Friday, February 26, 2010
What in the heck have I linked you to? Well, rules, rules, and more rules! Weren't you paying attention to the title of this blog post?
The rules, as far as I can tell, were provided by various authors with just a touch, if not more than a touch, of snarkiness in some - well, probably most - cases.
Last, but not least, there's a totally separate article here that has a dandy piece of advice: make your own rules!
Yes, toss away all those other rules and make your own. Woo-hoo!
BTW - I've got a great head start on making my own rules. How about you??
Oh, and though I've already given Nathan the credit, I'm doing it again, because without him, I wouldn't have found these links in the first place. So, make sure to check out his blog . . . here!
First, some quotes out of my April 2010 edition of theWriter.
Meg Cabot (best selling offer - 15 million copies and more - Princess Diaries, etc.): I got so many rejection letters . . . If you really love what you do, you should just [do] it. p. 20
Oh, and Meg Cabot doesn't outline (sorry, Lady Glamis). I'll put up her quotes about that sometime next week. : )
Madeleine L'Engle (archive article - best selling author of A Wrinkle in Time - title of article: Focus on Your Story, not Readers): Give yourself the fun of plunging deeply into your story, and having your mind focused on that, and nothing else. p. 24
Trivia: Madeleine L'Engle started A Wrinkle in Time with: It was a dark and stormy night . . .
Oh, yes she did. I love the book, btw, and the entire series which I've read multiple times over and need to read again.
Progress Report: I'm just about done with the rough draft of my current WiP. I should end up in the 50,000 word range, which is my normally word count goal for a rough draft. The word count will expand through the various revision stages as I add more to the story in those revision phases. I have maybe three chapters still to write, maybe four, and should - hopefully - finish up this weekend.
Friday Funny (well, technically it's a Thursday Funny since it happened last night, but I'm sharing it today, so . . . ):
Oh, and this is too funny. I was talking to my mother on Wednesday and the end of the conversation went something like this . . .
Mom: Well, Frank has a birthday tomorrow, doesn't he?
Me: Yes, ma'am.
Mom: Did he get my card?
Me: Not that I know of, but I'll check, I know he got Barb's (my oldest sister) card.
Mom: What do you mean he got Barb's card? She didn't buy her card until Saturday. I mailed mine on Saturday.
My mother was mortally offended that my sister's card for Frank arrived before her card. Go figure. Anyhow, I get home yesterday, grab the mail, and Mom's card to Frank is in the mail. So, I call her up and the conversation goes something like this . . .
Me: Mom, Frank's card arrived today.
Me (Louder and more slowly since Mom is almost 85 and her hearing aids don't always work right): Frank's . . . card . . . arrived . . . today.
Mom (laughing): Oh, that's better than what I thought you said.
Me (almost afraid to ask): What did you think I said?
Mom: I thought you said 'Frank died today'!
OMG, we laughed so hard it wasn't even funny and then, this is the best, I'm still going through the mail and find a brochure to Frank from a funeral home. I told Mom this and we both cackled. Frank wasn't that amused with the story, but the rest of my family was, we were burning up the phone lines last night.
And that's it for this chilly Friday in TN. Have a great weekend.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
To see fullscreen version go . . .http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=3829682&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=&fullscreen=1
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Now, I really don't need to say anything else except: emotion. No words, only music and action, and yet powerful EMOTION. Our writing needs such emotion and we have to do it with words . . . but maybe not a lot of words. Sometimes, a few words can convey emotional impact better than a long slew of words.
So, as you write, as you approach and prepare the scenes that will tug at my heartstrings, think carefully how you are doing the scene. Do you need a ton of stuff to tug at my heartstrings or, do you need something simple and pure, like the video above, to get the emotion across? It's something to consider.
Monday, February 22, 2010
Oh, what, the heck, I'll just put all the info here, but you still need to click over in order to sign up.
I haven't had a beer in six months. The picture on the right is really making my mouth water.
