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Update on The Whitehaired Shooter…

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The White haired Shooter

Been working steadily on the first revision of The Whitehaired Shooter.  The first draft was all narrative and bits of dialogue. Pretty much pure “telling.”  I just got the story out, and like it. I think it’s pretty solid. But it really stinks as a piece of fiction.

Early on in my studies of fiction writing, I remember laughing at a writing tip. Basically it said just get your story out for your first draft. Then read through it. Then start at the beginning and write it from scratch.  Sounded bogus to me.

I find that’s exactly the process The Whitehaired Shooter is undergoing.  And it’s awesome.  Instead of trying to edit and “fix” the story I pounded out, I’m rewriting from page one. And this time around, I know what I want to say.

I believe it’s coming out as something that — well — like something I’d like to read. Imagine that! And this method was not the waste of time I thought it would have been.

It’s been more like this first draft was a first rehearsal- reading from the script and getting to know the parts.  The first revision is paying attention to the props, use of the stage, checking lighting and sound, and getting ready for a dress rehearsal.

It’s real work, but I’m having a ball. I can’t wait for “Opening Night.”

 

 

 

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Posted by on February 5, 2016 in Writing the Book

 

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No Shots Fired…

MSN-gun-firing

No Shots Fired…   Final conflict scene of the WhiteHaired Shooter is set.

The first draft of the book, still filled with plot holes and partial scenes, is almost complete. I played around with possible alternate endings, and decided the final conflict scene that worked best for this novel — has no shots fired.

That might sound counter intuitive, as the book, in large part, revolves around an older woman making the decision to own and learn how to shoot a gun for self protection. And while I’m working to ramp up  conflict in every scene, I’m also committed to showcase what it takes for responsible gun ownership and handling.

Question:  Can the truth — that the best to be hoped for outcome of a real life self defense situation is use of minimal force and hopefully result in no lethal action taken — be interesting?

In the vast majority of the fictional world, lead seems to fly at any provocation. Blood and gore is the accepted highest form of conflict in most action scenes. And I’m going to end my book without a shot being fired during the “fight scene.”  It’ll be an interesting ride, and feels a little risky. Time will tell if this novel I’m penning is accepted as entertaining and thrilling anyway!

This book is not meant to glamorize firearms, or show how a gun bestows next-to-superpowers on the gun owner.  Hopefully it shows the responsibility each of us has to protect ourselves and our loved ones. And in this case, a firearm will be part of that choice.

Now, to tie up a few loose ends and start in on the hardest and most important part of writing – revision.

 

 

 

 

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When Your Character is a Liar

Liar

Writing Backstory:  When Your Character is a Liar

Just this morning I discovered I have to revisit the drawing board for one of my characters. The antagonist in my novel has a colorful enough “real” history already in my planning– but she’s a pathological liar.

What I had overlooked, until reviewing my newly installed Timeline, was the need to build her “fictitious” liar’s backstory. Her life’s story was tough — abuse, drugs, gangs, prison– but the lie, the story she tells others to blend in, is another matter. And because SHE believes it to be real, it has to be crafted as though it was. A bunch of random lies told here and there to throw people off won’t work.

I have a new found appreciation of what causes writers to  often appear distracted. My first novel’s draft taught me how difficult building a whole world can be. But  I’m now being blown away at the level of discipline –and close brushes  with insanity – that’s required of anyone attempting to craft a mystery/suspense thriller.  WOW!  Here’s hoping it’s just temporary…

As I go about my job, paying bills, cooking dinner, driving and so on, I’m playing over the stories of my characters in my head. Trying to make sure they are believable and interesting. Now I have to work with my antagonist, the pathological liar, and she is extremely bright and well organized – so I guess I’ll have to just pretend to be that too, as I muddle through today!

 

 

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2016 in Writing the Book

 

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Developing a Timeline

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Developing a Timeline.

Today I’m going to share a powerful — yet simple– tool that has improved the “big picture” of my story.

My timeline is a simple spreadsheet – Dates form the column headers, and the rows are free form, used for tracking developing threads and storylines.

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Since I’m already well into my first draft, I have dropped scenes/actions from my growing story into it. It’s already helped me track the complex and various themes/undercurrents at work. I’ve found some gaps to fill in, and believe I could have overlooked them by just reading back through what I’ve written. The timeline should result in a stronger, better story by helping me hit all my marks, and keep me from wandering too far off the story in dialog and scenes.

