"Novelist time is reptile time; novelists tend to be ruminant and brooding, nursers of ancient grievances, second-guessers, Tuesday afternoon quarterbacks, retrospectators, endlessly, like slumping hitters, studying the film of their old whiffs." ~ Michael Chabon
"Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on." ~Louis L'Amour
"As for my next book, I am going to hold myself from writing it till I have it impending in me: grown heavy in my mind like a ripe pear; pendant, gravid, asking to be cut or it will fall." ~Virginia Woolf
"Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it." ~C.S. Lewis
"The storyteller is deep inside everyone of us. The story-maker is always with us. Let us suppose our world is attacked by war, by the horrors that we all of us easily imagine. Let us suppose floods wash through our cities, the seas rise . . . but the storyteller will be there, for it is our imaginations which shape us, keep us, create us - for good and for ill. It is our stories that will recreate us, when we are torn, hurt, even destroyed. It is the storyteller, the dream-maker, the myth-maker, that is our phoenix, that represents us at our best, and at our most creative." ~Doris Lessing
"Can I be blunt on this subject? If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that. Reading is the creative center of a writer's life."
"You know, I'm a storyteller. We are storytellers. And ours is an ancient tradition, contemporized by the cinema and the capturing of light. And we should all be very proud of our place in society. On any given night, millions of people across the world buy a ticket for adventures that only we as storytellers can provide. We release burdens, we galvanize emotions, we make people laugh, we make people talk over breakfast. This is a great job and I want to encourage every one of you in this room to give everything you can to the story. God bless narrative. God bless originality."
2002 SAG Award Winner
"When I write, I feel like an armless legless man with a crayon in his mouth."
"Don't be afraid of your material or your past. Be afraid of wasting any more time obsessing about how you look and how people see you. Be afraid of not getting your writing done." ~Anne Lamott
"America is now wholly given over to a d****d mob of scribbling women, and I should have no chance of success while the public taste is occupied with their trash--and should be ashamed of myself if I did succeed. What is the mystery of these innumberable editions of The Lamplighter (by Maria Susanna Cummins), and other books neither better nor worse? Worse they could not be, and better they need not be, when they sell by the hundred thousand." ~Hawthorne's 1855 letter to his publisher William D. Ticknor, quoted in Pattee, Fred L. The Feminine Fifties. NY: Appleton-Century Co., 1940. p. 110.
Have been watching this daily for a week now thanks to Lauren Dane. Just sharing here as I’m doing my best to not spend time at the computer this week, letting my wrists, elbows, and shoulders rest a bit after my writing frenzy.
Oh, did I mention I’m done? THE ICING ON THE CAKE came in at 68,825 words before revisions (yet to come) and went into my editor before I turned in for the night Sunday. REALLY slept well, and slept a lot of Monday, too!
Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match . . . dot.com. An on-line dating service is not Michelle Snow’s idea of how to find love but when the Big 3-0 hits, Michelle decides she has nothing to lose since she hasn’t brought a date home in ten years, she’s professionally burned out, and her climb up the corporate ladder has come at the expense of abandoning her sweet dream: to own a boutique cupcakery.
Todd Bracken, early thirties and a successful technology consultant, isn’t exactly a player after being off the market for ten years, and pours himself into his dual passions of martial arts and home-sweet-home renovations. Only there’s no one to come home to so he decides to give Match.com a try. Todd isn’t so sure the Internet dating scene is his thing – until a message pops up in the wee hours on a weekend night: “I like your smile.” Todd likes – a lot – the whole package that glides into a French bistro in Washington, D.C.
It’s serious mojo-at-first-sight but there’s a glitch: Todd and Michelle live in different cities. Will love find its way in the digital age with a You’ve Got Mail courtship when video cam kisses just aren’t enough? And when Todd challenges Michelle to not only go for her dream but also let him share it, will they be able to make it happen together despite obstacles more plentiful than a shower of rainbow sprinkles?
1) I’ve updated my Scribometer to reflect that instead of 70K words, I will be writing approximately 68K. This was one of those page count vs word count issues, and we three launch authors learned we were all writing long. Better than writing short!
