Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Banned Book Week

In case you didn't know, this is banned book week. This is the week where you can find out all about books that have been banned for questionable content. Just for funsies, let me list a few of them . . .
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
  • Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
  • Anee Franbk: The Diary of a Young Girl
  • Blubber by Judy Blume
  • A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
  • The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
  • James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle (OMG, this is one of my absolute favorites)
  • The Little House on the Prarie Collection by Laura Ingalls Wilder (say what???)

You can find this list here on Amazon with the explanations as to why the books were banned.

Now, for my personal opinion: ignorance is the sole reason for banning the books.

My second opinion: I guarantee you that many people on the band wagon to ban these books, and many others, have never, ever, picked up the book and read a single word. Instead, these people, these pitchfork and torch carrying book banning people (hey, perhaps Dr. Seuss could have done a book about them - oh, wait, they would have banned it!) are basing their decision on the words of other, allegedly enlightened individuals.

Now, let's travel back in time to the release of the second book in the Harry Potter series. Oh, the media frenzy about this horrible book that was promoting magic. Parents be warned, do not let your children read this book. Well, of course, being the rebel I am, I absolutely had to read this horrible book that would corrupt children! Dang, was I disappointed. I mean, the Harry Potter books dealt with the reality of life - bullies, indecision, first love, friendship, overcoming obstacles, the right to choose, and so many other things. Where in heck was the corrupting influence that all these allegedly intelligent people were talking about? Where's the drama that had people protesting this book?

There wasn't any!

I repeat - there wasn't any!




Yes, I know, it's all subjective. If people couldn't carry their pitchforks and torches, they wouldn't have anything else to do! I mean, why actually read a book and decide for yourself when you can rely on the expert testimony of an allegedly intelligent individual!

In the end, we all have the power of choice. If there's a television program that I don't want to watch, then I don't watch it. It's that simple.

I am, contrary to what some people might say, an intelligent individual capable of deciding for myself, without outside influence, whether a television program is good or bad, or whether a book is worth reading. I have discovered, in my few decades of life, that, more often than not, the protesters really have no clue what they're talking about.

So, be a rebel, and go out and read a banned book this week. I dare ya!!!


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Blue Tooth Virgin

Say What? It's the name of a movie, people, and not one of those movies, get your minds out of the gutter. The description of the movie is . . .

Two writers must face a dilemma that is common to anyone who has ever had an artistic friend: what happens when you have to give feedback, and the news isn't good? Sam, an aspiring screenwriter, and David, a successful magazine editor, have been friends for years. When David doesn't appreciate Sam's latest script, it opens a fissure in their friendship, one that spreads through the rest of their lives. Ultimately, both men must reevaluate their motivations to write, their need for praise and validation, and what it means to see yourself as you actually are.

We may not have American Writer Idol or America's Got Writer Talent, or even Writer Town on Facebook. Shows like Castle with Nathan Fillion and Murder, She Wrote with Angela Lansbury have very little to with writing, even though the main characters are writers.

The Blue Tooth Virgin (okay, I'm sorry, but how in the heck did they come up with that title??) description sounds . . . well . . . very accurate.

I mean, haven't we all reevaluated our motivations to write, our need for praise and validation, and what it means to see ourselves as we actually are???

Don't we, in the dark of the night or the light of the day, sometimes wonder if all this angst, frustration, querying, rejection, is really worth it in the end?

Aren't there days when we just say enough is enough, no more??

Don't we all stiffen our backs when we read the first critique of our work and get all defensive?

Well, I can probably answer most of those questions with a resounding YES! Then, I can sit back, and say I love what I do and I'm not going to stop.

Am I willing to sacrifice friendships or relationships for my writing?


There is a fine line between loving what I do, and letting that love get in the way of a person's honest opinion of my writing.

Every now and then, I write CRAP! YES! I! DO! It happens.

Still, I put myself, and my writing out there, to friends and even strangers, because - hits head on desk a few times to make point - the opinions of others, even harsh critiques, help me to look at my work with different eyes, perhaps clearer eyes.

In the end, I'm doing what I do because I love to do it. How about you? Also, what do you think of the description of the movie? Is it accurate? Have you been there, done that?


p.s. I might add, that the above description sounds like the perfect pitch! Hmmmm . . . perhaps people struggling with their pitches should re-read that description . . . a few gazillion times! Yes, that would be me!

Monday, September 28, 2009

The End

I saw the very end of a movie the other day, and the ending made me want to see the whole movie so I could understand the glances between characters, the smiles, the tears, and the simple gesture of an outstretched hand.

More than seeing the beginning of the movie, I wanted to write my own beginning that would lead up to this stunning end.

Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever wanted to start at The End and work backwards to the beginning? I mean, wouldn't this be a clever way to write a novel? You know how the story ends, so . . . step by step, word by word, paragraph by paragraph, chapter by chapter you write the novel backwards. Hmmmm . . .

Would it be easier knowing The End before you begin writing? Do you always know The End when you first sit down and begin to write? Does The End change along the way? Do your characters suddenly grab the writing reins and send themselves scurrying off in directions you never imagined, screaming No more outlines, no more outlines as they hurry and scurry here, there, and everywhere across the written words of your brilliance?

Whew! Try saying that sentence without taking a breath. I dare you. I double-dog dare you!! What is a double-dog dare, by the way? Inquiring minds want to know . . .

I always have an idea of The End when I begin writing, but it is never set in stone, and it often changes as I write. Yeah, it might be a bit easier saying that the buxom heroine ends up with the handsome hero and they live happily ever after, well, after a few kidnappings, misunderstandins, heroine crying herself to sleep at night and swearing she'll never speak to him again, and then rushing into his arms once all is said and done!

To me, that seems kind of boring. I like the surprise of the buxom heroine falling in love with the snarky margarita drinking gladiator Tyrone, having no clue he is really after her fortune . . . oh, and the handsome hero . . . and then realizing she's just fine on her own and doesn't need a man to make her happy. She has wealth, after all, and can buy as many men as she wants!!

So, my questions, as always, fall back on my followers: Do you know The End when you begin?


Friday, September 25, 2009

Details or No Details, or Basic Details, or Indepth Details

First, hop on over to The Literary Lab and check out the most recent entry by Lady Glamis. It's an excellent post . . . and eerily similar to one I began sketching out with pen and paper on Wednesday, one day before her post appeared in the blogsphere. It's crazy, people, crazy!

Part of the post was about . . . details. Take a gander at the following . . .

But I think one of the most important things to remember when we put that pen to paper, or our fingers to the keys, is that novels are usually not meant to portray real life. They. Are. Fiction. Even if it's a memoir or an autobiography, we don't include the boring details that have nothing to do with the point. There must always be a point. Every scene, every line, every word needs to move the plot and characters forward. If it's something experimental or postmodern, there still needs to be a point, even if nothing happens or moves forward.