If you're Irish, you know that St. Patrick's Day is next month--and in my book, that's just around the corner (you may know about St. Paddy's if you're not Irish too :D).
A few of us got to talking and we asked ourselves this question: "What could be better than sitting around on St. Paddy's Day evening drinking a (possibly green) beer?" The answer is simple. Sitting around drinking a (possibly green) beer and reading some great fiction, that's what!
So, following in the footsteps of the Fight Scene Blogfest, and "Love At First Sight" Blogfest, we are announcing the first annual "Drunk At First Sight" Blogfest!
Here's how it will work:
1) Sign up below.
2) Write a new scene or short story, or dust off an old one, about a love/relationship situation that also includes one or more of the following elements:
---St. Paddy's Day as important event or setting
---Use of Ireland or anything Irish as a setting or prop
---An alcohol related event (party, hangover, cocktails, AA meeting, etc.)
3) Just prior to March 17th (St. Pat's Day), post said story to your blog.
4) On St. Paddy's Day, cruise around the interwebs, drink in hand, and check out everybody's amazing fiction.
That's all there is to it! Sounds like great fun--and in keeping with the St. Paddy's Day spirit. These other great bloggers are helping out with the Blogfest as well:
•Emily Cross from The Chronicles of Emily Cross and The Dissident Writers
•The Postman from The Sententious Vaunter
•Bone from Cruising Altitude
•Scott from A Writer's Blog (yes, me)
The DAFS Blogfest promises to be fun for the whole family. No really. The first (virtual) round is on us. Sign up below, and spread the word. The more, the merrier. Let's raise our glasses on high and make this Blogfest a great one!
Okay, now seriously, you do have to click over to Where Sky Meets Ground because there is one of them magical thingamabogs that you have to fill out and click.
Friday, February 19, 2010
The McVeigh Agency Blog
Why, well, of course there's a reason . . . because if I can get 10 people to follow this blog, then I can get - potentially - a 15 minute phone call with an actual agent.
So, go and follow this blog, then hop back here and leave a comment telling me your following. It's all on the honor system, but I'm a bit obsessive about things, and want proof. C'mon now, people, follow, follow, follow . . . and let me know about it.
Have a great weekend.
Note: For anyone who doesn't have a clue . . . Follow the Yellow Brick Road is from the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz starring Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Frank Lehr, Billie Burke, Margaret Hamilton . . . and a slew of other actors.
Here's some trivia for you as well . . .
Margaret Hamilton, aka The Wicked Witch, starred in a series of commercials for a) Folgers coffee, b) Palmolive dish soap or c) Calgon.
The Tinman was originally played by which actor who went on to fame in a story about a man named . . . and had to drop out of the movie because he was poisoned by the make-up for the character.
Yes, I know the answers to these questions. Do you??
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Okay, now that the majority of my followers have stopped hysterically laughing. Oh, and be warned, I know who is laughing, and I will . . . find the appropriate award for you. Trust me on that one! I'm the King of Paybacks.
As usual, the award comes with requirements - do this, do that, or the world as you know it will come to an end!!!! Geesh! Talk about pressure.
So, in order to avoid the apocalpyse, I'm supposed to tell you ten things about me.
1) I don't go by my first name, I go by my middle name.
2) I'm not telling you my first name.
3) When I was little, my mean, much older sisters used to roll me down the hill in the backyard. They found it quite amusing. I was quite tubby as a child. And they wonder why I'm in therapy. Okay, I'm not in therapy, but sitll, it's not a shining moment in an adults life to find out his older, and allegedly wiser (that question is still in debate, btw) sisters rolled him down the hill for their own amusement. They did a few other things, and took pictures as well, but to go there right now would require serious amounts of alcohol, and it is a bit earlier in the day . . .
4) In researching the family history, we discovered that, for 100 years, people were allowed to shoot us on sight. It seems my ancestors chose the wrong side of a political battle in Scotland, way back when. It's no wonder we came to America.
5) My mother . . . nope, might get disinheritated if I reveal that little tidbit of information.
