Sunday, September 30, 2012

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Hello Writers

By Keith N Fisher

I hope your projects are shaping up, and your writing dreams are coming true. Each week I try to post something that will be encouraging, and help to you pursue those dreams. In the past, I’ve written about subjects that were timely and well thought out. Many of those points are being now rehashed on other blogs. Some of them are being posted here.

I once heard a speaker in LDS General Conference address the question, why do church authorities rehash the same subjects over and over again. His answer was simple, we need to keep hearing the same messages until will apply them to our lives.

Many of us will hear, and even learn a concept, but resonance is not there for us, until someone else speaks about the same concept. Perhaps it was delivered in a different way. Perhaps, we are now ready. Whatever the reason, applying those lessons sometimes takes time.

This, and social networking, are two reasons writers continue to flock to conferences and seminars. Because of circumstances beyond my control, I’ve missed many of those conferences this year. I was looking forward to attending The Book Academy, at UVU this year. It was well planned, but I couldn’t make it.

So to all the friends I look forward to seeing at conferences, I hope you had a wonderful time. Please save your notes for me. I’m on my way out the door for a couple of days. No time to edit. I hope you can read this.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

 

 

Friday, September 28, 2012


(fourth in a series by the author of blogs written in 2007, 2008 and 2009)




by G.Parker

A measure of the immeasurable. This is my husband’s favorite saying. I think he got it from somewhere, but I don’t know so I give him all the credit. (grin)

He likes to use this phrase with our children when we talk about time and the lack of or a desire for it to hurry. He is quick to quote it to me whenever I’m trying to push myself to beat a deadline or accomplish more than I have time for.

Time. As writers, many of us have deadlines we have to meet. Each day becomes a deadline with so many words having to be written or so many pages needing to be done. How do you gauge your work day? Do you have goals for your progress?

I’ve found the simplest way to measure the immeasurable is to count words. I feel great satisfaction if I have the goal of so many words per day, and I see that I have met or exceeded that goal. At least I know I’m moving forward.

Several writers I know measure their progress by pages. They have a goal of 3 or 4 pages a day, and are able to use that as a guide post. A songwriter in one of my writing groups uses lines as a guide. It doesn’t matter what you choose, the important thing is to set a specific guideline to help you know you are working toward your goal.

November is National Novel Writing Month, (http://www.nanowrimo.org/) and that is a wonderful way to start if you haven’t put pen to paper yet. They have a goal of 50,000 words for the month. It ends up being about 1700 words a day. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never written a word, or have several attempts under your belt–they just encourage you to write. I have done this project for five years now - this will be my sixth. I’ve made my goal each year, ‘winning’ as they call it.

I am a little stumped for this year, and find myself wondering if I'll reach the goal as I have before. But here we are–facing November in a month and a measurement of time that is infinite, goals that bring us closer to our desires. Do we make it or not? Ask me again on December 1st.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Repetitive elements in your story.

by. C. Michelle Jefferies

When you have an element in your story that is going to show up again and again there are some rules to make it plausible. Sometimes times this element is tied to the theme of the book other times it is symbolic or has meaning to the author or reader.

For instance: in the Harry Potter Series, Halloween is prominent at the beginning of every book. It is a time marker for the story. The actual Hogwarts Castle is also a repetitive element.

So back to the rules,

First, if there is a repetitive element in the story, it needs to be mentioned often enough to jog the readers memory and not too much that the reader thinks it's become obnoxious or puts the book down. This is often times a very fine line. My suggestion is to let a few beta readers read it for the elements only and ask other readers if they noticed it or not. If they noticed it afterwards with a pleasant surprised look you did well. If they didn't notice it, you need more, if they groan in annoyance, you need to remove a few.

Second, the element needs to be the exact same object person event, or it needs to be varied. I know confusing as mud. Okay for clarification, if you have a bad guy for example that keeps showing up, he needs to be the same guy. He needs to appear similar every time and act the same every time. Too many different bad guys and your reader is going to be confused.

In one of my manuscripts there's a guy who shows up and is wearing expensive sunglasses every time you see him. He also wears black most of the time and drives a black Mercedes. See what I mean?

In another story a repeating element is gateways. This time the element is varied and each gateway is different and not everyone of them has the same plot element. If the gate was repeated the exact same all over then it would be boring.

For example one is a man made stone archway, another is a path through a bamboo forest where the leaves touch overhead giving a tunnel appearance.

