Friday, April 29, 2011

A Bittersweet End

I finished my rough draft titled "The Ghosts Between Us" on this past Wednesday. 

This was met with a curious feeling. I was glad to be finished, but I didn't have that elated this-is-the-greatest-book-EVAR feeling either. It was more like, "Well, that's done for now."

I didn't get on the Internets to Tweet and blog about how I finished. I actually waited a little while before I mentioned it on Twitter, and even when I did I felt a little guilty. Because I knew I wasn't done-done. I mean, yes, the rough draft was done, but that was just one step in a long journey.

Having been through two grueling revisions, I knew in no uncertain terms what lay ahead of me. Revision. Both fun and nightmarish. So while I was happy to be done, I knew it was definitely "for now." Major emphasis on the "for now" part.

At first I worried there was something wrong with me, or worse, the book. Maybe my lack of jubilation was because I broke the book and my subconscious knew it. But after speaking to Liz, she reassured me that it's totally normally. As she put it, "you're stopping for a glass of water while climbing up a mountain." 

Yeah, that's exactly what it feels like. I am taking a break from "The Ghosts Between Us" to revise the rough draft I finished a few months ago, "The Heart's Remains."

Then it's back to "The Ghosts Between Us", and like the ghosts in the book (see what I did there?) the mistakes and plot holes I created will come back to haunt me. But that's okay. The really awesome thing about revision is it's your do-over button. You constantly get to say "re-do" until you get it right.

Which might be the greatest thing about writing. 

What about you? Do you always feel excited when you finish a rough draft? Or have you always felt somewhat deflated?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Crimes of Passion: Larceny

So maybe you've managed to get half way through your first draft without any problems. Or maybe you tried to bribe yourself, and you ran out of stuff (not that I would have any experience with that). Or maybe you just like the idea of stealing. Who knows. Point is, we're all here now, and writing a first draft can be soul sucking.

Writers must resort to some tactics that aren't always pretty. But we do what we must to get that draft done. Sometimes, in order to jump start a stalled draft we have beg, borrow, and steal.

No, I am not advocating you steal from other people. But you can steal from yourself.

You know that stack of unfinished stories you have laying around? All those stories you started and never finished (not like you're going to do here, no, because you're going to finish this book if it kills you)?

You can mine those stories for good bits. I have a whole document folder dedicated to pieces and ideas and concepts that I don't have a home for. This can be anything from a cool secondary character to a plot twist to a neat setting. You would be surprised how many of your failed novels hold ideas that are pure gold. A great way to open up a new dimension to your failing work in progress is to re-purpose old ideas and use them.

You're stealing from yourself, but that's okay. You'll never notice.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Crimes of Passion: Bribery

Money courtesy of Wikicommons. Too bad isn't not real.
 I know the title is cheesy. Don't you just love it?

Sometimes to get through a difficult patch in your novel you have to bribe yourself. It's nothing to be ashamed of.

Maybe the scene isn't coming out the way you wanted, or perhaps you're just not "feeling" it. Perhaps you've had a shiny new idea demand attention and you'd rather play with that. 

You cannot stop working on your book. Don't believe your subconscious when it stays, "Let's take a break for a day. Just a day. We'll get right back to the book, after we jot some ideas for this new book down." If you take a break from the book without a time frame or consequence you might not ever pick it back up again. Your subconscious is trying to trick you. 

So you trick it back. You make deals with yourself. You find some appropriate reward, like chocolate, a new book, night out on the town, or a new pet cheetah (hey, I won't judge) and you bribe yourself.

"Okay, I will write this scene and then I get to surf the Internet for 15 minutes."

Or: "I write 2 thousand words and then I get to read a chapter of my book."

What if there's a shiny new idea pestering you? Same rule applies. "I will reach my daily word count goal, and then I get to stop and brainstorm for the Shiny New Idea."

Notice a few things about the bribery. It's specific. You don't say, "Okay I will stop writing the WIP and work on something else." You have to make each part of the bribe specific. You wouldn't want to bribe a mobster "a lot of money" if he "offs your coworker" because he might decide "a lot of money" is a billion trillion dollars. 