I try to remember these things as I'm writing and revising. My readers don't care what the room looks like unless it matters. They don't care what a character looks like unless it matters. No matter how important it may seem to you, or how vivid it is in your mind, please don't put it in unless it accomplishes something productive.

Now, take a look at what I sketched out the other day. It all started with one question, that became a series of questions . . .

At what point do you include character specifics in your manuscript?

That is . . .
  • hair color
  • eye color
  • height
  • weight
  • body type

Do you mention these specifics in . . .

  • great detail?
  • little detail?
  • not at all?

If you do mention these specifics, do you do this in . . .

  • the first paragraph?
  • the second paragraph?
  • the first 250 words? 700 words? 1,000 words?

Is the description . . .

  • cursory?
  • detailed?

Yes, I know, I pretty much asked those questions, but the sketch out on paper was so pretty, I just had to include them again.

Do you only provide the basics about a character's appearance and let the reader fill in the blanks?

The reason I began to write down these questions in the first place, was after a comment was made about the first 1,000 words of one of my manuscripts where I described a character's hair, very, very briefly, just to let the reader know the hair color . . . She laughed again and shook her head, her shoulder length, silver tinged black hair, swaying from side to side. The comment was . . . I don't care right now that mom's hair is dark but silver streaked at this moment... you can work it in later.

When? Where?

Now, for some other very, very important questions . . .

  • Is it important to mention that Character J is holding a margarita in his right hand? Left hand? Both hands?
  • Is this an unnecessary detail?
  • What if someone tosses a chip at said character who is holding the margarita in his right hand, and yet he also effortlessly catches the chip . . . in his right hand?
  • What about a character going to the bathroom? No, not all the gory details, please, I have some sense of decorum. Rather, the mention of hey, i'm distended, i must void! which allows the character to exit the room and the other characters to talk about said character!

Now, since we're talking about details. What about . . .

  • Room Descriptions - do you mention furniture, placement, pictures on wall, colors of things, flat screen tv. Is any of this necessary?
  • Seating in a Restaurant - four characters sitting in a booth, do you need to know that Character A is sitting next to Character C, but across from Character B, and catty-corner to Character D? Would this information be important if Character C was going to gently pat Character A on the head as a sign of affection?

Lastly, to go with Lady Glamis' concept of boring events - what actually constitutes a boring event?

Okay, now lastly, to echo a statement from Lady Glamis . . . does every scene, every line, every word need to move the plot and characters forward?

Nope, wait a minute . . . ooops, totally lost my train of thought on that one. I really, seriously, had a great question. Dang, hate it when that happens! Hmmmmm . . .

Well, unfortunately, my gem of brilliance just disappeared. Everything, so it seems, boils down to a simple question of details, how much, when, where, and possibly never.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Revision Process

As I've worked my way through my revisions on Margarita Nights, in the hope of eliminating a gazillion words . . .

Here are my thoughts, the pieces of brilliance, as I sketched them out on a piece of paper . . .

  • Eliminate Character C Sections in Part I and incorporate main info into Character A and Character B Sections.
  • Eliminate Character F Sections in Part II and incorporate main info into Character D and Character E Sections.
  • Change the story from taking place over 2 years, to taking place over 1 year.

These were my initial thoughts about my revision process and the need to eliminate at least 8,000, if not 18,000 words from my lengthy work of brilliance.

Then, there are these ideas . . .

  • Part I = Character A/Character B (4 Months)
  • Part II = Character C/Character D (4 Months)
  • Part III = Character E/Character F (4 Months)

With the above idea, I don't eliminate the perspective of any character.

But, then there's this idea . . .

  • Part I = Character A/Character B (6 Months)
  • Part II = Character D/Character E (6 Months)

Obviously, with the above, I've eliminated two perspectives from the manuscript, and incorporated the main info into the perspectives of the other characters.

The elimination of any perspective requires an answer to one simple question: Is said character's perspective integral to the overall story being told, or can said character's perspective be eliminated?

Then, if considering the elimination of two perspectives (one in the current Part I and Part II of Margarita Nights) how would I truly incorporate much of what was in Character F's Section of Part II into the new Part II?

This dilemma brings up the following questions:

  • Would attack of Character D draw Character D and Character F closer together?
  • Would Character F confide in Character D (and thus, incorporate/relay the main info eliminated by the removal of Character F's perspective)?
  • Would the secret Character D and Character F share, be enough to draw them closer together?
  • Would the guilt of Character F bind them together or push them apart?

Lastly, I know this - by shortening the time span of each section, I would tighten up the story and make the decision process of Character A more realistic, and less wishy-washy . . . which is probably a good thing. Still, I have to make sure that the tightening of the story doesn't make the decision making process seem hurried or forced.

Have any of you faced this dilemma before? How did you solve it? How would you solve it? Would you solve it? I only ask the last question, because I know, absolutely know, what a very good friend of mine is going to say: Leave it alone, it's fine the way it is, query already so I can say "Ya know, I know him" as he points to my picture on the back of the book when he's at the checkout counter in Borders!

All I really know is that, as much as I love what I wrote, as is, a massive word count is going to, well, count against me!


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Writing Process . . . Scott's Way!

In case you're living under a rock, there's a short story contest going on over at The Literary Lab called . . . The Genre Wars. Click on the links, check it out, and bedazzle the great folks over at The Literary Lab with your writing prowess! Wow, finally got to use prowess in a sentence.

I love to cook. I love to try out new recipes. I love to experiment with those recipes. In fact, I love to scottiefy those recipes. I add a bit of this, a bit of that, and just hope for the best. You see, I'm rarely content with how things are . . . I want them to be just a bit better. In fact, I want them to be scottierific! Oooooh, like how I'm creating words using my name? That's the process of scottiefying! Sorry, I'll stop now, I promise.

The scottification process (yes, I know, I promised, but, well, the word just fit) involves a simple concept that I blogged about at one point where a person takes an idea and makes it brilliant . . . from their perspective. I do that when cooking, and I do that when writing.

Sunday night, in bed, my cat Tasmyn curled up next to me and purring contentedly because I'm petting her, and all of a sudden - SYNAPSE! Yes, my brain cells did this neat little twist dance and went - SYNAPSE!

Long story short, in the words of Hayley Mill's character Mary Clancy from the absolutely delightful The Trouble with Angels . . . I had a scathingly brilliant idea. OMG, love the movie, you must watch.

So, I get out of bed, go find the pen/paper, and start jotting down notes for this scathingly brilliant idea. Then, back to bed, back to slumberville, and the night drifts away into a new and gloomy dawn with puffy grey clouds as far as the eye can see. Enough. Rain. Already.