6) I'm a horrible piano player, though I played for many years. H-O-R-R-I-B-L-E!
7) I love the movie Practical Magic with Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock. LOVE! IT! I can watch the movie over and over and over again . . . in the same day. In fact, when it first hit cable, I probably watched it 100 times. Great movie!
8) I watched the Brady Bunch and The Patridge Family on the Friday Night Lineup before they were reruns. Okay, not all seasons, well, maybe . . . SIGH!
9) I once hit size 35 in jeans before I realized my sisters might want to roll me down the hill again. So, I went on a diet and must fight - daily basis, no relief - to stay at my current size! What the heck happened to my metabolism? I mean, seriously, people. I used to be able to eat like crazy. Why do we have to gain weight as we age? Lose our hair? Grow hair out of our ears?? Why? Why? Sally Field moment from Steel Magnolias coming on . . . . whhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy! Ah, now I feel better.
10) I don't drink margaritas every day of week. Those are reserved for Fridays!
Okay, now that I've delved into my inner psyche and divulged deep, dark secrets . . . I must award this on to five other guys. Heck, I'm not sure how many guys follow my blog. I must go check so I can award, but . . . the first award goes to (and he might hunt me down and kill me) . . .
Scott Bailey at ScottGFBailey
Justus Bowman over at Across the Multiverse.
Davin at The Literary Lab.
Charlie at Approaching Utopia.
Now guys, don't blame the messenger. If fact, if you're looking for blame, I can track this all back to Jon Paul! I mean, he gave me the award in the first place, and rules are rules!
Monday, February 15, 2010
What are you still doing here?
Go, go, go!!!
Friday, February 12, 2010
It's the prettiest award . . . EV-UH, and now I must pass it on to twelve deserving people, in a totally random order.
So, here goes it . . .
Robyn at Putting Pen to Paper
Elana at Elana Johnson, Author
Traci at Words, Words, Words . . .
Marybeth at Desperately Searching for my Inner Mary Poppins
Jody at Author, Jody Hedlund
B. J. Anderson at, well, B. J. Anderson
Nicola at Help! I Need a Publisher!
Scott Bailey at ScottGFBailey
Rebecca at Rebecca Knight: Writer in Progress
Lady Glamis at The Innocent Flower
Tess at Tess Hilmo
Casey at Literary Rambles
Now, I know, some of you may or may not have received this award already. But, it's my little world, and I can do what I want. Personally, I think all of my followers deserve the award. And, since it is my little world, I'm giving the award to all my followers. Copy, paste, and award at will! Woo-hoo.
I follow a ton of blogs, not as effortlessly as Elana, but still, I follow a lot. Every single blog provides useful information and, more often than not, a source of inspiration for my own blog. I'm truly grateful to my followers, and everyone out there in the blogsphere.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
I talked about what we don't know about our characters on Monday and the following is part of Robyn's comment: I do like to sketch them out, but excel makes me shake uncontrollably.
Yes, poor Robyn suffers from Excelophobia. It's a horrible, horrible fear that paralyzes a person when they think about using Excel for any reason, let alone sketching out characters.
For me, the Excel worksheet detailing the characters, their traits, likes/dislikes is a nifty tool, especially since I can easily reference the worksheet if I need to mention something about the character such as . . . eyes, hair, clothes, makeup (whoops, I channeled Evita there for a minute - love that musical, btw) . . . because sometimes, I forget the color of eyes, hair, whatever when I'm in the middle of writing. The Excel worksheet also helps with consistency. I don't want Character A driving a Honda in the first part of a book and then all of a sudden he/she is driving a Ford. Now, most people wouldn't notice. I would, it would drive (pun, intended) me nuts and I'd have to stop reading and flip back through to whatever page mentioned that Character A was in love with his/her Honda Hybrid. Then, I'd be like hmmmm, now why is Character A suddenly driving a Ford Focus? Yes, I would. I'm crazy like that . . . sometimes.