Third if this element is essential to the climax of the story, it needs to be established in the beginning of the story so it doesn't appear duct taped.

My gates are portals that help people travel all over the planet. Similar to wormholes. However only some of them work and my characters have no idea that they exist. So if my characters happen to step into a portal at the end of the book that takes them to  a place they need to be, then they need at least one other experience near the beginning of the story to justify using the gate at the end.

Last, make sure the element is revealed or explained in the book, most of the time at the end. This doesn't mean it has to have a huge back story and paragraphs of exposition. It just means that the reader should have an "ah-ha" moment which makes for a satisfying read on their parts.

The path to wisdom is not always straight

Sunday, September 23, 2012

What's "Real"?

by Donna K. Weaver

Okay, first thing--I really love this video of an animated bookshop. The very last statement at the end, though, gave me pause. I'd like you to watch it if you can afford the time and then come back and comment on my question later in this post.



"There's nothing quite like a real book."

For me, this begs the question: what counts as a real book?

Is it only the beloved paper tomes we were raised with? How about the audiobook that includes all the words but with some interpretation provided by the narrator(s)? What about ebooks or even the new enhanced ebooks?

Is one format more real than another?

On an aside, someone once told one my children who is not a fast reader (and yet is an avid reader via audiobooks) that listening to a book doesn't count as having read the book.

Really? Try explaining that to someone who's visually impaired.

My day job includes working with municipal records, and all the time I deal with my state's sunshine laws (what we call GRAMA for government records access and management act). In fact, I'm my city's records officer. As such, I receive requests from residents and attorneys all the time wanting information/records that the city collects.

One thing that's a bit of an issue now is text messaging. Frequently, when people are angry at a decision the city council has made, they want to know what the city councilmembers are talking about relating to it. As I worked with our archivist at the state, he reminded me that the format is not relevant.

It's the content that determines if something meets the state's definition of a "record".

So, as I prepare to be published--which will include ebooks and audiobooks--I suggest that regardless of the format, any of those will be just as real as it a paper book.

It will still be my story, my words, my hard work and sweat (figuratively) that went into its creation.

What about you? What does it take for a book to be real to you?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Dunderheaded

By Keith N Fisher

I used a word at critique the other day and the ladies thought I’d invented it. I let them think what they wanted because I wasn’t sure if I’d heard it before or not. I went home and looked it up in Webster’s.

Definition of Dunderhead: Dunce, Blockhead.

While pouring over my pages from critique group, I used that word to describe my writing. Even after al these years, I still make some of the same mistakes and I have to fix them after the ladies point them out.

I’m dunderheaded, but I’m not a total idiot. Some of those pages I brought, were actually first draft. I would’ve caught many of the repetitious words and poorly phrased sentences if I had gone through it. I’m dunderheaded, because I haven’t learned to avoid those mistakes in first draft.

Nevertheless, I panic at the thought of having to write completely solo. What would I do if I didn’t have my critique group?

Good luck in your writing—see you next week.

Friday, September 21, 2012

My Reading...Pieces of Life

(fourth in a series by the author of blogs written in 2007, 2008 and 2009)

by G.Parker

I was recently tagged for this 'meme' about reading - what I like to read, etc. So, this weeks' blog is going to be that information.

My Reading – I really love to read. I've loved to read since I was in elementary school and discovered the library. I also love to read the same books over and over -- the librarian would only let me check the same book out so many times and then she would ban it. sigh. I will read just about anything, but romance is my favorite topic. Romance with meat, like suspense or a real story line. (Of course I have been known to read magazines from cover to cover just because I was sitting in the doctor's office and had nothing else to do...grin)

Total Number of Books Owned – This is a hard one. I don't think I've ever counted it before. I hate to admit it, but we have a whole drawer of Inspired Romance books that I've purchased at the local little trade or buy book store. So, those alone we probably have 75. sigh. I don't buy them anymore, but at least my girls have something to clean to read when they're bored. I have probably 100 other books, scattered through out the house, about 20 of them are kids books, and about 20 of them are church related non-fiction, and the rest are various authors that we've liked. However...we usually check out at least 10 every time we go to the library.

Last Book Bought – Um...that would be Brandon Sanderson's Elantris, BJ Rowlings series about My Body Fell Off, and another one, that isn't coming to mind. If I had the money that my daughter does (and let me tell you, she has two boxes full of anime type books alone...sigh) I'd have tons more...especially of the LDS authors. I still haven't been able to get my hands on Tristi's books...(sorry Tristi!! I really want to!)

