Friday, July 30, 2010
As you may remember . . .
The last part of The Basics is the Denouement. This is where I get to write and they all lived happily ever after. Kidding . . . again. This is what happens to the characters, good and bad, before said characters "ride off into the sunset".
Well, my characters have 'ridden off into the sunset'.
The rough draft is currently at a bit over 53,000 words, for a total of 230 pages! Yee-ha!
I did this in less than two weeks. I don't know how. I don't know why. I just know that's what I did.
Writing is not a race with some big prize for finishing the fastest. Writing is a process. Writing is a roller coaster ride.
Sometimes, the words don't want to flow at all. Sometimes, they flow so quickly that life spins by and I barely find the time to take a breath.
This project was one of those times.
I can't tell you how I'm feeling right here - now - as I type this post. I'm smiling. I'm overwhelmed. And yet . . . there's so much more.
There's joy! There's . . . ecstasy. There's . . . everything!
This project consumed me. I stayed up late to write, I worked during lunch at work, I spent hours on the weekends. I couldn't stop. Every time I thought - enough, I need to stop - I kept on writing.
Wednesday night I finished the rough draft. Oh, there's still some things I have to do - heck, that's what my day off on Friday is for this week.
Last night, I did the Table of Contents. Then, I broke apart the various - OMG, are there chapters - chapters into the sections of The Basics: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement.
I now have a neat little picture of The Basics. I know which chapters fall into each section. I know I have each of these sections in this all consuming project.
Oh, man, I feel good right now (Thursday night, btw, pretyping this post).
Last, but certainly not least, I want to thank Lynn Price over at Behler Blog for feeling the need to put up his post (The Basics). This chart is just absolutely amazing. Thanks!!!!!!
Brief Update - finished the addition of some pages. Rough Draft Done @ 255 Pages and 60,000 words, give or take a few hundred for chapter titles, table of contents, and title page.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
I'm at 49,000 words! Woo-hoo!
I'm currently nearing the end of the fallen action section of the book and then there's the denouement. Are you confused? Have you not been paying attention to my blog? Okay, go check this out and then come back. Ha.
I finished the climax Monday evening . . . despite the awesome display of lightning and thunder put on by a menopausal Mother Nature. Trust me, she's going through menopause. It was bound to happen. Global Warming? Bah! Hot Flashes from a Menopausal Mother Nature! HA! Oh, did I mention a whiny dog because of the storm? My Jesse doesn't like thunderstorms.
So, in the midst of the climax chapter I have to stop writing and go cuddle with my baby dog. The other dog? Well, James could care less and was gnawing the heck out of his favorite toy. Go, James.
Yesterday, I began the falling action (what happens next) part of the project. This section will encompass a few chapters, and then I'm on to the denouement. I should, hopefully, have the rough draft done by Friday. Woo-hoo.
So, that's it for my progress update. What's going on with you?
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
I want to talk, solely from my perspective, and about my current project, about The Basics.
The first part of The Basics is Exposition, aka the introductory stuff: setting, characters, and whatnot. For my current project, this encompassed the first six chapters. Okay, don't panic here, my chapters are short, very short, no more than four pages in length . . . at least in the introductory section. In fact, the very first chapter is only one page.
The second part of The Basics is the Rising Action, aka the good stuff leading up to the Climax. As Lynn so expertly put it "this is where you have to commit to your story and build the foundations for the big Ta-Da". For my current project, this encompasses quite a few chapters.
The third part of The Basics is the Climax (note: Lynn added a bit of an addendum to her post about the Climax). This is, in Lynn's words "the Ta-Da moment". In my instance, since this is a mystery, this is what I call the Big Reveal. All the pieces of the puzzle are neatly put together to form a picture. Ta-Da!
The fourth part of The Basics is the Falling Action. What happens here? Well, everybody lives happily ever after. Ha! Kidding. This is the "whew moment". This is the moment where the characters, at least my characters, are able to breathe again, to realize that the case is solved, and decide what comes next for them - all of them, bad guys included.
The last part of The Basics is the Denouement. This is where I get to write and they all lived happily ever after. Kidding . . . again. This is what happens to the characters, good and bad, before said characters "ride off into the sunset".