It's also quick, instant gratification stuff. Now is not the time to buy yourself a new toy every time you write a scene (unless you're rich and have money to burn). Give yourself small goals and small rewards. Things you can do right now. Like taking a break to read a chapter, or brainstorming for another idea.

I know this sounds sort of cheesy, but it can work like a charm. I can be very contrary. The minute I feel like I *have* to do something I loose all interest. I know it's very third grade of me, but I can't seem to help it. So I work around my subconscious's weird mannerisms with bribery. I tell myself to write a scene, and then I can read a chapter of the book, and suddenly, writing is fun. I am not chained to my computer, but doing it out of desire again. 

Recently I had the strong desire to write the scenes leading up to the climax in my book, even though it's out of order. I normally write in order and knew it would mess up the plot if I totally skipped the middle and went straight towards the end. So again, I bribed myself. I could write whatever scene I wanted, but then I had to go back and write one in order. I managed to not only write one scene in order, but I picked up a new thread and wrote several in order.

By bribing yourself you're creating a small system of goals and rewards. Each time you reach a small goal you feel good about yourself and your book. You're eating that elephant baby, one bite at a time.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Writing is Hard, Let's Resort to a Life of Crime

Writing is hard. We've all heard it. We've probably said it ourselves. 

Let's step away from the landmine of trying to get the book published, and focus on the writing of the book. Writing is still hard. If you've ever written a book from start to finish you know what I am talking about. If you're still working your way through your first draft, be forewarned. I don't mean this in a doom and gloom and we should all hide under our desks sort of way.

I am thinking about this more like it's a simple truth. Writing is hard. If it was easy, everyone would be published (and chocolate would rain from the sky, and be the anchor food for diets). When you're riding the high of having a brand new idea, you forget this. But during the first draft of every single book I have ever written I've come against a wall. I know what happens next. The plot points are still engaging and exciting. Yet I am bored out of my skull.

I remember when I reached a rough patch in my first novel. I thought it was me. I thought it was my lack of experience. I thought experience would get rid of that pesky time during the first draft where every word feels like a battle. When every word felt old and stale and I thought squirrels dancing upon my keyboard to a jaunty tune would have better luck coming up with an interesting scene than I did.

Then I wrote a second book. The same problem, right after the middle of the book. Same with the third. I realized that it wasn't just me, that other writers hit difficult parts in their books as well. You consider ditching your book, even though you're half way through (or a two-thirds like I am). You think about writing something else.

But like a shady past, that rough patch will always find you. You might have a book or two come out without pain, but in my experience this is the exception that proves the rule. In order to finish my rough draft I have been employing some tricks. This week, I am going to talk about these tricks at length. Things like bribery and larceny. 

If you have any methods to get yourself through a first draft, feel free to mention it in the comments section, or email me and we can hook you up with a guest post.

Because we are writers and we will finish the book we started. We can't edit an unfinished draft. We will persevere. 

Even if we have to resort to a life of crime to do it.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Zombie! Peep Wars!

Lots of fun stuff today!

Janice Hardy has a special Easter zombie in her lawn
And the peeps are getting ready to go to war:

Happy Easter everyone! I am going to go eat my metric weight in candy and pester my friends and family. 

Good times.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

POV Workshop

So a little over a week ago I went to a workshop with Janice Hardy on the power of point of view. And it changed my life.

"But Elizabeth," you ask me. "Why has it taken you so long to write about this workshop if it was over a week ago?"

To which I shush you and bribe you with candy. I've been deep in the writing trenches, not to mention some stress from the daily life, and my brain can be likened to tapioca pudding. A day old. Left in the sun.

Janice's workshop was positively amazing. I have to admit, I was really nervous meeting her. I've read The Shifter and Blue Fire, and really enjoyed both books. They are fun to read with an excellent plot, but she doesn't skimp on the characterization. 

I was more than ecstatic when I meet her and discovered she's a great person. Smart, funny, excellent teacher, and very...approachable. Somehow I am making her sound like a car, but you get what I mean. She's one of those people you feel like you can talk to for hours and forget what time it was.

