Now Appearing on a 2nd Blog

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Things have been a little sparse around here lately. It’s because, in the spirit of knocking myself out of my lane, I’m participating in a group blog with some of my writer friends. I encourage you to pop over to BadMenagerie.com for a look-see. We’re a barnyard full of diverse opinions and perspectives, which makes for an interesting collection of posts to scroll through. (And we have a published author over there, so it’s for realz!)

I’m trying to get the hang of doing both, still figuring what should go where—I have a new post coming here tomorrow—but I hope you’ll stick with me while I work my way out of the slow lane. Look! I even have one hand off the wheel. 😀

 

 

Camp NaNoWriMo Hiatus

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2014-Participant-Facebook-ProfileI’ve been remiss in keeping up my blog lately. My excuse is that I’ve spent the last 30 days prepping for (and now starting) Camp NaNoWriMo. Doing a little plotting, forming a cabin, making Grand Plans, wrapping up other projects I had on my plate so I could focus on The One for July. And of course, now we’re ten days in. But really, there’s not much to be blogged about during NaNo that others aren’t already saying.

So I’m not going to blog about our AWESOME cabin and how we’d for sure win the canoe races and the three-legged race AND the pie eating contest and leave all those other cabins in our dust. I’m not going to bore people with how incredibly talented the nine other writers in our cabin are, or how fun it’s been to see everyone post their “Lines of the Day.” I’m REALLY not going to post about the wide variety of genres represented in our cabin—from MG to erotic romance—or how hilarious it is to read one line about a kid skinning his knees falling off his bike, and the next about the erotic consumption of a crab cake. Nope, not going to blog about that.

So yeah, taking a little hiatus while I write and cheer on my cabin mates. I’ll be back soon with war stories of surviving the s’mores overload, the sneaked-in jugs of cheap wine and the midnight cries for mommy. And hopefully by this time next year I’ll be able report back about the projects that started as Camp NaNo fodder, only to get one of us an agent, or become someone’s first, or next, published work. Woot!

GO BACCHANALIAN BITCHES! 

 

Learning From My Mistakes

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Installation_des_Chevaux_de_Marly_aux_Champs-Élysées_1794As I’ve mentioned, the novel I’ve been working on for a year and a half now is out with betas yet again. (Someday maybe I’ll get it right.) While waiting for the jury to come back, I’m working on a second book in the same world. I am determined not to repeat the mistakes of the first. The ones that have me still needing to revise after 5 drafts. I can’t do that again. Not only is it demoralizing, it’s a waste of time.

When I started that one, I didn’t have writing buddies, or Critique Partners, to be more respectful of them. Now I do. Mostly we sit around in a chat room talking nonsense, but we’re all eager to brainstorm when one of us needs a sounding board. A few in the group are sticklers about logic and this is my big weakness. I’m all about story, as in, the tale parts, but solidifying a novel’s logical underpinnings…not my strong suit. At all. But the stories I’m writing fuse disparate mythologies and beliefs, so it’s imperative I have logical reasons behind the character’s actions.

The basic storyline has already been established by the previous book, so this time, once I’d written a few chapters to get to know my characters, I decided to pre-write a query letter, to see if I could “sell” the story. Everything went swimmingly until I got to the stakes. What was at stake for my main character? Um…well…she could…she might…CRUD. It seemed like her choices were all easy and wins for her. BLARG!! That does not a novel make.

So I went begging to my peeps, and after one brainstorming session, I thought I had it nailed. I moved on from the query and wrote a synopsis. I was thrilled with the outcome. I posted it in the chat room for the others to look at and one of the most logic-minded of our group started pecking holes in it until it was a ragged mess.

In my previous life, the one where I’d never completed a novel, I would have quit in frustration. But now that I’ve done it once, not well, but done it nonetheless, I wanted to buckle down. I know how much easier it will be to write this thing if I don’t have to go back and rebuild the logical scaffolding. I need a sturdy skeleton.

I went back to work, bouncing ideas and what-ifs, hammering, re-jiggering, and when I came up with something that felt right, I let the others have at it. And…lo! They couldn’t find holes. Yes, there are choices to be made—I can go wood or iron, bolts or welds—but those are just options. The story makes sense, stands up. There are reasons. Sound ones, ones that will survive the length of the novel and not shift under the weight of the story as happened in my first book.

I have scaffolding. Solid scaffolding.

For a storyteller this has been hard for me to grasp. Doesn’t the skeleton just come along for the ride? You can’t see it, after all. Isn’t it just…there in any entertaining story? The answer is a resounding NO. It must be built, and carefully, ahead of time if a writer wants to avoid endless draft hell.

So now I’m off and running. Moving forward having learned something about myself and my process, having recognized my Achilles heel. Having been challenged and come out, grinning, on the other side.

For my money, there’s not a better feeling to ride into a new project.