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New eye…

screechowl

 

I’ve been reading a lot this year, which isn’t actually a new or surprising development.  Normally, I read two to three books a week depending on how crazy my life happens to be.  Sometimes when I am knee deep in a project, like the crazy Pirate costumes last summer and fall, I hardly read at all.  For the most part this isn’t really good for me, after a couple of weeks of not reading I start feeling…well, funky.  It’s the same thing with writing, if I go too long without writing I start feeling restless, it’s like my imagination starts going a little stir crazy.  The craft projects are good for my creativity but they don’t help me get the voices in my head to quiet down.

This year in addition to my pledge to make a concerted effort to get my work-in-progress rewritten and finished, I also set a goal at Goodreads to read 52 books this year.  It’s only a book a week but I figured that was a good start and that it would cover any crazy times that popped up that might cause me to read less or not at all.  So far I think I am about six books ahead of schedule.  At the recommendation of a fellow writer I have been reading a lot of contemporary romance since it’s the genre I am attempting to write.  To be honest, it’s not just a lot but almost exclusively contemporary romance.  Since January, I’ve read 25 books, of those one was an autobiography (Carrie Fisher), one was a book on writing and getting published, and a single young adult paranormal for teaching, the rest were all contemporary romance.  Over the last six to eight weeks I have noticed that I am reading with a more critical eye.  I don’t mean critical in the regards to the writing in the book being read, instead I am noticing so many things that went unnoticed before.

Previously, I wrote in first person point of view, which I have discussed before, in my rewrites I have decided to change to third person point of view.  And while it is easier to work on character development there can be some serious problems writing the inner voice passages.  In first person you battle the ‘I did this’ or ‘I did that’ but in third it’s ‘she, she, she’ all over the place and it gets worse when you have two female characters in a scene together.  You end up with a lot of  ‘Liz did this’ and ‘Mary said that’, and when using a pronoun it takes an extra minute of backtracking to make sure that the pronoun is referring to the correct person.  I am not saying it’s not what we should all be doing anyway, just that it gets a little ‘who’s on first-ish’ after a while.  In reading these other contemporary romances I’ve gotten some good examples of how to manage the inner voice parts so that it’s not repetitious and not so narrated that it sounds more like stage direction.

Another critical thing that I have learned is that I need to start off with the major event that gets my main character in motion.  This was kind of a happy/sad revelation for me, happy that I realized it and understood the dynamics of it and sad that it means the first six chapters that I just rewrote will be rearranged and rewritten…again.  Some parts will have to be dumped completely, once I move the critical scene to the beginning some of the other scenes just won’t be necessary.  The basic concept of the story is that my main character is going back to her home town after several years away.   Currently, my first few chapters are about the circumstances that cause her to leave, her decision making and finally packing to leave.  She doesn’t even get to her hometown until Chapter 10.   Also, if I wanted to do the point of view of the hero then he wouldn’t show up until Chapter 10 or 11 that seems awkward.  It doesn’t make sense to have it drag on that far when I can get her there by Chapter 3 or 4, I totally see that now.

The final thing that I’ll mention here is the hero’s point of view.  This is the part where I am going to sound like a designer on Project Runway, when they complain that they’ve never made men’s wear.  It never fails and I feel like screaming at the TV, ‘they have this sort of challenge every season. How can you not be prepared for it?’  I feel the same way about third person point of view and writing the hero’s side of things.  I’ve never done it and it makes me nervous knowing that I will be writing a few of those scenes soon.   And yet, everyone of those 20 plus books that I’ve read since January were in third person with passages from the hero’s point of view.  It’s not like I didn’t see it coming, or at least shouldn’t have seen it coming, I am going to blame a healthy combination of procrastination and denial, with a touch of insomnia just for fun.   In the most recent books that I have read I am realizing that the male point of view isn’t so different.  I’ve written dialogue for male characters including the hero when I was writing in first person, taking that same character and expanding on it should be fun.  I keep telling myself that I am making things harder than they need to be.

For the most part, I have really enjoyed writing this year.  Every time I learn something new or find a helpful tool it makes me feel like I am that much closer to my goal of being a writer.  It might be a little safer to let my procrastination take over but I know that just takes me farther away from where I want to be.  I also know there is so much more to learn and I am excited and looking forward to those opportunities.  For now though, I am going to take my recent lessons to heart and keeping working on my WIP.

