I’m a plotter, I can admit that fully. I like my little road map laid out before I begin writing, even though I know full well that at the end, the book probably won’t look much like my initial outline.
That’s because as I write, my characters take on their own personalities and decide from there on out where they’re damn well going to go.
But being a plotter, I still need to know quite a bit about my characters before I can start that initial outline.
I recently sat down to plot book 5 in my Heart of a Vampire series. I wrote two pages of outline before my heart sank and I showed it to Wicked.
My characters were wimps and the story was going nowhere.
Which is when I finally realized I didn’t know nearly enough about my characters to even begin plotting.
So, my Q4U: Writers – how well do you need to know your characters before you begin to write?
Readers – Are you drawn to books with more action oriented plots, or by great characters (or both)?
I keep hearing about ‘back to the basics’ with local schools. Two of my kids go to a charter school which has used this slogan since they opened. What exactly does it mean?
Well, my take is that rather than having kids sit and listen, memorizing rote facts they don’t understand, curriculum is changing to go back to the basics. If you want to do algebra, you need to know the basics: addition, subtraction, ect. Kids need to actually apply the knowledge by doing the work instead of being talked to.
I think as writers, sometimes it’s good to be in this frame of mind.
Now, I can share my knowledge about the basics of the craft of writing, but if all you do is listen, you won’t get as much out of it. Like any writing information, you’ll get more from it by trying it out and applying it to your own writing.
Some of what I’ll be talking about the next few weeks is probably going to be pretty basic. But that’s where, after a bit of thought, I decided to start with. Because if the basics are missing, the rest isn’t going to be much help.
Come join me.
The first thing I’m going to be talking about is dialogue.
See ya’ll Wednesday.
Sometimes, it’s hard figuring out what I want to work on next. The ideas are plentiful, so mostly it comes down to what’s calling to me the loudest (at least, when I’m not working on something already contracted :).
I don’t like being in between things. It makes me feel at a loss. Things get a bit blue as my muse falls silent and allows my internal editor to start squawking his not-very-nice crap. He can make it hard to find the motivation to start on something new.
The nice thing is, as I play with the ideas and one begins to call out, my muse wakes up and tells that editor to shut up. Then, I begin work and life itself seems to pick up its pace.
The rollercoaster of an artist, I guess.
So, my Q4U:
Writers, how do you feel between projects? If it’s a down feeling, how do you overcome it?
I don’t know what it is lately. The weather here has been great – mid-70’s and sunny. My oldest is between activities, which has freed up time in the evenings to just hang out together.
But I’ve just been feeling down. I don’t know if there’s really a song or not, but the words, “I’ve got the blues” keeps singing in my head.
One thing I’ve been doing is revising my urban fantasy. I came close a few times last year to finding an agent. And while they “Love the premise”, the general consensus is I need to work on my world-building and characterization.
I’ve learned a lot about the craft since then, and so I’m trying to apply it to the UF. I don’t know if I’m feeling like it’s a mountainous gargantuan task, or if I just don’t know where to begin first. The last two days, I’ve been rewriting my opening, trying to make my character more likeable and sympathetic, while making it a ‘hook’. Part of this is re-reading some of my favorite books and studying their openings.
The good news: I’ve finally started reading again 🙂 It’s been a little while since I actually sat down and just read. Partly, I blame the TV.
**Note to self – less TV
But a small part of me, you know, the evil editor deep inside that for some reason I can’t seem to shut up lately, is constantly telling me that even though I’m published with my erotic romance, I’m never going to make it to NY with my urban fantasy.
I KNOW it’s a lie. That voice is full of shit. Because I’m going to work my ass off and never give up until I get there.
But it won’t shut up 🙂
So, I’ve decided to make a plan.
I’m going to write down the steps I need to take to rewriting/editing my urban fantasy.
Then I’m going to number them. Once that’s done, I’ll have a plan.
I work well when I have a plan. I love goals.
And I know, once I get deep into working through it, I’ll finally be able to shut that stupid voice up.
How do you get rid of the blues?
This month, I’m working on editing (read rewriting) one of my urban fantasy novels. I wrote the first draft late last year.
Now, when I write, my first draft is always short. My characters are faceless beings, walking around a foggy space — naked. They have few feelings, but man, do they get stuff done 🙂
So I’m used to editing and rewriting in the second round to flesh out the story.
Well, I decided to take EditPalooza with SavvyAuthors.com (great site, BTW).
I get to work with an editor and another writer.
So, the first assignment was to read my draft from start to finish, without picking up the red pen.
I almost cried.