On my current rough draft, I've already written the Climax. I have a few chapters to insert before the Climax, aka the Big Reveal.
Today during lunch, I outlined both the Falling Action and the Denouement. I typed out the name of every character and beneath their names I did a bullet point list of what happens to them after the Climax. Those bullet points will help me create a series of chapters that detail the impact of the events leading up to this moment for the characters and provide a glimpse into the futures of the characters.
All in all, I love this little chart. Thanks, Lynn!!! I love keeping a list of chapters and lumping them into the various aspects - exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, denouement - of the chart so I can make sure I've included all of these aspects in my little gem of brilliance called . . . ooops, sorry, can't tell you the title, it's secret. Shhhhhh . . .
p.s. all items in actual quote (") marks come from Lynn Price's post on Behler Blog titled The Basics.
Monday, July 26, 2010
On Saturday I created a new, peripheral character for the book. I didn't pre-plan this character, I didn't give much thought to this character. I just needed a fill-in character to serve a brief purpose.
Well, every now and then a character takes on a life of his/her own. This character did just that . . . much to my surprise and delight. At first, she was just the owner of a tea shop. Then, she became someone my main character had known for a long time. Then - yes, the metamorphosis continues - she became his favorite aunt. Geesh!
How did a simple, fill-in character, suddenly become so important?
I don't have a clue. It just sort of happened.
Then, she became, in the next chapter, a strong, force to be reckoned with woman who likes to talk with her hands . . . even if she is holding a cast iron skillet in one hand. Yeah, I don't know how that happened either.
Sometimes, I amaze myself during the writing process.
Oh, did I mention that this character knows the dirty little secret about one of the other characters? Who knew?
These things just sort of fall in place during the writing process. Not that I'm complaining . . .
I see a bright future for this character in later books in my mystery series. Yes, series. Every main character needs a no-nonsense supporter, and this woman is definitely no-nonsense. Did I mention she's a fabulous baker? Yum! Yum! So, as the series progresses, at some point and time in my writerly life, this little side character, this fill in character, will serve a more prominent role.
Friday, July 23, 2010
I'm absolutely loving the new mystery (as in genre, not as in I haven't a clue what it's about) project I am working on right now. The words are flowing. Inspiration is singing . . . amazingly not as off key as usual, go figure! I haven't felt this jazzed about a project in a long time.
Don't get me wrong: I love every writing project. The love's just not always so grand. This time, the grandness is almost overwhelming.
Picture it, Tuesday night: I get home from work and finally find time to write. Yeah, me. I write a few chapters and then it's off for bonding time with the boyz and my whiny butt girl who thinks she's starving to death because she's on a diet. Geesh. Anyone want a whiny cat? Free to a good home. Earplugs provided. Kidding. I love my Squeaky cat. I don't love her whining so much . . . Ha! Anyhow, I finally decide to go to bed and . . . well, long story short, I go into my office and type up a few more chapters. The words just couldn't wait until Wednesday.
I love it when that happens!
Okay, not so much when it's 2 AM and it happens, but right before bed wasn't a horrible thing.
So, long story short, in a week I've written over 25,000 words on this new project. Woo-hoo! Somebody pass me a margarita. Okay, not right now, it's a bit early, but trust me, there's a margarita in my future this evening.
Technically, as far as my standards go, I'm at the half way point in this project. I normally aim for 50,000 words on a rough draft. Yeah, not a huge amount of words, and definitely under industry standards, but . . . this is only a rough draft. The next draft phase normally adds quite a few words as I expand on such things as setting, etc. The rough draft is always: get the story out, develop the characters as much as possible, and get from Point A to Point The End.
Have I mentioned how much fun I'm having writing this project? I'm tossing rules out the window nilly-willy or willy-nilly whatever the case might be. Ha! Seriously, I'm taking a laid back attitude with this project and, well, just having loads of fun. I have the banter thing down between the two main characters, I have a tension thing going on with two other characters, and I'm taking over-the-top presentations of some other characters. All in all it boils down to one thing: FUN!
Have a great weekend.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
I started a new project this past weekend. Yes, I know, I'm supposed to be working on my query. I am, I am . . . and I like green eggs in ham!