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Big picture…

For the last three to four weeks I have been writing about 2,000 words every day.  It had been going pretty well until about three days ago when I sort of ran aground.  A month ago I worked on a rough outline of the beginning chapters and I ran with it.  Since then I have avoided anything to do with the story that wasn’t directly related to my daily word count.  I didn’t want to get distracted and spend a lot of time on character descriptions and backgrounds or mapping out the timeline beyond a rough time span of summer vacation.  I figured this is a rewrite so I didn’t need to do anything that could be a time waster, avoid procrastination and just get the words on the page or in my case on the screen.

dump

As it turns out those things I usually do aren’t quite the time wasters I thought they were.  I am seven chapters in and I feel a little like I am in a revolving door.  Without a more in depth outline I am not sure how to proceed, back story information needs to be in there but how much and where?  Clearly, it has to be part of what moves the story along, I don’t want it to feel like an info dump.  If it’s not relevant to the characters and their role in the scene then it’s like slamming the brakes on the flow of the story.  I am probably mixing my metaphors there but hopefully I am getting the point across, no one wants to read the blah, blah, blah stuff.  It’s boring.  Any back story details or story details in general need to be nearly invisible.  Or disguised as character development or additional conflict.

I need a new and improved outline so I can get an idea of where to scatter the details.  If I go through them too early then the rest of my characters’ inner dialogue is going to look like stage direction.  If I wait too long then it may be confusing to the reader.  A new outline will help me remember if I’ve already gone over something, nothing worse than hearing the same stupid episode from a character’s past repeated a couple of times.  I’ve had moments where I’ve thought, “Seriously, not this again.  Yes, we got it.  Bonnie doesn’t like using public restrooms after the time she trailed three feet of toilet paper behind her when she was in high school.  Get on with it!”  Now that I am writing every day I have to wonder if the author didn’t have a moment where she truly wondered if she had written that part already and just wrote it again to be safe.  Probably not, but I have moments where I have to skim through previous chapters trying to figure out what details came out and where in the story.  It’s a complete waste of time and somewhat exhausting.

My words for the week are…

Outline, flow and relevent

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Camp NaNo – April

April is here and along with it, another session of CampNaNo.  Brought to you by the same people at National Novel Writing Month (NaNo), Camp NaNo is much less strict version of the November event.  In November, participants spend the 3o days writing 50,000 words towards finishing a novel.  Offered in April and July, Camp NaNo allows campers to pick their word count goal for the month as well as pursue other non-novel projects.

For April, I picked a word count of 30,000 words.  I’ve already been writing about 2,000 words a day so I thought giving myself a daily word count goal of 1,000 words would be fairly easy to achieve, and without adding any extra anxiety.  Three days in and I’ve written an average of 2,500 words each day, so… so far, so good.

Overall, I’ve kept at my writing and although it can be really frustrating at times, I am totally loving writing every day.   I’ve been wanting to rededicate myself to my writing for a while but told myself that this year was going to be my year.  So far I’d been dealing with various things that needed to be done around the house and putting off writing.  I promised to post here every week and that’s been a bit hit and miss too.  Apparently though I found my ultimate motivation, trying to help my husband.  Almost two weeks ago Sully had a difference of opinion with his boss and without going into too many details my husband and his employer parted company the following week.  I’ve been procrastinating about writing and this just seemed like the kick in the pants I needed to get my butt in the chair.

After two weeks, I’ve got over 20,000 words and I am really enjoying it and I am hoping that I will keep it up.  I’ve already developed some elements of my process.

Here are my top two…

 

My writing notebook –

.It’s a Mead Five Star Stay-Put Folder, it has prongs inside and is made out of the tougher poly material, rather than paper.  I tucked a legal pad into the pocket on the right.  The left pocket holds daily word targets, and any loose notes.  I secured the legal pad with a binder clip, which also doubles quite nicely as a pen holder.

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notebook   180952_1785968616469_4114111_n

 

The legal pad is home to notes on story outline, characters, locations, chapter notes and anything else story related that isn’t actual story.  I take this anywhere that I might end up waiting for any period of time.  It’s a sure bet that if I am sitting quietly waiting for doctor’s appointment or for the oil in my van to be changed and my brain will suddenly work out some plot point that I’ve been struggling with for days.  Being able to make notes when it’s actually in my head is essential, before I get distracted by the doctor talking about prescriptions or the mechanic’s recommendations about new brakes and tires.  In a pinch, I can type some notes into my iPhone or iPad but putting pen to paper can be so much quicker.  I also think making notes quickly can be key, there’s something about that peppering of ideas that has it’s own life.

Monitor –

The other fun thing I’ve added is an additional monitor to my computer.  It’s great to see my Mural.ly corkboard, or an inspirational picture or even just having iTunes open where I can easily scroll through my library.  Right now I’ve got an older non HD monitor and it works well for what it is but it’s more of a square shape and somewhat awkward.   It was free and therefore I am not really complaining.  I just know that eventually I’ll want to get an HD monitor that will fit on my desk better.

monitors2

This is my basic setup, ignore the bad photography.