Essays, Novel Writing

What are you going to finish today?

English: Spiral made of Floppy discs
I have about a million of these floppy discs containing business and management essays from both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in business and management. I’m considering editing all of them and putting them up on an informational website (complete with ads to generate revenue.) If only I had a floppy disc drive. | English: Spiral made of Floppy discs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’re like me, you probably have at least a couple of projects laying around unfinished. If so, then like me, your major goal for 2014 might just be to get shit done. Seriously.

I get a little overwhelmed when I consider all of the projects I started in 2013 and didn’t finish. I want to finish them all. I want to finish writing my current WIP and the one I started for thesis last spring. I want to revise the novel I completed for the summer writing challenge in 2013. I want to publish everything (even all of those business essays I wrote so long ago that they are sitting around on floppy discs.)

When I think about it, I have many great projects that are not only started, but are also nearing completion. For me, 2014 will be more about completing projects than it will be about starting something new. Although, I suppose actually finishing something will be new for me. HA!

Anyway, it is useless to sit here psyching myself out over the mountain of work I have ahead of me. So why do it? I can only do one thing at a time. So. What do I want to do first? That’s the real question begging an answer. Continue reading “What are you going to finish today?”

Memoir, NaNoWriMo, Write Your Novel This Season

Did you write a novel this season?

Cover Image - NaNoWriMo Gone Wild - The Quest for 50000 Words
This is a current draft of the cover for my NaNoWriMo project.

Earlier this year, I started my Write Your Novel this Summer Challenge, which then morphed into Write Your Novel this Season. While I did manage to complete a full draft over the summer, I am still working on my fall novel. Considering I am only three chapters in, I am kind of doubting I will finish it by the first day of Winter (December 21st.) However, I have managed to get into a regular writing routine, so there are no worries here. Looking back, I see that I have made great progress over this past year.

I spent the early part of 2013 writing a 90+ page creative thesis that would net me an A for the final semester of my Master’s level professional writing program. I graduated in May, found and lost a job (that, looking back, I am happy didn’t work out). I was unemployed for the summer but spent a lot of that season traveling and spending time with family members I hardly ever get to see.

As I mentioned above, I wrote a full first draft novel that I am currently revising. I also wrote a full memoir/writing manifesto-type manuscript for NaNoWriMo, just to prove to myself that I could write 50,000 words in one month. I am even considering publishing it and offering it up for free downloads. Continue reading “Did you write a novel this season?”

Novel Writing, Reading

How to ensure your novel is what’s read next

Goodreads Avatar
Determining what to read next can be far more complicated than simply grabbing a book off the shelf. | Goodreads Avatar (Photo credit: minifig)

I have a complicated system for deciding what book I want to read next. First, I constantly keep my eyes peeled for books I might want to read. For example, this morning I read a blog post interview with self-publishing author Aimee Kuzinski. She caught my attention when she mentioned that the hardest part of writing her latest novel, Eye of the Storm, was realizing during the editing phase that she had a major plot hole that needed to be fixed. The fact that she took the time to go ahead and plug that hole rather than rushing her book to publication made me want to read her book.

I should probably mention that the premise of Kuzinski’s novel sounded promising as well. Seriously, what is wrong with me that the writer’s effort to produce a quality product is more likely to catch my attention than her story telling? Maybe I need to work on that. But I digress. Continue reading “How to ensure your novel is what’s read next”

Novel Writing

Logistics, logistics: Naming and dating characters

English: An Entennmann's cake donut, bought fr...
Oh, maybe I could name one of my characters “Donut!” (Just kidding!) | English: An Entennmann’s cake donut, bought from a grocery store four-variety pack. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today it’s all about logistics. The time period of my current WIP has evolved since I started the first draft. Because of this evolution, I realized that many of my character names were no longer appropriate to the times when they were born. So today, my writing activities are focused on charting out a timeline and coming up with new names for several of my characters.

In the beginning, I thought most of my characters were born after the apocalyptic event that changed their world. I was thinking they were born in a time when food would be scarce, and that parents in that time might be tempted to name their children after various food items they missed from the old days. My characters thus ended up with names like Cauli (short for cauliflower,) and Radi (short for radish.) I also had a couple of characters named Apple and Peach (which are maybe a bit too cutesy, but this didn’t start out as the serious project it has become. I was just experimenting and having fun!) Continue reading “Logistics, logistics: Naming and dating characters”

Write Your Novel this Summer Challenge

Summer Writing Challenge Check-in: Week 12, Time to revise!

black walnut tree
Have you looked outside lately? Mother Nature keeps reminding me that summer is almost over. These black walnuts will be on the ground soon.