Inspiration - that creative little wench with no regard to my sleeping schedule - struck last week and I've been going with the flow. The new project is a mystery. I've never written a mystery before. I've never really considered writing a mystery before. Though I love a good mystery. Still, for whatever reason - perhaps Miss Cranky-Pants (aka Inspiration) just decided, as usual, to have fun at my expense. It wouldn't be the first time, trust me on that one. Perhaps it's just the right time for me to do this project.
I don't know. I don't care. I'm having a ball writing this project.
I have a format! Woo-hoo. If, in the grand scheme of things in my little delusional world, this turns into a series, I have a format for each subsequent book in the series.
My chapters, oh, my chapters, in this book range from one sentence, to one paragraph, to one page, to two pages, to three pages, and even as many as ten pages. Yep, there's no rhyme or reason to my chapter length!
I love it!
The chapters are what the chapters are, and I write what I write, and end each chapter when it feels right to end said chapter. It is my book, after all.
There are no rules with this book. None at all. It's all about the fun, the joy of writing, and that, my friends, is the only way to write . . . at least in my delusional little world.
Friday, July 16, 2010
This week, as far as writing goes, has been a hodge-podge of stuff: work on hook, work on query, write query for project that is only in rough draft stage, and jot down ideas for future project.
In order of appearance . . .
- Work on hook - still working, but getting there. It's not so easy to sum up an entire book in one sentence. It's possible, just not easy and . . . whine, whine, whine!
- Work on query - I've pretty much written the rest of the query. All that's missing is the hook and then it's off for critique.
- Write query for project that is only in rough draft stage - yes, I did. I was on a roll and figured I'd practice on another project. Inspiration hit and I dove right into that shimmering pool of . . . raspberry flavored Jell-O. Yummy. Okay, it wasn't raspberry flavored, but this is my delusional little world after all . . . The hook for this project was a heck of a lot easier to come up with, as was the query. Yes, everything will change between now and the ready to submit stage of the manuscript.
- Jot down ideas for future project - Inspiration is a clever little . . . witch . . . at times. I just never know when she is going to strike. She happened to strike while I was driving home from work on Tuesday. Geesh, she could at least wait until I got home, but noooooooooo . . . so, at traffic lights I jotted down ideas. In between traffic lights, I kept repeating the ideas over and over so I wouldn't forget them. Geesh! Well, this future project, probably way down the line, will be my first attempt at a mystery. Okay, might not be so far down the line, but definitely not in my immediate future.
What am I going to do with four days off? Well, the bathrooms need cleaned, as does the rest of the house. Fun, fun, fun. I just live to scrub toilets . . . NOT! My days off will be a mixture of writing, reading - I'm on Book 4 of Harry Potter, hope to finish it and start Book 5 - cleaning house, and just relaxing.
This weekend will also mark Frank's and my sixteenth anniversary together. Dang! 16 years! I sometimes wonder how we survived and then I remember: we work different shifts! Ha! In real time, we've probably only been together a couple of years! Still, they've been some of the best years of my life and I wouldn't change a thing. Okay, maybe a smidge change here and there, but nothing major.
Have a great weekend.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Seriously . . .
The hook can be absolutely any sentence as long as it sums up the book. For example, let's take Little Red Riding Hood.
Possible hooks for her sordid little tale . . .
A girl wearing a red-hooded cloak walks through the forest to grandmother's house, encounters a wolf, and is saved by a man swinging an ax! - yes, this tells what the story is about, but it's really quite boring.
Little Red Riding Hood foolishly goes traipsing through a forest where a very hungry wolf lives. - okay, this is a bit more exciting, but doesn't tell much about the story.
The Big Bad Wolf is on the way to a a wedding, sees Little Red, learns where she's going, and decides he could eat both something old and something new, and worry about the borrowed and blue later on . . . as long as the woodsmen isn't nearby. - yes, a tad snarky, well, maybe more than a tad snarky, but far more interesting then the other two . . . at least in my delusional world.
The fact is: the hook needs to grab an agent's attention in the best way possible, even if it is with a high dose of snark.
Now, in working on my own hook, I was intrigued by this hook from Jessica Verday's The Haunted - A tragic death, a mysterious stranger, and answers to questions that Abigail Browning never knew she needed to ask . . .
