Showing posts with label fiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fiction. 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.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Keeping Your New Ideas from Sabatoging Your Current Project

Once you start to work and make progress on your project, it may look like all sunny blue skies ahead. But it is important to make plans for not only in case of writer's block, but also for what to do when that flowing creativity results in too many ideas. The newest idea threatens the one you are slogging through and looks like more fun/easier to execute/more interesting/what have you... If you have been at this for a while, you know following this path means you can land up with a bunch of good ideas and no completed projects.

The siren song of a new idea can spell death for the current project if it is abandoned before it comes to full bloom. That doesn't mean you have to hold off until this project is wrapped and launched before getting into the new idea. You just have to be smart about it. Here is the strategy to both stay the project's course and not lose the new ideas:

1. write it down

Taking the time to sketch it out means you won't lose the inspiration. You can add more ideas as they come up. Just keep the notebook or digital file nearby as more details are sure to come to you as you continue to work on the current project. If you don't get rattled by it, you can just enjoy it as a side benefit of creative juices flowing. And celebrate! You are generating twice the ideas you anticipated.

2. see if you can tie it into a series

Sometimes new ideas arise because you have hit upon a theme that especially resonates with you or the market is timely and references to it keep arising in daily life. Don't worry that you will lose out this opportunity. If it doesn't tie into your current work as a supporting book or series addition, just keep working on your notes. It might be a stand alone series by itself. And given the success model that sees authors of multiple books hit the best seller lists, this is a direction you'll want to develop in.

3. use it as a reward

Working on a new idea when it's hot has the side benefit of feeling like a reward. Working on your current project for a timed set (even 10 minutes) and then switching to develop your new idea for another five or ten is a model that when repeated can have you producing what you need to on your current project while not losing the momentum of the newly hatched ideas.

4. test it out

As you develop it, give your new idea some test runs by writing a short scene, posting an article or blog post on the topic, or discussing it with your fellow writers and beta readers. Taking it for a trial run lets you see if it is an idea worth pursuing and how much interest there is for it.

5. prioritize it

Not every new idea will make the cut and go long term project. That's ok. Keeping a running list with time frames and markets for them (agent submissions, short story contests, guest blog posts, linked in articles... etc) means you will spend the appropriate amount of time on each project according to its purpose. If you use vision boards, mapping out each project on one bulletin board (virtual or not) is a good way to keep an eye on each of them.

Let me know if this touches on your experience with new ideas. Do they help you or harm you when it comes to your production?

Monday, June 23, 2014

rooms of sadness and other things i study

read and loved this book. it was about the kind of darkness you have to read through fast so it doesn't sit too long on your soul, but half way through the book, it took a turn and the heaviness lifted and as a mother of boys, the relationship between mother and son really resonated with me.

currently studying some really interesting material and making notes for what may be the next novel.
if you need a writing prompt click here.
if you want to win $100 to spend on good eats click here

Friday, October 25, 2013

Making time for the sentences that change your life.

There's a reason for one pot suppers. they save time.

I've just finished Nora Ephron's "I feel Bad about my Neck" and I loved it. had I not been given it by a friend, I might not have read it, having heard previously that it was about the physical side of aging and going on and on about it. but it wasn't. it was clever and funny and honest and had more depth than I was expecting.

as I finished it, I realized (part of this was tripping over the books beside my bed) that I read a lot of books. Just this week I posted on Facebook that I had finished my book club read (Monday meeting so I read it over Saturday and Sunday) and then went on to list the two I was reading after that.

My friend sue suggested goodreads which I clicked on and which looked fascinating, but I worried it would cut into my reading time. plus, I have such a substantial wishlist going on at alibris that I probably don't need to run across more to wish I'd read.

