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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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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Block, Doubt, Fiction, Inspiration, Motivation, Novel, Writing

Write what you LOVE!

Yesterday, I started writing a somber, angst-ridden post. I guess the title and the hearts are clues this is not that post. My last post was a bit of a downer. Some of your comments led me to search my soul, question my Muse, and whine to some friends. Oh yeah, I can be a real joy.

The conclusion? I’d stopped writing for the sheer love of writing and started writing with the mindset of production. My work had ceased to be a creative expression and become merely a commercial product. I’d tried to force it. I worked on four different books. But ultimately, I ground to a halt.

Then a friend asked me to read the blurb for her next book, and the wheels started turning. Her blurb reminded me of one of my book ideas. I’d written up some notes and a couple of opening paragraphs. I looked for the file. It took me two hours because I couldn’t remember what I’d named the file, plus I thought I’d started it last year. When I finally found the right file, it had a nondescript name and was dated ’09.

I read what I’d worked up and realized the original idea wouldn’t quite work … but then … oh, then the floodgates opened! I could change this. I could tweak that. And—Oh!—what if this happened? I got so excited that I couldn’t write fast enough and had to go back to the computer to type.

I had doubts. “Is this crazy?” I asked myself. “Can I do this in my “genre”? “Could this be a good story?” I emailed a friend. She wrote back, “I think it would be great!” And that was confirmed when I remembered one of my favorite quotes:

“Listen to Mustn’ts, child, listen to the Don’ts.
Listen to the Shouldn’ts, the Impossibles, the Won’ts.
Listen to the Never Haves, then listen close to me.
Anything can happen, child, Anything can be.”

-Shel Silverstein

So, I’m off and running. I’m writing, writing, writing. I’m in love again.

Write what you love, dear readers. Life’s too short not to.

Contest, Craft, Fiction, My Books, Narrative, Novel, Writing

What was I waiting for?

First, a contest Reminder: Check my sidebar –> for links to two bloggers giving away copies of my novel!

I’m not a NaNoWriMo sort of writer. And yet, I am a “pantser.” I don’t write true first drafts. I need a certain level of reassurance I’m on the right track before I can head out of the station. And yet, I love uncovering the story as if it were an ancient artifact at an archaeological dig.

For months now, I’ve been taking down notes, sometimes nearly full scenes, in preparation to write my next novel. I know how it begins, how it ends, and some bits in-between, but I’ve been waiting for something more.

I thought I was waiting for my main character’s voice to grow stronger. Maybe I needed to know her better before I could write her. But I already know her, I created her three years ago. She’s been talking to me for a while now.

I considered doing a real outline, the kind I’ve heard other writers talk about. Some novelists, maybe you, plan in such detail before they start writing that they know every scene and exactly which chapter it will happen in. My oddly disorganized organized brain rebels against all that, but I thought maybe this time I needed to do it differently.

Then I remembered that I set off writing The Brevity of Roses with only a need to explore the story idea. I had a general idea how it would end—I was wrong. I thought I knew who the main character was—wrong again. I loved the adventure of discovery, and it turned out all right.

So, I kept taking notes and writing out bits of dialogue that came to me. I opened the file and stared at the opening paragraphs for a while before closing the file unchanged. Finally, it hit me; the problem was structure. I ran it by my critique partners and we decided my original plan was needlessly complicated. After I made a new decision on how to narrate the story, everything clicked into place. I’m writing again, and it feels wonderful.

Your turn: What do you need to know before you can start writing?

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