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Monthly Archives: May 2015

Conquer the blank page – and a way to beat writer’s block

Taking writing tips from fashion design and furniture making, learning to let go and write #amwriting

Nail Your Novel

When you sit at the keyboard (or seize your writing irons), how certain are you about what you’re going to write?
I’m a big fan of plans, but sometimes they’re frustrating. We know the next point in the story but can’t get the characters there. We need to set up a development and it won’t work. Or we need something, anything to darn well happen.

This week I heard the broadcast journalist Libby Purves (@Lib_Thinks) ask two creatives about their processes, and the results were rather interesting (listen to it here) . They weren’t writers, but what they described was exceedingly familiar.

Katherine Hooker Nail Your Novel

The moment when you get the pencil out

Fashion designer Katherine Hooker (left) @KatherineHooker and furniture maker Peter Korn (below) (who has written this book about creativity) were asked about the moment ‘when you first get the pencil out and think now I’m going…

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Posted by on May 31, 2015 in General Discussion

 

How to Fix Your Story Without Going Back to the Drawing Board

Here’s a reblog from Drew Chial about untangling and bookmarking your first draft without losing momentum. Great tips.

Drew Chial

1. TitleThe Case Against Editing as You Go

When I first started writing I scrutinized every paragraph the moment after typing. I counted the syllables so I could adjust for rhythm and flow. I checked my metaphors to see if they mixed wrong, I ran every verb through the thesaurus, and I dialed all my hyperboles back.

By the end of the day my word count hovered around the same number I’d started at. Sometimes it was in the negative. My effort to fine tune the perfect page kept me from finishing my stories.

Writing is hard. I was making it harder than it needed to be, writing the way I’d seen authors work on TV. They’d type THE END, pull the last page out of their typewriter, set it on top of the stack of pages, pat it, and hand the completed work to their publisher. Their publisher called them…

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Reading other debut novels while writing…

Reading

 

 

I’m at the half way point of the first draft of my book, am at around 46,000 words.

I’ve eased off a bit on the intensive study of fiction writing I was doing, and begun to read other new debut novels. And I’m finding it very helpful.

It’s helped me to identify some issues I’ve had in my own writing.  It’s easier to see how someone else handles characters, narrative descriptions, structure and scenes, than to recognize it in my own work. I’ve enjoyed reading these novels, and when I reach a stretch of text I want to skim through, I stop and study it.

When I start a writing session now, I have gained a little distance. It’s provided a welcome break from over-absorption in developing my own story, and the words flow easier.

And…. not only have I gotten help with my own writing and enjoyed the stories, I am also supporting some new writers while I’m at it!

 

Lesson learned:

#13.  Reading other debut novels while I’m writing my first book is very helpful.

 

To see the lessons I’ve learned while writing my first novel, click here:   Lessons I’m learning while writing…

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2015 in Writing the Book

 

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Developing Minor Characters

Major Role of Minor Characters

Major Role of Minor Characters

Minor characters in a story can provide opportunities to develop plot and add depth to main characters. Richness, intrigue and interest can be woven into the story by letting the minor characters provide foreshadowing, backstory, and show different aspects of the setting and main players. Having interesting, well developed and believable minor characters makes for a better novel overall.

Whenever possible — when I need a minor character for a “function” – a teacher, an employer, a store clerk etc., looking to see how a relationship/friendship that relates to one or more of my main characters  just might enrich the plot. Instead of having “throw away” or cardboard characters, or combining two or three minor characters into one with more depth makes a more relatable story.

Of course there will always be a cast of unrelated “bit part” characters who show up once and disappear, but if possible, even those should be as developed as much as possible.

In my “practice novel,” a rescue team is introduced around the midpoint. They haven’t existed in the early chapters, but will have a major role in the second half. I had two minor characters fulfilling minor functions early on, and I have consolidated them into one character. This new minor character, who has been a teacher of the protagonist, becomes a contact point between the protagonist and the rescue team leader. He is the leader’s brother. The brother’s expanded role makes parts of the story more plausible, and more interesting.

This expanded role allowed me to add more depth to the team leader, as well as the protagonist. It increased the level of intrigue, and I will use him again farther into the story.

Writing a story is like weaving a tapestry. By interweaving the colors/characters, it starts to build a beautiful picture, and develops more depth while using a smaller cast.

 

To see all the lessons to date, click here:   Go to Lessons I’m Learning….

 

 
 

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