I like to own and collect books -- which is why at least one shelf in each room is full of them. and I'm married to a reader so he doesn't mention to the book sprawl and in fact contributes to it himself. which is huge to me. when I was a teenager, I dated a few boys who were not readers and knew we would never last.

there are many things I do to maximize reading time. I don't spend time nagging my boys to clean their rooms other than to throw their laundry and the missing towels down the stairs. (our room salso consist of an unmade bed and discarded reads so d and I can't talk) I speed clean ( I figure that doubles as working out which saves more time for reading ;) -- but not the boys' domains -- they do that when they need to

I also don't spend time recreational shopping either online or in real life. I have a few main stops I rotate through for the practical stuff, but most of my expenditures seem to be on non-fun like commuting gas and more groceries. sourcing those take up enough time -- my reading time would be severely cut into if I added more errands.

you won't understand this devotion unless you are similarly held hostage by reading addiction and compulsed by also a writing addiction so that nearly every thing you read and thing you experience finds it way into a scribbled note somewhere. perhaps that's why people sign up for goodreads when they already have a plethora of other social networking sites and not enough time already -- it's community.

timer beeped. blueberry scones coming out of the oven. (not usual for me -- baking also cuts into reading time -- usually my middlest takes care of it) they will perfect accompaniment to another read as soon as I tackle enough to do list to warrant it.

Monday, March 19, 2012

snapshots that attempt to do the weekend justice

i am in love with these adorable bridesmaid heels that have a LBD to match.

there are good weekends and bad weekends and weekends where you are in love with your life. this last one was in the last category. from movie dates with d at home to lots of meals just us 5 that didn't have anything to do with me cooking, to plenty of fluffy reads and starbucks to some sweet times -- watching family movies together, little c revamping my old misprinted work nametag into something he could use, and tucking the middlest into bed amid his classic reads and artillery collection. i also acquired some iron bead earrings via little c's crafting. (i will have to find something wild printed to match them for a future dinner party). monday is d's guys night out so you know it's likely i am knee deep in a good book and having the kids make cupcakes. the novel is shaping into something coherent. i've decided to aim for a summer finish.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

scenes from an ordinary wednesday made better with the anticipation of cupcakes to follow

top: d's opa gave me a baby from his striped cactus -- thought a suitable home for it would be by the family wall -- it is strong enough to endure my lack of indoor gardening skills. (you know the only surviving kitchen plants are the fake ones i was smart enough to buy ;) middle: little's c art from the library pj story time, bottom: months ago little c took over our family bejewelled accounts (which makes for the best brainteaser coffee breaks) and made us a mis-spelled koala family. no one bothered to change it back

i've been waiting a week to give my mom her mother's day loot. we're finally celebrating tonight with the family and i'm making this talented foodie blogger's cupcakes to serve. and i can't wait to try her spin on sushi this weekend.

some writing, some day job, and some work on the library to follow.

Friday, May 06, 2011

work made better

the beauty of working from home is that no one is around to keep a tally on the pots of coffee you brew, it's ok to bribe yourself with magazines mid-day, or arrange wildflowers (starbucks take out cups make the cutest vases -- little c stumbled upon this first, i must confess) or dress shirts on your lunch break (the hanging on the door system is my solution to the middlest's inability to find a button up shirt come sunday morning)
i am smitten by the card he gave me nearly a week before mother's day. you know i'm likely to frame it. i understand his inability to wait. i had my mom over today and almost got up and got her mother's day present a handful of times. but i made myself wait. it's harder when you're 10.

today's main character is laundry folding while her mind whirrs. (good opportunity to show reader her backstory/inner dialogue) i am taking my notebook along to the women's conference i am attending this weekend so we'll see what happens to the story there. i ♥ taking notes and having multiple notebooks on the go (some fiction, some non) is my fave. it does something good to my brain.

speaking of good things...

this email today about Mother Mexico from a reader did something good for my writing heart.

"I've read it twice now and thoroughly enjoyed it both times, the descriptive language and the way the characters seem so real makes it a great read."

words like that are like a valentine to a writer. you know we love them.