The spreadsheet helps visualize the components and characters of the story, and has helped me to see how they can weave together better. For example, I’ve already seen where earlier insertion of a character into the story eliminated the need for backstory later, and found opportunities for dropping bread crumbs and background hints that will tie together later on.

Early in the outlining process for this novel, I developed a timeline for my character back stories, and it was extremely helpful. I thought through what drives my players. But using a timeline for the main story just seemed too complex.  Building it now , I can now see how it’s a great tool to use while writing, and imagine revising will benefit as well.

Many writers prefer using sticky notes– or 3×5 cards– pinned/taped to a board or wall that serves the same function as a spreadsheet.  Personally, I’m not disciplined enough for that, and find a spreadsheet is much more forgiving.  I love the flexibility a spreadsheet offers.  For instance, I’ve just decided it would be helpful to color code Point of View into the timeline. I  believe it will help me examine which character has the best POV for the action/scene unfolding.

Do you have tools, tips, tricks or suggestions that help you develop your story?I’d love to hear from you.

 

I’m adding this to my “Lessons learned” list!

16.  Develop a Timeline for your Story. A spreadsheet, or sticky notes/3×5 cards can be used to see the character interactions, story development, plot line and twists, and help you see the “bigger picture” of the story you are writing as it will unfold for the reader. Simple and powerful tool to keep your writing on track and coherent!

 

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

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2016 in Writing the Book

 

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Synchronicity…

Yesterday I pondered a quote in the “real world” on Show vs Tell, and this morning, reading my feeds over coffee, I find this:

IHearISeeIDo

How many times do you find that ideas proliferate like wild fire, something catches your eye (or ear or fancy) and then you find you are experiencing a part of a tsunami that affects so many other minds and thoughts and lives?

Are we reacting — but not conscious of – to that which is already present all around us?

Are we feeling the “force” before it manifests fully?

Or is it simply a sensitivity to noticing what is always there, akin to being pregnant and noticing how many other pregnant women are around that you previously ignored.

Humbling and exhilarating at the same time!

 

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2016 in General Discussion

 

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Show Don’t Tell – real world lesson

Show Don’t Tell – real world lesson

One of the most frequently given reminders to the new-to-the-craft of fiction is “Show Don’t Tell.”

After hearing that over and over, and often without any substantial guidance on how to improve, the fledgling writer can glaze over hearing that phrase. I did for quite awhile, anyway.

It was surprising and refreshing to see the following in the “signature” yesterday in an email from one of our real-life customers, a Safety Engineer:

Tell them-They will forget

Show them-They will remember

Involve them-They will be committed

I was intrigued, and of course, googled it. References from Chinese Proverbs, to Maya Angelou, and MHSA (Mine Health and Safety Act) led the results.

I gained an added level of appreciation for the “Show don’t tell” rule. I hadn’t “connected the dots.”

From my own experience in training employees in computer programs, it dawned on me: writing rules come from practical, commonsense, “universal truths” we already know. Another mandate for writing well – to “Tell the truth” in your writing, just became a little more digestible as well. Art mimics nature. What we write, even though it’s a made up story, should resonate with the real world, stay true to human nature, and be something that our reader can become a part of, because it is believable.

Imagine that!

 

I’m adding this to my “Lessons learned” list!

15.  Show don’t Tell and other writing rules come from the “real world.” Realistic, relatable fiction writers know that. These “rules”  help to build a more human world for the reader. Instead of fighting them or feeling being bound by them, respect and understand them. They are there for a reason.

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

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2016 in Writing the Book

 

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I’m B-a-a-c-c-k-k

It’s been a long, long, long time since I have added to this blog.

Back on track with writing “The Whitehaired Shooter.”  I’ve got a little over 10,000 words jotted down now this first week, and believe it’s due to taking the time off to study the craft and art of fiction, and working on my “sample novel.”

I’m finding that time was well spent in developing my characters, looking at plot structure, and working up an outline.  I’m having so much fun, it hardly seems like “work.”  ‘Course I understand once serious revision starts, I’ll be singing a different tune.

To my friends here in blog-dom, I can’t make any promises about frequency of posts, but I’ll be popping in much more regularly from now on.

Cheers!

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2016 in General Discussion