The Excel worksheet keeps me on my toes, and looks something like this . . .
The above is just a mock-up of a character worksheet. I put in the information that I'm going to have to remember at a later date. What's a character's favorite . . . book, movie, drink, order at the local Mexican restaurant? How tall is a character? Is the character married, single, or partnered? Is he/she an only child? If not, how many siblings? Where does the character work?
Now, to some people, this might seem needless information. For me, it all depends on the context of the book. In Margarita Nights the characters meet at a Mexican restaurant, drink margaritas (of course, thus the title of the book), and eat. So, I need to know what they eat. In same book, there's a bit of a discussion about books, thus the favorite book category. I also reference the characters family - His sister's in town . . . - at certain points, so it's important (for me) to know that Character A has one sister and one brother. It's also important to know that Character A has a cat, because the cat plays a part in the book as well.
Again, this is just what works for me, and I thought I'd share to try and ease Robyn's Excelophobia! Also, this worksheet doesn't go into intimate details about the character, and there is so much more that I could add. In the end, it's all up to the writer to decide what is needed, or not, in such a worksheet.
How about you? How do you keep track of your characters' traits, eye color, hair color, etc? Do you use an Excel worksheet? Some other format? Share! Knowledge is power, after all . . .
Monday, February 8, 2010
What I didn't know about my characters? Oh, let me tell you what I didn't know about my characters for this project. Everything! Yes, everything. Okay, it really wasn't that bad. I, like my main character, just had these preconceived notions about the supporting players. I mean, I was creating these supporting players, so surely, surely, I knew absolutely everything about them.
Boy, was I wrong.
Like my main character, I suddenly realized that everything I thought I knew, was a tad bit off base. Okay, a bit more than a tad, just a bit, and I realized (well, I already knew this, but I needed a jumping off point for this post) that characters do not leap fully formed from the brilliance of my mind to the Word Document on my computer screen. The characters emerge partially sketched and it is up to me, the creator, to turn that partial sketch into a full work of art throughout the entire writing process, from first draft to final draft. Yes, the characters will continue to change and grow through the various draft forms.
Now, I'm only in rough draft phase right now. I'm typing along, minding my own business, and that of my characters, and suddenly the main character learns some things about his mother. He's shocked, surprised (no, she wasn't running an escort service on the side) and realizes that the image of his mother he had in his mind is more ficitonalized then he likes. In fact, his mother put it so much better (well, it was me, but . . .): You just can't handle it that I'm not the unaccepting bitch you imagined I'd be.
In a nutshell, the illusions are shattered and the MC realizes that, unfortunately, his mother is right.
Now, all through the manuscript, up to this pivotal point, I painted the mother in a fairly harsh light. I had no clue about her outside activities (who knew she worked for a covert operations team and - kidding, she didn't, but . . .) until one character spilled the beans. I hate when my characters keep secrets from me. It's really not fair. Then, suddenly, even I was seeing this character in a different light and - bingo, bango, the light bulb went off that: I really don't know my characters completely when I first begin the story. I, like the future readers of my novel, get to know this character slowly, over time, and not in one, fell, swoop!
Then, there is the character without a name. Yes, he is nameless. At this point, he's always referred to as the youngest son, your brother, your father's clone or some other reference. Why? Well, I'm not sure what purpose he serves and, until he serves a purpose, he shall remain nameless. I know the basics of this character, as sketched out by the other characters, and I see the potential for one, big, dramatic, scene that, if the book were a movie, would be an Oscar winning performance. Okay, maybe not, but a guy can dream!
The thing is, as much as we (I) sketch out our (my) characters beforehand in a nifty little Excel worksheet, there are times when these characters will do or become the unexpected. The mother of my main character did just that, and boy, did she surprise both the MC and me! Now, her motivations for what she did (think Mother Teresa but on a much, much smaller scale - okay, not really, but . . .) weren't golden in the beginning, were a bit selfish, but, over time, the reason changed. She changed.
