Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day

Going to enjoy the day with family and I hope you guys do to.

Friday, May 27, 2011

When is a series too long?

This past weekend I saw this movie with my oldest daughter and my wife.

Now I was probably one of the people that thought that it ended alright with the trilogy. I didn't think this was necessary and seemed more like a milking of the cash cow than for story expansion. Can we say Scream 4 (Which I loved as with this movie.)

But my question isn't about the movie so much, because it kicked butt in the box office and I really enjoyed it. It made me think, was it needed? I love the character of Jack Sparrow, more so than Will or Elizabeth. So I didn't mind it for that reason, yet in books, have you ever read a series that seemed to go too long past its prime. I don't read a lot of series, and most of them are made a series because they are one big arc, yet this movie wasn't part of the same arc. Different bad guys, different quest, the only thing the same was Jack. Could a book survive under the same circumstance?

I don't think so and that's probably why it doesn't happen very often.  What are your thoughts on book series that go too long?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Three sided conflicts?

I know I've been writing a lot about my current project and this is another post about it.

My antagonist is two different people. It's a three sided conflict and it's making me wonder if that is too much as I can't really recall any books having three sided conflicts. Maybe it's just late (or super early) when I'm writing this, so I'm looking for examples so I can read them and see how they did the pacing.

Any suggestions of books? Or just how they managed it? Any of your own struggles with this sort of conflict?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Supporting Characters

In my current project, I have many characters. My crit group thinks that most are pretty important, however, one that I think is important, and will be playing a big role later on isn't coming across well.

I am having trouble thinking of a way to integrate this character better as she's the girlfriend of the main characters brother, so she's only in a few chapters until chapter 9, then she's in more of them. I need to make her likeable, she's a good person, yet if my main character doesn't interact with her much, how can I get this across better? Maybe have them get forced into a situation where they are alone? Maybe have her brother talk about her more? What would your suggestions be? I'm up for anything right about now because I've been spending so much time building the main characters reactions to the world as it's changing around her that this one minor character sort of got left in the shadows.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Trance by Linda Gerber

This is another book that I received from Michelle McLean during her book giveaway.

I liked the cover right off the bat, the way that it sort of sucks you in. The title is enticing because it reminds me of the kind of stuff that I write, supernatural action.

Now once I got into the book, it was good, just not what I was expecting. I was expecting a stronger action plot. Now there is action here, it's just not the main thing. It's about a girl trying to find her place in life after her mother was killed in a car accident and these trances that she has, but has never been able to prevent.

I would classify this more as a thriller mystery. It has a lot of elements going on. A trance that she can't figure out, a new friend, and a boy who is hot.

I think that the thing I took most away from this book was the study of Numerology. The wiki definition is "Numerology is any of many systems, traditions or beliefs in a mystical or esoteric relationship between numbers and physical objects or living things."

I thought that was a cool thing to have in a book. I've vaguely heard about the study, but learning it in the creative space that Linda took it actually peaked my interest in it. I remember after reading the book, I researched Numerology because of the way that the main character is explained it was cool.

Now this story handles itself well, it plays a nice balance between the trances and the main character trying to figure them out, but it does a wonderful job of really showing us her changes. The way she is unsure, timid after the accident and what she blossoms into

I would give this book a sold 4/5.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Are we writers or typers?

My 10 year old called me a "Typer" this past weekend. She said that instead of writing the story on paper by hand, that I type it. Now granted technically that is correct, and I told her that writing is more than just the way you put words down and more about the craft of storytelling.

I think it would be more prudent to call us storytellers even though we don't always verbalize our stories. (I still wish that class in college was in a time slot I could have taken.)

The craft of telling stories is what motivates us, not the process of how we do it. Heck I know writers that still do it longhand and then copy it onto the computer to edit. My wrist hurts just thinking about that.

So what do you think of the term typers? Am I right or is my ten year old right? (She'll be reading your comments.)


Sunday, May 15, 2011

How I write.

This past week, there seemed to be a lot of posts on how individual writers write their story and I wanted to get on the action. I'm always the kid that seems to be left behind, maybe I should make some noise more often.

*Whines, cry, and shouts.*

Okay, now that is out of the way, I am a Pantser. I like to sit down, hang out with my characters and just go along for the ride.

Now this is bad for a couple reasons, one is that my rewrites can usually take a little longer than others because mine is a lot of stuff that needs to be expanded or cut.

This also works for me because honestly, I don't think I could spend a month outlining the book and still enjoy the story after that. I like the surprises, the twists, the turns, all the fun stuff that gets me pumped for writing.

My four novels I have written this way and they usually take about 6 weeks to write the first draft. The most recent book I'm having critiqued by my crit buddies while I'm writing it so it's taken me.... I'm go on the low end 4 months. So more than double my previous books. This would be worrisome, except that because of the feedback, I have a feeling that my first draft will be sharper than it usually is, meaning less time revising in the long term.

So hopefully I can stick to my plan and have a first draft done by the end of May. Only about another 100 pages over 15 days, I can do it! And you all will be along for the journey.

So what sort of writer are you? Let me know in the comments.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Blogger went down...

And I don't have time to write a post now. Maybe I should go back to writing them in advance. Anyway, next week I'll be back on schedule barring any technical difficulties.

H ave a good weekend.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Subplots

Subplots? The great underlying plot that sort of floats under the radar except for the times it doesn't. The poor subplot gets second billing, isn't usually as liked as the main plot, and feels inferior in that case, but it doesn't always have to be inferior. It can be used to strengthen the story in ways that we don't see at first.