I'm in the shower and - SYNAPSE - the idea from last night begins to take shape in my mind. I already knew how I was going to write the new idea, but now the format of the pages is coming in to place. Yes, the format between pages, the separation of paragraphs, and so much more. So, find pen/paper, jot down more notes and . . .

Well, this is the writing process . . . scottiefied! This is my process, my way, and it's just how I do things . . . even though I do things differently all the time.

Now, what does this have to do with genre wars, well, everything, since this is a short story idea I'm working on that is going to be absolutely scottierific! Ooooh, I'm on a roll, people, watch out!

What is your writing process? What happens from the first idea to putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard? Do you ever think about how you're going to format the pages, paragraphs, separation between sections within chapters? Do you think hey, I'm going to write about one event, and multiple perspectives of that same event? Do you think hey, this is going to be first person, third person, fourth person? Do you realize what the short story is going to look like by the time you type the words the end?


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I Still Believe in . . .


The above link is for a YouTube video from the television series Fame - long ago, far away, in a place and time known as . . . The 80s. This was a fabulous series set in NY School for the Performing Arts, and was an offshoot of the movie. BTW - trailers for new moive look great.

So, what does any of this have to do with writing? Well, we've all had our periods of doubt, our points of frustration where we're really not sure where we're going with our writing, or even if we want to continue. I've written about this, as have many others out there in the blogsphere. We all reach this point at some . . . well, point.

The above song - I Still Believe in Me - pretty well sums up the confidence I have in myself, and that I think we all need to have in ourselves.

Yeah, the song is about two dancers, different points in their lives, they've both suffered a setback, and yet . . . well, go watch the video and . . . remember, remember, remember . . .

Sorry, these things just happen.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Confessions . . .

. . . of a haphazard outliner (aka - do you write . . . out of order?).

As Lady Glamis well knows . . . I'm far from the most organized outliners. If you want organized, check out her posts here, here, and here about outling. As for me . . . well, I confess, I sometimes write scenes/chapters . . . out of order.

Gasp. Shudder. The Horrors. Someone call an Exorcist. Where the heck's the holy water? Does garlic work? Silver bullets?

Seriously, people, it's not that bad. You see, writing out of order is my way of haphazardly outlining. Do you like how I effortlessly combined both titles for this blog into the post? Neat, huh?

Picture it . . . I'm writing away, say on Chapter 4, and suddenly - a vision of overwhelming brilliance. I see Character A confronting Character E . . . at the cemetery . . . or at the base of a grand staircase . . . or on the roof of a dilapidated building . . . or . . . anywhere. I stop what I'm doing and furiously begin working on this additional scene/chapter that will happen much later in the book.

Now, back to Chapter 4, done, finished, onto Chapter 5, Chapter 6 . . . and the furiously written out scene is still in my mind. I know where I need to take my protagonist. I don't know all the details between Chapter 6 and this fabulously, brilliant scene that will take place at some point, I just know I have to get there!

There's an equation, of sorts, (okay, not the actual equation Lady Glam talked about, but I figured since I was mentioning equations . . .) to my madness. It goes something like this . . .

Chapter 4 + Future Scene = Series of Events That Need to Happen so Character A Gets to Future Scene.

See, it's really a simple equation. The fact is, I often write scenes out of order. I cannot help when a scene/chapter will begin to form in the deep recesses of my mind. I don't know what prompts my mind to flash forward three, four, ten chapters to an event that I feel is needed to . . .

Character Motivation + What Character Needs to Get What He Wants = Character's Main Action = Chain Reaction of Events Based on the Main Action

Whoa, did you notice how I effortlessly worked Lady Glamis' equation into this post. It's a talent, people, a deep, dark talent that I don't reveal to just anyone and . . . Oh, great, my secret's out. Now, I'll just have to kill every single one of you. Kidding. I just always wanted to work that line into a story . . . and a blog post counts.

Anyhow, the fact is, even haphazard outling counts as outling. There's no need to reach for the holy water, silver bullet, or whatever when you write a scene out of order. It's. Okay! The Writing Police aren't going to hunt you down and haul you off to the Asylum. Well, at least I don't think they're going to hunt you down and haul you off to . . .

This Blog Post Has Been Interrupted by The Writing Police. We Do Exist. Scott is now safely ensconced in a padded room without any means of writing. Not. One.

So, do you write scenes out of order? Does this help you in getting from The Beginning to The End? Does it just confuse the heck out of you? Are the Writing Police knocking on your door?


Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Story in the Music

I spent the morning rockin’ out to Anastacia, because, sometimes, I just need the music. I love letting the music encompass me, enter me, and take me away to unknown places. It’s just about equal to writing.

So, I’m rockin’ away, dancing like a maniac (maniac, maniac – sorry Flash Dance moment) in the kitchen, and I’m playing the same song over and over and over and over again . . . and again, and again, and again, and the dogs are looking at me like I’m crazy, and the cats, well, they’re cats, and they just can’t be bothered.

Finally, I quit playing the song over and over and over again and let the next song play, then the next, and the next until . . .

You’re so . . .perfect, heaven blessed
Never, felt a, love like this
Why you? Why now? So helpless.
Sounds so, crazy, I must confess
There ain’t a thing I wouldn’t sacrifice
Cause I won’t let you go without a fight

Pieces of a dream unfolding,
what happened to the fairy tale?
Words of love never spoken
Things in life don’t always fail
I’ll protect you, and I’ll guide you, and I’ll give you all the love that is mine

Just know,
that in time,
you’ll be fine

Places, faces, I’m to blame
I promised, forever,
our love won’t change
Be strong, hold on,
don’t let go

What’s a perfect ending?
no one knows
There ain’t a thing I wouldn’t sacrifice
Cause I won’t let you go without a fight

Pieces of a dream unfolding,
what happened to the fairy tale?
Words of love are never spoken, things in life aren’t always fair,
I’ll protect you, and I’ll guide you, and I’ll give you all the love that is mine
Just know, in time,


Pieces of a dream unfolding,
what happened to the fairy tale?
Words of love are never spoken, things in life aren’t always fair,
I’ll protect you, and I’ll guide you, and I’ll give you all the love that is mine
Just know,
in time,
You’ll be fine

You’re so, perfect, heaven blessed

You see, there’s a story in the song . . . somewhere. I knew it the minute the song started playing. So, over and over and over again . . . and again, and again, and . . . well, you know the drill.

There are parts of this song that can so describe Margarita Nightspieces of a dream unfolding, what happened to the fairy tale? OMG! This is THE song . . . for Margarita Nights. Those few words - 11 - are what Margarita Nights is all about. 11 Words, People! Eleven!

Yet there is so much more to the song then just 11 words. There is another story still forming in the cavernous, highly imaginative, recesses of my mind. There’s such a story wrapped within the lyrics of this one, simple song. I. LOVE. IT.

