One Week Left – A new job and my constant battle with the sands of time.

Hello Peeps,

I know i’ve been distant lately and there is a good reason. I got offered a new job, one that comes with extra time for creativity and a nicer paycheck.

The last five weeks have been the notice period, one more left and time has become the most precious resource imaginable.

Yet, five working days and I’m there.

I hope to be a bit more active next week onwards. I’ve been editing – no time for creativity, late night finishes as I get ready for the next challenge.

 

WHY RHYTHM AND PACE ARE JUST AS IMPORTANT AS CHARACTER. THE RISE AND FALL OF A NOVEL.

Haute Tension

Haute Tension (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tap, tipetty, tap, tippetty, tap, go my feet along to my favorite songs on the MP3 player. Easy as pie, my head hears the beat and my feet they automatically know what to do. Oh dear fates now I am singing along and I have a voice that the local foxes and tomcat would be proud of.

When it involves music, its instinctive, you hear the beat and something in you knows what to do, connects on that cellular level that we are all instinctively looking for when we write. Music moves us, and we don’t have to do a thing……

Writing is different, it takes a lot of shitty firsts just to get the language right and once we’ve completed that and it’s readable we then look to structure. How long is this bad boy? Do I really need 120,000 words to say this or could I use fifty grand instead?

Where do I show? Start as close to the end as possible you say okay, “The End”, doesn’t seem that effective, begging your pardon. Use a hook for every paragraph? Are you fecking kidding me?

Okay, now I am exhausted reading it, so that doesn’t work.

This is my nemesis now, the rise and fall. I am not writing a thriller. So having my characters fall from one calamity to the next every paragraph doesn’t quite suit, I want drama and tension to come through, but I don’t want to manufacture nasty stuff to happen just because everyone tells you that you must have your character in deep doo-doo all the time. I am not sure it’s right.

Tension,is what I am trying to create and then resolution and then further tension, my novel should rise and fall like the ocean, sweeping the reader along with it. Disaster, then climax then build again. I want it believable and musical. I want my readers emotions to travel with them on the journey and whilst some of this is achieved by likeability and hateability of the central characters. A lot of this will happen via the structure and flow.

My perfect reader will be on a journey with my characters towards realisation. Not all my characters make it. In fact many that start the journey will fall and their friends and family will be irrevocably altered by their loss. Some for good and some for ill.

It’s creating that wave-like structure that I am finding the most challenging (along with everything else.) I seem to either have too much happening or too little, it’s such a fine balance.

I’d welcome suggestions from others who’ve struggled with the topic of pacing?

Are there any great craft books, you know of that deal essentially with this topic rather than anything else?

Why it is not so hot to find out you’re a plotter 6,000 words from “The End”

Scrivener (software)

Scrivener (software) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Oh dear, TTWI has just gone and done it again. I was six thousand words give or take some dialogue away from writing those two little words  “the end”. When my inner editor thought it would be a great idea, no, the best idea ever to have a look at the structure. Maybe even do some cork-boarding on Scrivener.

 

This was not a good idea, in fact in the history of bright ideas I’ve had recently this is in the bottom two.

 

I’ve just cut my darling to shreds, so we’ve gone from 73,456 words to 32,245 words in my still unfinished novel. It gets worse. I have to do some research and some plotting as well. The story in its original form wasn’t working, happy coincidences abounded and I hate these in other work. Person A just happens to be in the right place at the right time to intersect with Person B y’know the sort of stuff. My geography was all over the place and even worse people’s names were changing? How did I manage that?

 

So the current state of play is that I have a still unfinished novel…..

 

The upside to this is that the novel is one I’m happy with and I guess being happy and content with the 32,000 words I’ve got is better than having a steaming pile of finished.

 

There’s some real work to do. As easy as it would be to throw the net-book in a drawer and cry myself to sleep, it’s not happening. I always knew this was gonna be hard. Probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done and that’s okay.

 

40,000 to go….

 

I’m doing it. I am not giving up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The secret to writing and the reason why this is Awesome!

Writing

Writing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you want to know a little secret? Come closer and I’ll tell you. Now, are you sitting comfortably, got a drink? Go on, go get one, your favorite tipple or a hot chocolate, I’ll wait…

You all set? Great,

Ready, Set, Here it comes……..

“Writing isn’t easy.”

Phew, I said it. Did you think I was going to give you the secret sword of wordsmithing? Do you think that there is some sort of magic bean that instantly transforms you into a genius who wee’s excellence? Or perhaps one ring that rules them….. Sorry got carried away there.

We all wish there was and we’ve all seen the sales patter..