Last Book Read – Um, that would be Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson, or no! Winter Fire by Rachel Anne Nunes. (Then again, I read so many books that I forget the names of them.) I read most of a series last month by Joanne Fluke called the Hannah Swenson mysteries. Not all of them are equally good, but you really ought to try at least one, she also includes recipes! The Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder was first, but I haven't read it yet.

I have four books that I keep by my bedside table so that my children don't finish ripping the covers off of them like they have with some of my others. These books are not religious, but they have the kind of writing that I want to emulate, and stories that keep me wanting to read them over and over. The first one is Coast Road by Barbara Delinsky. I like a couple of her books, but like most of the main stream authors, she has several that you don't want to touch. This book just pulls you into the characters lives and makes you a part of them. Perhaps the other reason it grabs me is because the main character and his ex are artists.

The Summer House by Jude Derveraux. This one is much the same, only I think most women would love to experience what happens in this book. This is probably the cleanest of her stuff too...sigh.

Beauty by Robin McKinley. Robin McKinley has the ability to draw me into her fantasy with words of reality, if that makes any sense. She does such a good job, and I've liked all her earlier works. The last book is her's too, The Blue Sword. I simply LOVE that one. I can read it over and over and ...well, you get the picture.

There have been many books that have shaped my thoughts and encouraged deep thinking. While many of them would not be what you consider classical or worth the effort, I enjoyed them. One such book was the Diary of Anne Frank. It's was got me thinking about writing.

I'm not sure who to tag at this point, I think most of us have done this. But those who would be interested, have a try. I'd like to see what you are reading! That means you, Keith and C.L. Beck!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Don't Ever Give Up On Your Dream

I loved the post yesterday and want to tell Michelle that there is nothing like holding your book in your hands. It's a dream come true.

My books for my book signing arrived the beginning of the month and I still love looking at them. My book signing was on Saturday, September 8th, and everyone who came had a great time. I posted about it on my personal blog. All I'll say here is that I sold over 50 books.

For the rest of you DON'T EVER GIVE UP. Sometimes it takes a long time, but the things you write are worthwhile. KEEP WRITING. Some of us have attended writing conference for so long we wonder why something good is not happening to us, but someday it will happen. The more you attend, the more you are learning. I'm still learning and know my writing is improving with each book.

Someday you'll be like me. I had a younger reader of 9 tell me last night, "Your book is so funny. I love it."

This school year I was dropping off my new book to the school library and a girl I know from church said, "I just finished reading your last book. It was so good."

I'm not a big time national writer, and it's not something I've ever planned on doing. I just want to write. I just have to write. It's good to know that those that I'm wanting to reach are enjoying what I have done.



Tuesday, September 18, 2012

It's Tuesday? *blinks eyes*

by C. Michelle Jefferies

I am neck deep in editing 23 chapters by Monday at nine. It's cool I am so looking forward to holding my book in my hands. Hopefully by next tuesday I will have some lessons from this whole adventure. Until then, have a great week.

The path to wisdom is not always straight.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Grammar

by Donna K. Weaver

Why is English so hard?
  1. The farm was used to produce produce.
  2. The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
  3. We must polish the Polish furniture.
  4. He could lead if he would get the lead out.
  5. The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
  6. Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
  7. A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
  8. When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
  9. I did not object to the object.
  10. The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
  11. There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
  12. They were too close to the door to close it.
  13. The buck does funny things when the does are present.
  14. A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line. 

Tip for the day (from Gregg Reference Manual aka Grammar Bible):

In general, do not use a hyphen to set off a prefix at the beginning of a word or a suffix at the end of a word (exceptions ex- and -elect.)

Modern example: multi-purpose is now multipurpose
Be wary of spell checkers that may urge you to insert hyphens after the prefixes. 

Prefixes and suffixes are pretty cool actually. They should make you feel powerful because you can create a word. And speaking of the word create, it's a perfect transition to another exception to the above rule. Let's say you create a work of art (something written, of course!), but your house burned down, destroying your masterpiece. Now you have to recreate it.

Oh, but wait. Isn't there already a word "recreate"?

Yup.