During the workshop she talked about how point of view can change your writing. Janice said a lot of common problems--pacing, telling versus showing, info dumping, etc--can be fixed if you're in better control of the point of view of the character. It makes sense to me. If you're inside the character's head, you're going to notice only what's in that person's character.
She also talked about telling versus showing. It seems I have more telling in my writing that I knew about. Conveniently, Janice has a post about that very thing today! So you should pop over and check out her post.
The best thing about this workshop is I was able to really see where my weaknesses are. This is invaluable knowledge. Maybe get a critique, or just take a hard look at your writing, but figuring out where you can improve is the first step guessed it, improving.
So take a gander at Janice's blog post and tighten up any telling you might be doing by accident. 

And then stop by and let me know how you figure out what areas you need to improve in! Hypothetically of course, since we're all perfect, right? Right.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What Doesn't Happen

Yesterday I had fun brainstorming with my friend Liz for a new idea. No I am not ditching my current WIP, the word count is rising accordingly. I just wanted to take some time to write out the thoughts on a shiny new idea so I wouldn't forget.

Also, I've noticed that my ideas ferment better if I can develop them a little bit, and then let them go. You can't make wine if the grapes aren't smashed and bottled, you know?

So I smashed some grapes yesterday. Liz had a brilliant new game that I thought I would share.

Usually when brainstorming I play "What if?" as in "What if the main character was actually an alien?" 

But Liz suggested I do "What doesn't happen?" You list all of the things the plot event/character/idea is not. For example we were working on the job of the main character. She worked at an agency as a translator, but I didn't know what the agency did. It was easy to say what I didn't want it to be, because I'd thought about it:

*It was not the sort of agency that took on major crimes. I didn't want to write a paranormal police procedural, and if you have your characters solving murders, then that's what the book is about. You kill someone, the reader expects there to be justice and suspects. 

*It was the sort of agency that expected a small amount of trouble, but not so much that it happened every day. So, working at a museum you don't expect to get into trouble. Working in a police station, it's a part of daily life. I need somewhere in between.

I could go on, but I think you get the point. 

Next time you're stumped, go ahead and list all the things the plot element is not. It's a great way to narrow down your focus and hopefully, find out what the element is. 

By the way, I still don't have my answer, but that's okay. It's still a fledgling idea, and needs time to fester--I mean grow.

What about you? What do you do to nurture new ideas?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Increased Awareness

My car, adorable hatchback of doom.
I once read a study that said you're more likely to notice something once you have familiar contact with it. So for example, if you bought a new car, and that car was a Honda Civic, you were more likely to notice Honda Civics from now on. It's crossed into your personal threshold of awareness.

I am inclined to believe this study has merit. Once I bought a Nissan Sentra, I noticed the Sentras. Now that I have a Nissan Versa, I notice those all the more because they are less numerous than Sentras.

The same thing happens to me while I am writing. When I was writing my steampunk novel, all I noticed was how everyone else seemed to be writing steampunk too. Same thing is happening to me now. I am writing about ghosts, and suddenly I am seeing movies and books crop up that deal with ghosts. 

Part of me wonders if I start writing about an underground ferret smuggling ring, that I will start noticing all the noir books, the books about uncommon pets as main characters, and finally, I will find books about rabbit slave trading rings, and monkey meth cartels.

This is both maddening and heartwarming. On one hand, I feel like I'm writing about things that people obviously want to read about. But on the other hand, there's that voice in my head that says by the time I get done writing and editing, steampunk/ghosts/monkey meth cartels will be old news. And then this voice goes on to inform me that everyone will point and LAUGH at me for being OLD NEWS and I should just GIVE UP my dreams of establishing myself as the go-to girl for ferret smuggling rings. 

This is of course not true. There's plenty of fish in the sea, and just because I am noticing these books now, doesn't mean they haven't been around for a while. Because they have. I am just now noticing them. But even if it was true, and I was writing in a genre that was seeing hard times (Like straight science fiction) I still wouldn't stop.

Why? Because I am a writer and therefore, insane. 

I love my stories with all my writerly heart. I love writing scenes that give me shivers, and even if I was writing something ridiculously popular and possibly glutted, like a paranormal romance with a love triangle between a normal human girl, vampire, and a werewolf, I wouldn't stop. Because if I am going to write the best book I possibly can, I have to write what I love.