I LOVE WRITING! I love finding inspiration in the world around me and the words of a song.

I don’t know what story will unfold. Sorry, my membership in the Psychic Friends Network lapsed. Guess I should have seen that one coming! Ha!

I just know that there is a story in the lyrics, beyond what the writer of the song, beyond what the lovely and talented Anastacia sang. There is a story that only I can tell. There is a beginning, middle, and end, forming in my mind, haphazardly perhaps, scenes written out of order, and no true outline in sight.

So, I love writing. I love music for the inspiration I find.

How about you? What story does the song sing to you? What sparks are even now kindling in the depths of your imagination? What moments of your life, of stories you have written, or yet to write, are enmeshed in the lyrics, in the song?

What happened to happily ever after?

Well, I don't have the answer to that question . . . yet! Do you?

P.S. You really should check out Anastacia's album (CD) Heavy Rotation. OMG! Fantastic. The title song is one of my favorites (and the one I played, and probably will continue to play, endlessly). There's so much passion in her songs, and some pain, hidden beneath the lyrics, and . . . well, so very much more. There are so many stories I want to tell, based on the songs she sings. There are so many stories I'm going to tell!


Friday, September 18, 2009

The Death of . . .

. . . Guiding Light.

For 72 years, first on radio, then television, Guiding Light followed the fictional lives of the residents of Springfield.

For 72 years . . .

I watched Guiding Light when I was in high school (just a few years back, ahem, ahem, in case you're wondering). I watched during the initial days of the Four Musketeers - Rick, Beth, Philip, & Mindy, the days of the Reardon clan (Annabelle and Tony - woo-hoo), Quint and Nola, Billy and Vanessa, Ed and Maureen (oh, the tears I cried when Maureen died) and the indomitable Beverly McKinsey as Alexandra Spaulding. Now that woman was a force of nature who brought to life some fascinating and dynamic characters - Iris on Another World and the short lived Texas, and Alexandra on Guiding Light.

The demise of Guiding Light, of the soap industry as a whole, has been the buzz of the Internet since April when CBS announced it's decision to cancel the longest running soap in soap opera history.

Boo! Hiss! Where are the torches and pitchforks when you need them? Let's slay the Executive Monster at CBS!

My personal theory about the demise of Guiding Light, and the rest of the soaps . . . audience. I think it all boils down to audience.

Audience, as all writers know (or should know, shame on you if you don't) plays a key part in the . . . sale of books. Go figure. If a book doesn't have an audience . . . well, it's going to sit on the shelves, gather dust, and eventually end up on the bargain book table.

We, as writers, must, at some point, consider our audience.

The executives in charge of daytime television also need to consider their audiences. They obviously didn't . . . and the longest running soap in soap history was cancelled (oh, on April Fool's Day to add insult to injury, because it wasn't a joke, it was reality).

So, today - Friday, September 18, 2009 - the light will cease to shine.

The light could have kept on shining, at least in my opinion, if the executives had bothered to pay attention to one key fact: audience.

The soap opera audience isn't getting any younger! No, it is my belief that the soap opera audience is getting . . . older.

The days of Luke and Laura on General Hospital and sky high ratings are gone. Bo and Hope on Days of Our Lives have grown up and have grown children. Erica Kane is still a serial-marrier on All My Children, but she is no longer the centerpoint of the show.

Every year the soap opera writers bring on a bevy of teens and teen stories for the summer . . . expecting kids to watch. They. Don't. Their. Parents. Do!


Yes, the parents were still watching the soaps, and the grandparents, and great grandparents. They didn't - again, just my opinion - want to watch the travails of Erica Kane's daughters, but the travails of Erica Kane. I didn't want to watch the travails of an endless generation of teens, I wanted to watch the lives of Philip, Rick, Mindy, and Beth as they grew older (ahem) with me. I wanted to say, yeah, I can relate! Yes, the children and grandchildren of core soap opera characters play a part in the role of the soap opera . . .


But, if the audience is growing older, the younger demographics are not all the rage any more, then you would think that someone, somewhere, might realize the soap needs to be written for the actual audience, and not the gee, I hope these teens will tune in audience.

Audience is key.

Audience was forgotten.

Guiding Light might still be shining today, had the people - allegedly intelligent - in charge considered what every writer, musician, artist, whatnot, must always, always consider: audience!

So, as you travel through the various stages of the writing process, as you edit, and tighten, map out, unravel, pull out your hair, bite your finger nails to nubs, over eat on chocolate ice cream, go through the highs and lows of the writing process, write for you first, audience second, send out your queries, suffer through rejection after rejection, and everything else involved in the writing process . . . in the words of Schneider from One Day at a Time . . . always remember and never forget . . . A-U-D-I-E-N-C-E!

Enough. Said.


Emotional Scenes

Okay, I'm going to attempt to weave a few things together here . . .


My other blog, the one where I rant about anything that makes me . . . well . . . angry . . . is inspired by many emotions, but most often of all: ANGER!

You see, I get angry when I read news articles about . . . well . . . stupidity, ignorance, politics, discrimination, and so many other things.

I also get inspired and - normally - begin writing a post based on a simple emotion.

That emotion - often anger, sometimes other emotions - colors what I'm writing about. The anger, or whatever, is often infused into the post.

Emotions are often infused into my personal writing as well. Yes, I did have a point, I just took a roundabout way of getting there. Davin over at The Literary Lab talked about emotions and tone here! Go check it out . . . if you haven't already. He posted two separate paragraphs written from different emotional states. Again, go check it out.

When I'm writing angry scenes - protagonist confronting somebody, about something, at sometime, and all that jazz - I sometimes pull from angry moments in my life and infuse that anger into my writing, into that particular scene. You see, if my characters are angry, than I want the readers angry as well. I want my readers just as mad at so-and-so because he did such-and-such to you-know-who!

I don't want my readers to think hey, I just don't get the anger. That, my friends, would be a horrible thing.

If my protagonist is angry, my readers should be angry as well. If I'm writing the scene, and don't feel the justifiable anger of my character . . . then won't the scene fall flat?

How do you deal with angry scenes? How do you deal with happy scenes? Have you read Davin's post yet? Sorry, just checking. How do you do with extremely emotional scenes? Are you angry, happy, sad, frustrated, emotional, and all that jazz when you write those scenes? Do you set the tone with your writing? Do you write from your subconscious, pulling forth memories you thought you forgot - like the time the witch cut in front of you and grabbed the nifty parking space right by the front door, or the time you lost your beloved dog, or . . . - and are suddenly infusing those emotions into your writing?

Does it help to pull on the myriad human emotions, the memories remembered, the memories buried in our subconscious and floating to the surface, when writing emotional scenes?


p.s. If you click here, you'll see what angered me yesterday . . . and the day before, and, well, many times over. In fact, I encourage you to click on the link. : )

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

5 Quick Tips . . .

. . . for Writer/Agent Negotiations.

