” (more…)
I had to miss class Saturday morning to make it to the 2012 AWP Conference and Book Fair in Chicago. My Narratology instructor encourages students in our professional writing program to attend such events, so he was okay with a few of us missing class just this once. However, he asked that we each write a review of the conference and discuss what our biggest takeaways were so we could share the experience with our classmates who couldn’t make it.
I thought my review, with a few revisions, would make a good blog post for today considering I’m always short on writing time on Wednesdays (I teach 2 classes on Wednesdays.) Enjoy… (more…)
Today I’m writing a story about something that happened to me about 13 years ago. I don’t know how you feel about the passing of time, but for me, 13 years is a LONG time ago. So, I can remember major details, but some of those minor details have me questioning my memory. In this particular story, there is a nasty fight and an unfortunate incident with an apple pie. But I can’t, for the life of me, remember which happened first. Dilemma, dilemma.
So, what do you do when you’re writing about something that actually happened but can’t remember such important details? And what if you can remember the details, but the story works better if you rearrange events? I’m not writing a memoir, simply using actually happenings as the basis for a short story I’ll pass off as fiction. All names will be changed to protect the identities of those involved, of course. (more…)
I’m one course and a thesis paper away from completing my masters degree in professional writing at Mount Mary College, and I’m feeling pressed to decide on a specific career course. So yeah, I’m a writer: but what kind of writer am I? I’ve written poetry, short stories, parts of novels, but for a long time I’ve struggled to find that one niche that I am really passionate about. Until I recently discovered YA.
Okay, so I’m sure I’ve read plenty of YA novels in the past. I’ve occasionally read some of my son’s books, and he’s getting into that age range. And, I’m quite sure I read tons of YA when I was a YA myself. But until recently, I haven’t really studied the genre.
While taking my poetry course this past fall, I read Crossing Stones, a novel in verse by Helen Frost, and I just LOVED that book and form. I then read a few of her other books: The Braid, Diamond Willow, and her latest, Hidden. All great reads. I found a lot of inspiration in these books and began to wonder if I could write something similar myself. (more…)
Wow, two posts in one day. This is totally not me! But anyway, Day One of NaNoWriMo is going swimmingly. I’m up to 2,492 words. But it is bothering me that my characters don’t have names. In fact, it’s not just bothering me, it’s slowing me down. (more…)
For the first time ever in my writing career, I have developed a full and complete outline for a novel (shocking, I know.) How many times have I just sat down and started writing without giving much thought to where I am taking my characters? At least as many times as I have abandoned manuscripts in drawers and on hard drives, that’s for sure! But I want to be really prepared for NaNoWriMo, so I decided yesterday to do a little research and remind myself of the story structure lessons I learned when I took my novel writing class a few semesters ago.
In my research, I found the following video on storyboarding from Mary Carroll Moore, an award-winning author and master writing instructor:
The “W Storyboard structure” Moore details in her video was tremendously helpful. I had already decided on the characters I wanted to use for my NaNoWriMo novel, and even had a short story written about them. But I need to decide on an appropriate conflict to set my story in motion and then determine the trajectory of the story. (more…)
Last spring, I wrote a short story for a course I was taking on literature and humor. It’s the story of a girl who is told by a boy that he spray painted something on a train trestle; something she would be very interested in seeing. So this girl and her best friend decide to ride their bikes out to see what he wrote and, as with any good work of humor, hilarity ensues. (more…)