September 21st is the last day of summer, as well as the official last day of our Write Your Novel this Summer Challenge. I don’t know about you, but I feel good knowing I have written an entire story from start to finish. Now, on to revisions!

After letting my first draft simmer for a couple of weeks, I finally sat down this week and started working on my second draft. Many famous authors (Stephen King comes to mind) say your second draft should always be shorter than your first. They advise cutting out unnecessary words, which is great advice. But I don’t think that is going to work for me. Continue reading “Summer Writing Challenge Check-in: Week 12, Time to revise!”

Write Your Novel this Summer Challenge

Summer Writing Challenge Check-in: Week 6 | Breaking the rules, starting a new project

"Writing", 22 November 2008
I actually had a very productive writing week. | “Writing”, 22 November 2008 (Photo credit: ed_needs_a_bicycle)

This week, I am breaking one of those fundamental writing rules. You know the one about how you should finish one project before starting the next? Yeah, well, I totally broke it.

My existing work in progress (WIP) seems hopelessly stalled at the moment. I know what the problem is. My focus is too broad. I need to start cutting, but I can’t decide where to start. I decided to do some experimenting with a simplified story line to gain some perspective on my problem. Next thing I knew, I’d mapped out an entire new novel project and written a first chapter to go with it.

Yes, I broke the rule.

At least I am writing again. Continue reading “Summer Writing Challenge Check-in: Week 6 | Breaking the rules, starting a new project”

Novel Writing

Studying the four-part story structure

William Faulkner's Underwood Universal Portabl...
I wonder if someone will one day turn my crappy apartment into a shrine to my writing? | William Faulkner’s Underwood Universal Portable sits in his office at Rowan Oak, which is now maintained by the University of Mississippi in Oxford as a museum. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The second half of my novel is shaping up to be the toughest to figure out. The first half seemed to flow straight out of my subconscious mind and onto the page without much thought or effort on my part. Which is strange, considering I had no idea where I was going with my story at the time.

Now that I know where I want to go, I can’t seem to figure out how to get there. A recent Writer’s Digest blog post titled, How to Structure a Killer Novel Ending got me thinking about my story’s structure again.

In the early stages of writing my novel, I considered my overall structure many times and in various forms. It’s something I might not have done if not for the fact that I was taking an advanced novel writing course and was forced to do so by my professor. I am glad she did though, because that intense examination of structure really helped me get my story moving. Continue reading “Studying the four-part story structure”


I write what I read

let's pretend this never happened by jenny lawson
This is me taking a break from reading at the beach.

Do you ever find yourself urged to write in the same genre you happen to be reading at the moment? I got the idea for my current WIP while reading a fantasy novel. Since then, I have been on a quest to devour every novel I can find that is even remotely related to what I am writing in an effort to keep the writing pump primed.

If I stray too far beyond the sphere of what I am writing, it throws me off. For example, if I take a break to read some poetry, I find myself writing poetry instead of novel scenes. Now that I’m reading a memoir, guess what? I’ve decided to write a memoir.

The Bloggess, otherwise known as Jenny Lawson, writes one of the funniest blogs I have ever read in my entire life. I can always count on her to make me laugh out loud, literally, when I’m feeling my worst. For example, this post here. I didn’t just LOL. I totally snorted. Read it, I dare you. Continue reading “I write what I read”

Novel Writing, Writing Prompts

Writing the rebirth plot arc: Rathilde

School Building
This building is very much what I imagine the Good Citizen Center to look like in my WIP. | School Building (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a recent blog post titled, “The 7 Basic Plots: Rebirth,” Liz Bureman of The Write Practice discusses the structure of the rebirth plot type and challenges the reader to “write a rebirth arc for a classic villain in literature or film for fifteen minutes.” Rather than writing about a classic villain, I thought it would be interesting to write a rebirth arc for an antagonist in my own work in progress (WIP) and share it on my blog.

For this exercise, I decided to focus on Rathilde, a minor antagonist who does not play a huge role in this novel but will be a formidable figure in the third book of my planned trilogy. Rathilde actually attempts to help my protagonist in book one, but is unsuccessful and goes on her merry way to wreak havoc elsewhere while my protagonist lives through her own private hell.

I doubt that any of what you are about to read will make it into my current WIP, but it will give you a little insight into what I am writing. You will also have some insider knowledge when you finally get the chance to read my published novel (someday.) Here is my rebirth arc for Rathilde, according to the steps outlined by Bureman: Continue reading “Writing the rebirth plot arc: Rathilde”