So if you ever feel a little panicky, noticing that EVERYONE seems to have hacked you mind and is writing about the EXACT same thing you are, take heart. Because there are many ways to spin a tale, and just because you're writing something that's been "done before" doesn't mean you can't bring something new to the story.

For example, they are widely different stories, but Laurell K. Hamilton in her Anita Blake series had a love triangle between a human woman, a vampire, and a werewolf. Then Twilight comes along, does something similar, but the stories are completely different.

So write the stories that call to you and worry about the rest later.  

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Picking Nits: From Competent to Good

Sometimes I feel like I am drowning in my own inability to work past my writing weaknesses. 

My husband plays a game called "Go." Your skill is ranked by a score, moving from 30K at the lowest, to a 9dan at the highest. It's very simple to learn, but the strategy behind the game rivals chess.  Anyway, when he first started playing, he was able to move up in ranks quickly. In a few weeks he went from a 30K to a 20K. A few weeks from that, he went from a 20K to a 15K. I don't know what his actual score is right at the moment, but I know that as time went on, it became harder and harder for him to get better. It's like your average in school. It was a lot easier to bring a D up to a B, than to bring a B up to an A. The higher you get to the top the harder the climb.

I think writing is very much like that. When you first learn how to start and finish a novel, you can see your skill improve in a very real way. You went from "never finished a book before" to "finished a book." That's a major accomplishment. Then you achieve "finished a book, and then edited it". Another big deal. 

All the while, you're learning about characterization, plotting, setting, dialogue, grammar, and description. You write and edit more books. You learn how to avoid info dumps, and how to make dialogue sound realistic, but not boring. You play around with pantsing versus plotting. There's a very real sense of Moving Forward.

Until you move to the Intermediate level. You know how to write a book. You know about three act structure. You know about building realistic characters. Maybe at this point you've queried a book that even got pages requested, but the agent passed.

You're writing at a competent level, but you're still not quite there. By no means does this mean you've mastered building realistic characters or writing an engaging plot, but these aren't your biggest crutch right now. "The characterization is very poor" is something that can be picked out from a rough draft easily. But feedback like "It was good, but I don't know, something was missing." is much harder to deal with. 

I read this post by Kristin Nelson, and it got me thinking. Go read the post for a minute. I'll wait.


Do you see what she said? Not, "The dialogue needs to sound more realistic," but "Dialog that didn’t quite work as hard as it should."

Here's another example she mentioned for passing on a manuscript:  "Not quite nailing voice in the opening."

Notice how she mentions "not quite" nailing the voice. In her other examples she mentions telling versus showing, and passive voice. A lot of these elements come down to nit-picky details that make ALL the difference in your writing. It's the difference between "competent" and "good".

A lot of writers, myself included, are working at this level. Learning how to write is hard, and it's not any easier once you move past the basics. You need to be brutal with your work. Not just making sure you're telling a good story, but that your scenes are doing several things. That you're not just writing realistic dialogue, but dialogue that characterizes, moves the plot forward, and adds some tension.

Mark Twain said the difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and lightning bug. The same is true for the rest of your writing. 

It's somewhat frustrating to try and spot you weak points, but it's also liberating. Sometimes I know there's something wrong with a certain passage, but I can't put my finger on what. I know there's places I need to improve, but it can be hard to figure out exactly where.

I saved this list from Kristen Nelson's blog and put it next to my editing papers. Because we can get better. We can improve. We might have to sacrifice some beta readers on the alter of necessity to do it, but we can figure out what weakness are holding our writing back from being great.

What resources have you used to improve your writing? What has helped you the most to become a better writer?

Monday, April 11, 2011

200th Post: Put Yourself Out There

And I don't mean streak. Because don't want THAT kind of attention, m'kay?

What I mean is don't be afraid to take a chance on your blog, in your book, when you want to email someone but you're afraid to. Be personal! Be bold!

The Internet is an interesting place. On one hand, we have all this information coming straight for us, but on the other hand, it's on a screen. People are blogging, tweeting, Facebooking their thoughts and feelings and just throwing it out there.

