Fiction, Scene, Writing

Where in the world is that scene I wrote?

Thrice in the last few weeks, I’ve searched my notes in vain for a first-draft scene I’d written for my WIP. When I say first-draft scene, I mean dialogue with a few actions in place. And when I say thrice, I mean for three different scenes.

I have both a large notebook and a small one I carry in my purse, which I use to take notes when I’m away from the computer. Nothing in either. I create computer files, specifically for notes and partial scenes, for each novel and story I work on. Nothing. How can that be?

Every time I look in the mirror, my gray hair reminds me my brain is old, so these missing scenes freak me out. I’m determined to find the culprit because I really don’t want to think it’s my imagination. Did I “write” them while in the shower or driving? I often get inspiration or a breakthrough doing those things. Did I dream these scenes?

I don’t believe it’s my imagination because I can still see them clearly on my mental movie screen. Now, though, the sound is broken up. I haven’t had any computer problems (or SUE oops!) to explain their disappearance. So, apparently, I only thought I wrote them out.

Oh, wait! Maybe there’s a scene thief on the loose. Yeah, it must be that. I’m on the case.

And speaking of the world: The print version of The Brevity of Roses can now be ordered directly through the Amazon stores in the UK, Germany, France, Spain, and Italy. So, yay!

In other news: What I love about my community of writers is our willingness to help each other succeed. Often we’re not sure how much we actually help, but sometimes we get a special thank you to let us know how much our efforts were appreciated.

Dana Mason’s debut novel Dangerous Embrace is the first in a contemporary suspenseful romance series and will debut this October. A couple of days ago she said some nice things about me—elegant superhero?—and she awarded me this Random Act of Kindness award. Isn’t that sweet of her? Don’t forget to put Dangerous Embrace on your watch list!

Craft, Fiction, My Books, Novel, Scene, Tips, Writing

Why use graph paper to write a novel?

As a rule, I don’t write my fiction by hand, and I’ve certainly never written it on graph paper. But recently, in the middle of a session working on my next novel, I went to the supply closet and grabbed my graphing pad. For the next couple of hours, I did my WIP “writing” with pencil and ruler. Why?

I write fiction by “sight”, meaning I have to see it as a mental movie before I can write it out. Several scenes in my new story have characters moving about a large house that I couldn’t quite envision. I had a clear picture of individual rooms, but those rooms’ relation to all the others in the house stayed a bit murky. I needed to draw the floor plan.

That may seem nitpicky, but it bugs me if I can’t picture locations when I read a book. I want to see the “movie” while I read the same way I do when writing. And if I, the writer, don’t visualize the scene clearly, it’s likely my readers won’t either.

I expect I’ll have to map out the grounds around this house too, for logic’s sake. Heck, I might even sketch the exterior of the house for inspiration. That probably won’t figure in the cover art though. I have a different vision for that.

Your turn: Do you use any unusual tools to aid your writing?

Craft, Fiction, Novel, Scene, Writing

I’m writing this book like a 4-year-old

So, yeah. I’m writing a new book. It’s still in the early stages. I’m simultaneously doing pre-write planning and roughing out scenes. Plot points zip around at warp speed. Lines of dialogue float like music. Depending on the success of my writing day, narrative clomps or skips or lies down in the middle of the road.

I sit here every day fiddling with both Word and Scrivener because I’m comfortable with the first and trying to learn to use the second. I add a bit on a character sheet, note a fact to research, insert a new plot point into the timeline. I’m waiting.

Eventually, I see some action, I hear the conversation, and I start sketching a scene. He says, she says, he does, she does … oh wait! Before this scene, he would have to do this or that. Okay. So, that scene would go like this: He reads the letter and sinks down at the table, numb. She says, he says, he does, she does …

Ooo, ooo, this is good, she’s suspicious now. And at some point she’s going to confront the other woman and … new scene. She’ll say this, then the other woman will say that, then … wait!

Oh  wow this is great! When she finds out about the other woman, she’s going to freak, she’ll punish him by … yes yes yes! So that scene would go like this …  oh shoot! I forgot about that. Okay, sooooo …

I’ll write a scene where he does this and then …  oh oh oh I forgot to tell you this part … okay so first they went here and then … and then … and then …

Yeah, just like a 4-year-old telling you a story that goes on and on and jumps back and forth and then … and then … and then …

I’m excited about writing. How about you?

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Craft, Fiction, My Books, Novel, Reader, Reading, Scene, Writing

Are you writing with zest?

Nothing like a sex scene to get you in the mood! That was the original title of this post, but since it’s partly about subtlety, I nixed that one. Plus, it occurred to me how many disappointed searchers Google would send here.

As usual, I have more than one iron in the fire. I’m working on my next novel, and yes, I did write a sex scene today, but if you’re familiar with my writing, you know I love the art of the tease. In her review of The Brevity of Roses, Christa Polkinhorn said: “And, without any explicit love-making scenes, she creates a highly charged and sensuous atmosphere.” Yes, I do, and I’m doing it again in the next book.

Another thing I’m working on is determining what I do well in my writing. According to at least two of my beta readers, one of my strengths is subtlety. I expect my readers to think—not the drain your brain, reach for the how-to on literary analysis kind of thinking. I like to serve them delicate layers of meaning and just enough detail to incite their imaginations. I want to invite them into the story.

I’ve also just started reading a book that more than one person recommended to me before I finally took the hint. It’s Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing and here’s a passage that jumped out at me:

“If you are writing without zest, without gusto, without love, without fun, you are only half a writer. It means you are so busy keeping one eye on the commercial market, or one ear peeled for the avant-garde coterie, that you are not being yourself. You don’t even know yourself. For the first thing a writer should be is—excited. He should be a thing of fevers and enthusiasms. Without such vigor, he might as well be out picking peaches or digging ditches; God knows it’d be better for his health.”

So yes, I’m writing again with zest and loving it. And writing subtle sensual scenes adds a little gusto … as well as alliteration apparently.

Are you only half a writer?

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Characters, Craft, Fiction, Inspiration, My Books, Novel, Scene, Writing

Writing a novel my way

I’m excited about starting a new novel. I have my “world” set and I’m looking forward to living it in for a while. I’m not a major plotter. I have a vague outline. I’ve envisioned the beginning and ending scenes. I’ve written the opening paragraph and the last two lines of the book. Now I just need to fill in the middle. 🙂

I’ve written some notes, some questions, some character bits. I still need four secondary character names. Sometimes names come easy, obviously not this time, so for now they appear as DAUGHTER, SON, BROTHER, and TEMPTRESS.

At this stage, I spend a lot of my writing time not writing. With my eyes closed, I sit and daydream. Scenes materialize and I watch and listen. Questions arise and I devise the answers. Sometimes the answers change the scene, so I have to shake it like an Etch-A-Sketch and begin again.

The dialogue for a couple of the key scenes is rattling around in my head, so today I’ll write out as much of that as I can.  Writing the dialogue first enables me to visualize the scene, so when I go back to flesh it out, it’s easy to fill in the action and setting details.

When I get stuck, I go clean something until a new scene or more dialogue filters through to me. This is good because when it all comes together and I’m deep into writing, I can ignore dust and grime like you can’t imagine!

How’s life with you? Are you in a productive stage or down time?

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