What are some of you favorite subplots?

I seem to see a lot of romantic subplots, and they are fine and all, but what other kinds are there?

There is the mystery subplot, where there is something brewing then usually pops up at the end to reveal something that the character needed.

There is the action subplot, this is usually a main plot, but occasionally it can be a subplot. Usually its more of a infighting sort of thing and between minor characters, but it can be big and have lots of effect on the main plot.

So those are a few of the ones that I'm playing with my current project, what are some of your favorite subplots?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Family and Writing

I got this idea from Elizabeth Craig's Blog Mystery Writing is Murder and thought that I would post the things I do to balance writing and family.

I used to write after work for as long as it took to get a chapter done. This ended when my work shift changed to a later time in the day and I didn't home till around 6:00pm, instead of 4. So when this change happened I struggled finding time to write, eat dinner with the family, relax and just spend time playing with the kids. I would usually stay up late after everyone went to bed and wrote while it was quiet. This wore me out as getting up at 6:30 in the morning every day and staying up till midnight wasn't conducive to my body.

And a tired body leads to a tired mind, which leads to uninspired writing.

So I knew I had to make a change. My 4 year old at the time was struggling going to sleep in her own bed after doing it for a few months on her own. So I decided to kill two birds with one stone. I would write in her room, while she laid in bed.

This allowed me semi-quiet time. She had a knack for talking to me while I was in her room, but that only lasted for about twenty minutes before she conked out. Since her bedtime is 8:30, meant I started writing earlier and still actually having time to spend with my wife after the kids were asleep.

I was able to write in peace for about an hour, which is all I can dedicate to my weekly writing. Weekends, I usually go to the local library to write for about 2-3 hours more.

So there you have it, how I became flexible to my family needs while maintaining my writing habits.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Review "a blue so dark" by Holly Schindler

Another one of the books that I received from Michelle McLean's contest.

This book was difficult for me to read. Not because of the language used, or the font, but the subject material was intense.

The main character is dealing with a mother who is schizophrenic, which makes her normal life impossible.

I'm not going to spoil anything, but I have to say that the way Holly shows us this disease through the eyes of the daughter was scary.

I did enjoy this book, but am not sure if I know anyone personally that would enjoy it much as the subject matter is more on the depressing side. A good book to read if you are interested in schizophrenia, or mental illness this would be a book that interest you.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Editing?

I was reading the wonderful Nathan Bransford blog yesterday and he had a post about editing and his process. It got me thinking of my process and how it has changed depending on the project.

My first novel I blazed through in about 3 weeks. It was easy because I wrote the screenplay first and I just had to adapt it. I was naive and my first draft only came out to about 180 pages. I looked at it and decided that if I used two POV's then it would add length and allow me to show more of the story. It worked, it moved to 311 pages. I then began to edit it. After a month of editing, I sent it out to some crit members and they started to comment on the difficulty of writing in present tense. I wrote screenplays, present tense was my baby, but alas after really thinking about it. I changed it to past tense. Such a pain.

After about 5 rounds of edits, I thought it was polished enough to send out. I was right. It got some requests, it got some partials to fulls, however nothing turned into an offer. That's cool. I was working on another project at the same time so I was chill.

Fast forward to my Nano project. Wrote it in 30 days. Edited in two months. Started to get feedback from a crit group and realized that it stunk. Full of flaws and I shelved it. I still like the story, but am not ready to go back to it.

I wrote a few other novels during this time. The sequel to my first novel. Another novel that I haven't finished yet, but still love the main character.

Now on to my current project. This one is different. I've been working on it since early Jan. I'm about 190 pages in right now and am using a technique that Nathan mentions in his blog. Every night when I sit down, I reread stuff I wrote the night before and take about 15 to 20 minutes to edit it. It does two things, it gets my mind back into the story, and it gets me writing. I like this method best because I feel that even if I hit a wall, or a distraction comes up I accomplished something. I usually write a chapter in two days this way. I hope that when I complete the draft, it will be basically a draft 1.5 because of editing a bit as I go.

Anyways, enough with my process. What is your process? What are some of your favorite techniques that you want to share? I would love to know what you think of my current process.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Hard work

I know writers have to have a thick skin to handle the criticism and rejection.

Writing is hard work, maybe not back breaking unless you are sitting hunch over for hours at a time, but it still is hard, grueling work.

This weekend, I did my normal yard work, mowing the lawn, etc and it got me thinking how hard writing is.

First of all you have to develop an idea. Sometimes it can just be an image, a word, a place. You will have to take this nugget and throw your own spin onto it, because it can't be like anything else that has ever been developed before. It's got to have your touches, what makes it yours.

After you have spent days, weeks, months, developing the idea, we have to go back and remold it. Usually this isn't as intensive as the first mold, but we need to make it smooth and flawless if we want anyone else to like it.

Then the worst part comes up. You have a perfect little gem that you adore and are ready to share. You have to lock up that small voice telling you that it's not its time because you know in your heart that it is. So you send it out there and it takes its lumps, it comes back dented and chipped. So you go to working those kinks out of the idea.

Now when they are finally out and now the small voice has faded away you send it out to agents. Things can take forever now so you start the process over.

Maybe we're crazy or maybe we're just the harding working individuals in the world. What do you think? Can you relate to the hard work that is making anything writing related? I sure am, and honestly I couldn't picture myself doing anything else.