Friday, April 29, 2011

when your mind empties at week end to make room for the next one

yesterday i had a discussion with some women at my thursday morning group about knowing when to slow things down, take something off the schedule, have a nap, read something worthwhile, have that put-off discussion with a loved one. i'm finally getting better at it. part of the to-do list/life balance is lining it up with the priorities which make sense for your own life -- not someone else's. so even if i really respect someone and have the same core priorities, but we're in different places in life or have different challenges, our day to day life should reflect that. it's all those zen words you hear thrown about -- being intentional and the like -- the truth is when they are put into practice they are something authentically yours.

currently reading the backwoods of canada between fashion mags and notebook story scribbling. you know i love hearing how they did life back when.

also finally watched born into brothels. it broke my heart and made me want to adopt a whole gaggle of kids.

someone asked how my week went at the end of it. not sure what it means that i had to refer to my calendar for what happened (day job, middle schooler social life chauffering, introducing a girlfriend to thrifting, hosting friends and being hosted, movie and wine night with d, kitchen floor refinishing and the like) ;)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

maps of places we know well

i am manically redoing furniture and rooms
i think it is nesting for spring's arrival
this year i plan to have a bigger garden
and throw some more summer dinner parties
before then i plan to make some necklaces i refuse to pay full price for
(tutorial to come)
and write some more novel.

it sounds optimistic to me because i'm tired and it's only 9:45
(altho it could be d's penchant for coming home and cranking the heat until i'm nearly passed out from heat exhaustion ;)

before i head off to read through my bedtime stack of magazines.
i thought i'd share little c's maps.

his teacher told his class to think of any kind of map for homework
he thought up this "map of my hart" (in which my favorite are separate mentions of God and God's sun ;)
then he realized other kids were doing geographical places and realized how uncool it was
so he did up this map of the backyard (map may or may not be actual size of backyard ;) (in which my favorite is mention of the "nabers")
good thing -- because now i get to keep the sappy one.
(in sappy news middlest has taken to typing up original poems -- you know i'm giving him better than average snacks to ensure i keep getting them ;)

i'll take the sap while i can still get it -- middleschooler's version of hanging out includes things like today's mockingly speed walking beside me while i jog. (he might be unwittingly sacrificing snack quality ;)

i'd tell you how long until morning writing time, but then i'd be inviting 8 hrs of sleep a night lectures. and you know how i like to keep coffee companies in business.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

jump drives are the new diamonds

anniversary dinner was wonderful in a cup runneth over with the family i love way (kid friendly decor + 3 loud boys + d&i + dinner delivered by my parents who love on us lots on anniversaries in the way of food) not terribly romantic unless you count d&i rolling our eyes at each other re: the boys' antics. ;) at least we think the same.

romantic to a writer girl though is the fetching of a new jump drive for her novel in progress. d has it covered.

i love how when tidying up the boys' rooms yesterday (i swore i never would because d's mom would get fed up with his mess and do his and so he still is a clothes dropper -- not that i can talk ;) but now that i'm a fed up mom, i know why she did it, and so do i. (d has inherited his spontaneous dinner making from his dad so hopefully the boys will take it another generation and that will similarly save their wives from getting mad about dropped socks) that i come across more novels in progress. they remind me of all the stories i used to hoard in my orange duotang when i was little. also making me smile is the hockey stick up high in the middlest's room (d's from an era bygone that still gets a workout whenever middlest needs it) and the amazing bit of sky as viewed from my laundry room.

i'm still typing out those handwritten scenes. you think i would learn to not let them accumulate.
i had no idea one could pick out lego colors in bulk until i read stacey's post. now you know i want to go visit my friends and family in calgary even more and stop here our collection is such a multi-themed thing it's nearly impossible to just build something bright and basic.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

assorted priorities as fuelled by sugar

i have a hunch i'm going to need a vitamin IV later in the day because the coffee, boston cream donut, 1 dinosaur shaped cheese, and double zout dropjes i've had for breakfast probably wouldn't put me on a best eating list ;)

but i can catch up later. based on stacey's shout out for the newly minted dress (of which i am showing off today, but will tutorial about later on a less random post) i would hold out longer, but based on yesterday afternoon's smokey eye makeup practice session to match, (yes, i answered the after school playdate door wearing it -- not to worry -- my kids' friends already know i'm a weirdo -- my oldest told me that's how he knows i'm an ok mom -- i'm not winning the award for the coolest ;) you know i'm ridiculously excited about wearing it.

