Showing posts with label editing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label editing. Show all posts

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Sailing Through Your Plot: 5 Steps for Easier Execution

When you first conceptualize your story idea, writing flows free. As you write, new ideas join in and demand to be made note of for later and new characters arrive on the scene like it's a popular new club. This is a beautiful writing stage. But, even when it ends -- when you're fixing plot holes or are stalled, in need of new ways to move your plot forward; you can employ a few strategies to keep making progress on your story no matter the day or writing session.

Here are 5 Ways to Easier Execution:

1. Interview your characters.

Your characters (and your creative subconcious) know all sorts of details you need for your story. Ask your characters what motivates them and what they're scared of. This is helpful even for small details like what a character is wearing to his job interview, whether he is fighting hayfever, or if he is nervous about his bank balance. These give you a sense of what is of concern and what can move the plot forward plausibly.

2. Check back with your outline.

If you still need to make an outline, check out my free resource on the righthand sidebar. An outline helps to guide you when you are compiling ideas and want to combine them in an order that makes sense to your reader. It gives you a place to plug in those scenes written on envelopes or typed into notes on your phone. Outlines save time while allowing you to enter creative inspiration mode and let your mind explore, knowing you will have something to come back to and nothing will be wasted. (a note on finding out a scene does not fit after all -- do not throw it away! file it -- virtually or otherwise and use it as a resource for a future story that needs some more meat)

3. Explore your setting.

Setting often contributes to character and plot development. If a trendy coffee shop is nearby, the main character might decide to become a barrista, meet another important character there, or write some poems on a tiny table for one. Climate is going to determine what your character is wearing and what the local economy is doing (especially if it is a tourist town or a place with extremely cold winters) Use your setting to determine the direction of your story.

4. Map out character growth.

If you know your character is going to get less judgemental or defensive as she develops, put her in a variety of situations that will enable this to happen. Who does she have to meet? What will they say? What can she observe about life? Character growth is a great place to show not tell. Showing things makes your reader feel like they are discovering. Telling them makes them feel like you think they're stupid. Example: TELLING - Sara noticed she was feeling less defensive and judgemental. Contrast that with SHOWING - Sara couldn't remember the last time she had enjoyed a whole night out without worrying about what she was wearing, whether people liked her, or being put off by someone's unusual behavior. Jane was right, it was so much more enjoyable to live and let live. 

5. Ask why?

Going through your manuscript and asking why people are doing what they're doing means you will learn more about them. These character flaws and strengths will determine how they act later on in the story. Delving into that early on makes the story flow and make sense. Unless a character is growing or has had a life changing experience, you don't want them to start acting in a way that is not anything like what they have done in the past. Knowing a bit about them means you can introduce a plot twist and know instinctively how they will respond. 

Have fun employing these steps no matter where you are in your writing progress. They can be used more than one time. They are helpful in finishing up the first draft. They come in handy when you are filling plot holes identified in the second draft. And they are great for tightening up any loose ends before you send your manuscript off for its final copy edit. Feel free to share them with your writing community and compare how they work for you.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

How to Fit your Writing into Life and Other Concerns

images courtesy of (which is more helpful and less morbid than you'd think)

It's that conference time of year. Which means while I am presenting tommorow (on the query letter -- the key to getting your work into magazines) and attending sessions; I am also free of the second shift and rooming with another rabid writer, so after my essential 7 hours sleep, I'm switch-hitting writing projects like nobody's business. (it's the excitement, I think)
D has already texted the everything's going well/have a great day/all's clear this morning. (which I didn't realize I needed until he sent it.) Here's to stealing writing time.

If you're a writer with questions about carving out writing time more regularly or with technical questions about the craft, email for the answers.

Friday, July 25, 2014


this is how thrilling my Friday night is: Sally Hansen 330: Hard Drive, Matcha Kit Kat and Instagram review.

this is how tomorrow is shaping up: sun, 2 x celebrating the ten year old (read my baby aka little c -- I know -- I can't believe it either)'s bday

next week, he's gone to camp and I am figuring out magazine layout and other nit-picky computer jobs that are impossible to get done with an adventuring kidlet underfoot.

then I will only be distracting myself.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

bibi guns, plastic fruit, and your money

 in order to photograph my wine basket and new wall vase (which reminds me suspiciously of a beautiful version of an oversized shot glass on a string St Patrick's day revelers carry around) I had to shove into it the bibi gun and yellow safety glasses that were poking out the top. (normal I'm sure) thanks, boys
 the faux fruit basket at my house contains an equal amount of sunglasses (I stole the idea for plastic display nutrition from my sister when I noticed her house lacked the fruit flies that accompany the real thing -- now my fruit is safely in the crisper. Some wise guy has since put teeth marks in the plastic fruit. I left it, as they definitely look real now.)
I've been wrestling with gimp software for my new editorship. One successful project in, I am so thankful for the you-tubers that have gone before me (a saving grace for an impatient visual learner)

my home office is quiet for a few more hours. I'm off to take advantage of them.