I love this hook. It's intriguing and makes me want to read a bit more. I'm sure that's what caught Jessica's agent's attention. At least I hope that's what caught her attention.
So, if I was to use something similar . . . I'd need something snazzy that lists some of the things going on in my book. What to do? What to do? I know . . . why don't I create a list of events that occur in my book. Brilliant, if I do say so myself.
So, I broke down the events by character. As an example, let's go back to Little Red Riding Hood . . .
The events for Little Red - walks through forest, encounters wolfs, finds an oddly different grandmother, realizes it's the wolf, screams for help, and is saved by the woodsman.
The events for the Wolf - encounters Little Red, learns grandma is home alone, eats grandma, tries to trick little red, and is killed by the woodsman.
Grandma - eaten by wolf, saved by the woodsman.
Now, the difficult part is picking what events to describe in the hook. You can check out the above examples to see which events I did. Okay, in short: the major events that carry the most impact.
This is where I'm (okay, I'm pre-doing this post, it's really Monday, so everything might be done by the time this post hits the blogsphere Wednesday morning) at right now. I have a list of events and need to pick out the key events with the most impact if . . . I'm going to go the route of giving a brief list of what happens as my hook.
This is only one option with a hook. The options really are endless. It all depends on you the writer.
A girl is whisked to a magical land by a tornado, meets an odd group of friends, encounters a wicked witch, and learns that there's no place like home. - The Wizard of Oz.
A cyclone, a tragic death, magic slippers, a yellow brick road, a scarecrow, a tin man, a cowardly lion, some poppies, a wizard, flying monkeys, a wicked witch, and a bucket of water. - The Wizard of Oz.
Yes, two different hooks, one fashioned after Jessica Verday's hook for The Haunted and one that's just simple and straightforward.
In the end, only you (or me) the writer will know what will work for you. Sometimes, the best way to learn is by example. So, go read some successful queries, see what worked and then, as with your writing, put your own unique spin on the query.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Yes, this is a struggle . . . at least for me.
Here's some of what I've come up with so far . . .
Margarita Nights . . .
. . . is about a group of friends.
. . . is about a group of friends who get together once a month for margaritas.
. . . is about a group of friends confronting their own fears and insecurities.
. . . is about life in the gay lane: unexpected attractions, sudden break-ups, a drugged drink, confrontations, a brutal attack, acceptance of truth, and the realization that even the most meaningless of relationships, ironically, have meaning after all.
. . . details 2 years in the lives of a group of friends as they face life in the gay lane: unexpected attractions, sudden break-ups, a drugged drink, confrontations, a brutal attack, acceptance of truth, and the realization that even the most meaningless of relationships, ironically, have meaning after all.
. . . details 2 years in the lives of a group of friends as they face their own fears and insecurities and discover that even the most meaningless of relationships, ironically, have meaning after all.
As you can see, I've come up with quite a few different hooks. Well, I've come up with quite a few different sentences that might be hooks. Then again, they might not be.
So, based on the ramblings of a writer struggling to come up with a hook, which, if any, of the above sentences might make you (if you were an agent . . . or heck, just a potential reader) want to read more.
Monday, July 12, 2010
But, there is no rest for the wicked . . . or at least that's what I've been told. Not that I'm wicked. I truly am a very nice person. Seriously!
Next step: The Query! Boo-Hiss! Okay, it's not that bad, but, I've been on a snarky roll for a while and . . .
The Query is a work of art that showcases the brilliance of, say, a 93,484 word novel in a single page. Talk about Reader's Digest condensed version! Geesh! So, in maybe 250 words, I need to somehow grab an agents attention so much so that they immediately pick up the phone and call me.
This is possible. Writers everywhere have been doing this for, like, well, forever!
So, I too shall do this and succeed along with the best of them.
There are a ton of blogs out there about how to query. One of my main resources is From the Query to the Call by Elana Johnson. You can get the e-book right here! This is a fantastic book with lots of links. Elana's pretty much the Query Ninja! She has an agent. One of the followers of my blog, using this wonderful e-book, got an agent.
Elana mentions that a hook is a necessary, in her opinion, part of the query. What is a hook? Well, go get Elana's e-book here and you can find out for yourself. Kidding, people.
