Friday, October 29, 2010

NaNo -- How are you prepping?

Good morning all! Today is the last business day (aka real day in my book as I get super lazy on the w/e) prior to NaNo. This is my first and I am super pumped, though my husband already said that 50,000 words is impossible in one month. I assured him that it is not and that I will hit 52,000. See I am going to work on TWISTED ROOT of which I already have chapter 1 -- 2,000 words complete. So to be honest and all I need to hit 52,000 words. But I must admit, I am going to likely start from scratch so as to keep the creative juices flowing.

So in researching about NaNo I found a few tips and thought I would pass them along:

1. Do a rough outline of your story and character sketches before.
2. Set a time every day to write -- 9 pm, 5 am, whatever but make it the same every day.
3. Write everyday no matter what.
4. Binge on the weekend -- write for an hour, take a break, then another hour, break, etc.
5. Have fun with it and don't focus on quality. Just get the words on the page.

How about you? Have you been researching? How are you preparing? And most importantly, GOOD LUCK!

M.B.

p.s. I am going to plan to blog more during NaNo with struggles, how I overcame them, etc.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Snappy, wordy, funky sentences...

Okay so I've been revising for what feels like FOREVER. I am ready to stop, seriously, but I know you have to carve away the absolute crap that is first drafts in order to have a beautiful MS. But in this journey I have discovered that there is a very fine line between snappy and wordy. Shall I give a few examples of what I mean?

These sentences are taken randomly from SECOND SOUL -- feel free to lash me if anything is crazy. Here goes:

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Snappy:
  • Not even close.
  • He knew.
  • The door quaked.
Wordy:

  • It crashed shut with a loud bang, and I stumbled back, lost my footing, and fell to the floor.
  • The path itself was concrete, lacking all the grandeur and particularity of the other two paths, and I found myself searching for a way out of this lost land.

Basic (but could be tightened):

  • They rested there like birds in a nest, delicate and peaceful.
  • The final bolt hit in the center of the table.

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I find that all too often long sentences lose me about 2/3rds through, yet when well done they are so beautiful to read. Snappy sentences increase the tension, but they can also slow the flow. It is suchy a tricky thing. And I often notice that writers switch between the two without having basic sentences mixed in to keep the pace going. (You can't see me, but I'm raising my hand right now. )

So tell me, do you struggle with one or the other, both? Feel free to chime in or give advice on how to correct the SW syndrome.

M.B.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fireworks or sparklers?

Again, sorry for the absence. This writing business can be quite time consuming when you need to *ehem* actually write. :)

What have I been doing you ask? Querying, a bit. And getting rejected, a bit. And getting requests, a bit. Some fun, some not so fun, but all in all I'm enjoying this new phase of the game. I think my writing is a bit different and my style is a bit different, which I'm afraid means my querying=agent journey could take awhile. I'm okay with that fact. I am a fairly driven person so I'm not planning on giving up, BUT I do plan to eat a lot of chocolate along the way.

This querying business has made me wonder: do you prefer a fireworks, explosive-type opening or a mini sparkler, get-to-know-my world sort of opener?

I jump right in. Is this the correct way to go about it? I'm not sure, but originally I started with the 2nd option and my lovely critters said that sucked. I thanked them for the compliment and then revised...and revised again...and then again. My 1st chapter has been revised twenty or more times. How about you? Do you open with a bang or start slow? And what do you prefer when reading? Enlighten me. :)

M.B.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bad words...

First, so sorry I missed Monday's post. I promise there was good reason, which I hope to not jinx by posting about it, but let's just say it was a very pleasant surprise. :)

Now onto today's post. Today I want to talk about bad words, and I'm not talking about curse words. Curse words can actually be good words (when it comes to writing) if used selectively, and if they are appropriate for the story/MC.

For me, bad words are the words that drag down or weaken my prose. I have a list of words that I search out and destroy during revisions. Of course, some stay. My rule is that if the word is necessary to maintain voice then it stays, if it does not add to voice or the story then it's axed.

MY LIST:
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Verbs
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Was
Were
Could
Should
Would
Felt
Looked (issue when overused)
Walked (issue when overused)
Past perfect combos: had + past participle
Passive tense: verb + -ed verb (though there are other examples)
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Random Adverbs / Adjectives / Words
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Just
That
Very
Quite
Too
Not
Rather
Somewhat
Almost
Kind of
So
Which
The fact that
To be honest
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What's your list of bad words? Do you allow them occasionally or cut out altogether? Share your writing profanity. :)
M.B.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Confession time!

Watch out! I'm posting back-to-back. Crazy, I know. :)

I was working on my umpteenth revision of SECOND SOUL and realized that I have a few confessions to make.