By using that word, suddenly your reader has to stop and think about usage (a bit like the list of words at the beginning of this post). So this is an exception for hyphenating prefixes. If there's already a word of your new creation, you need to use a hyphen for clarification. So it would be re-create.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Another Perspective

By Keith N Fisher

Are you one of those who takes full advantage of a soda fountain? By that I mean, do you fill your cup, drink half, and fill it again?

I remember a time when I could buy a bottle of pop for a ten-cents from the machine at the gas station. Of course there was a deposit on the bottle, so we hung around until we finished.

Soda fountains were in hamburger stands and I don’t remember how much a drink cost from there, but it couldn’t have been much more. When they moved the fountain out for the public to fill their own cup, things changed. Some places offered a fixed price, allowing me to get free refills. Generally, cup size didn’t matter at those fountains. It was all you could drink anyway.

The all you can drink rule was a boon to the soda-drinking public, but it caused a greedy attitude. Now, there are many fountains offering a cheaper price for refills, but they don’t offer all you can drink.

While working in a convenience store, I watched customers come in, fill a cup with soda, drink half, then fill it again. I wonder how they justify their greed. It might be different if there was an, all you can drink sign, or free refills, but in my store, that wasn’t the case.

I also saw people taste different kinds of soda, change their mind, and not purchase a drink. Why would they buy one? Their thirst had been quenched.

Shaking my head, I ponder how our society came to feel so entitled? I remember my experience at the gas station and wonder if it’s a money thing. Then I realize wages were lower back then, the cost of living, far less.

Today, there is unrest in the world, political polarization threatening our republic, and many other problems to deal with. So, Why would I bring this up? What could soda fountain ethics have to do with writing?

Much of my writing is based on my life experience. My characters are modeled after bits and pieces of the humanity, I’ve seen. Plots are driven from my personal experiences and those of others. With so many different occupations under my belt, there is richness in my writing. I learned a lot about people while working at a convenience store. I learned a lot about drinkers when I managed a bar.

I’ve always been a meticulous observer. Therefore I thought I had a handle on human nature, but lately, I’ve been mystified. Humanity seems to have slipped a cog in the gears of life.

So I ask, What do you do? Does the self-serve drink machine offer an all you can drink invitation? Can you buy a bottle of pop and expect to get another for free?

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Doom, Despair and Agony on Me...

(third in a series by the author of blogs written in 2008 and 2009)

by G.Parker

When I was a kid, we used to watch the HeeHaw show. (I realize that dates me, but oh well.) A part of the show used to be these two hill billies singing this song, and then comparing notes to how miserable their lives were. I loved it -- the comedic part of it, of course.

Now I realize that my life goes in stages. Last week I commented on when I felt at peace, and quoted While You Were Sleeping. What I have come to realize is that our lives are more of a cycle -- we have the good that cycles through with the bad. It's like President Hinkley said in one of his talks -- life is a train ride. You have the long bone numbing darkness of tunnels and night sky, and then brief moments of glorious vistas. (That's not verbatim, but the general idea.)

This past month has been one up and down bit of the cycle. Things have been wonderful one day, and then miserable the next. I realize that everyone has these cycles, and that everyone experiences these same things -- it just seems more important when it's you.

Writing is much like this. Books, or stories also contain the same flow. Most people don't like to read the 'sappy' books where everyone and everything is happy and wonderful, with perhaps one major problem that is over come by the end and everyone walks off into eternity.

While I don't like tragic endings, I don't like sappy books. I like books that have meat to them, a little suspense, a little difficulty, a character that has flaws -- in other words, something that is close to my own life, but just a little better. The little better part gives me hope. It makes me think that my life can get better.

These are also the kind of books I like to write. I try to make my characters real and believable. I try to make the plot a little thicker than Aunt May coming to town and matchmaking Jenna with her best friend's son who just came home from a mission and all the comic interactions. While that may be funny, and sometimes just what the doctor ordered, that's not what I want to write. There is lots of that kind of stuff out there.

And, while my life cycles around, so does my writing. I have found that my writing has changed dramatically from when I was a teenager. It has changed a great deal since I've formally announced to the world I'm a writer. While it has mostly gotten better and more interesting, it has also taken on valleys of murkiness that make the plot harder to find and the characters less fulfilling. I find myself asking the question -- am I writing to make money or to find my true voice? It's not the simple question you would think.