So, as you're writing along, and one of your characters does the unexpected, don't go WTH, but rather, go hmmmmm and keep on writing. For, as much as we think we know about our characters because we created them, we really don't know that much about them until we actually finish our manuscripts of brilliance.
Friday, February 5, 2010
Conflict is the necessary ingredient of any story. Without conflict, well, it's like chicken noodle soup without the noodles.
So, in thinking a lot about conflict as I work on my query/pitch I realize (and this is all thanks to a comment Sarah left over at Slushbusters on the pitch I entered in their contest) . . .
The conflict needs to be specific.
The reader needs to know the conflict.
The reader also needs to find out what the character needs to do about the conflict.
And . . .
Sometimes, the conflict is the catalyst for something different.
This is the case with the MC in Margarita Nights. The conflict - realization of feelings for someone other than his partner - makes Jared realize that his current relationship is lacking. It is safe and comfortable, but there's something missing. He settled into the routine of comfort/safeness so easily, that he failed to realize the relationship wasn't exactly what he expected and wanted.
So, the conflict served a purpose. It's not a do/die situation. It is only a situation where the character must struggle with his own needs/desires and figure out the best option for him. Does he give in to his fear of ending up alone (an old man at the bar desperately hoping someone will notice him) and stay in the relationship because it is safe/comfortable? Does he sacrifice a part of himself by knowing he's not in love with his partner, and yet stays in the relationship? Does he risk everything by walking away from a good (if not satisfying on all levels) relationship? What if his ideal of a satisfying relationship doesn't exist? What if, horror of horrors, he does end up alone? Would, in the end, his sacrifice of a safe/comfortable relationship have been worthwhile?
So, there is conflict - an attraction outside his relationship that makes him realize, over time, not right away people, that he is not in love with his partner.
The conflict, however, unlike the Big Bad Wolf who eats grandma and tries to eat Little Red, doesn't propel the story from beginning to end, it only sets the MC on a journey of self discovery.
What about your manuscripts of brilliance? Is the conflict straightforward? Character A must overcome this/that or he/she will die? If Character A doesn't overcome this/that then the world will end? Or, is the main conflict more a catalyst that, like Jared, sends the character on a journey of self discovery that doesn't necessarily have a happy ending?
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Seriously though, you need to check out the article. Very good, even if it is about math . . . in a way.
Scott (again, the other one, not me) also gave a glimpse of one of his narrative proofs (i.e., outlines) and posed the following question: does anyone else work in a method similar to this?
Well, of course, I don't, because, for the most part, I don't outline. For the most part . . .
My current WiP (title still in the ever changing mode, btw) does have a rough outline. The thing I realized is that a good portion of my outline is based on conversational snippets.
So, rather than go into a lengthy, highly intelligent btw, discussion, I figure it's easier to show than tell! Ha!
The outline looks something like this . . .
New Concept: brief, very brief, summary of the new concept. Sorry, don't want to give away the brilliance.
Chapter Titles = sentences from chapters (this wasn't in the original outline concept, but was added later when I decided to do chapter titles).
- The Swan is Dying - brief explanation of what the statement means, etc.
- Ride from airport
- "She's not faking, is she?" "Would she do something like that?" "In a heartbeat. She's a master at manipulation."
- 1st Meeting
- "You'd better be dying, old woman!"
Well, I'm guessing you're getting the point right now. The outline is filled with various snippets of conversation that become the basis for the various chapters. Yes, in some instances I have certain things like "sees so-and-so across the room" or "encounters wicked witch of the east" - okay, that's not in there, but . . .
I might not have a mathematical theory to compose a very rough outline that barely begins to skim the surface of what is going into this current WiP, but I do have stepping stones, so to speak, that are leading me down the path of completion. For me, the conversations between the characters are at the heart of his manuscript.
Are you disappointed I'm not the unaccepting bitch you thought I'd be?
Maybe the first check I wrote was out of guilt, maybe the 20th as well, but at some point, my guilt no longer mattered.
I felt betrayed.