also, just so you know, plenty of my DIY's do not work out the first time around. sometimes i make 6 nail holes in my plaster walls while trying to put up a simple shelf (thanks thrifty chick for the shelf save --it was destined for the trash because of water stains and a loose knob) & even mess up something as simple as chipboard letters on the kitchen wall. (thanks secret pal for the classic GC) i glued the word BISTRO to the wall above the kitchen sink, but by the time i had people over, the R had given up holding and it looked like i was advertising for gravy. c'est la vie. i decided the safer way to display them might be on an old upcycled tray. the potatoes and coffee tin are doing their best to squash the glue into a hold position as we speak.

i can't be too picky if i'm going to cross the to-dos off my list, get a big planned chunk of fiction to page, and fit in time with my girlfriends.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

get out your notebook

it's january
did i mention i can't stop listmaking and organizing (not to mention wonton-making -- this weekend's were venision + rice with a hefty coating of plum sauce) ?
and my sisters are caught up on my 2011 plans for the year. thank goodness they tolerate my use of them as charming life coaches, one coffee at a time. (weaker girls would get sick of "what about this plan? and this one?"... ;)
i bought some more books. big surprise ;) pysched to get into this one after the brit chick lit i am currently engrossed in.

the two littlest in the family (not including the cat who thinks he's a real boy) are in january gymnastics class. (which they love and seem to have aptitude for -- but of course every parent there thinks their kid does too so slap me if i also talk about my kids' sporting obligations that take up entire saturdays -- ie "after this we're rushing off to swimming lessons" and then...(because what does a kid need saturday for other than to run from activity to activity? ;) i wisely kept my snobby opinions to myself and finished the rest of the read in my purse . it was great. d might have wrinkled his nose and asked why on earth they would be into that? um, have you seen their continuing obsession with WWE? what is that if not dramatic tumbling routines & acrobatics? ;)

the house is full of noise and a bit disorderly after a weekend of hanging round it en famille . writing & the like (speed house ordering, school volunteering) to commence in approximately 12 hours.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

if i don't answer the door, i might be writing in my closet

because it's safer than baking biscotti like i attempted to with my early morning writing yesterday (turns out that when you wake up so early you are napping at 8am, you might forget the oven's on and ruin a perfectly good batch of chocolate goodness. when asked why he didn't intervene on the smoky cookies, d said "i thought you knew what you were doing" he might have also smirked. lippy-head)

it must be january because i am all about organizing the whole house. or it could be that i have a few adorable pregnant girlfriends who keep going on and on about nesting til it becomes contagious ;)

it's a toss up between the closet (which i love enough to move into) and the newly reno-ed library (and by reno-ed i mean give me a few days off last week and i'll rip the upstairs hall closet wall down to the studs and paint it and move all my bookcases and a bench into it and call it a library ;) given that the book space is adjacent to little c's room and he does not differenciate between other family member's stuff and his own, my notebooks are a bit safer on the main floor. will let you know what develops if i don't get distracted playing dress-up.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

short story dogpile

there are times that stories come out slow. and there are times that they pile on top of each other, wrapping up one after another. it's one of those times right now.

i think the thing i like best about short stories is that they give me a chance over and over again to write that last wrap-up story sentence the one that takes the reader by surprise or leaves them wanting more. The short story is like leaving your friends at a party at the height of its fun before the messy house, mascara smudged, yawning end. In your memory, it ends at its glossiest and that's what it's remembered for.

