Monday, December 19, 2011

100 word short

I like creating mini stories due to the amount of thought you have to put forth in order to create a story with limited words.  It's also a great way for me work on something new without losing focus on my ms.  So, I am sharing my 100 word short story...


Max got a call to fix a leaky sink.  When he arrived at the white cottage, he held his toolbox in one hand, and knocked with the other.  A young man answered the door wearing all black; holding a large box. 
Max scoured the unusually bare house to find the leaky sink, and worked quickly to repair it.  On his way out, Max met a man at the front door. 
“Who are you?” the man asked.
“I’m Max.  I repaired the faucet in the bathroom.”
“How did you get in?”
“Your son let me in.”
 “I don’t have a son.”

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Drawing inspiration...

How do you draw inspiration?

...with a pencil and paper?  Perhaps.
The key focus with writers block is to not let it take you under.  If you continuously tell yourself that all you write is trash, then you may as well find a trash receptacle.  The power of suggestion is widely underrated. 

I have heard/read numerous sources on the subject; all saying you must write every day or your doomed.  They are operating under the "If you don't use it, you lose it" assumption.  While I do write everyday, I wholeheartedly disagree with that mentality.  I think that the answers to questions are not always there, hence the big fat road block of the brain.  Sometimes the concept needs to grow.  The tiniest seed planted just before a block occurs, still buds, even though consciously it feels like you have nothing.  By fleshing out your characters and mentally walking through the plot, you gain a tighter understanding of your story as a whole.  Your subconscious does the majority of the work for you.  At least, that has been my experience.

What else helps to aid that? 
Music
Books
Paying closer attention to the details in your scene
Replaying the scene before the block over and over again in your head
Sometimes...it just takes time.

So, depending on how you as an individual operates, will determine how, why, and when it comes to you...that moment of absolute clarity.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What sucks you in as a reader?

I’ve asked this question many times.  As an avid reader myself, it seems to be a consensus of:  an interesting hook, loveable/and or relatable characters and an ability to keep you reading.
The first two issues are easy enough to conquer, but what exactly does the ability to keep you reading entail? 
If I lose motivation to go back to a book, it didn’t hold the ability to keep me reading.  That is the exact detail I want to avoid when writing, which is easier said than done.  It’s tough to be objective on your own work, mainly because the story is swirling around in your head, but also because you don't want to succumb to the same weaknesses you are more than willing to point out to other people.  I think sometimes, I’m too picky about which stories I find engaging.  For me, it really has to hold everything:  I need to love at least one of the characters from the start, I want to connect with what they are going through or feel like I could connect, and I want to read it without saying, wait a minute, why, what, who?
If a story can do all of that, and not only do I want to turn the next page, but I’m prying my eyelids open under a nightlight, just to read one more chapter, then I would say that is the ability to keep you reading.  And that is what I am striving for with my own writing.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Poor Man's Copyright

It’s taboo for many agents if you copyright your work before submitting it to them.  This is mainly because after it is sent to an editor, your original manuscript will be altered.  You want to protect your work, but don’t want to pay a fortune for it.  Well, the whole point of copyrighting, is to put a claim on a project that is your original work.  What exactly holds up in a court of law to that extent?  I’m afraid I don’t know the exact answer to that question, but if common sense ruled the day, I would say proof that you owned it before anyone else would.  So send your manuscript to yourself via email.  This would provide sufficient traceable, electronic documentation.  Also on that same note; most query submissions are now done electronically, so you have proof of your work the minute you send it to an agency.
Another method would be to print your manuscript and take it to the post office.  Mail it to yourself in an envelope and mention to the postmaster that you are mailing it to yourself for purpose of copyright, even though an actual copyright must be issued through the state.  They will (should) then use brown tape to seal the envelope and stamp the date half on the tape and half on the envelope.  Once you receive this in the mail, don’t open it.  This is a legit claim of your work as it bears the date and address.  If you alter your story at all, you can spend $10.00 to resend it to yourself as opposed to thousands.  I know a musician who swears by it for his lyrics.
For more info on copyright works visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

You are ready to submit to an agent...or are you?

You've finished your manuscript.  It is fantastic!  You can't wait to send it to every applicable agent, convinced they will pound down your door for a full.  Even though you think you're ready, the sad truth is, you're probably not.  I'm a firm believer in nonconformity.  I go with what makes sense to me; however, in this one tiny instance, I'm going with the crowd.  This is the time to utilize use your beta readers, high school/college English teachers, or even just close friends who will review a copy of your work.  Ask them for specifics.  To highlight: a) every time an action is told instead of shown, b) repetition of words and actions, c) setting descriptions that are weak, d) areas of confusion...etc.  Anything that slows them down or lacks substance. This will help you identify areas that could use a little extra polish and those that need elbow grease before the polish is applied.  Most likely, you will only get one chance to submit to an agent.  Why spend so much time on your manuscript, if you're not going to spend that extra time perfecting it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Write On Con

In case you haven't heard, Write On Con is an online conference for writers (debut authors take note) that is 100% FREE.  That's right, FREE.  How often does anyone line up to give you free insider info and tips to make you a better writer and help you become publishable.  Probably not real often.  I am a research guru, and I can tell you firsthand, this is amazing stuff...


Click on the link below

http://writeoncon.com/

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Scene for scene

I'm in the process of fine tuning my manuscript.  In doing so, I've learned a little trick about how to pull it all together.  If you haven't done this, give it a try!  In originally creating my outline, I set it up as follows:
-Chapter-   range of pages - time of day- duration of time-
-plot point
-plot point
-plot point
-scene, setting, page #'s
-additional notes:

This worked out okay, but didn't quite give the in depth I needed.  So here's what worked for me:

-Chapter # - number and describe every scene. 

                 1. Setting-who's in the scene- plot points, if any- if not, briefly describe the action being done or purpose of dialogue.
               
Repeat, repeat, repeat....Until you've gone through every scene of each chapter.

Writing down scene for scene allowed me to see what was crucial to the story, what could be altered, cut, or expanded on, and helped me tighten up the plot.  Also, I threw in a couple of reminder questions that I go through...to make sure the MC isn't opening an umbrella when it was mentioned three paragraphs ago that it stopped raining.

Questions to ask in each scene:
            -What time is it?
            -What is the length of time?
            -What is everyone wearing?
            -What sounds?
            -What smells?
            -What position are characters in?
            -Is is light/ dark?
            -Background description?
            -Enough details?
            -Too many details?
            -Is everything in the scene necessary?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Are you smarter than a 6th grader?

My daughter's in sixth grade and has a fantastic concept of proper grammar.  Sadly or funny enough, I find myself asking her when I am stuck on punctuation...So, cue FANBOYS:

             Connector clause 1            clause 2                          complex sentence

FOR     He couldn't go home.    He had no place to go.   He couldn't go home, for he
reason                                                                              had no place to go.
AND     I took a taxi.                 She drove home.            I took a taxi, and she drove
addition                                                                             home.
NOR     He didn't want help.     He didn't ask for it        He didn't want help, nor did
not                                                                                   he ask for it.
BUT       I wanted to go late.   She wanted to go on    I wanted to go late, but she
contrast                                   time.                           wanted to go on time.
OR        She cooked dinner.   He took her out to a      She cooked dinner, or he took
options                                 restaurant.                      her out to a restaurant.
YET       She owned a car.  She didn't know how to    She owned a car, yet she  outcome                                drive it.                         didn't know how to drive it.
SO          She had to go.         She called a friend to      She had to go, so she 
result                                    drive her.                       called a friend to drive her.