While most of us don't expect to become best selling authors over night, we do want to be published. That's one of the reasons we're doing this blog. We want to be noticed. When we publish something, we want the world to know and take notice and BUY that book. We didn't plan on dying in obscurity -- although you will find that most authors are NOT extroverts. We are content to write in private, with our little computers screens blinding us while the world carries on. We just want our work to be noticed. It would be great if I could continue on in relative obscurity, but it doesn't work like that for the rich and famous of the literary market.

What I'm rambling on about is how everything seems to tie together. The seasons change, we feel up and down about them. Our lives change, they have up days and down days, tragic times and glorious times. Our writing changes, growing, weaving, maturing.

Life is an amazing gift that we have been given. We need to treasure each moment we have to do what we have chosen to do. I'm so very thankful that I've been given this gift -- I just wish it would progress faster!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

My series bible

by C. Michelle Jefferies

Similar to a character bible, a series bible is a place where you store and record all of the things that happen in your book that will be significant in the rest of the series.

Even if you write stand alone books. I have found in my researching and assembling of my bible, it is still important to have a record of what went on in that book so you don’t repeat things in your other stand alone books. For example I have a penchant of making my male MC or love interest blond and green eyed. I write the character descriptions down in the book and it reminds me that for variety I should choose a different look for the next guy.

Regardless of what your bible looks like, whether it is a spiral notebook or a stack of post-its, it’s what’s in it that’s important.

According to all my research, my bible contains different sections. They are as follows.

Character section:
What characters look like, what their families are like, what quirks they have. All those little details that make the character unique so you’re not pulling a blank when you begin the second (or later) book(s).

Worlds, setting section:
What color is the sky? What do the towns, cities, etc. look like? What are the little details? Magic rules, governments, styles etc.

Back-story section:
What happens off the pages of the book that are still important?

Unique things section:
If your world has cool stuff you invented, write them here so you can use them in the rest of the series.

Plotline and arc’s for the series section:
This is where you store the plotlines and structure for your books. I include the character arc’s here as well.

Notes for yourself section:
Have an epiphany about your book? Those go here unless they belong somewhere else.

Whatever else you need sections:
Self explanatory?

As I am usuing my series bible, I am finding I love having everything in one place. I carry my bible with me in whatever bag I am toting around at the time and have easy access to it when I need it.

~The path to wisdom is not always straight.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Driving that Manuscript

One of my granddaughters on a catamaran
by Donna K. Weaver

As I've been learning all kinds of wonderful techniques (through books, conferences, blogs, etc.), I've begun to feel like I did when I was first learning to drive a car and was taking my exam for my license. My heck! There were so many things to keep in mind. Not only did I have to remember which pedal was for the gas and for the brake (shut up--when you're nervous sometimes your brain gets left in the driveway), but you have to remember to look for hazards in front of you such as other vehicles, watch for hazards coming from the sides such as pedestrians, keep from over correcting when you turn the steering wheel (gotta watch that adrenaline rush). And definitely not be distracted by the wrinkled old man--with his dastardly pencil and pad--wheezing so badly in the seat at your side that you're sure he's going to die any minute.

I'm learning that writing is a bit like conducting an orchestra. Whereas with a car, you need to get from Point A to Point B safely, the going doesn't have to be pretty. But in writing, it does.

We've got to remember all the basics like sentence structure, grammar, avoiding overused words, handling dialogue tags and beats, but we've also got to make the readers feel like they're there with our main characters. We must use words that paint a picture not just of the surroundings but of what's going on in our characters' heads, their thoughts and emotions. We need to utilize all the senses in crafting this symphonic work of ours. But just so you know, writing about sensory things for me is hard. I just don't look at my world consciously dealing with my senses most of the time.

Every time I learn something new, I try and incorporate the concept. It can be discouraging because you feel like your ms will never be done. But my one encouraging thought is that my new knowledge will eventually become second nature, and as I move on to my next project it won't be such an arduous process.

Kinda like driving. Whereas turning the steering wheel and keeping the car straight and in my lane was almost more than I could handle even when giving it all my attention, now I do it without thinking about it at all.

What about writing comes easily to you? Is there anything that you really struggle with?

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Cloudy Days

By Keith N Fisher

My day job is performed on the graveyard shift, so on days off, I can be found on my porch, at night, with the light burning. It’s a great time to write in peace and quiet. When insomnia keeps me awake during the day, I’m out there writing. This time of year, however, it’s hard to use it. The Sun’s position in the sky has changed. The roof doesn’t block the rays like in the summer. It’s hot and the glare renders my computer screen unreadable.