Sometimes there's a response. Sometimes not.

Here's something interesting I was thinking about today: almost all of my friends that I met via the Internet came from either me or them emailing me out of the blue. In the cases that I emailed them, they posted something I felt like I needed to comment privately on. I thought, "I should email them about XYZ."  And then of course, I felt terrified at the idea of emailing a near stranger. But then the compulsion returned. "No, I really should email them about this. I think they might like to hear what I have to say."

And you know what?

Every single person I have ever randomly emailed was awesome. Nice. Considerate. Happy that I, a complete stranger, was emailing them (strange, I know). I have never once regretted emailing a stranger to tell them nice things.

Here's the catch though:

*Don't email people to complain. Seriously, just don't. I am sure they get tons of emails from people whining, you don't need to add to the fire.
*Be nice. Be very nice. Even though you're emailing someone and they aren't standing in front of you, pretend they are. Never say something on the Internet that you wouldn't say to someone's face.

That's all there is to it. Every person I have ever emailed was a joy to converse with, and I wasn't sorry that I put myself out there. I took the first step of contacting someone, and let things develop from there.

You can do the same thing too. You really can. Make connections. Don't just blog or Tweet in isolation! Get out into the Internet and shake some things up! Reply to Tweets! Comment on blogs! Email people to tell them how their latest blog post resonated with you! Or to tell them you approve of their user icon (seriously, that's how I met Joe Selby. He commented on Nathan Bransford's blog, and I saw his Brown Coat icon (from Firefly). I checked out his blog and website and emailed him to tell him it was awesome. I think I had a question too, but I can't remember.)

Don't spam people. Be genuine about it. But if there's someone you've always wanted to email to tell them what a difference they have made in your life, do it. I emailed Holly Lisle, an amazing author who I haven taken numerous online writing classes from, just to tell her that she's made a huge difference in my life. 

I figured I was a bug in her universe and she would never email me back, but you know what? She emailed me a few hours later, telling me she was having an awful day, and was literally in the process of moving, but saw my email and had to respond. I totally made her day.

So be brave. Take courage. Don't go gently into the good night, and all that jazz.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Crits for Water Campaign

Today is a super awesome day. I am one happy little writer. 

Yesterday I participated in the Crits for Water auction for a critique from Janice Hardy. It's a great set of auctions raising money for charity: water. Katherine Brauer, an amazing writer, has put together critiques from authors, agents, and editors, in addition to volunteering her own time and critiques, in order to raise money so people can have clean water. You can see the schedule of events here.

What I didn't expect was to win. The auction ran until midnight, and I assumed that someone was going to outbid me whilst I slumbered.

But that was not the case!

I happily woke up to a very nice email from Kat congratulating me on my win! And what a win it is! Janice is a pure genius when it comes to editing and critique, in addition to being a really fabulous writer. Have you read her MG Fantasy series The Healing Wars yet? No? Well you should. They are fantastic.

It gets better. I am signed up to take a POV workshop from Janice this coming Saturday. The bookstore where the workshop is taking place emailed me this morning, letting me know that I need to submit some pages from my WIP for critique prior to the workshop.

I am totally and utterly floored. I am also panicking because my WIP isn't edited yet, but that's okay. I cannot wait to receive feedback and find out how I can improve my book.

If you're sitting there, wishing that you could get some awesome feedback too, it's not too late. There are plenty of amazing writers and agents offering crits for auction at Crits for Water. And if you don't want to participate in an auction, or get outbid, you can still donate and Kat will critique your work. 

Yes, that's right. For every 1 dollar you donate, she will critique 250 words of your MS. It's that simple. You don't have to be rich to donate, and even if you only have 20 extra dollars, that's still 5,000 words of your MS. 

If you don't have spare money, you can always pimp the Crits for Water campaign on your blog or tweet about it. It's amazing how many people don't have access to clean drinking water.

The best part about this entire thing? I just helped 12 people gain access to clean drinking water. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Mid Point Sniff Test

Don't let saggy middles happen to you!

Alright folks: it's here. I have officially reached the middle of my book. 