My first draft is completely below my quality standards of a first draft.
So, nose to the grindstone. My goal is to drag it screaming if I have to, into a more acceptable thing.
So far, I’ve been doing pretty good. Slower than I hoped, but I’m pretty much on track.
What do your first drafts look like?
As I sit down to begin Dragos 3: Blazed, I can’t wait to hit the keyboard. Book 1 went fast (like superman fast). Book 3 has caught me, I can’t wait to write the characters. I know the plot.
Book 2, on the other hand, was a pit of mud mixed with quick sand. It took me forever to get the first part down.
Now, I’ve written enough to know every book is different. But I still don’t have that connection to Scorched that I would like. The funny thing is, everyone tells me it’s wonderful, better than book 1. But I’m just not feeling it like I did Burned, or like I’m feeling Blazed.
I guess we’ll see what my editor thinks when she gets back to me, right? 🙂
Anyway, I’m off to start pounding the keyboard with my newest tale…
~mumbles bye, head already in the clouds of Blazed.
Learning ‘All About Marketing’. Wow.
Who woulda thunk there was so much to learn about such an innocent seeming topic. But with any publisher now-a-days, E or New York, they’re all asking authors to carry a heavy part of the marketing bucket.
I think my brain’s about to explode.
But I’m learning. And soon (hopefully for the love of sanity) it will become a familiar thing.
I read a great document sent to me by my publisher. The one thing stressed above all others was the time.
As authors, we need to get the most bang for our buck–not just money, but time.
So right now, Marketing is taking up a lot of time. But as I get the hang of it, I’ll find new ways to use the time to set up, then be able to keep the ball rolling with little effort. It’s finding that ‘downhill’ that I’m working on now.
You tell me, what is your favorite way to market?
As a writer, we all experience this at least one time in our lives:
“So…” blushes and silence.
“Yes?” we prod.
“So, where do you get your ideas?”
Us-bangs head against the nearest hard surface.
I love Jeff Foxworthy and his ‘You might be a redneck if…’ jokes.
You might be an author if the above question makes you want to rip your hair out, or the hair of the person asking such a question.
But as a reader, I also understand. The amazing things writers come up with is astounding. The written word is as limitless as the imagination.
My novella coming out October 8th, Dragos: Burned, essentially came about because of two things– my love of all things dragon, and the spark of an idea I had.
What would happen if a dragon shapeshifter and a fireman fell in love?
Well, right there told me it was going to be a paranormal romance.
I had been pushing my personal boundaries and trying to write (and be comfortable with writing) sex scenes. So, I decided to include some of those.
Then it became a paranormal erotic romance.
***See how my brain progresses 🙂
So, I sat down to write my 1 sentence per chapter\scene outline.
When I got done, it had turned into a novella, not a novel.
Sure, I could have pushed for a novel, but the shorter length worked for me.
My ideas normally start with a character. For example, my historical paranormal romance came about because–my love for all things big cat (tigers) and my love of kick butt heroines in historicals. So, I made my heroine a princess in a matriarchal clan of tiger shapeshifters. And the hero? Well, she had to track him down and drag him home.
Ideas are everywhere. I remember a time I’d hear that and snort. No they aren’t.
The key is to train your brain to see them. And then, WRITE THEM DOWN. I don’t care if you have a photographic memory. The best ideas will slip through your fingers before they’re fully formed.
If you WRITE THEM DOWN, they’ll linger in your subconscious, growing and adding to themselves until one day, they’re ready for your inspection.
As authors, it’s our job not just to write, but to constantly cultivate ideas.
Just as we learn the craft, we learn how to see nibbles of ideas in everything around us (or, in my case, inside my wild imagination).
I always hear agents and editors talking about how they want something new and different.
Then, they add, but not too different.
What’s a writer to do? How do we find that line?
Obviously, I’m still working on that.
But I think, over the years of reading agent blogs (See the links for some of my favorites) I’ve come to get at least a slight grasp on the statement.
As a reader, I love seeing the common tropes I’ve come to expect from the genres I love. If I pick up a romance, I darn well want to experience the tumulus, rocky relationship, and the falling in love to their happily ever after. If I pick up an urban fantasy, I want that heroine to kick some major butt, but occasionally show the alpha hero her softer side. I also want to watch how she wraps him around her pinky–not in the way that he’s whipped, but in the way that he treats her with softness, and respect.
So as a writer, I think one of the most important things is knowing the tropes of the genre you write in. As long as you have what the reader expects, the playing field is yours baby 🙂
Q4U: What’s your take?