Saturday, January 29, 2011

Let's talk about plot

Yesterday I was plotting (well, really re-plotting) the main elements of my WIP. I struggled a bit with coming up with a few reasons why certain things happened. Then it dawned on me that there are two “plots” and two full story arcs for any good story. Many of you may know this and I’m the lone idiot in the writing world, but if not stay with me, this gets good.

1st: WORLD plot

What happens during the story that causes external (but also internal) conflict for your characters? This produces a drama element of the story. Plot-driven stories focus on this element. The plot is so important to the story that it becomes the main character, everything else moving to the shadows. Think HUNGER GAMES, HARRY POTTER, etc.

2nd: EMOTIONAL plot

And I feel this is the golden ticket. These are the character-based books, but I think it goes further than simply the character. The emotional plot does not solely impact your characters; it impacts your readers. It’s gut wrenching, tear jerking, belly laughing to the point that the story literally becomes about the emotional journey your characters take. I believe TWILIGHT is an example of an emotional plot, and that’s why it was so successful.

I read a new release recently that I loved, but ultimately it left me wanting for more. I couldn’t pinpoint the issue. The prose was beautiful; the characters real, but still something…felt off. I now believe that missing element is the emotional journey. And I believe if we can tie our readers to our story emotionally, well, all I can say is watch out world! :)


M.B.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cranking out the words


I have a goal, a lofty one at that. I intend to finish this draft of my WIP in 1 month. That's right. I have 1 month to write pretty much the last 1/2 to 2/3rds of this MS. Why am I doing this to myself, you ask? Simple. I think about the storyline non-stop. I come up with scenes and plot lines in the car. I have even taken to keeping a notepad and pen with me at all times so I am able to jot down lines that come to me. I LOVE this story so much that I have to finish it, and quickly.

Plus...shhhhh...two agents I've queried have requested to see it. YIKES!

I will need to revise, of course. And revise again. And again. I have learned through my last novel just how important revision is. I used to detest revisions, but now, I find it a vital part of the process. In fact, I've decided that writing is revising.

But I digress.

I have learned that a few things help me to crank out words at a fair speed. I can typically write around 1,000 words an hour if I try (sometimes more). Now, some of you are speed racers. You are probably reading this and thinking "1,000 words an hour! I can do 5K in an hour!" I have one thing to say to you. Leave my blog now. I wish to never see you again. :) J/K...sort of.

Now what was I saying? Oh yeah, cranking out the words. This is the process I have nailed down with my WIP, TWISTED ROOT. So far it has become very helpful. Here goes:


  1. Outline the opening scene at least briefly (either in your head or on paper) before you begin writing. I chose to outline the major elements of this novel, but left everything else open. I am a pantster for sure, but I need to stay on track.

  2. Once you begin your novel, ALWAYS write the first 1-2 paragraphs of the next scene and jot down a few bullet points of what you hope to accomplish in that scene before closing for the day.

  3. Reread the previous scene before beginning the new scene. This is perhaps the most important step for voice. I have to know the mood of all characters in the previous scene before I can dig into the next scene.

  4. End chapters where they naturally end -- don't force it! You can add later.

  5. (This one may just be my psycho-self) Keep moving forward. I may edit *a little* while I go if something pops into my head, but I refuse to allow myself to analyze previous scenes. Why? That scene may not make the cut during revisions so why am I killing myself during the 1st draft to make it perfect. I feel the writing process should work like this: 1st draft--bones, 2nd draft--muscles, 3rd and subsequent drafts -- blood and the yucky/good stuff, final draft/line editing -- concealer to cover up the dark circles you created from all those other drafts. :)

Now how do I personally work through hang-ups or writer's block. First, music. If I am writing an intense scene I must have music playing that is theme appropriate for my MS. Second, photos. I would say dialogue comes easiest to me, world building is the hardest. This sounds so silly, even for me to type it now, but it's true. I detest overly descriptive books. I am a true skimmer. I have put down many-a well written books because the prose was overly descriptive, which let's face it, produces a boring story. I try to avoid over-kill descriptions so much that I often have to add in description during later drafts. For this reason, I need photos to help me create my world.