A hook, in one sentence, sums up the book. The hook, in many ways, is the elevator pitch. The one sentence you need to have ready at all times in case you get stuck in an elevator with your dream agent.
Yeah, the hook, like many things, is easier said than done! Elana's e-book provides plenty of examples. The New York Times Best Seller List provides many examples.
So, the first part, at least for me, of designing my brilliant query is to come up with a hook. I read a ton of query examples - provided by Elana, of course - yesterday and looked for the hook. I focused solely on the hooks in these queries and thought about my own. I finally narrowed down a general idea. No, nothing final yet, but a general idea. That's a start. Once I get the hook down, I'll move on to the next step of the query, and the next, and so on.
This isn't, at least not for me, a sit down, write a letter and send it off process. I'm deconstructing the query writing process into little steps, puzzle pieces, so to speak, that will all add up to the final piece of brilliance that will WOW agents everywhere. Yeah, my own little delusional world is quite a nifty place to be at times! Ha!
So this week, my evening writing time, will be all about crafting my query. Luckily, the wine rack is stocked. I'm just saying . . .
Saturday, July 10, 2010
There's a definite sense of accomplishment and pride right now. I took this whomping, 140K + word document and pared it down, bit by bit, month by month, into a lean, mean fighting machine of 93,484 words. Woo-Frakkin'-Hoo!
There was a point in time where I thought this task was impossible, insurmountable, and wasn't gonna happen, no way, no how, uh-huh!
I'm glad I proved myself wrong. I'm really glad I proved myself wrong!
Life is about challenges, day after day. Some days,. my hair is challenge enough. You know those days when, no matter what you do, how much goop you put in, your hair's just going to look, well, really, really bad. Oy! Then, there are the days when everything that can go wrong does go wrong, and then some. Boy, do I hate those kind of days. Still, day after day, I move forward in this crazy life. Day after day, I write because I love to write. I live because life is worth living for, even with 100 degree heat and 200% humidity.
The things that make life, and writing, worth living are these small and brief moments where everything gels together and I feel dang good. Right Here! Right Now! This moments as I revel, briefly, in the fact that I pared down the whale into a sleek dolphin. Whoopie!
Friday, July 9, 2010
I have three chapters left to edit. Four. Two of them should get done today and the last tomorrow. Woo-hoo!
Sunday is for query! Boo! Hiss! Okay, it's not that bad. It could be worse. I don't know how. I just know it could be worse.
The final word count should come in somewhere around 94,000 words. That's totally impressive, at least for me, especially knowing the high word count I had in the beginning.
Will this lesser word count create more potential? I don't have a clue. I just know that, as strong as my query might be, in the end, the really high word count was a detriment. Very few debut authors are probably going to be able to get a 500 page book published. Yeah, it might happen. The odds are minimal.
Why fight the odds? Why not minimize the odds instead?
Everything we do on the road to success has an impact toward that success. High word counts, in some instances, create a detour or delay. A minimal audience for our work can create a detour or delay.
As an aspiring writer, I write for me first, and the audience second. Yeah, I know, not the best way to do things, but it works for me. I wrote a big-ass book and then I pared it down. Again, probably not the best way to do things. I'm writing for a niche audience - not as huge as a Twilight audience. Again, not the best way to do things.
In the end . . . I don't care. I'm writing what I want to write for an audience I know is out there, and that's enough for me. My audience isn't as small as some people might think. I may have to market my book to agents a bit differently then I like. I might have to go for a smaller category of agents at first, and then expand.
In the end . . . I have to follow my heart on this, as with most of what I do in life.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Now, a great tidbit from that post: Of course, new writers need to understand the rules. But if we’re not careful, we will turn the creative process into a formula and make literary Pharisees out of our proteges.
My thoughts (okay, did you seriously think I wasn't going to expound a bit on what I read??? Seriously?): Woo-hoo!
Wasn't that brief enough for you? Yep, still a bit snarky. It happens.