2) I’ve started a new spreadsheet changing my self-imposed deadline from 4/13 to 4/11. This allows me three full days to do a final read through and edit of the finished book to turn in 4/15.
3) Starting a new spreadsheet adds an extra 102 words to my daily count, which now needs to be 1592. Considering how many words some authors write, I feel like a slacker, but it’s a good pace for me.
4) On Saturday, I went over my needed count by 90 words. On Sunday, I fell under by 190 words. A net of 100 words behind for the weekend, which isn’t bad.
5) Yesterday, I only wrote 900 instead of my needed 1490 words. It was a kind of crazy day, and I was writing on scenes where I needed more information. I took a 2.5 mile walk in the afternoon hoping to jar loose what was stuck, but just listened to music and didn’t think about the story at all. #walkfail
6) Today, until noon thirty or so (when the sun hits the patio and I can go outside without a sweater; it’s 53 degrees as of this writing), I’m going to edit in focused 30 minute stretches. More than 30 minutes of editing makes me want to get up and do anything, dishes, laundry, vacuuming. I hate editing. Seriously.
I’m just about halfway through THE ICING ON THE CAKE. Before doing today’s writing, I’ve got 148 pages, and 31,666 words. The first act is pretty much finished and polished, and I have chapters written in both the second and third acts. Yes, I write in acts. For me it makes sense to plot out a commercial novel in a screenplay format, with a clear beginning, middle and end. I have a spreadsheet in Google Docs with the events in my couple’s romantic story, and I’ve laid them out for best dramatic impact. At a glance I can see if I’ve balanced the action, or if the story is weighted on one end or the other. This keeps the pacing even, keeps the middle from sagging. (The bit of my spreadsheet on the right (click for details) shows how I also use the Hero’s Journey.) Anyhow, I’m finding it easier these days to start my writing around noon. The sun’s on the patio then, though the big backyard tree’s leaves are thick enough now to toss mottled shade all over my Alphasmart. As I was telling a friend the other day, I rarely write fresh text on my computer. I use my computer for editing, fleshing out, revising. Writing outdoors on the Alphasmart is pure creative heaven for me, and I have to take advantage now because in two months’ time it’s going to be too hot to even breath outside, much less write! Speaking of writing . . .
You’ll see if you enlarge the side section of my spreadsheet (the one that does NOT reveal plot points!) that I don’t start with the inciting incident. Never have. Learned where to place it when taking Jo Leigh’s fabulous class on plotting. In fact, the husband and I are so attuned to the Hero’s Journey, that we’ll lean over in the movie theater and whisper, “Inciting incident,” when we see it happen on film! Kait Nolan mentions this in her column on Bad Writing Advice.
And then along comes Larry Brooks and Storyfix and his fabulous explanation of why the advice of starting with the inciting incident is a load of crap. Because essentially you’re leaving off a quarter of the book. The entire set up. The part where you show the reader why s/he should give a flip about your hero/ine. All the stuff I was trying to do in the first place.
I still think my advice is dead on, and that agents/editors aren’t looking for action-oriented scenes as much as a compelling and interesting opening. But action does not automatically equal compelling and interesting.
I believe the author of this blog post is talking about writing articles, but what she says can easily be applied to fiction writing.
I am driven when it comes to deadlines. As long as I know when something is due and I know that there is a set time to get something completed by, I can make the deadline; however, I have noticed that if I don’t slow down enough, I tend to make a ton of mistakes. This has not only shown up in my personal life and at work but in my writing as well.
Author Elizabeth Craig (who tweets links to a lot of writing articles) talks about how she breaks up chapters. Like Tess Gerritsen, she writes through and only when she’s done does she put in chapters breaks. (Though, I’m not sure what writing program she uses that she doesn’t just use the word counter to see how many she has! I’m totally dependent on Word’s counter, and in the Office 2007 version, the number of words in the document is always displayed on the bottom taskbar.)