This is about the point where my unfounded optimism that this is the best book in the history of the written word starts to wear off. The thrill isn't quite gone, but it's fading, and fast.

So in order to combat the mid-book slog, or the Great Swampy Middle as Jim Butcher eloquently puts is, I sat down and did a mid-book assessment.

I didn't use to check my progress half way through writing the book. Traditionally, I just lowered my head and pushed through the middle, bloody and bruised. But now I fancy myself older and wiser, and checking my progress mid-way has proven useful for correcting things.

You know, the fiddly things that most people don't mention when they talk about writing, but it's important anyway. Like all those plot threads you threw out in the beginning like confetti, or how your spunky character is morphing into a serious character, or how the bad guy is a lot nicer than you imagined, and the secondary character that was meant to act like Mother Teresa is acting more like Genghis Khan. 

Things drift in the middle of the book. This drift is normally cause for me to panic. I'll IM my poor writing friends, "Ahhhh! The book is taking longer than I thought! I'm only on plot point 2 of 10!" or "This character isn't acting the way she should!"

Then the panic goes away (mostly) and I get down to business. I now have a good feel for the rest of the book. I used several writing articles to accomplish this feat, and I will now walk you through what I did.

Step 1. Establish a battle plan: Structure

First, I read Jim Butcher's post on The Great Swampy Middle. It's hilarious. Here's the first part. It always makes me smile:

The Great Swampy Middle (or GSM) knows no fear, no mercy, no regret. It doesn't come after you. It darned well knows that you're going to come to it. It knows that you're going to be charging along, sending up the spinning plates, ripping out the strong character introductions, planting cool bits into your story for the future, and generally feeling high on life. And just then, as you get all that fun opening-story stuff done, it pounces. And suddenly, you're staring at a blank word processor screen trying to figure out how to get your story through the next paragraph.

And it laughs at you. It laughs and dances on the ashes of your enthusiasm. It knows full well that you are going to be its bitch from now until you somehow finish the book or else give up in despair and slit your wrists with the edge of one of those index cards you're using to try to figure out the rest of the plot. It rejoices and dances around a primal bonfire, howling its glee at the uncaring stars.

Just look at the alligator, rejoicing in your turmoil.
Pretty epic, huh?

If you go on to read the rest of the article, Jim talks about putting a major event in the middle in order to get yourself over the hump. Or, you could introduce a new subplot or new character. This is good advice, because it gives you something to work towards.

I think that's the problem with middles. There's a lot we have to work for in the beginning of a book--great opening, hook, introduce characters, inciting incident...there's lots of writerly like stuff happening.

Same goes for the end of the book. Wrap up all the threads, bring story to satisfying conclusion, etc. Both the beginning and the end have very specific requirements.

The middle? Generally, it's supposed to get you from the beginning to the end, and sometimes there's talk about the mid-point reversal where everything changes.

The sad thing is the middle is really the make or break it part of the book, at least for me. Maybe it's because there's a good bit of attention paid to the beginning, but there's nothing like reading a book that starts off strong and just sort of...meanders. The middle sags. The character gets lost in the quicksand of the middle, and it's just a steady clip until the end. 

So in order to save yourself from the same fate, you need a plan. Figure out what method works best for your story. Janice Hardy also has a great post on middles here

She breaks up the middle into smaller problems, like so:

Start of act two problem – minor problem one – mid-point problem – minor problem two – end of act two problem.

Start of act two problem:
This is the problem created by trying to solve the inciting event/story catalyst from the beginning.

Minor problem one:
The plan to solve the start of act two problem has run into a snag.

Mid-point problem:
Major problem discovered, possibly sending the story in a new direction or really shaking things up.

Minor problem two: A snag in the plan to fix whatever problem occurred at the mid-point.

End of act two problem:
The discovery of a major problem that will be the focus of act three, and will lead the protag directly to the climax of the novel.

The "mid-point problem" dovetails nicely into "Mid-point reversal" if you're using the three act structure. This very basic format gives you a structure to hang your middle events on. So you can add in another subplot, and plan it loosely according to Janice's middle problem structure.

Now, we just need to decide on said events.

