Posts Tagged With: doing the write thing

The Truth About Your Novel

My name is Sonia and I’m a recovering pantser.

For some folk, writing by the seat of their pants is the only way to fly (The Great and Powerful Stephen King, for example). On the other hand, when I try to fly without a plan, I end up crashing into the side of a mountain. Now, if I’m taking a short trip (flash fiction or short story) I can cruise along just fine. Sure, I might revise a dozen times or so but I can get to the destination without the screaming and flaming debris. For a novel length trip, however, a plan is a must.

Of course, because I have a very thick skull, that’s taken a long time to sink in. Even now, though I lean more towards the plotting end of the spectrum, I’m more a hybrid of plotter and pantser than pure plotter. A plantser, if you will. Or maybe a plotser.

Along the way, I’ve studied story structure and availed myself of Larry Brooks’s (Master Story Structure Guy) story coaching. I’ve had both praise and unsugared criticism from him but I’ve learned a great deal each time. I’ll be signing on for coaching again when I’ve worked out the kinks I can see in my WIP (which will probably be around the same time I write “The End” on my first draft…so much for being an efficient story planner…I really did plan…I just reworked a lot of that plan on the page…at least I’m comfortable with the idea of a radical rewrite).

If you’re working on a novel or just thinking about it, I encourage you to reach out to Larry. You might not love what you hear but, if you let it sink in, you’ll learn something to make your story better.

And, while you’re at it, check out this guest post by Stephanie Raffelock on Larry’s site StoryFix. Her experience was very familiar to me:

After I dried my eyes and dusted myself off from the humiliating encounter with Brooks, I got the gift he intended: the novel is a muti-layered, heavily nuanced form, best not left to writing by making shit up as you go. Respect it. Respect the forms and functions and targets and criteria that apply to any novel in any genre, and have hundreds of years of proof behind them, because every book that’s ever been commercially successful has aligned with those principles.

Read the rest on –>

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Not Giving Up, Even When You’re Giving Up

Kitten, Paws Up

Ok, ok. I givz up!

Last week, we talked about how giving up can be a good thing. But giving up doesn’t always mean giving up. What we must give up is anything that holds us back. What we must never give up is our authentic passion.

Of course, the sticky question can be just what exactly that authentic passion is…because we’re not always clear on that ourselves.

Anyone who embarks on a path that strays outside the norm for those around them (and, indeed, themselves), is likely to encounter a lot of dream-killing action. That action can come from the outside, in the form of subtle and not-so-subtle comments from friends, family (heck, even total strangers *shrug*). Sometimes, the most insidious dream-killing comes from the inside, from our inner critic (who might be the internalized representations Continue reading

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Making Procratination Productive (or Procrastination Nation Part 2)

The time comes to work on a project and suddenly I come skidding to a halt. Either my muse is throwing a tantrum (Joan has suddenly morphed into a 6-year-old and stands there glaring at me with jam smeared on her face…she’s refusing to work) or the demon Resistance is rearing its unlovely head (for the Nation of Procrastination is surely one of the minions of Resistance).

Recently I managed to defeat Procrastination (and all its tiny flag-waving procrastinators) by writing a post about procrastination. So, when I would normally have nothing to show for all of my procrastinating, I ended up with a blog post. Point to Continue reading

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Mining a Migraine

photo by Orchid_Mine at Flickr
*Used with artist’s permission*

A migraine swallowed my brain yesterday…the right half anyway. In the depths of the pain, when I could hardly keep a thought straight (like a bra strap that keeps slipping) I realized that I had to remember exactly how it felt (like a thing of living flame had swallowed half of my brain and was slowly digesting it in a stomach lined with long, thin razors). It wasn’t my first rodeo but I hadn’t really made an effort to remember (I’d so much rather curl up in a ball and forget) what it was like so that I could use it in a story. And I have a story in mind, have had it in mind for a long time, but the migraine part had always been hard to write. Somehow, even though I’ve survived hundreds (thousands? *shudder*) of them over the years, I couldn’t quite bring to mind just what it felt like. So last night I told myself to remember the roiling nausea, the pulsing pain, the light that felt like a flaming blade being plunged through my eye and into my brain and how, even though I’ve heard the brain doesn’t actually feel any pain itself, it felt like Continue reading