to enter to win $100 to spend at your favorite restaurant click here
for today's writing prompt click here
And if you are looking for feedback on your manuscript, check out a chapter by chapter option at the bottom of the blog page (rh side)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

reading helps you recover from life

i've finished three books in the last week. this one, this one, and this one (and the three glasses of red that accompanied them) probably because i'm recovering from writing mine, presenting at a conference (for the first time), wrapping up the day job before it pauses for summer, and keeping the side gig going. and did i mention how many rides these kids need?

books help you recover from life.

i noticed yesterday in one of those overwhelming gratitude moments that i am at the stage where my kids are old enough to mow the lawn and treat me to starbucks. it's been going on a while now but life keeps going, morphing from one thing to another, until i realized, hey we're here now.

and I like it.

because when things fall off the to do list completed, for a compulsive list maker that means add more, you know i will, with family and writing and reads thrown in between.

a couple of announcements: thrilled to be part of this year's Harrison Festival of the Arts' Literary Caf矇 on July 14th. save the date! and to be the new editor of Groundwork (a magazine for adult basic education educators) if you'd like submission guidelines, email me at

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

from PB & J to vintage lace

little c takes a page from my "presentation is everything" notes

 post adventurous tea with my editor 2 editors ago (with her adorable baby and toddler in tow hence the adventure) who I copy-edited for on this book. So exciting to see the finished product. which is inspiring, beautiful, and makes one more than a little travel hungry (it covers her and her husband's travels as journalist and photographer respectively pre those beautiful babies as they documented humanitarian efforts around the world)
 working from home as I do in the summer means I can actually sit down with something freshly made at lunchtime and watch real crime video
more babies have been born. among the moms, my editor three editors ago just had a beautiful little boy. a perfect excuse to use up my vintage ribbon stock.

current projects on the go: ebook content wrangling, freelance work paperwork, and a 30 day project. I love those days of focus. Will let you in on details in 29.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

more of everything

spring break is flying by all by the seat of our pants like so we might have to be more deliberate about getting the things on our list in or we'll run out of break.
day jobs are fitting their way into in the fun
novel writing not so much.
the fodder keeps piling up though
as is little c's artwork ;)

Monday, September 27, 2010

charming paper crafts

i don't believe in hiding from my kids my occasional weekend cigar, but for those of you who do, i think we can both agree that you will never look over at your littlest in church (where he was on top of his sitting still game) and find him drawing this sweet picture of you. ;)

speaking of charming paper crafts, i almost accidentally recycled this hand weapon the other day until i saw what it was. love the kind you know they can't whack their brother over the head with if things get heated.

finally have the edits into lorene's fabulous book project. summer put a damper on my productivity like nobody's business. fall is so much more accomodating. pjs, coffees, and more dark hours within to write. the short story collection is getting ahead of the increasingly complex novel so i'm guessing that will be released first. you know i'm going to turn the tables on lorene (don't worry, she told me i could) and ask for some editor eyes on it first.

that said, i am going to have a promotion for pre-buyers so make sure i have your name and contact info if you are interested in an upcoming copy.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

i have to stop reading books about people with nannies

because they're making me want one.
but only from about 7:30-9 pm
perhaps to supervise dinner clean-up and barricade the tv so more time isn't logged and break the news that summer doesn't mean keeping the same waking hours as your parents
because, frankly, i'm a little sick of it.

it's now 10:04 pm and i think i have shrieked "get to bed" enough times for it to really stick and i get to hang out with d and then get up early tommorow to finally get to some business copywriting and editing i really cannot put off any longer.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

avoiding adding FB addiction to the list

my characters are waiting and my to do list is long, but not so long apparently, that i can't take time out to check whether I'm in Facebook too deep ;) all my friends know that to reach me it makes more sense to email or message me than phone if they want to get in touch fast

reasons i'm not a fan of the phone: can't answer it on your own time
2. if you try to, checking messages is annoying
3. i feel bad screening when i don't have time to answer
4. the kids have a built in magnet for when i pick it up and rush over from whatever they've been occupied with to try and talk to me at the same time
5. the requirement to provide small talk upon answering

i like to compartmentalize. writing or problem solving or what have you one at a time. the switch hitting from activities means it looks like multitasking, but it's probably not. it's short spurts of focus that escaped me as a daydreamy kid (and why when i have had people recommend medication for my wild unfocused boys -- usually around preschool to early elementary, i just laugh {and then avoid said people ;) } the channeling of that energy is the stuff that powers novels and big ideas and fast focused work.