Step 2. Assess your story as it currently stands: Corrections

Some never make it out alive.
Using some questions I found on Janice Hardy's post about over plotting novels (guilty as charged) I assessed where my story was right now, and where I wanted it to go.

I realized that having three point of view characters was too much for the word count I originally planning, and bogging the story down. A character who was supposed to be minor had taken over and overshadowed one of the two main characters.

This same main character wasn't pulling her weight. And it was my fault. I didn't give her enough specific goals, so whenever I wrote a scene from her POV it slowed down the story. So I decided to do away with the third POV character, and give the interesting stuff in his backstory to her. 

Rather than start over, I simply wrote on the pages I had already printed out what changes would be made. I will have to rewrite these scenes during revision, but this will let me get on with the story.

If the main character is morphing into someone you don't like, now is the time to catch this error before it gets out of hand. If the book is turning into something you didn't expect, assess this change. Do you like the new direction? Will it cause you to rewrite the entire beginning? Can you go with this new direction until the end of the book to see how it turned out, or is it completely changing what you're currently writing?

By making these corrections, you can apply your ideas for the middle to the structure you laid out in Step 1. You have a map to traverse across the swampy middle now. It probably won't stay exactly as you have it, but it's something to help you to not just get through the end of the book, but do so with grace.

Or, at least a vague clue.

Okay, so sound off: what are your tricks of getting through the middle of the book? Besides chocolate, I mean.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Monday Morning Crazy

As I am deep in the writing trenches, and my brain is turned to goo, I have nothing coherant to blog about. BUT! Don't avert your eyes just yet.

It has recently come to my attention that the Internet, and therefore people as a whole, are a big bunch of crazy. No, I know. I already knew people were crazy, but I didn't know just how crazy they were until I saw this list I found via Chuck Wendig's blog.

Save yourself. It's too late for me, but you can get out now. I'll hold them off for as long as I can, but don't mar my sacrifice by spending the precious few minutes I am buying you arguing with me about how I can't do this. 

Because I have already seen this pictures, and it's too late for me.  

Friday, April 1, 2011

50 Followers Blogfest!!

Today is the day!

In honor of reaching fifty followers (and counting!) I am going to post some of my very old, unedited work, for the world to see. The people who have signed up for this blogfest are going to do likewise, and it's going to be fun! Wheeeeee!

Okay, enough caffiene. On with my excerpt:


            You know, I almost didn’t write this. I am not a journal or a diary keeper. I find them rather…what’s the word…extra? I am not really the type to want to chronicle all of the events—meaningful and meaningless—that happened to me. Also, the thought of writing about some of events in my life makes me feel tired. I lived through them once, why should I drag myself through them again? But I suppose that I dwell on them enough, I might as well write my thoughts down. I’ve actually been thinking about writing how I feel, and my thoughts and questions down for a while, but like I said, the thought always made me feel tired. This morning I woke up, the events of last night playing through my mind, over and over. I can’t make myself stop thinking about pain memories, and thought that I should write some stuff down occurred to my again. Only this time I couldn’t shake the idea I should write how I felt, and what has happened to me down.

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This is the first paragraph from a book I was writing in high school. I called it Navy, because that's what the girl's name was. She was a very sad and depressed sort, as I was working through a really rough patch in high school and my writing caught the brunt of it.

It's really interesting for me to read this now, as an adult, and see my style looking up at me. I can see how I've improved and tightened up the prose, but I can still recognize that writing as mine.

It's more honest, actually, than some of the writing I did when I was nineteen or so, and trying to "write well enough to get published". I didn't understand about letting the style and words be my own, and instead tried to be someone else.

So while this paragraph is six ways from hilarious (melodrama in the morning, anyone? Confusion much?) I also sort of love it, because it reminds me that even though I have improved over the years (thank the stars) I am still me. Does that make sense?

I think we should embrace ourselves and our writing. Look back on your old work with horror, sure, but also with love because you can see your writing self developing over time, aging like a fine...uhhh, beer (beer ages like wine right? Shush I don't drink alcohol very often!).

Enough about me! Go forth, clickity on the link and see what other people have to offer!