No, I didn't just sign with an agent. I received a nifty email from Writer's Digest and thought I'd . . . paste the link here and the whole article (in case the linkity-link doesn't want to linkity-link) right here . . .

5 Quick Tips for Writer/Agent Negotiations
August 06, 2009by Howard G. Zaharoff

Just because you're excited someone wants to represent you doesn't mean you should let them take advantage of you. Beware of these red flags when negotiating contracts with agents.

Watch for red flags. Reputable agents generally don’t charge reading fees or require other upfront payments, they don’t sell (or at least, don’t brag about sales) to vanity presses, and they will readily identify other authors and projects they’ve represented.

Beware of excessive commissions. The norm is now 15 percent for book sales, though it can be up to 20–25 percent for foreign sales (for which the agent works with a subagent) and 10–20 percent for movie, TV and theatrical sales.

Avoid commissions on speaking fees. Most reputable agents will not try to horn in on these, and they really aren’t entitled to, unless they were directly responsible for getting you the engagement.

Keep control over expenses. Ideally your agent will not charge for onesie-twosie copies or standard postage, but only for unusual expenses—long-distance charges, major copying, courier services—and will work within spending limits (nothing over a fixed amount, say $100–$250, without your approval).

Insist on timely payment. Ideally, you’ll get paid your 85 percent directly by the publisher, though many agents insist on collecting the entire amount first. (This is fairly standard but poses risks, especially if the agent goes bankrupt—so some writers push for “split accounting,” which requires the publisher to pay them directly.) Although most publishers still report and pay royalties semi-annually, typically within three months after the semi-annual period ends (so the royalty for a book sold in January arrives in late September!), your agent should pay you promptly upon receiving the funds—ideally within 10 days, but no longer than 30.

Okay, so now you have these great five tips for WHEN (no if, dear readers, but WHEN) you sign with an agent.

Also, I believe Tess has done quite a few posts about her experience, contracts, etc., so hop over to her blog and check, it, out! I'm sure other bloggers have posted about their experience as well. If you wouldn't mind, and you know about some other blogs talking about agent experience, go ahead and post the links in the comments. As aspiring writers, we need all the help we can get.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Grasshopper

I took the boyz out last night and was sitting on the steps watching them run around the back yard. All of a sudden James comes prancing down the sidewalk. I look and he has something - have no clue what - in his mouth. I'm like drop it. He does. It's a ginormous grasshopper. G-I-N-O-R-M-O-U-S! Oh, and it's missing one leg. I'm like 'step away from the grasshopper'. Now, being the kind and generous soul I am, I'm thinking "I'm gonna have to touch that ginormous bug and toss it over the fence so James doesn't eat it." My second thought - "I don't want to touch that ginormous bug." So, brilliant me decides to pick it up by it's remaining back leg. POP. Yes, the leg pops off and now the totally back legless grasshopper is staring up at me with his beady little eyes going great, now look what you've done. Boy, who knew grasshoppers could glare. I finally pick the bug up and toss him over the fence. EEEEWWWW! Luckily for me, I remembered that grasshoppers back legs pop easily off to help them get away from prey . . . kind of like chameleons tails. So, his legs will grow back. Still, you should have seen the look that bug gave me.

Now, for those readers I haven't totally grossed out, the remaining ones are wondering where in the heck is Scott going with this post. Well, no where really. I just thought I'd share, in a descriptive way, a gross out moment from this past weekend with you.

Did he say descriptive? Why, yes, I did, dear readers, thanks for noticing. So, you see, this post wasn't just for gross out factor, there was a point.

Descriptive Passages play a major part in our writing. Those passages convey emotions, provide a sense of what a room looks and feels like, a sense of the atmosphere, the temperature outside, the crispness of the sky, the sound of popping leaves . . . and grasshopper legs for that matter. I swear - POP. Oh, those beady little eyes. That grasshopper was not a happy camper. Not at all. Not at all. I mean, there he was, minding his own business, and then this giant dog comes from out of nowhere and clamps down on it's back leg. The grasshopper laughs . . . and . . . POP. Silly, dog, don't you know my legs pop off so I can escape from my captors. CLAMP. Dear old James just picks the silly, gloating grasshopper up. He's so HAPPY. He prances down that walkway, so dang proud of himself until I say "drop it".

Well, you know what happens from that point. Big. Gross. Out. Momement. For. Me!

Do your descriptive passages convey . . . what you want them to convey? Can you hear the POP of the grasshopper's leg as it POPS off in my -eeeeewwww - hand. G-I-N-O-R-M-O-U-S! Can your readers feel the crispness of the air? Can the see the clarity of the deep, blue sky? Are they grossed out by the sound of the grasshopper's leg going POP? Do they have the same look on my face when I realized I was holding this G-I-N-O-R-M-O-U-S leg in my hand?

Okay, gotta go now. I've grossed myself out again.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Good Writing

The following question was posed to Jessica over at BookEnds, LLC - A Literary Agency: I know good writing when I read it, but how can you tell if your own writing is good enough?

Jessica's response: I don’t think you can tell anything about your own writing and that’s the tricky thing in this business. There is no ruler to compare your writing or your ideas to. Ultimately it either catches fire or it doesn’t. Good writing, like a good story, is somewhat subjective. Sure, we can all look at great authors and say that person was a great writer, but it’s just as easy to argue that someone else was or wasn’t great depending on your own opinion. My advice is to move on to your next book (making sure it’s not the next book in series) and keep writing. With each book your writing improves and you learn more about yourself and your craft and that’s the smartest thing a writer can do.

Go check out what else she said, and scroll through the comments.

Now, since there is a point to this post . . . we pretty much think we're all writing the next great novel. Oh, come on, stand up and admit it. We're all in love with our writing. I'd be worried if we weren't in love with our writing. I mean, if I don't love what I'm writing, if I don't have faith in my abilities as a writer . . . well, then how in the heck am I going to sell this project??

I'm not!

What's more important than loving my writing, is knowing that there isn't a surefire way to measure the greatness of my writing. You see, everything depends on the fact that my brilliantly executed idea either catches fire or it doesn't. Why? Because . . . good writing,like a good story, is somewhat subjective.


Repeat after me: S-U-B-J-E-C-T-I-V-E!


If an agent doesn't like my story about a margarita drinking gladiator named Tyrone out to save the world . . . well, I'm probably going to get a form rejection letter or no response at all.

If an agent loves my story . . . well, I might get a request for a partial or full manuscript. Woo-hoo!

Still, everything is . . . S-U-B-J-E-C-T-I-V-E!