“Sign up for my webcast where I show how you can write a bestseller with next to no effort on your part…” and all for just 500 fat ones… Ohh PURLEASE

Ever thought that if you could just…… find the magic keyword that opens the door to blockbusterville closely accompanied by the six figure publishing contract (where we don’t have to market or speak to people), that everything will be okay? It won’t.

Success in life is about persistence and luck. You have to keep at it and be ready when luck comes knocking. But before luck can pull up at the welcome mat (you are not naked are you? Good Gracious, put something on… No not the jogging bottoms.) you are there prepped and ready for it. So here’s my reason/s why it’s great that writing is so hard.

1. If it was easy everyone would be doing it….

If writing a novel or writing in general was a cake walk then everybody would do it. I know that at times it may seem that everyone IS doing it but they’re not. It’s just the writers resources and blogs where you have hung out. Most people don’t do it or can’t do it and that’s just great for you and me. Less writers, less competition – mwah, ha, ha, ha….. I am stroking a cat, she is long haired but she definitely does not have a diamond collar.

2. If it was easy everyone would finish it…..

Most people never finish. There are hundreds and thousands of dusty manuscripts and half written poems or short stories lining drawers everywhere. If you’re gonna do this writering you have to finish. A half-written story is a broken promise. Now you are not the sort of person who breaks a promise are you? Good. I thought not. (Please in the name of all that walks and crawls do not let this be me…. 9,600 and a full stop to go.)

3. If it was easy everyone would do it well….

Yes, I know a lot of poorly written and unbelievably dire books are out there. If everyone did this well, how would you and I distinguish ourselves against the rest of them? It’s  our error free original wonderful creative voice that makes us special. We don’t just ship, see point 2, we ship rainbows and cream cakes and the smell of grass after summer rain.

So yes this writing is hard and it takes time, persistence, sweat, tears, anger, frustration and love to create.  But that is why the fact that we are writers and we write is AWESOME.

Comments, as always are welcome.

Are you a writing Screw-Up? Five things I learned the Hard Way.

English: Opening logo to the Star Wars films

English: Opening logo to the Star Wars films (Photo credit: Wikipedia) A story that should have flopped.

We all secretly wish to write award-winning, book/article/blog selling perfect prose, the minute we lay our fingers on the keyboard and we all are slightly disappointed with our first drafts, when it turns out they are less than perfect. We may all understand that “crappiness” is part of the process but that doesn’t mean we have to like it.

There are five distinct screw-ups I’ve made that have taught me how to get better at this writering and I’d love to hear from you about what you’ve sucked at and how it’s helped you improve. So, here’s my Top Five.

1. OBSESSION WITH W.I.P. TO THE EXCLUSION OF ALL ELSE

I have been guilty of putting my writing ahead of absolutely everything and become obsessive about it to the point of a detriment to my day job (the one that pays the bills) and my personal relationships. This sucks and has not made me a better writer. Nothing, not even this writing means you should stop interacting with life at least some of the time. Don’t look at me like that, writing appeals to the loner in all of us, but without life experiences our writing is in 2D, it’s thin and lacks authenticity.

2. NOT PUTTING THE EFFORT IN

Okay, this is where I go the other way and hang out on social media and try to loosely prove to myself that “building a platform” is more important than the W.I.P. What is a Platform anyway? I’m not an oil-rig worker, I’m a writer! I’m a complete idiot when it comes to building authentic relationships via social media and that’s the new BUZZ message? Communicate, make friends and be real. But in  150 characters or less.

Or then there’s Procrastination which sounds like a disease and has the same ravaging effects. Whilst cutting yourself some slack is a good idea, there are times when you just have to sit down, suck it up and string sentences together.

3. PANTSER OR PLOTTER?

I am a Plotter who Pantses. I am now only about 10,000 words away from the end of the first novel and I am going to have to go back and plot and cut and re-draft. The second book will be fully plotted out before I start. It’s easier in the long-term and I’ve noticed a butt-kicking awesome lift in my productivity when I have a clear idea of where the work is going. A structure allows me to take the work in a different direction. A plan doesn’t restrict, it frees my creativity. Currently I have a lot more work to do because I didn’t do this the first time.

Whether you are a Plotter or a Pantser, just accept it and move on. Plotters don’t understand Pantsers and Pantsers don’t understand Plotters. We are two seperate sides of the Force. Of course I now realise that Pantsing is the DARK SIDE…..