so it's either a quick message or social face to face time for me
that coupled with running a FB venture makes me wonder about my usage from time to time. but apparently according to this highly scientific set of guidelines, i am in the clear. ;)

my soccer team has another day of playoff action tommorow. ♥ these girls. it's gone beyond meeting at the field for exercise to supporting everyone's strengths as a team and sending mass mushy notes to each other at work. it reminds me of grade school friendships -- just mutual admiration and i can't wait to see them. so it won't surprise you if we try and think of ways to extend our playtime together. year round, anyone? ;)

the last day of school for the kids -- i think i have the summer mapped out as best i can. make way for sun and sand and lazy days with work thrown in.

Monday, June 21, 2010

monday night aha moment

love coarse sea salt. it makes me feel like i'm cooking even if it's scrambled eggs and bacon in the microwave ;) {which was exactly what dinner was since d wasn't home for it ;) poor kids -- they are way too compliant ;) }

so i told u a while ago that i was having a mid year angst rethink about the direction my 2010 fiction was taking.

here's the story.

i've been working on a novel that weaves together multiple lives (you know the kind where chapters are about one person, and then the next one is about the one who lives next door...etc) it was going well.

and then i got the big idea to submit individual pieces of the chapters to lit journals and meandered into a whole lot of characters who don't have a thing to do with the book so wrote those to stand alone. and then starting creating art to accompany those stories. so now i'm half way through a year of that and realizing the lit journals (most of them attached to universities or employing slave labour reading interns or the like) will not be reading submissions over the summer.

suddenly it seems like a good time to go back to the real work of the book's characters.

so i now have 3 projects on the go and am utilizing the bulk of my brainspace in how to sort them out around the paying work.

and then i realized.

why do i apply the must get entire vision done during the calendar year to myself?
i have work i like, time to write, house i love to putter in.
i like my life as is.
meandering directions and all.

so if i could get off my own back about it,

maybe i could pen a little on the beach and have something to show you later on this year.

no pressure at all ;)

Monday, June 14, 2010

6 month itch

it's been a long work day and i just wrapped it up with a small freelance editing job to accompany my steak and a glass of something so unfancy it just said RED on the bottle.

would love to relax with something productive, like some more of these scrapbooking pages, but i'm too tired. reading sounds good too, but i've burned through three of the four books bought last week and am finding the one on the go good in a satisfying tackling a few pages at a time kind of way.

kids are adding, even at this hour, to my errand list with specialty store project requests (they have obviously not been properly impressed by my to-do list)

it was a decent fiction output kind of day, only a bit plagued by my 2010 big picture looming -- am i going the right direction i thought i was in january? i guess if i turned complementary turn this month, it would look like a deliberate mid year move and not some fear stricken back- tracking. nothing life shattering, just my inner editor and planner duking it out with the go with the flow girl. (who are we kidding? have you seen my personal calendar -- who do you think is going to win? ;)

will likely ruminate more tommorow and bother my girlfriends with "what do you think?" in days upcoming. for now. for now, even the books are put away. "intervention" is on.
love the salvation army ad that runs in its commercial breaks. amazing grace never fails to get me weepy so you know these stories of hope are doing double duty
will have to read eat pray love. for its vicarious travel and clever quotes. ♥ this quote about prayer within the happiness equation {so true that we often don't pray as hard as we do in crisis as we do in everyday mundane and happy. but it is an amazing thing when little thoughts start wondering and turn into prayers -- truly what the apostle paul was talking about when he said "pray without ceasing" [in case u were picturing a holed up closet somewhere instead of a carpool lane with one's eyes wide open] }as quoted by one of my fave bloggers to read. so if you're currently holding onto a copy you want to share, send it over.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

something of good report

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you know when you read things that feel like they change your life, your outlook, (or at least your day ;) ? i think lorene and justin's book is going to be like that. amazing amazing beyond our western bubble living takes on life and its meaning.
cannot wait for its release. beyond thrilled i have the pre-peek opportunity to be of reading and editing help.

post my time on it today (and on the homefront, kiddie sugar free slurpee aquiring, backyard landscape planning, and laundry room window trim finishing) i have some words of my own to put to paper. told you that time would come.