I think what is most important of all, is believing in myself and understanding that there is no true measure of the brilliance of my writing. No. True. Measure.

What does all this mean? It means, write, write, and write some more. Read, read, and read some more. Follow blogs, follow blogs, and follow more blogs. Learn the craft. Hone the craft. Execute your ideas brilliantly. LOVE. YOUR. WRITING!

Aim for perfection time, and time, and time again! Don't. GIVE. UP!

So, here I am at the end of the post and I don't have a single question to ask, dear readers! Not one. Not one, not two, nothing but none! How in the heck did that happen? Hey, I have a question! Woo-hoo!

Well, for funsies . . . what is your absolute favorite Dr. Seuss book?

Mine is Green Eggs and Ham!! LOVE! IT!


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Short Story Contest - Genre Wars

Since I have absolute faith that every single one of my followers also follows The Literary Lab and knows all about the Genre Wars . . . I really don't need to say anything else, do I?

Then again, what would life be without a few little comments from . . . well . . . me.

So, click on over here and read about the nifty short story, every genre you've ever heard about, and probably some you haven't because I plan on making a few up just to freak people out, contest that The Literary Lab is hosting.
I plan on entering a fabulously brilliant executed idea that will just wow Simon, Paula, and Randy . . . ooops, sorry, wrong contest, I meant Davin, Lady Glamis, and Scott (the other one, not me).

So, pull out your best shorts . . . no, not the ones that you wore to Casual Friday that resulted in the memo to all employees permanently banning such shorts . . . you know, the stories you wrote long ago and filed away because you started working on the next, best novel that would wow all the agents in the Multiverse and have them beating a path to your door, the novel that would bring you great fame and fortune, a shout out from Oprah, and a slammin' book tour in all the major hotspots of the Multiverse, and . . . yes, that overflowing folder of all the short stories you once wrote but filed away because you had something better to do.

Enter the Contest, dear readers, and make up a genre of your own while you're at it!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

You Don't Say . . .

My pal Robyn at Putting Pen to Paper (check out the award post) gave me this award. Woo-hoo. Note to self: need bigger mantle. Second Note to Self: Need to hire someone to dust all the nifty awards. Third Note to Self: Head getting way to big . . . buy bigger hats!
Seriously . . . thanks Robyn! In the words of Elana . . . You Rock. Speaking of Elana, in case you haven't heard, she has this EBook called From the Query to the Call coming out on Monday, September 14, 2009.

Now, I must gift this award to some highly deserving people who have given me money. Oh, wait, sorry . . . I must gift this award to some highly deserving individuals . . .

Lady Glamis at The Innocent Flower - Why? Well, because she's all the time creating great, in-depth posts that make me think, not that I like to think, but her posts make me do it anyway. Her comments are also always insightful.

Elana at Elana Johnson, Author - Why? Because she makes me laugh . . . and we're often on the same wave length a lot of times, which is kind of scary.

Tess at Tess Hilmo - Why? Because she makes me laugh, is always giving away free stuff, and can get away with calling me Scoot. Not many people can get away with that, let me tell you. Oh, and Scottie doesn't go over very well with me at all, except for a couple of really, dear friends. : )

There are so many others out there who deserve this award as well. In fact, everyone who comments on my blog deserves this award, as do those who just lurk in the background and don't comment at all. Whether I say it often enough or not, I truly appreciate everyone out there, every single one of you following my blog or just dropping in and not following. It's great to know there's this community out there that truly understands what I'm going through with this crazy adventure known as the writing process. I look forward to your blog posts, and your comments as well.

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Friday, September 11, 2009


No, I haven't given up. I just found this song by Anastacia (one of my fave artists), and the words are just fantastic. So, sit back, take a listen (no video, just a picture off the album cover), and let the words . . . inspire!

You can tear me apart, rip me to pieces, try breaking me down, but I'll never be beaten . . . because I, can't, be, defeated!!!

I've written about doubt before, lack of confidence in myself, as have many other aspiring writers. It's just a fact of life that we, at times are our own worst enemies.

There are days when I'm just ready to give up. Those days, thankfully, are far and few between. Still, every now and then it happens. Today (actually Monday, but with automated postings, this isn't going up until Friday) wasn't one of those days. I was (am) feeling pretty dang confident right now.

I'm also one of those people who believe that things happen for a reason - right place, right time, and all that jazz. So, does that mean I found this song for a reason? Does that mean that, maybe, somewhere out there, one of the many aspiring writers is feeling just a tinge of doubt? Heck if I know. I'm not psychic.

I just find this song very powerful, and a very fitting mantra to my life right now.

So . . . You can tear me apart, rip me to pieces, try breaking me down, but I'll never be beaten . . . because I, can't, be, defeated!!!


Defeated is off Anastacia's 2008 CD Heavy Rotation. Give her a listen. She's really great. One of her songs plays an integral part of the project I've been revising.

Oh, and here's the link (sorry, unable to embed the video here) of Left Outside Alone which plays an integral part in Margarita Nights:

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Viewing the World Differently

Picture it - Labor Day, I'm watching a repeat of The View, and they're talking about comedians. At one point, Whoopi says I think, we as comedians, have a different way of viewing the world!

Her words almost slapped me upside the head. They rang so very true for me and, of course, started the brain cells synapsing.

My Question: Do we, as writers, view the world differently?

My response: YES! YES! YES!

The world around me - work, life, going to the grocery, the bar, the wherever - provides endless sources of inspiration. An email from a friend, a simple comment, and so much more equal inspiration.

Last year, sometime in the autumn, the trees displaying their absolute brilliant fall colors - reds, gold, yellows - and I'm walking the dog early one very chilly morning. I approach the maple trees near the front of our subdivision and see the leaves falling like ethereal pieces of gold. As I get closer to the trees I hear a popping sound - pop, pop, pop - as the leaves disengage from the tree and float down to the dew soaked ground. Yes - pop, pop, pop! The sound was audible in the crisp quietness of the morning. I stood there for the longest time listening and watching, absorbed in this transitional moment of the stately maple tree. I mean, who knew leaves made a popping noise. I certainly didn't.

This one moment in time, viewed with a writer's eyes, became a moment in time for a character in one of my manuscripts.

At some point in my life, at the bar with friends, enter the dance bar, and there's a man, somewhat overweight, on the dance floor. The fog is spilling onto the floor and this man is dancing . . . all by himself. He's the only one on the dance floor. He's living his life, and not just existing. He had way more courage than I would ever have. You're not going to catch me being the only one on the dance floor. Heck, without copious amounts of alcohol, you're not going to get me on the dance floor at all.

This one moment in time, viewed with a writer's eyes, became a moment in time for a character in one of my manuscripts.