You were my greatest hope and turned out to be my greatest disappointment.
You were just jealous that I got to wear a dress, and you didn't.
All of these lines come from different chapters, or prospective chapters. For whatever reason, these conversational points guide me from chapter to chapter.
I often just start scribbling down conversations on a piece of paper. Yesterday, I filled up the front and back of a piece of paper, little snippets here, there, and everywhere, and then had to sort those snippets into a coherent order as I wrote the chapter. Yeah, that happens sometimes.
So, the point of this post, other than that we all do things differently is, that outlining isn't necessarily a precise, bullet point document. Sometimes, it's something similar to a mathematical theory, or snippets of conversation, or something else entirely. An outline, in any format, is just what works for a particular writer.
And, since questions are the thing, and discussions are great, do any of you do anything similar? Totally different? Discuss! Enlighten.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
and the moon rose over an open field - Betsy Lerner, The Forest for the Trees blog. Best line from this current post: I think one of the worst parts of being a writer is trying to appear normal. Check out the post and the comments.
Log Lines! Book Summaries! - Casey McCormick, Literary Rambles blog. This entry provides great links for loglines.
February Secret Agent Contest - Miss Snark's First Victim. The contest entry date is next Monday, so, if you completed, ready to query manuscript fits . . .
Pitch Your Hook - Nicola Morgan, Help! I Need a Publisher blog. Yes, this ties in nicely with Casey's blog. I figure we need all the help we can get . . . well, some of us, perhaps not Super Ninja Elana!
I'd Really Like to Know - Tess Hilmo, blog of the same name. Why this link? Well, because I just found it really interesting. This is my blog after all. I'm allowed. : )
Writers: It's not life or death. Have fun! - Plot Whisperer for Writers and Readers blog. Best lines from this post: Don't take it too seriously - the writing. Don't take yourself too seriously - the author. Check it out! This blog is a really handy tool regarding plot. I've only barely begun digging my way through the wealth of information.
And I think that's it for this previously unscheduled Tuesday post. Enjoy the links.
Monday, February 1, 2010
In my latest, greatest, most brilliant EV-UH, WiP, I have short chapters. I'm talking 2 - 4 pages - MAX!! This is new territory for me. Normally, I have some good lengthy chapters. Okay, not truly lengthy, but normally 10 - 25 pages depending on what's occurring with my characters.
So, my first question (yes, there's more than one): Do you write long or short chapters? Why? Yes, I snuck in a second question. It's my right as a blogger!
Third Question: Do you title your chapters?
Normally, I don't. I'm all about Chapter One, Chapter Two, Chapter Five Hundred. I normally (yes, key word, pay attention here) don't do fancy little titles to my chapters. I've tried that route and it hasn't worked for me, so I stick (well, stuck, since the foreshadowing thingy is done with) with that habit.
In my current WiP, I began to insert chapter titles. I don't know why. I don't know how. I just did. Basically, for this WiP (btw, just by reading this blog you've signed a confidentiality agreement and cannot disclose . . . kidding, a bit snarky this morning) I'm using a sentence from within the chapter as a title. For example: You were my greatest hope and my greatest disappointment. Yes, that's an actual title.
Now, when I begin a chapter, I just title the chapter, well, chapter. It is only as I'm writing the chapter that a sentence suddenly leaps out at me and I know the sentence is actual the chapter title.
So, back to my third question: Do you title your chapters?
Fourth Question: If you title your chapters, how do you do so? What's your formula??
I mean, with me, current WiP, it's a sentence from within the chapter that becomes the title. Do you work in the same way? Different? Spill the details in the comments.
As for my current WiP, it is progressing quite well, short chapters and all. I truly wasn't expecting this project to take off, but it did, so I'm not complaining. I'm just writing when I can write, my notepad is by the bed in case I get a spurt of inspiration at 2 AM - hey, it happens, and I'm enjoying the heck out of writing, even though I know I need to work on my query. I think this writing project is a form of procrastination, but, I'm writing, so, well . . .