4. REPETITIVE WORDS

There are lots of turns of phrase and words that as a new writer you are going to find a lot of in your work. I’ve listed mine in an earlier post. We all struggle to move our writing on. I thoroughly recommend creating a list of those words you overuse and then searching them out in your prose. Don’t remove every instance where you use them, as there will be occasions where they are completely correct and fit. Again we are back to the word balance…

5. THINKING ABOUT MY AUDIENCE

There will always be room for great stories and I need to accept the fact that all the storylines have already been taken. I don’t think there will ever not be a place for writing about all the great archetypes in our world. Yes, things do go through a cycle and you may find for a decade darker style fiction where everyone dies and there are no happy endings are in vogue, the next decade happy endings, hope and redemption win out in the light. My best example of this is Star Wars, a tale of heroes that became a major success in the same decade that gave us Scarface and Taxi Driver. Some stories will always “just” work.

Write what you want to write and stay true to yourself. Although some more fiction for grown ups and not teenage girls would be nice. Just saying.

COMMENTS, AS ALWAYS WELCOME. May the force be with you…..

The balance between real-life and writing.

Blah! Party logo

Blah! Party logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been less than perfect in my day job this week and simultaneously stifled and unable to write in any downtime. Not that there’s been a lot of that….. I’ve clocked up sixty hours this week. – I am not going to throw a pity party about it, that was yesterdays post!

So how do you manage the demands on your time when you are struggling to finish your novel and trying to hold down an intense job that pays the mortgage?

It’s tough and it’s not a subject that gets covered in a positive way by a lot of the advice blogs you read. I think the usual general gist of it is to –  suck it up…. It’s just the journey of being a writer – Blah, Blah.

I’ve seen strategies and spreadsheets. Advice that tells you to get up half an hour earlier. To try harder because you are obviously not utilising your time properly.

Helpful eh?

I think you need to show balance and when you find yourself short on time, focus on the things that count. Sometimes there is stuff more important than writing or building a platform or engaging in social media or anything like that.

How long have you had this dream for? If you are anything like me, it is decades now. Is it going anywhere? – Nope, it’s here to stay. So don’t sweat it and don’t give the inner demons a chance to wheedle their way in. Because once they start they won’t stop and if you let them get a horn in the door of your mind they’re likely to convince you to quit…. AGAIN.

So cut YOURSELF some slack, you are not procrastinating, hey it would be lovely to have the time to procrastinate.

There are probably people in your life and they deserve your love and undivided attention, too. That Novel is not gonna let you warm your feet on them on a cold winters night and they deserve better. They know it’s important to you, they put up with being a writers widow/er so give them some valuable time.

You will come back to the writing, tomorrow or the next day because you gave yourself some room to let it settle. You placed things in the right order of importance. You cut yourself some slack.

It’s only when we force it that the inner demons get into their stride or we end up thinking about what has to give… Something always has too eventually. So stop beating yourself up about it and go hug a husband or spouse or family member or even a little person.

Comments, as always, welcome.

Foetal Writer – My list of baby steps.

fashion faux pas

This is my writing. (Photo credit: Judy **) But I’m working on it 🙂

It’s not all joy and expansive prose when you’re new at this writing schnizzle. Sometimes it just plain sucks. I’ve made a list of all the things I’m good at and all the things I’m struggling with. These are the things where I need to engage the force and shut up and just get on with it!

Good At:-

1. Procrastination. I’m sure that draw needs re-organising, the cat needs feeding and if really in a rut, I may even talk to the husband.

2. Using the words:- Turned, saw, look, looked, began, begin/s, started, while (and whilst, I like to mix things up y’know?), was, had, told, knew and heard.  – I opened Scrivener to see how many words I had in my search list and trust me, – this wasn’t all of them.

3. Editing, because I can’t get past Chapter twenty-two.

4. Fear of finishing (hmm linked to number three above) and the ensuing fear of failure to sell any books because I’ll have to talk to lots of people and be nice and let’s face it the reason I write is because I’m a bit of a depressed loner.

Baby Steps:-

1. Dialogue tags:- I forget the rules and no-one should use that many descriptions of the word said, often with an adverb. I counted seven in one particular piece of dialogue, they sounded like bad thespians rather than characters, she whispered quietly – err DOH!

2. Getting in and out of rooms. My characters seem to get stuck by some invisible force sometimes in doorways or in front of doors. It’s really difficult getting them in and out of blasted rooms.

3. Action:- Now this is the sticky bit. If an arrow pierces a shield the reader knows that it didn’t pierce the person in the next sentence because it’s in the shield. I do this a lot. I’ve taken to watching u-tube action sequences and listening to swordplay. I’m also learning a lot about archery so that I get it right. Especially, because you just know if you don’t know this stuff, someone is going to nicely point out you got it wrong, wrong, wrong….

4. Moving the story on, there’s a lot I need readers to know and whilst I am desperately trying to show not tell, I sometimes do a little too much back story… Mystery is my friend, readers are surprised not, Oh I knew that was going to happen five chapters ago. If they’re still there….

So these are my failures and my top faux pas. What did/do you struggle with?

Comments, as always, welcome.