How about you? What's your daily/weekly word count? How do you work through writer's block?

I am going to *try* to begin a writing schedule of 5 am - 7 am M,W,F,S, Sun. I can't abide by the schedule on T,Th due to the day job. I'll let you know how that works for me. :)

M.B.



Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Confessions and Wednesday Reviews

Okay, this is so stupid, but I'm curious if anyone else experiences this craziness. In my current WIP, there are several fairly sad scenes. Well as I write them I find myself crying a bit. Now, not like a river or anything, just a few drops, but why? It's fiction! That I'm creating, none-the-less! So tell me, have you ever cried at your own work, or am I alone in this weirdo stuff?

Now, I have promised to review ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS

What it's about: A teen girl gets shipped to a school in France by her dad (picture Nicholas Sparks) and ends up falling for a guy and learning a little about herself along the way.

Why I like it: First, the story feels very real to me. I found it odd that a few have commented that they didn't like the love triangle because it reminded them of their own lives. This is what I love about the story. Fiction should be dramatized life, of course, but fiction that relates to us, that brings forth memories is nothing short of fantastic. It is so rare for me to read a book that I feel captures the stress and beauty of teen love, but I can say this book does!

Writing style: For review purposes, I'm going to have two classifications here: poetic or realistic. Poetic refers to beautiful prose that you stare at and analyze. Realistic reviews to writing so clean that you forget it is writing. I would classify this as REALISTIC.

Fans of _________ will enjoy it: I think anyone who enjoys Sarah Dessen will like this, but also anyone who enjoys a good romance.

Rating: A+ I wanted to re-read it as soon as I finished the last line.

Hope that helps!

M.B.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Yay! ACROSS THE UNIVERSE

I promise to post a thought-provoking, intellent post tomorrow, but today let me just say this:

ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis rocks!

I am only a few chapters in, and am already so hooked that dinner plans have moved from traditional to pizza. :)

I'll post a review early next week as I'm sure I'll fly through this one.

On the agenda:

Book Reviews:
MATCHED
ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS
WHY PRIDE & PREJUDICE ROCKS (I just reread it)
and ACROSS THE UNIVERSE

Writing:
Benefits of writing to music
Breaking through writers' block
How I crank out words

M.B.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Back to the grind

Happy New Year to you! I wanted todays post to be my dedication to my resolutions for this year. First, and most importantly, what did Santa bring you? Guess what I got?

...

...

...


You guessed it!

But do you know what is so interesting about Christmas? My Santa husband gave me this, a huge basket full of Bath&Body Works goodies, and a card. Guess what lingers on my mind the most, what makes me smile when I think about it? The card. It's always the small gestures that warm our hearts the most, ya know? Though, I must admit I LOOOVVVEEE my Kindle. I have already downloaded 7 books and read 3. I'll post a review on Friday of one and then next Friday another, heck I may even make Friday Kindle reading review day. Ha!

Okay, now onto important *business* matters: resolutions.

Wiki definition: "A New Year resolution is a commitment that an individual makes to a personal goal, project, or the reforming of a habit."

My take: A reason to make yourself, in some fashion, better than you were the previous year.

My resolutions (in no particular order):

  1. Write at least 5K a week. On a good week I can do that in 2 days...a bad week would require lots of coffee.
  2. Blog regularly: M, W, F
  3. Attend a writing conference and/or class
  4. Exercise regularly: M, W, F
  5. Contribute set % each month to a new charity (I feel like I'm doing something worthwhile at work if a % benefits someone else.)

So there you have it. Of course I have other ones that fall into the in-my-mind-for-no-one-to-hear-or-see class, but these are the basics. What's yours?

M.B.