Saturday, May 24, 2014

SVU, cliffhangers, and discipline

I'm typing this during a commercial. I'm watching Law & Order: SVU. And, as always, I'm hooked. I turned on this episode four minutes after it started. Sometimes I start half way through an episode. It doesn't matter when I turn it on, I almost always finish the episode.

Today is a beautiful day where I live. I had planned to be outside writing, but I made the mistake of flipping on TV and finding SVU for just a few minutes. Yeah, right.

The show does a fabulous job of hooking you before each advertisement. It's something I strive for in my writing, usually at the end of a chapter or scene. Things seem to calm down. They've followed a lead who they think will solve the case. And then, BAM, a new clue that spins everything! (Pause, show is back on) Okay, I'm back! End of the episode, and I turned the television off. It's the only way I won't spend another hour sitting on the couch when I should be outside on the patio writing. So now, I shall use my discipline and do what I should have been doing all along!

I'm not one for long posts, so moral of the story. Small cliffhangers and new clues placed at the right time, will keep readers reading. And at the end of the day, that's what we want as writers :)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Downsizing: In Life and Writing

As a kid, the more things I had, the better off I thought I was. Barbies, CDs, Beanie Babies (Yes, I was a 90's child). Movies, video games, clothes. The more stuff I had seemed a reflection of how happy I was. Only it wasn't.

As I've grown, items seem less important. Don't get me wrong, I like to have nice things, but I no longer want A LOT of nice things. The accumulation of items I've hung onto has become a burden. There's always a reason to keep something. Maybe I'll want this shirt again later when it comes back into style. This decorative item was a gift from so and so. What if my phone breaks and I need a back up. While there is reason to keep each of these, I've become better at being more selective. I don't need fifteen sweatshirts. I don't need every gift my grandma has ever given me.

Lately, I've been trying to downsize my life. My bills. My obligations. My things. More isn't better to me. More weighs me down.

I believe that this applies to writing, too. When I first started writing, I thought more was better. More description. More characters. More words. This went against my natural tendency to be concise.

Now, I've realized that in writing fiction, extra words only clutter the prose. One solid description is more effective than a whole paragraph of bland description. A character who can serve multiple purposes in the novel is better than a bunch of characters who mostly sit in the background. Words are precious in writing and should be chosen carefully. Sometimes we have to murder our darlings, but it's worth it to have cleaner prose.

Do you tend to overwrite? Underwrite? Have a perfect balance?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Insecure Writer's Group

I'll start IWSG with a story from when I started writing about five years ago.

Growing up, I always felt confident academically. I did well in school and felt capable of learning anything I put my mind to. One day, I decided I wanted to be a writer. I had written small things before throughout my school years, but I'd never thought about trying to write books. But how hard could it be? Right? I'd written a ton of essays.

I learned pretty quickly that it is hard. Very hard. And so different than academic writing. All of a sudden, my confidence vanished. I'd never felt so unsure of myself. I started to realize just how much there was to learn about fiction writing. I learned how much I didn't know. Plot, pacing, tension, character arc, and this list goes on. How was I supposed to even know if I was doing it right?

I found a writing connection post on a blog, and I connected with some writers trying to start a critique group. We all shared a small piece of writing with each other to determine if we would make a good fit. One of the ladies claimed I wasn't at the level that she wanted to exchange with. Ouch. I was hurt, mad, sad. I'd always felt so confident with words when it came to academic writing. Suddenly, the doubt I already had tripled. But then I realized it was just one opinion. And I kept writing.

Well, that'll be my first Insecure Writer's Post :) I'll continue the story of my writing journey next month!

Also, the winner has been selected for my giveway...

Drumroll please


Barbara Barnett!!

Thanks everyone for entering. I'll have another contest before too long!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

how to NOT write a book

open word/scrivener/whateveryouuse
type a sentence
erase it
click on web browser
type in facebook
read the newsfeed
type a status
realize it could be better
erase it
remember the novel you're supposed to be writing
go back to the document
think about your big idea
think about the main character
realize you need a kickass name
go to
search girls names starting with m
search girls names starting with c
wonder if your mc should be a boy instead
search boys names starting with b
go back to girls names starting with m
feel the dryness in your throat
get water
and some chocolate
return to your computer
go back to the blank document
decide to write a blog post...

welcome to my life :)

don't forget about the giveaway! info on the previous post