I look at the world around me differently. I look at the world with a writer's eyes. Every moment in time - an argument in a restaurant, public displays of affection, a harried waiter, a woman sitting alone at a table in a nursing home cafeteria while everyone else is sitting with someone, and so much more - is inspiring to me.

You see, I see the world just a little bit differently. The leaves popping off the tree on a crisp autumn day are a thing of beauty. A man dancing by himself on the dance floor is also a thing of beauty. Why is he dancing alone? Why doesn't he seem to care that he's dancing alone? What brought him to this one singular moment in his life? How did he gain so much confidence as to dance alone as if nobody was watching?

My brain cells kick into gear and a glimmer of an idea, a scene for this, that, or some book, begins to form.

I have a different way of viewing the world. How about you?


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Defying Gravity

In the words of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West . . . i'm through accepting limits because someone says they're so. some things i cannot change, but until i try, i'll never know . . .

Of course, these words are from the musical Wicked and the fantastic song Defying Gravity.

Something has changed within me. Something is not the same. I'm through with playing by the rules of someone else's game. too late for second guesses. too late to go back to sleep. it's time to trust my instincts, close my eyes and leap. it's time to start trying to defy gravity.

I think, as writers, we need to continually try to defy gravity. We need to challenge ourselves with every single word we write! Every word, every sentence, every paragraph, chapter, and ending should . . . defy gravity.

So if you care to find me, look to the Western sky, as someone told me lately, everyone deserves a chance to fly, and if i'm flying solo, at least i'm flying free . . . to those who ground me, take a message to them from me . . .tell them how i'm defying gravity . . . and nobody, in all of Oz, no Wizard that there is or was, is going to bring me down . . .

I think if we become complacent in our writing, believe that there is nothing left to learn, no greater ideal of perfection to strive for . . . then we are not only cheating our potential readers, we are also cheating ourselves.

So, my challenge, dear readers . . . try defying gravity.

And, in the words of Elphaba . . . kiss me good-bye, i'm defying gravity . . . and you can't hold me down!


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Query Letters

Just like death and taxes, query letters are a part of the writer's life. I wish it wasn't so, but it is, and alas, my friend . . . sorry, was having a Greensleeves moment there. I love that song, btw, and the Christmas version What Child is This . . . but, as usual, I digress . . .

The indomitable (sorry, always wanted to use that word, and just did) Janet Reid of FinePrint Lit has done a number of posts about query letters. Her latest is . . . feeling rejected. Some other posts of interest are . . . query letter checklist and what's not a query letter. Oh, and she also posted something to remember if you 'hate queries'. She's on a roll, people!

In the first post, Janet explains why a querier (word? if not, now it is) might have received a form rejection.

In the second post, she gives the readers of her blog a handy-dandy checklist to follow when compiling the query letter.

In the third post . . . well, the title says it all. Enough! Said!

Now, any aspiring writer of merit, and some without merit, knows that the query letter is normally the key to the magic door of the Realm of Agents. Without that key, you're not getting in, no way, no how, not even with Aladdin's magic lamp and the help of a snarky, margarita drinking genie!

The query is KEY! A bad query is quite helpful in getting form rejections or the dreaded no response, and is also directly responsible for the battering your self esteem takes every time you receive a form rejection or no response.

There are tons, tons, tons of helpful sites out there to help you with the query letter.

Nathan Bransford has these helpful tips . . . the basic query letter formula, examples of good queries, and how to format your query letter.

The Public Query Slushpile is a place to post your query and receive critiques. Definitely! Worthwhile! The site also provides great query and writing resources. Rick Daley is responsible for the site, so . . . check it out, and his personal blog as well.

Then, there is Elana. She's definitely not last, or least, but she is the last mention in this post. She has an Ebook coming out on September 14 called From the Query to the Call that she mentioned in her WiP Wednesday post. I also mentioned it in my Friday post.

Now, you're wondering why in the heck didn't Scott just put a nifty little link to that post. Well, you see, dear readers, I'm cheating right now. Yes, I'm cheating. I'm typing this post on Thursday, so Friday hasn't happened, so I can't linkity-link to that post yet, because, well, last time I checked, I wasn't a time traveller. Nope, not at all. Yes, I could edit this post tomorrow, after the other post posts (yeah, try saying that twenty-five times fast), but, I'm lazy sometimes! So, click on the link above and check out the info about Elana's slammin' new book. No, not psychic either, I just have a lot of faith in Elana. : )

Lastly, there are a ton of other blogs out there about queries. This post is just a general info post. Sooner or later (oooh, having a flashback to the Grassroots - okay, they're a band from the sixties, my much older sisters listened to their music, and yeah, I have their greatest hits CD - temptation eyes . . .), every writer must write a query. Go forth boldly . . . and with the knowledge to do it right the first time so your fragile self-esteem doesn't take a beating!


Friday, September 4, 2009

Elana's EBook

Okay, I'm getting an earlyl jump on promoting Elana's EBook From the Query to the Call!

You can find some details here on Elana's blog, and here on the actual site for the EBook.

So, to borrow from Elana's blog post about her EBook . . .

Okay, onto Work in Progress Wednesday stuff. I'm so freaking excited to announce that my upcoming ebook, From The Query the The Call will be released soon soon soon! This ebook has everything an aspiring author needs, including (but not limited to) a step-by-step guide to writing a query letter, researching agents, sending submissions and fielding "the call."

It will launch just in time for the fall querying season on Monday, September 14, and you can click here to become a fan on Facebook. Anyone who helps me promote it by announcing it on their blog or website or facebook or twitter or whatever will get a discount! So mark your calendars, okay? Okay.

Mark your calendars, fan her on Facebook, and order your copy on the 14th. I mean, according to the actual website, there is a way to get a 34% discount! Woo-Hoo!

Well, now that I have your attention, there's a really cool contest here at Michelle McLean's Writer Ramblings. She's giving away a ton of good books. Check it out, enter, and promote the heck out of her site and Elana's e-book as well.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Sitcom About Publishing

This might be old news by today, but I didn't want two posts yesterday, so . . .

From TVGUIDE.Com . . .

A publishing comedy is bound for CBS: The network has green-lit a pilot for multicamera sitcom Open Books from Will & Grace scribe Gail Lerner.

Inspired by Lerner's years as a publishing temp and her literary agent sister, Books will be a relationship-driven series focused on book editor June, who tends to get overly involved in the lives of her friends, mother and clients, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"Publishing is a lot like sitcoms," Lerner said. "Although both are supposedly dying, that only makes people more passionate about creating the next great novel or show."

Lerner, who has worked on Andy Barker, P.I. and Back to You, is also a co-executive producer on Ugly Betty.

So, a sitcom about publishing? Huh? I seriously don't find anything remotely funny about publishing. : )


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Happily Ever After . . .