(A long delicious novel is conversely like that party that goes on and on and turns into early morning coffee and conversation between good friends. that's good too. and so 2011 by the looks of my writing deadlines.)

the seasonal decorating is in full swing, party bling acquired, cookie making ongoing. i'm already looking forward to the kids' Christmas concerts, annual parade within walking distance, and of course, more cookies.

Friday, November 19, 2010

no matter how you look at it

it looks like it's going to be a snowy little winter (surprise flurries, snowfall predictions)
and i'm still celebrating fall
don't get me wrong -- i like the pretty of snow -- just not the pain-in-the-buttness of it
both seasons are good, however, for staying in, wearing pjs, and drinking fancy whip cream concoctions.
and maybe getting a little writing done too.

Friday, October 01, 2010

cozy little lull in the weekend

it's not very Canadian housewife of me, but i am ridiculously inept at feigning interest in watching hockey. i did my best again (you're welcome, d) and wandered away to make notes and photograph things, careful not to capture the things i should be tidying, but it's officially the weekend and tidying does not feel very weekendish.

my fellow Canadian housewife Tara's (other side of the country though) blog cinnamon post charmed me again with her current thrifty finds and inspired me to post my own. (vintage singer sewing kit vellum bag, miniature sewing kit i framed, and a pretty valance for the kitchen (dead on the kitchen colors -- couldn't have custom ordered it better) & for less than a cup of Starbucks, it was the easiest kind of impulse purchase.

Speaking of Starbucks, i am hard at work at getting my own gold card (because i care about inconsequential things like pretty cards in my wallet ;) but the free drinks (3 in the last 2 weeks -- i have been hit hard by the survey fairy ;) keep getting in the way. (disclaimer: totally realize that by bragging about free deliciousness it will stop. one of my girlfriends had a long stretch of free a while ago and she said it stopped as quickly as it came. 3 feels like a good number to me.

think of me tommorow. i may attempt to golf in a tournament. d won't be there because he'll be working, which is a good thing, because the last time he saw me play he laughed for quite a bit longer than is polite. it should be good story fodder if nothing else.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

we drove right through because d likes to look at points of interest while driving ;)

and we are home
from the land of swimwear as daily wardrobe and reading to the last page of a stack of books
i managed to take only a handful of pictures on my own camera
which tells you how lazy i really was

luckily the ones i got capture the car madness that necessitates going to one's cerebral happy place, and how an especially loved stuffy deserves to float and sun and be documented even at the expense of human members of the family

even more luckily, my sisters took copious amounts of photographs

ridiculously even luckier, one of those might have captured my family in one place sans head locks and grimaces which makes me 4 months ahead of schedule

which is a good thing because sitting too long in one place triggers a stack of to do lists i might never recover from. but it's not monday so i'm not unpacking them yet.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

random tuesday in july

a park jaunt with the kids
sweet visit with my niece and nephew and SIL Ev
backyard relaxing
more counter top painting (aiming to finish it this weekend)
some novel scene fixing
and most importantly 6th birthday party planning for my baby
that's what today is made of

Friday, July 02, 2010

the kind of day you forget which one it is

pulling together my novel notes between kid wrangling and stove purchase research (current glass top met its three boys + flying debris demise 30 minutes into my and d's Canada Day date. did not repeat that story loudly to d's childless work crowd at the company function. ;) (might have put a few people off childbearing)
today is displaying the kind of sun i was craving yesterday as my little sister and i were sitting on the beach. we lasted through the intermittant rain speckling until our magazines were read and the kids had built at least one impressive sandcastle.

i was about to type "july is speeding past" but given that it's only the 2nd, that might not seem accurate. but i was just looking at my trusty filling up fast mom calendar and there is a flurry of activity that takes us clear through. it looks like a lot now, but it's either that or i do the kinds of things i am doing right now to keep the troops busy (5 year old + stamps and archival ink {the only one i have out currently} i know, in my quest for occupation, i am asking for self tattooing. good thing it's not a school picture time of year.

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.