If you're not already a follower of the AuthorCulture blog, now's the time to join! The first 100 followers will be entered in a drawing for a book of your choice by one of the authors of the blog! Better act quick--they were at 90 when I looked a few minutes ago!
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Okay, I'll admit it. I hate to outline a book before I begin writing it. My normal process is that I'll get a rough idea--usually, someone kills someone else, and an idea of a few of the characters--and as soon as it's solidified enough in my brain, I'll begin writing. Sometimes this works well; sometimes not so much.
But, I had something odd happen last year when I began working on Cora's Song. I came up with the premise. I came up with the characters. I came up with a title--which was a first. And, I came up with an outline. This wasn't just X happens in act 1, Y happens in act 2, and Z happens in act 3. I'm talking a full-out, point by point outline. It took me three days to write it--and I was newly pregnant at the time! When I finally typed the thing up this year, single-spaced, it went on for six pages. Yikes!
In the process of writing an outline and utilizing it, I've discovered a few things about not only myself, but the writing process. While having an outline has proven useful to me, my writing process has slowed. In the past, I've written first drafts in just a few months--usually under six months, rarely less than two. And while, yes, I did have a baby during the writing of this book, I worked on the first draft for a year and a half. I could blame the baby, but I know part of it's been me. I was derelict in finishing the draft just because, well, I've got this outline! It's sort of done... right?
I've learned that having an outline doesn't mean a writer doesn't get stuck, either. I had many times where I'd stare at my paper and go, "Gee, I know where I am, and I know where I need to go, but how on earth do I make that leap to get there?"
And, my outline has been fluid. Different forces were working on me (namely pregnancy hormones!) when I wrote the outline. When I finally transcribed it, I realized some things had changed in the story, adjusted for that, and even re-did the ending a bit.
In the past, my first draft always had loose ends that I had to go back and figure out how to tie them up later. While I'm going to have some things to do on this draft, it'll mostly be checking for consistency and world-building descriptions. Truthfully, I think this draft will be ready for publication more quickly than the mystery novel I've been working on for about three years. That's kind of scary!
What's been nice about having an outline, in addition to everything I've said, is that I can see at a glance where I've been already and where I need to go. And, if I need to go looking for a detail, I can approximate where in the story it is, so it does save me some time (although this is still reliant on my own brain, so it's no guarantee I'll find it quickly!) For a non-organized person like myself, this is definitely proof that messy-types can learn to improve their organizational skills, at least minutely.
Now, the weighty part. I'm already beginning to contemplate what will be my next project after I wrap up Cora's Song and Homebody. Will I outline that novel? While I'm not certain--I may fall into my old habits and just have at it--having this outline has definitely helped me. I can finally see the benefits of having an outline. I may not outline as drastically as I did in this project. But if I know where I'm going from start to finish, I think it'll help keep me on task.
And, with a toddler running around the house, I need all the help I can get.
Until next time,
For more information on this topic, check out the following blogs:
Benefits of Outlining
yWriter Software Tutorial
Planning, Outlining, and Organizing Your Novel -- Or Not!
Monday, September 14, 2009
I'm pleased to announce that the winner of the giveaway of Lynnette Bonner's Rocky Mountain Oasis is........
Congratulations! Lynnette will be in contact with you on how to redeem your prize!!!
Thank you to everyone who entered. I'm planning to have some more giveaways in the future, so be sure to stay tuned.
Be sure to come back next week when our topic will be on whether or not you should outline your novel.
Until next time,
Monday, September 07, 2009
Please join me today in welcoming today's guest blogger, Lynnette Bonner! Lynnette is the author of the newly released book, Rocky Mountain Oasis. You can purchase a copy through Amazon or CBD. To get it for free, check out the guidelines for an e-copy at the end of the post! Welcome, Lynnette!
The Importance of a Good Critique Group
First I want to say thanks to Liberty for allowing me to guest post here today. What a privilege.
Jumping right into our topic…. I’d like to address the importance of good critique partners today.
Let’s face it. As writers, we are surrounded by people who often don’t get the process of writing. Many people think you write a book, send it to your editor, (who promptly writes you a 6 figure check – ha! wouldn’t THAT be nice) and then it gets published a couple weeks later. Right? When I tell people that it took me 10 years to finally get my book published, they angle me “that” look – the one that says, “Is she any good if it took her that long to get published?”
This is the first reason why it is important to surround yourself with good critique partners. As writers, we are all in the same boat and can understand and sympathize with each other. I can’t tell you the number of times that my crit partners have been an encouragement to me to keep pressing forward.
The second reason is, of course, for technical errors, grammatical errors, spelling errors, etc. – all that editing junk we need to do. My two biggest areas of weakness are spelling and grammar, but I have several critique partners who are strong in those areas. I recommend you surround yourself with people who are strong in areas where you are weak.
Also, often I get so close to the story that I miss technical details that either should be included or should be excluded. Or I can’t tell if I’ve made my point clearly enough and I rely on my critique partners to let me know if I’ve come across clearly, or if I need to say more on that particular subject. Having another person’s perspective on my story is invaluable to me.