Greetings! Today, I'm going to write about happily ever after. Now, as you should know by now, there's a catch. I mean, there's always a catch. I'm not talking about you're ordinary, every day, Cinderella meets her prince, birds peck out the eyes of her wicked stepsisters, and this all happens in the last few pages of the story. I'm talking about that pesky happily ever after which happens in the middle of the story. Yes, right there on page 150 of a 300 page book!

Picture it - I'm immersed in a great book, reading along, savoring every word I read, and anticipating the next turn of the page. Then - BAM, Emeril style - happily ever after happens to the tortured main character. The love of his life knocks on his door - literally, btw - and declares her love for him. I have left my husband for you, my beloved! Okay, she didn't say those words.

So, great, fine and dandy, the lovelorn couple is finally together and are making plans to take a train to some distant place where they can wallow in the happy of their happily ever after!

Yeah! Right!

I absolutely know that this little love-fest isn't going to end well. I mean, it can't end well because I'm only halfway through the book and everybody knows that happily ever after doesn't happen until the end!

This tale is no different. I'm mad. Mad, I tell you! Mad! Here we have a contrived (and you know how I feel about contrived) plot point.

As the chapter ended, I turned off my Kindle and haven't picked it back up to finish the book. Three weeks have passed. I'm still a bit peeved at the author for this contrived scenario.

The MC was headed to the train station, leaving his beloved in his rambling house, to purchase the tickets to happily ever after.

I know what's going to happen next. MC is going to come home to an empty house. His beloved will have left him a note and told him she's going back to her husband. Yes, this is what's going to happen!

So, why did the author of this book waste my time with this contrived scenario, knowing full well he wasn't going to keep the characters together, and full well that any semi-intelligent reader would figure out this contrivance?

It just doesn't make sense.

I mean, you know when you're reading Winnie the Pooh that he's not just going to get the honey out of the honey jar. He's going to get his head stuck in the honey jar. Why? Because you're only half-way through the story and it doesn't make sense for happily ever after to happen in the middle of the story. Drama has to occur first.

Other examples - my project currently in revision. The MC has a decision to make that will impact his life, and that of the people around him. By the middle of the book, he's made that decision, but hasn't yet found happily ever after. Nope. Nada! No way!

Why? Because what's the point of continuing to read when the character is living a perfect life without any drama? So, in the second half, the character is still struggling with some issues. I show the progression of his struggles, his fears, the past holding him back, and the ultimate resolution at the end of the book. This is when happily ever after should happen.

Okay, now that I've ranted and raved this fine morning . . .

Is a happily ever after event in the middle of the book, with the reader pretty much knowing it's going to turn into a sadly ever after moment, . . .

. . . lazy writing?
. . . cleverly planned?

With either of the above answers, what are the potential effects on the reader?

For me, the effect was not reading any farther in the book. Oh, I'll pick it up again someday and continue reading. I do want to find out how the book ends. I just wish the author hadn't thrown this contrivance in the middle of a really, really good book.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


This post is solely about the very, very beginnings of an idea that somehow - hard work, devotion, angst, obsession - works out into a finished manuscript ready to query and blind an agent with its brilliance!

I'm not talking about the first sentence, the first paragraph, the first chapter, or anything else so mundane. I'm talking about the very, very beginning from which everything else will - hopefully - flow, unless Inspiration is truly in a bad mood and not willing to . . . well . . . inspire.

For me, the very beginning can be a very general idea, a character name, or just a hint of the story I want to tell . . . and tell in the best way I possibly can.

So, Saturday, busy, hectic day with me on the go from 6:30 AM with nary a second for just me, and all my time and energy devoted to . . . grocery, cat to the vet, begin prep for dinner, clean, more prep, more clean, more prep, more clean . . . and suddenly it's almost 3 PM and I haven't even had a cup of coffee yet . . . oh, and the guests will arrive in just a few hours. I need to shave and shower, figure out what I'm wearing, make myself gorgeous . . . and BAM!

BAM? Yes, BAM! An idea slaps me in the forehead. I swear, there's still a handprint on my forehead from that slap. Dang!

In the process of showering I get the idea for some book at some point in my life. Well, not really the idea, but the name of the book and the basic concept. Yes, all in one fell swoop that made me, well, smile really big. I mean, it's just one of those moments in life when I just know the story I want to tell. I just have no clue how I'm going to tell the story. Oh well, everything in its own time . . . I hope.

I hunt down pen and paper and write out the following:

Title of Book
# of Characters
Questions: what is the conflict? what is the story? why does the story need to be told?

I place the piece of paper in the chaos of my desk and . . . well, I am hosting a dinner party, you know, and there are still things I need to do.

Sunday - Ah, the life of leisure, no plans, no set goals for the day, just a relaxing day of lying on the couch and doing absolutely nothing. Did I mention the dog and cat decided to have a conversation with each other at 6:30 AM? Oh, yes. It went something like this . . .

Jesse(dog) - whine, whine, whine
Squeaky (cat) - squeak, squeak, squeak
Jesse - whine, whine
Squeaky - squeak, squeak
Jesse - whine, whine, whine, whine, whine
Squeaky - squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak,
Jesse - whine
Squeaky - squeak

I have no clue what they were saying, but I picture it as something like this . . .

Jesse - yo, Squeaky, let's see if we can wake Daddy Scott up
Squeaky - ya know, that would be a fantastic idea
Jesse - I mean, if we're up, he should be up
Squeaky - ditto
Jesse - do you think it's working?
Squeaky - yes, I can feel his irritation emanating across the room
Jesse - I mean, he is here to serve our every need
Squeaky - damn right!

So, I haul myself out of bed and take old whiney-butt for a walk!

Later in the day, after some much needed vegging on the couch, I open up a Word document and type out the following:

Title of Book

  • # of characters
  • Basic premise
  • Basic Questions -
  • Are my characters doing something?
  • Is there CONFLICT?
  • Why does my character want to tell this story?
  • What does my protagonist want?
  • Why does he want it?
  • Who is stopping him from having it?
  • What does 'that' person want?
  • What are the consequences of the protagonist getting/not getting what he wants?
  • Include - list items to include - in each chapter

I'm being kind of vague on a couple of points because I'm not willing to share the title, basic premise, or the neat things to include in each chapter to make this idea brilliant in its own right! I'm selfish like that every now and then. : 0 )

Now, to give credit where credit is due. The last five questions are courtesy of this post over at The Literary Lab by Scott Bailey. The first few questions are from the post Four Questions I did not too long ago. Please click over and check out the links where I first came across those questions. Thanks.

I know every writer does things in their own special way. What works for one - detailed outlining perhaps - doesn't always work for another. I just wanted to provide a glimpse into the beginnings of an idea, for me, this time, and - perhaps - this time only. The process changes from story to story.

Now, if you have time . . . What's your process when you first get an idea for the next brilliant idea?