I’ve learned to love cloudy days. Not only do the clouds cancel the rays, but it’s also cooler. Not to mention, the romance and inspiration of possible intermittent rainfall.

So how is your writing going? Have you ever wondered why you felt a need to pursue such a non-lucrative career? One of my teachers in junior high told us, when asked, that he chose his occupation, because of the example of one of his teachers. He went on to curse that man, under his breath.

Like my teacher, do you curse the muse? Do you wonder why your characters won’t leave you alone? Do you edit your manuscript in frustration, thinking your story would be told better, if only you could write more effectively?

Of course, money, or the lack of it, enters into the question. I admit to envisioning large royalty checks, when I started. Making a living at my chosen occupation was part of the dream too. To be fair, though, it is possible, but not in the market I write for. So why do I do it? Why do you do it? I’m reminded of the first writer’s conference I attended and looking out on the sea of faces in the room. I realized they had all been touched with the same inexplicable need, and I was part of a large movement.

Now, I sit on my porch and wonder. Why do I feel such passion about writing? Should I do like my teacher and curse the muse for making me want to write? Its funny how our lives change over the passage of time, isn't it?

Okay, enough, of this heretical attitude. I am a writer because I want to be. How could I not? I’ve got a disease deep in my blood, and it won’t go away. Like alcoholism, my addiction is the source of great highs and lows. When I’m on the pinnacle of my writing, the highs are so exquisite, life could not be better.

Perhaps my bout of second-guessing is caused by fatigue. Could it be the cloudy day? After all, depression, in comic strips has always been depicted with a cloud above the depressed subject’s head. Still, I love cloudy days during this time of year.

Good luck with your writing---I hope I didn’t depress you---see you next week.

Friday, September 07, 2012

That Feeling of Contentment

(the second in a series of blogs written by the author in 2008 and 2009)

by G.Parker

The other day we had the chance to go up into the mountains and see some of the fall colors. While we were driving, I experienced a feeling that I’ve had many times in my life, but it stands out because it’s such a wonderful feeling.

I felt totally content.

I was with my family, we were all healthy and happy, it was a gorgeous fall day, the leaves were gorgeous and I couldn’t have asked for anything more. Period.

It reminded me of the movie While You Were Sleeping. There is a scene where the father is talking to the son about life. He tells him that there is this one moment where everyone is happy, everyone is healthy and everything is going right. “For just that one moment, you have peace.”

That is the feeling of contentment to me.

It occurred to me that writing is somewhat like that. With writing, that feeling most generally comes when I’ve finished the book. When I’ve written “The End” at the bottom of the last page and I feel that I’ve accomplished something worth while.

In reviewing this process and my feelings regarding it, I realized that I’ve never felt this way while writing. During the writing process I’m usually too caught up in the whole idea – is the plot going to work like I want, are the characters real enough, do I have all the elements I want – to feel at peace with it. When things are going well and the thoughts are turning almost faster than I can type (which is pretty fast by the way), then the feeling is anxious – almost desperate, i.e., I’ve got to get this written down before the muse leaves me and the idea fades...

While that may not be your difficulty, I ask you: What do you feel while you’re writing? What do you feel when you are not?

When I’m not writing and I know I should be, that’s nerves. I twist my hands together and end up pacing around the house doing the random things that I need to do, but still feeling that I’m not accomplishing my true goal. I sit down at the computer and try to write, but other things are still in the way and I end up running again. I’m not able to fully relax and write unless I know other things are out of the way and I can concentrate. Perhaps that is a fleeting moment of peace, but it’s not lasting.

The lasting kind comes with a great big “The End” at the bottom of a printed page. I find contentment there.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Emotions

When I'm writing I don't always remember to include the emotional actions the way I should. I often times use the same shrugging or glaring over and over. Even when I go somewhere to people watch I don't always catch the correct emotional action with what they are feeling.

I've sat in many classes where the instructor has tried to teach me this concept, but nothing has really clicked for me. I, however, have found something very helpful. It is called an Emotion Thesaurus. I am in the process of editing my next book and am now using this guide to help me use different emotions instead of the same old thing throughout my book.

Now when someone is angry I'm going to have the character pinch their lips together, and cross their arms instead of just glaring. Instead of shrugging their shoulders they are going to fiddle with a watch, or close their eyes, or turn away. There are so many possibilities that I never thought about. My characters are going to become real people with many actions. Not the same ones over and over.