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  1. I write overly wordy prose on my first draft. OKAY, Fine. I write overly wordy prose on drafts 1-3. And let me tell you, it is like slicing my arm off to delete some of it. I always know that if I am super proud of a certain bit of prose, it's cutting time.
  2. I'm not a fan of literary fiction. Yikes! A writer that doesn't prefer literary fiction! What has the world come to! The problem with most literary fiction is in the descriptions. I really do not need two or three paragraphs on the beauty of a tree. I get that it is lovely. I really do. But I do not need to read about it at length. At that point, I'm skimming. I prefer just enough details to convey the message/scene/setting without haulting the pacing. I find it interesting that so many experts slam physical descriptions (i.e. color of eyes, hair, etc), yet they have no issue at all with paragraphs on the green of trees. :) I digress...
  3. I am SOOOO afraid of ghosts and aliens and all that stuff, yet I LOVE writing about them. SECOND SOUL is filled with ghosts and possession and all sorts of freaky stuff. My current WIP (which is on hold), TWISTED ROOT, is about aliens that coexist on Earth with humans. I will not even get into the creepy stuff I have going on in that MS. Let's just say I will have nightmares for weeks after I finish it. :)
  4. I love adjectives and adverbs and the verb "was." Okay, I'm glad I got that off my chest. So you wanna know what I have to do? I love them so much that I cut most of them from my writing. I always find the pacing to improve when I do this, but boy am I sad when I hit delete. Check your loveliest descriptions. How many adjective weeds are in them? How many commas do you have b/c you just have to convey every single detail? Yep, I've been there and am there, daily.
  5. (Hoping and praying I don't piss anyone off with this one!) Do you ever have people read your work that confuse you, the writer, for the MC? I so want to say: It's fiction. :) But I don't. Instead, it makes me smile. See, I *try* to come at things/issues from different angles. I'm not sure I accomplish this, but I try. I know what my MC does not know. What fun would it be having a MC (esp. a teen) that already has all the answers? So, yeah, in SS I build Heaven as a true world, but it is nothing like what most would view it to be. And, honesty here, there's some cussing in my book and general hardness towards faith. The reason? B/C most teens don't get religion and they rarely find it interesting. Faith is not a part of SS, in the traditional sense, but I want the reader to finish my book and think "Hmm, maybe we are created for a greater purpose."

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Okay, it's slumber party time: confess something. I'll grab the popcorn.


M.B.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Are you afraid?

Yesterday was a crazy day. I have a Cocker Spaniel, Bella. She started getting sick two nights ago and refused to come inside. So, yesterday I noticed she wasn't able to walk so well. I called her Vet and had an appt set for 1:20. By noon she had crawled under our storage shed in the backyard and refused to come out.

I am petrified of snakes and pretty much anything that creeps and crawls, but I knew I needed to get her out of there. I stood by the shed for thirty minutes, gaining the courage. The shed sits about a foot above the ground and she was at least six feet in so, yeah, for me to get her I would have to crawl on my stomach and pull her out. At this point I'm crying because she has vomited a few times and is screaming in pain. My daughter, Rylie, is outside with me, begging me to help Beya (that's what she calls her). So I'm looking at my crying daughter and looking at my crying dog and decided to toughen up. I crawled under the shed, pushed aside the thick, disgusting leaves, and pulled her out. She didn’t move, barely breathed. I carried her to my car and raced to the Vet.

She passed through the night due to kidney failure. I am sad, but I am also very proud of myself. She was in tremendous pain and thanks to the Vet visit she was able to die in peace.

But this experience made me think about writing and how often we avoid delving into tough matters or subjects that personally bother us. Why? Why do we avoid hyper emotional topics? Instead we often write about OTHER people's troubles. For example, my parents are divorced. When I read a YA where the parents are divorced, I can instantly tell whether the author has actually experienced divorce. The writing will feel raw with emotion. And there are a zillion examples like this.

So here is our test: Think of something life changing in your life and the emotions you felt. Have your MC go through the same or similar experience and read the scene. I bet it takes you back. I bet the writing is pure and deep and beautiful. Because that's what true emotion does, it makes our characters relatable.

Our readers should feel our writing, not just read it.

M.B.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Opinions on Agents

So a few days ago I was rummaging through Twitter updates and stumbled across this:

http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?p=2039

Have any of you read it? What are your opinions?

If you have not read it, let me recap. The poster (Mr. Smith) discusses, quite intensely I might add, the story of an author (Mr. Buchman) acquiring a 4 book deal with Sourcebooks, yet he was unable to get an agent to rep him. Mr. Smith goes on to ask if Agents have lost their minds.

Maybe, I can't be sure. I am not an agent, not in the least, but I can relate to one element of the job. I receive a LOT of emails a day. Going back and forth, today alone, I went through over a hundred emails. I can tell you that I lose my mind all the time. So, yeah, I imagine they lose their minds just like all business professionals do. Is this one of those times? Again, maybe, I can't be sure. But Mr. Smith's post brings up an interesting topic: What value do YOU feel agents bring to the table?

For me, there are several. First, it is a level of expertise. Anyone who is a business professional understands the importance of dealing with someone who knows the business. Second, I want someone in my corner. Can I do an agents job on my own? Sure. As well as them? Not likely. Third, I feel agents relate to the creative side of writing more than editors. This is not a hard-fast comment, but more my take from reading countless blogs/interviews on both sides.

I personally aim to have an agent some day. How about you? Are you pro Agent? And if so, why? Do you have an agent and love him/her? Brag about them. Tell us why Agents rock. Either way, let's discuss.

M.B.