Seriously, I and many other aspiring writers have complained - sometimes bitterly - about the overwhelming rules out there and how we, over time, learn to ignore many of the rules. It's all part of the writing process. We, as writers, can either fall victim to the rules and stifle our creativity or, we as writers, can moderate the rules we choose to use and stimulate our creativity.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Anyhow, I have five chapters left on the word elimination project. Five chapters. Three day weekend coming up. Two chapters per day. Hey! Yes, I should finish the edits by this weekend. In fact, I should get at least two chapters out of the way before Friday.
I would have had more done, but Harry Potter kidnapped me and made me help him look for the Chamber of Secrets. Then, Tuesday night is Wipeout night. I love that show. It makes me laugh. I normally set Tuesday night's as my night to just relax and not write. In the summer there is Wipeout and during the main television season there's NCIS. I don't watch much tv at all, so I figure I'm allowed a night here or there. Okay, I do love Dr. Who, but that comes on Saturday nights, and I'm done writing by nighttime on the weekends.
Once I finish the edits I'll begin the lovely stage of crafting the semi-perfect query. I already have the one line hook - I think that's the hardest part - and I have Elana's e-book, so I'm ready, set, go!!! Of course, I need to drop by querytracker.net and research the agents in my folder and see if any new ones have dropped into the agentsphere over the last few months. Research. Research. Research.
I'm also, because of the potential niche factor of my book, going to research some of the indie and small press publishers. Thankfully, there are sites out there that have done the research for me and the info should be readily at hand as to the validity of these publishers. The good thing: I have bought books published by some of these publishers. Woo-hoo! Points for me.
Now, for some of the publishers, I can submit directly to them without an agent. That (hey, Tess, how's it going? Ha!) is not my intent. I'm going the agent route - if I can find one to rep my stuff. But . . . it's nice to know there are other options out there for an aspiring writer with a potential niche book. I'm just saying . . .
Have a great day.
Monday, July 5, 2010
Writing is like cooking because . . . we take the gem of an idea and shape it into something extraordinary. Okay, not all my cooking experiments have turned out well. That's not the point.
Slow-Cooker 'Baked' Beans
3 Cans (15 ounces each) Pinto Beans - drained and rinsed
1 Cup Barbecue Sauce
1 Small Onion - chopped
1/4 Cup Firmly Packed Light Brown Sugar
2 Slices Center Cut Bacon - chopped
Place all ingredients in slow cooker, mix well, cover with lid and cook on LOW for 4 to 6 hours or on HIGH for 3 hours.
The above is a basic 'baked' bean recipe from the Kraft Food and Family magazine (Summer 2008). It's a nice recipe. It is the gem of an idea. It's been done before.
Vampires have been done before. Anne Rice - pre Stephanie Meyers - reinvented the vampire tall. She told the story in her way, with her twist and - in my opinion - did a mighty fine job of it, as have other authors.
Since every story has already been told, we, as aspiring writers, must retell those stories in a new and exciting way.
So, cooking is like writing because, sometimes, I take a basic recipe and refashion it in a new and exciting way.
The first time I made the above recipe, I didn't have three cans of pinto beans. I had two cans of pinto beans and one can of butter beans. In a pinch, any bean will do. Oh, wait, I didn't have enough BBQ sauce. What's a poor chef to do? Well, I had some Catalina dressing. Yup! I just threw in enough Catalina dressing to make 1 Cup! Hmmm, Mom's baked beans always had meat. What else did I have in the refrig? Oh, look, some breakfast sausage. Brown it up, mix it in, and voila - something fresh and new.
Now, this past weekend I decided to make the baked beans. I wanted something new and different. Open the pantry - sun dried tomatoes, roasted red and yellow peppers, and look, in the refrig some celery. Hmmmm. Yes, indeedy, dear peeps, I reinvented the Slow Cooker 'Baked' Beans . . . again.
I do the same thing when I'm writing. I take an idea that's been done before, and I do it in a different way. Sometimes it turns out great, and other times, well, not so great. It's all part of the writing process. It's all about adding and/or taking away certain elements to make something work.
So, writing is like cooking . . . even if you haven't been nipping at the cooking sherry! Ha!
Friday, July 2, 2010
For me, this is a monumental moment. I never thought I could cut out 40,000 + thousand words. Never say never! Ha! I did it! Woo-hoo . . . and I'm still cutting those words. I hope to cut out close to 3,000 to 5,000 more words before all is said and done.