love these portraits of my ancestors that hold court with the heart rocks the boys have found for me and the little cast i wore as a crooked foot baby. the best vignettes are the ones that mean something

Monday, May 17, 2010

what kind of monday will you have?

i started my usual writing morning session with finishing my editing notes i started last week for Lorene and Justin's upcoming book.
thrilled to be part of the reading/editing team (not the grammer correcting kind -- Lorene is a former newspaper editor ;) but the reader feedback, word and phrase suggestion kind.

getting so excited by their work, (it is amazing! big picture stuff) it's even surpassing how glued i was to their blog while they were travelling the world over when gathering material for the book.

it's a list a mile long day. let's see how much writing i can squish in anyway.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

bathing in cupcakes

the girl who rehooked me onto sugar is now encouraging me to bathe in it. i am in serious ♥ with these cake and icing philosphy bath products (and have to hide them from the kiddies as they are similarly smitten)
today was a up early to work, 8:30 am nap, work, nap, work day.
perhaps i am working faster and tiring myself out doing it? but the to do list is complete and the fiscal year is wrapped up. woo to the hoo for tax paperwork no longer hanging over my head.
i have a bit more freelance editing to do (writing for $ trumps writing for fictional pleasure today) and then plan to descend on my sister's house with 1/2 week of our laundry (washing machine is being temperamental -- boo to the hoo for that)
but i can always relax with a bit more sugar bathing.
so don't feel too sorry for me ;)

post mini at home date with D pre-his work day i read this quote on romance in marriage by jennifer garner in a fluffy little mag (people feb 22, 2010 courtesy of jen L to be specific):

"accept that every day is not necessarily going to be romantic. that doesn't mean you don't look for ways to infuse your life with romance. it's about finding it in the littlest parts of life."

i agree.
i'll take morning sans kids convos on dream retirement living (laying in bed reading aux deux all day long) over a bouquet of roses anyday.

tip on getting blackberry bushes cut down while you read/nap --> authorize your boys to break out their pocketknives and get to work. (try not to use up your whole break time praying for zero injuries) i am a firm believer in giving the boys a boy scout childhood even if i risk a bit of anxiety to do it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

imperfect crafting = brain rest

i had grabbed one of my long laundry room curtains for my closet and then in a fit of making do hacked off the bottom of the one remaining one and thumbtacked it to the other side. (no one can accuse me of being a perfectionist ;) i had adorable gardening theme material that i had used before i thought of the hacking scheme, three windows to cover and one side of the curtains missing hanging tabs. to complete the room without shopping, i pulled out my sewing machine (for skill level think C in home ec when everyone else was pulling an easy A ;)

steps for the interested:

1. cut off tabs to match both sides
2. hemmed both
3. adding ribbon tabs from ribbon spool in my scrapbooking supplies
4. sewed quick garden curtain for sunroom door and added unfolded curtain tabs to bottom to tie in the color scheme.
5. finished wallpapering
6. worked some more on distressed-look black trim
7. hung up 2 thrifty chicks shopping co. sourced bulletin board (perfect fit) -- still going to trim edge with black gingham ribbon

when i was mid wallpaper, i heard a little herd of elephants come in the house and i vaguely recalled middle schooler previously saying "my friends need to come over to make a video for school".
ha ha

not a total work loss day -- going to do some freelance editing tonight after the kiddies go to sleep.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Thanks to Andrea's recent comment on my post on my 9-2 daydream, i feel licensed to flit about from one project to the next, fuelling up from the various creative outlets. It's true -- Change is as good as rest.This afternoon i finally finished my mini album of our recent family portraits.
after helping with the boys' paper route and in the midst of making dinner (anyone who knows me well knows i burn a lot of things to the bottoms of unattended pots and pans) i did some freelance editing. now it's time for bedtime tuck-ins and then a glass of shiraz to accompany my novel work.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

nearing final production but life doesn't care, it marches on as if this were just another week

now my corrections have been made to the proofs (only six which is either really good or really bad -- they allow up to fifty) and they have been sent in to iuniverse. the book being approved for final production will likely take another week from Monday (but hopefully sooner) will keep you posted.

fodder for this week's writing taken from the pages of my life: diaper cakes, dance class inducing toddler tantrums, good friend moving across country within a week of notice, a houseful of flowers (because february was such a lovey dovey month), looking forward to weekly playgroup way too much, excited about the possibility of first local writer's group this week.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

proof reading fuelled by cheezies and coffee

I am reading the book myself today, looking over the proofs that arrived this morning. Will give you the weekly countdown when I send them back in with the corrections for the production stage of publishing.