What things do you do to make your characters real instead of wooden?

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Watching People


by Donna K. Weaver

Hubby and I sat on an uncomfortable hill at Thanksgiving Point last night in excited anticipation of a concert by The Piano Guys. The weather was less than accommodating and it rained with a little dash of wind and lightening/thunder, but the wonderful show went on.

Besides my own willingness to put up with the natural ambiance of the event (which can be amazing in different circumstances since the outdoor amphitheater is set among beautiful gardens and these fabulous falls), I took advantage of this opportunity to people watch.

People watching is such a wonderful way to get ideas for stories or scenes. There was a cute couple in front of us, sitting on a small blanket. They each had an umbrella, but the guy's was huge and the rain kept dripping onto her smaller one that didn't quite cover her back, resulting in even more rain dripping on her. Eventually, he noticed and offered her to share his larger one. Okay. A little dense of him not to have picked up on such an opportune moment earlier, but hey. She had to slide closer to fit.

Can you tell I write romance?

Last November a group of us went to a local dessert cafe called The Chocolate for a write-in during NaNoWriMo. We didn't get a lot of actual writing done because it was so fascinating to listen in on conversations, catching snippets of long-time, well established couples to a pair going out on their first date, remembering what it's like to be out with someone you're just learning about.

People watching isn't just about getting ideas for stories. It's also about stepping outside of ourselves to be reminded of the millions of lives--with their joys, heartbreaks, successes, disappointments, tragedies, and perseverance. Our stories try to mimic what's really going on around us every day. And that's the key word: real.

Do you have any favorite places you like to go and watch life?

Saturday, September 01, 2012

My Almost Accident

By Keith N Fisher

As Writers we pride ourselves on being able to suspend disbelief. If a reader can feel connected to it, no matter how far fetched the idea, we are successful. The problem we run into, especially with critique groups, is flawlessness. We aim for a perfect balance between facts and the worlds we create.

I’m sure you’ve read stories and been frustrated because someone kills a man with a pistol at three hundred yards. Also, when a character travels to your hometown and walks into a building that doesn’t exist. What about when a cell phone rings and the story is set in nineteen-seventy?

These things slow a story down because, readers try to fit facts into their own experience. Even though it’s fiction, they can’t stand to read inaccuracies. Readers know you can’t get seven shots from a gun that only holds six.

Creating a plot that will suspend disbelief is difficult. Doing it well, however, delivers the reader in the palm of your hand. I’ve heard that one of the most asked questions by visitors to Nauvoo, Illinois is “Where was the Steed home?” It must be very gratifying for Gerald R Lund, who created The Work and the Glory.

I am one of those who count shots while watching The Rifleman reruns. You see I know a Winchester 30-30 only holds eight rounds. I’ve written about getting facts straight and I continually add to my knowledge of real world facts. I agonize over plots when I have to send a character to a town I’ve never been to. I know that some reader will balk at my representation.

Facts are restricting, but a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I had an experience while driving to work the other night that made me think.

I’ve always driven defensively. If a car stops suddenly, my instincts take over, and help me initiate a solution. I’ve hit the breaks and swerved before, but I never would’ve believed what happened the other night, would happen.

It was dark, and I'd just left the house. I hadn't buckled my seatbelt yet. I was traveling at thirty-five MPH. Suddenly, a dog was in front of me. At least I think it was a dog. There were kids on the sidewalk and I had a split second to avoid killing the dog. My reaction was to swerve, which I did.

The next thing I knew, I hit the passenger door with my shoulder and I watched my truck get closer to the parked cars on the other side of the street. Miraculously, we missed the cars. I slid over and took control again.

The feeling of being thrown into the passenger seat and watching my truck drive itself shook me. Until the other night, I would’ve scoffed at my story. I now, understand how so many people end up crossing the median and rolling their cars on the freeway.

You might be reading this with an insolent attitude, because you knew this could happen, but would you believe my story if I put in fiction? I wonder how many would. It’s hard for me to describe the feeling of being thrust into the mercy of centrifugal force. I was in an everyday situation, and I thought I had control.

The point I’m laboring over in my disjointed epistle, is consider the experience of your intended reader. Will they be able to suspend disbelief and accept your version of realty? Will inaccuracies creep in, taking them out of your story? Be careful with details like my almost accident. Most people would be able to place themselves into the story, but others might not accept it. Then, again, how do you know?

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.