As I’ve mentioned a couple of times, I write the text straight through and then put the chapter breaks in later. Although this isn’t a technique that works for everybody, it helps keep me from worrying about the formatting of the novel until I’m done being creative.
We writers are constantly challenged to find the right words–to be descriptive, but not verbose. To make our language leap from the page, but at the same time, control our word choice. One of the easiest ways to clean up your writing is to omit unnecessary words.
The Icing on the Cake, by Kent, is about Todd Bracken and Michelle Snow. HCI found their story in the Washington Post earlier this year. They met through a matchmaker website. The only hitch: they lived in different cities. From a distance, he supported her dream of opening a cupcakery. As the business experienced ups and downs, so did they.
Writing a romance about a real life couple is not a lot different than writing about a fictional one, except it is. I think authors who don’t like to plot because knowing where a story is going takes the fun out of writing it would have a hard time writing a novel based on fact. Everything is known in advance. Everything. There is room for literary license, but there’s not a lot for creation. Imagination, yes, as the author would have no way of knowing what was said at a dinner party, but the party would still be part of the story bible. When talking to the series developer for VOWS at one point, I made the analogy between writing a RB Romance and the movie Ghandi. In a true life dramatization, big events can be recreated, but the minutia is strictly the author’s to imagine.
For this innovated project, our couples were given lengthy questionnaires to fill out, much as we as authors would fill out a character chart, or at least develop our characters’ backgrounds. Early home life, education, likes and dislikes, etc. I got one of the questionnaires about a week before the other, so I sat outside in the backyard using it to jot plot notes, asking questions and “what ifs?” the same way I would for fictional characters. In the end, I went back to my couple to get more info. Once I had it, I did what I do with all my books and wrote out His & Hers goals and motivations (and you can see how I do that at this post). Just because these are real people doesn’t mean there wasn’t a force driving both of them to achieve something!
Yesterday when Takumi’s coughing woke me up at 5:30 or so, I started thinking about the book, so went ahead at 6:00 and got up. I’d received the second questionnaire over the weekend, along with a document of text messages my couple had sent, and notes they’d written to one another in cards, and needed to see how much of what I’d already written could stay (almost all of it) and where I needed to go next. I spent almost five hours doing nothing but reading their answers and make a timeline in a Google Docs spreadsheet. (I love Google Docs. Use it almost as much as I use my installs of Word and Excel.) I read through HIS answers first, all in his voice, then went back and reread HERS, also in her voice. “Hearing” them makes for an awesome writing tool.
The plan today is to take my timeline, make note cards of the events, shuffle, organize, or toss, and see where I need to fudge for maximum tension and suspense. I’m a big fan of Chris Vogler’s Writers Journey and then working all of that into a three-act structure for storytelling impact. After writing a lot of action adventure, which naturally plays out in easily defined acts, it’s going to be fun to do the same with a purely character driven book that uses only two viewpoints. Haven’t done that for awhile!
"Every time you write, you go to a construction site in your head. The words are waiting there, like a couple truckloads of loose bricks. They're not going to build themselves into anything, no matter how often you talk to your hands or mouth-breathe or get in touch with your inner Tinkerbell. You pick up the bricks. You mortar them together on a page. You build a story out of them. And that's it. The sweaty, nerve-wracking, non-glittery, unglamorous, orc-free work of writing."
"Writing’s not rocket science. It’s a helluva lot harder. Because once you learn all that rocket science crap, you can (at least in theory) build a rocket. On the other hand, you can read every writing book known to man and attend classes and work with critique partners and get pages of editorial input and still end up with a book that doesn’t quite hit the high notes. Scary, but true." ~Karen Templeton
"My New Year's resolution is to focus on the book and forget all the crap that surrounds the writing business. To lose myself in a story, and not give a damn if it makes any lists, has a good sell-through, gets glowing reviews on Amazon, pleases my editors, hell, even pleases my readers. I want to love what I'm writing so much that none of the rest of it matters, and if I don't, I won't write it. Life's too short to abuse the muse." ~Anne Stuart