If you aren’t in a critique group and you want to be a serious writer you need to get into one right away. Larger cities often have critique groups that meet monthly. And if yours doesn’t have one that you think would work for you, why not start one? Some of you may live in small towns where you are the only writer for miles around. For you, there are lots of online critique groups you can join. ChristianWriters is a free one that has a lot of wonderful resources. There are others like ACFW that cost some to join but have lots of helpful classes and information by email. You can find people through the blogosphere and email your critiques back and forth to each other. There really are no excuses for not having a critique partner.
Let me quickly mention my book because I’m offering a free e-copy to a lucky winner drawn from the commenters on this post. Rocky Mountain Oasis is a Christian historical romance. To read more about it and see the first few chapters you can go to lynnettebonner.com. If it sounds interesting to you, leave a comment and Liberty and I will put your name into the hat for the drawing.
So, what is your critique group like? How often do you meet? What do you do at your meetings?
As she said, we're giving away a free copy to one lucky person. The winner will be announced on Monday, September 14th! Please leave a comment on this post to register, or if you become a follower of Word Wanderings between now and Sunday, September 13th (cutoff time 6 PM, Central Time), you will also be entered. If you leave a comment and become a follower, you'll get your name put in the drawing twice! Good luck to everyone!
Until next time,
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
***Author's Note: I am pleased to announce that we will have a special guest blogger, Lynnette Bonner, on September 7th. Lynnette is the author of the newly released 'Rocky Mountain Oasis'. I hope you'll join me in welcoming Lynnette!
Also, I wanted to let you know that our first interviewee, K.M. Weiland, has just released the book trailer for her next release, 'Behold the Dawn'. Please go check out the trailer at her site, Wordplay. I'm sure you'll be as excited about the book as I am after seeing it. I can't wait to share her interview with you on October 6th & 14th!
And now, back to your regularly scheduled blog...***
How can you ensure that you'll get readers coming back time and time again?
Create memorable characters, of course!
While plotting is essential--you can't do anything without a good, well planned plot--I feel that having characters that make an impact on you are as important as plotting.
Most writers and readers have their own ideas on how you go about creating memorable characters. But, what exactly makes a character you just can't get out of your head?
In order to keep this brief, I'm going to focus on the protagonist(s). While a great antagonist must counter-balance the protagonist, I feel that in order to analyze both antagonists & protagonists may take more time and space than I've allowed here.
I'm sure you can name a few leading men or ladies in any of the books (or movies) you've read that make you want more of them. This is usually a good sign. For today's examples, I'm actually going to go to my second entertainment love, movies, specifically, Star Wars, the original trilogy. Your examples may come from something else, but next time you read a book or watch a TV show or movie, I challenge you to analyze why you like a character or you don't.
Since I always kind of had a yen to be Han Solo, I'm going to pick on him today. Putting aside the actor who played him, Harrison Ford, what makes him memorable? First, I'd say his cocky attitude. While not necessarily likable, it sets him apart from Luke's borderline navïeté or Leia's spunk. His self-centeredness, smart mouth, and disbelief of 'The Force' also comes to mind. ("I've flown from one side of this galaxy to the other. I've seen a lot of strange stuff, but I've never seen anything that could make me believe there's one 'all powerful force' controlling everything. There's no mystical energy field controlling my destiny.") I also love the moment of jealousy he experiences at the end of Episode VI when he makes the mistake of assuming that Leia loves Luke romantically.
Bad stuff aside, what I like about Han that would be considered redeeming characteristics are the loyalty he shows to his friends. (Coming back to help Luke out at the end of Episode IV; tracking down Luke when he was out in the midst of a blizzard on Hoth in Episode V; despite being blinded, trying to keep Lando out of the pit in Episode VI, as well as assuring Leia that he didn't think Luke was on the Death Star when it exploded at the end of the same film.)
I also like the romantic lead position that George Lucas placed him in. I, for one, am a bit of a romantic and love to have at least a hint of romance in any movie or book I read. The interplay between Han & Leia, while subtle, is priceless.
His creativity and ingenuity also leaves a lasting impression: hiding in the smuggling holds, hiding (again!) in an asteroid, protecting Luke from the cold by opening up the carcass of the beast he'd ridden and stuffing Luke inside, coming up with an assault plan to invade the Imperial station on Endor.
When you put everything together, and add back in the acting talents of Harrison Ford, my feeling is that you get a character that leaves a lasting impression on almost everyone, whether those impressions come from his character flaws or character strengths.
I'd love to hear your feedback! Please share about the characters you love and why, or anything else that strikes you.
Until next time,
P.S.-- For more information on creating characters, I highly recommend the following books & blogs:
'Getting Into Character' by Brandilyn Collins
'Writers Guide to Character Traits' by Linda Edelstein
'The Fire in Fiction' by Donald Maass
'Character Takeover' at the Sheepish Scribe
'Strong Characters' at Writing Advice and Good Books
Likeability is Overrated
Theme and Character Progression
Interviewing Your Characters