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Procrastination Nation

I sit down to write and the tiny procrastinators begin to march through my mind waving their tiny flags, each one marked with yet another way to procrastinate. Did I throw in that load of laundry? Did I check the library for overdue books? Did I write down the last book I read in my book journal? What was the last book I read anyway? Maybe I should go look at all the books I have stacked by the bed and see if I can figure it out. Is that the cat? Is he locked in the pantry again? No doubt trying to bust into the catnip. That’s a lot of frost on the lawn today. Maybe I should check the weather for today. Did I update that weather app on my phone? When was the last time I synced my phone? Is that how you spell “synced” or is there an “h” in there somewhere. Did I check my email? Maybe I should email my grandmother. Did my daughter email her cousin? I haven’t been on Facebook in forever. There’s probably a ton of messages for me…or maybe not. And then there’s that Twitter account I used only once. I hear everybody uses

Continue reading

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Trying to (Re)fomulate a Writing Routine

When I first got back into writing, the excitement of reconnecting with my storytelling fueled my writing. I had challenging days here and there. For the most part, though, I was excited to write and that excitement was enough to carry me through my lack of routine. Since the lack of consistent routine wasn’t hampering my productivity, I (wrongly, I now think) assumed that I could just seat-of-the-pants it all the time.

No problem. After all, isn’t that what I did when I was a kid? I wrote whenever the inspiration struck and inspiration struck virtually Continue reading

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Faster Makes it Go?

I’ve heard similar advice from several sources: put your pen to the paper or your fingers on the keyboard and just write. Write as fast as you can. Don’t worry about grammar or punctuation or anything. Just write. Fast. The idea is that writing faster makes the creative side of the brain go while the critical side is left in the dust (probably standing there with torn, dirty jeans shaking its fist in fury).

I wasn’t entirely sure what to think of the idea. It sounds pretty good but it’s so hard for me to just let it flow without at least Continue reading

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How I Got Here, Part 2

Right before I started college, I remember being told that I wasn’t really a writer because I didn’t “eat, sleep and breathe” writing. That was because I had declared a biochemistry major. And the decision to be a biochem major was in large part because I was convinced that I needed a “real” major so that I could get a “real job.” You know…”just in case.” (Wow, that’s a lot of quotes…but justified, I think). Those ideas solidified more and more as I went along in college (eventually switching from biochem to microbiology and adding psychology) until my personal creative writing efforts just petered out.

Clearly, I had some seriously mistaken ideas about writing in general. And those ideas clearly led to a major case of writer’s block. Realistically, I know that not everybody who writes a piece of fiction is going to get published. Yet, it’s just as clear that many writer’s do get published. At some point, everybody who is published at all is published for the first time. So, why not me? Why not even allow for the possibility? I’m pretty sure that book contracts and agents do not fall out of the sky or just show up on one’s doorstep. I’m guessing that the authors who do get published are often the ones who are persistent and seek to always be growing in their art.  Again…why not me?

That’s the question I began to ask myself very soon after starting this journey. It’s the question that drives me now. The possibilities…they are both terrifying and thrilling. Why not try? What have I really got to lose?

And another question: why make being a published novelist the only mark of being a “real” writer? Why not just write the way that I used to when I was a kid? I used to write because I couldn’t not write. I simply had to write. I was a writer then and I am a writer now. I want to write for the sake of writing and seek to be a published novelist.  Yet, in the end, the story is all that should matter. The story has to be told…whether to an audience of a few or many.

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Morning Pages Inspiration

I have previously mentioned that Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way really began the unblocking process for my creativity. I had been in a creative desert for so long and it seemed like there was no end in sight. The Morning Pages were a huge part of my recovery but I had really forgotten how to use them more recently. I’d completely abandoned the stream-of-consciousness aspect of the MPs and had begun to sit and dawdle over them. They became work instead of a release. Over the last couple of weeks, I found myself skipping them more and more.

Yesterday, I came across Morning Pages, Not Mourning Pages by Pam Parker. Reading that excellent post inspired me to try again to Continue reading

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I’m Posting Every Day in 2011!

Okay, so even though I just started blogging, I want to take up the challenge of posting daily. The very thought kind of scares the pants of me, but I think I can do it. Alrighty then…here I go!

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