Category Archives: Writing

Don’t even know what to say….

It’s been over 15 months since my last post.

The good news:
Still have that day job
Still have that book

The bad news:
Still busy at work
Still haven’t finished that book

In other news, I did kind of start another book.  It’s in a different
genre and I’m excited about it, but I’m not really working on that
one, either.

I have to get this crazy day job schedule under control.   I actually made it a work goal this year.

In other, other news, I am finally watching Breaking Bad.

I know, right?
So behind the times in so many ways.

Coaching

Since I’ve been struggling with the ending of this book I have decided to hire a coach.

Could I do it on my own?  Maybe.  But I’ve been working on this book for so long , and each time I try to figure how to finish it I feel lost in the weeds.  There are issues with the story and I’m too close.

So, I’m going to a professional – someone who can read it and tell me how to fix it so I can finish it.

I’ll report back.  Wish me luck!

Clearly I’m having issues

Monthly.  Bi-monthly.

Whatever.

I had a great post planned for the week after that last post, but got hung up on how to spell (look, here I am again, in the middle of actually writing the post a month and a half later, and going to Google to find the lyrics again because I cant remember how they spelled it, only that I didn’t think it was right) “whoa.”

Know the song yet?

Hint: several of the sites spelled it “woo-o-o” instead of “whoa-whoa-whoa” – which is obviously ridiculous.  “Woo” is not “whoa”.  Personally, I think “whoa-oh-oh” covers it nicely, but I couldn’t find that on any of the sites with song lyrics.

Yes, my post was about feelings.  Whoa-oh-oh, feelings.

What a difference it makes when you ask (before writing, or during revising a scene), “what is the character feeling?”

Let your character’s emotions guide the action in the scene.

Try it and let me know how it works for you!

Meanwhile, sorry about getting that song stuck in your head.  🙂

How NOT to Write a Book

As I’ve mentioned, my WIP has been a work-in-progress for the past seven years.  That’s not to say it’s  the only thing I have worked on – it hasn’t been – but I have been working on it for seven years.

So, I feel qualified to write this post and give you all the ways to NOT write a book.  I haven’t conquered the how TO write a book yet, but I’m working on it.  Without further ado, here are your lessons in how NOT to write a book:

Numero Uno:  Don’t write.  Think about the book instead.  Talk to your critique partners, your friends, the mailman about your story.  Brainstorm until it hurts.  Plan the scenes out, but whatever you do, do not sit your butt in that chair and write.

Duex:  When the story gets tough, start another book.  If you ignored the first lesson, this is your key to failure.  As you work on a story and get deeper into the  details, things will get hard.  You’ll start to dislike your characters, question your plot, but don’t worry.  Just when you think you’re sunk, a different, completely fabulous and ridiculously complete story will come to you.  Be sure to write it down.    Then you can focus on that for a while – weeks, months.  Whatever it takes, go for it.

Three:  When you finish the first draft (assuming you’ve ignored the first two lessons), let it sit for a while.  A year or two is good.  During this time you can focus on your family or one of those other stories or de-cluttering your house.  By the time when you go back to the book, you’ll remember nothing about your plot or characters and will wonder why the heroine likes to work alone and how the villain came up with his dastardly plan.  That takes a while to recover from, you’ll be set.

If you find you can’t wait that long, another option is to get stuck in the revision loop.  For this, you revise the first chapter, or first three chapters for contests, submisisons, your critique partners, whatever.  The key is to just keep polishing those few pages without ever getting to the rest of the book.   This is a sure momentum-stopper.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

Hmmmm… maybe I do know how TO write a book.

# 1:  Write.

Of course, you need some time to plan, to think about your characters, your conflict, your plot.  But unless you write, you will have nothing.  Stephen King in “On Writing” says to take no more than three months to write the first draft.   THREE MONTHS.  A first draft doesn’t need to be perfect – it’s a starting place.

Two:  Revise.

Yes, this process is hard.  As your story gels and your characters become more clear you will have to re-write.  But you’re writing.  Don’t let other story ideas distract you.  Write them down in enough detail so when you get back to them you know what you were thinking, but then go back to the original and finish it.  Work all the way through it.  The best way to do this is to read through it without changing anything, but making notes on what needs to be fixed.  Then go fix it.  Start with the biggest problems first (i.e. plot issues) instead of the easy stuff like word choice or syntax.  Those sections might undergo bigger changes when your big problems are fixed, so don’t sweat the small stuff yet.  You may have to make several passes to get it right, but don’t take years to do this.

Please.  For your sake.

Finally, remember these things:

Thinking is not writing.  Writing is writing.  Revising is writing.  Writers write.

This has been my mantra lately.

British Morning Tea

Over the past few days, my church read through the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation in just under 80 hours.  We had thirty minute shifts starting at 12 midnight New Year’s morning and ended this morning, Sunday, Jan. 4, at about 6:20 AM.  It was a pretty cool endeavor.

While others in my family read, I followed along using one of the pew Bibles which was a different version than the one used for the reading.  As I read along, I was amazed at how different the versions were.  Word choices, sentence structures, even tenses were changed, but the meaning conveyed by both was the same.

As a writer I found these differences interesting, and a bit disturbing.  I’m in the part of revisions where I am analyzing each sentence, each word, and deciding if it works, or if there is a better choice to get my meaning across, and to be shown so dramatically how many ways there are to say the same thing raised the question about why I am agonizing over it so much.

My sister and her husband read books aloud to each other and she has told me how he inserts synonyms on the fly as he reads.  She finds it fascinating, and a part of me does, too, but as an author I know how much thought is put into each selected word.  To have it changed so frivolously seemed wrong to me.

After an all night party at our house one year, my brother-in-law asked for British Morning Tea instead of coffee.

“British Morning Tea?”  I was stumped.

“Yes, like hers.”  He pointed to my sister’s cup of English Breakfast Tea.

Similar.  But not quite right.

And so I’ll keep on agonizing over my word choices and sentence structures until I get it right.

Check-in:  I met my goal of 20 pages (and exceeded it again by about 15 pages).  Tomorrow is my first day back at work after 2 weeks off so I’m going to go easy and just set a goal of 10 pages.

Thanks for checking on me!