Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fast Draft Day 3

Wow, I am exhausted. LOL

Day 3 resulted in success! I got my 20 pages. But right now I am empty. May need to recharge the mojo for a bit this morning before I can move forward with the story.

Day 1: 15 pages
Day 2: 15 pages
Day 3: 20 pages

Total: 50 pages

Right now I should be sitting at 60 pages, but life, kids, etc making doing fast draft very difficult. Last night's final round had to been a bunch of crap. I kind of scared to read it so I can do a bit of editing. After I write, I usually scan over it the next day to knock out fast and furious edits:

  • Misspellings
  • Missing Words
  • Sentences that make no damn sense

My weekend will be busy with my birthday on Sunday and the Archon conference all weekend. How the hell will I pull this off?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fast Draft - Day 2

Somehow I'd survived my second day. It wasn't easy. I'd written over the whole day.

Day 1: 15 pages
Day 2: 15 pages

Total: 30 pages

Not a bad start. Yesterday started well, but then ended poorly. I was in the middle of writing using the application Write or Die and then my machine went blue screen of death on me. Not only did it crash once, but it crash three times. In the end, I ended up disabling auto Windows Update, adding a Windows Debugger to scour through the Windows dump file (.dmp) for my materials, and then going to bed fuming...

Lesson learned? You bet. I usually work in applications that guarantee me a backup. Like Microsoft Word. The application can give me an auto backup whenever I create a new document. I can even have that backup stored on my remote server for safe keeping.

I'd foolishly assumed Write or Die saved files as well. It does mine you. In My Documents there is a folder for Write or Die files. But those files are created after you finish a session. Which means that you could have thousands of words in the session, but if your computer goes nuclear then you are screwed.

It's the next day and I'm trying to be positive. It's likely those words are meant to be gone. Perhaps in my sleepy haze I wrote shoddy work and now I can write something deeper and more beautiful. I'm at a scene between the hero and heroine so with this chance I need to make things better and edit what I would have wrote yesterday.

Onward and upward!

Fast Draft Day 1

I'm participating in a Fast Draft through the encouragement of Bria Quinlan. I'd already needed a kick in the butt to get some work done on my current work in progress so I happily joined in. Candace Havens began the Fast Draft program and now I'm a happy participant.

The Fast Draft works like this:

  • 20 pages per day for 2 weeks
  • No excuses
  • No internal editor
  • Just write, write and write

Of course, this is easier said than done. Yesterday was my first day and I only got 5K which equals around 15 pages. Not the 20 pages I meant to get, but close enough. I've had a 10K day before so I know I can get out 20 pages.

How did yesterday work out?

Three quick rounds in the morning and then three in the afternoon. My best sprints are over a 45 minute period where with Write or Die I can knock out at least 1500 words if I'm in the zone. The hardest thing about sprinting is that you have to have to story ready to go in your head. I'm about to head into part of my story where research would be nice. Under normal circumstances I would spend a few hours researching and looking things up. Instead, I simply add a bracket around a set of words. [Vegetarian dish here]. It was hard as hell not to use the almighty Google to find what I wanted, but I managed to do it.

Come join in the fun! You might be surprised at what you can accomplish!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Great Book - The Chosen One

It's been a while since I've done a review. I've been a busy bee working on my next book. My crit partner Cole Gibsen had a talk a few weekends ago and she talked about a YA book with a great opening. The book was The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams. I'm so glad she told the audience about the book. The opening is spectacular. Matter of fact, the whole book has great pacing and by the end I was like wow, I won't forget this book.

What I loved about this book was how the plot propelled me forward. I cared about and wanted to know what happened to the heroine, a thirteen year-old girl named Kyra. Kyra lives on Compound with her father and his three wives. The Compound is the home of a conservative, polygamist community where girls are married off at a young age and they often become a wife to an older man with multiple wives. During the story, Kyra is told that she has to marry her sixty year-old uncle and become one of his many wives. The idea of doing such sickens her. Especially since she has given her heart to one of the young men in the Compound. She also longs for the things the community had before their zealous leader instituted more stringent rules. No more books. Young girls were to be married to the men the leader chose. Even if they didn't want to marry them, they would be either beaten or killed.

The story is full of shocking moments where I cringed and covered my mouth. It's these shocking moments that make the story rich and forces the reader to think about what might be out there in the world. Are there people who think and treat children in this type of manner. I won't spoil the story to tell you what happens to Kyra, especially since I want you to read it, but I highly recommend this book.

When I enjoy a book I read it quickly and this one took me a day or two. Definitely worth your time. I'd give this book a solid grade of an A.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Newbie's Guide to Literary Terms

Every writer has to start somewhere, and writing fiction can be intimidating enough with fellow writers tossing around literary terms like candy on Halloween. Sometimes you can see what's in the wrapping, while most of the time you have no idea what's within. Let's delve into a few of these terms:

■ Narrative
■ Exposition
■ Introspection
■ Plot Device
■ Deus Ex Machina

I retrieved a few of my terms from the Funk & Wagnalls Standard Desk Dictionary. The first term we'll look at is the narrative. That one relates to the whole picture. It's defined as:

narrative: "an account, story, or tale"

When you write a story, you create a narrative. The narrative is an account of the journey your protagonists (hero/heroine) and antagonists (villain, death, etc) undertake.

Let's look at the term exposition. This relates to how you convey your information. Your voice conveys to the reader what's in the narrative. Of course, like the narrative, you can mess up the exposition as well. Have you ever given so much back story that a crit partner knew the color of your character's underwear? Well, they might've said you gave an information dump or an exposition dump.

Formally, exposition is defined in the dictionary as: "the act of presenting, explaining, or expounding facts or ideas."

As authors, the exposition for us is the dialogue, description through imagery, etc. that gives the audience the background of the characters and the present situation.

So anytime someone says there's a problem with your exposition, you can elegantly extend your pinky finger in the air and tell them you'll correct it no problem. (Just make sure to ask for a specific page and paragraph since you'll likely have a lot to crawl through.)

Our exposition can go too far. Have you ever read a book where you got bored, couldn't wait to put it down? Perhaps the author included too much description. Or they had a never ending flashback or talked about every dog the character had since childhood. Details are nice, but like the next topic below, it should be used enough to convey the story and advance the plot.

Our next topic is introspection. Via our dictionary, introspection is defined as:

introspection: "The observation and analysis of one's own mental processes and
emotional states."

In essence, introspection is when your character reacts or thinks about something that has occurred. It's important when using introspection to not give too much or too little. For example, if your villain just left your heroine in the middle of the nowhere with no ride, I doubt she will have one line or two of introspection. There will likely be some dialogue (cursing), a visceral reaction (anger), and then some introspection on what has occurred and how she feels. Introspection is a valuable tool for romance writers.

Now we come to the plot device. Have you ever been told by a crit partner that you used something in your story as plot device? Perhaps you pulled a Deus Ex Machina out of thin air? How about we define these two terms together?

plot device: a character or object in the story that is only used to advance the plot.

deus ex machina: a plot device where the story's conflict is resolved through something that is not related to the story in any way. Also known as the "hand of God."

Based on the definitions given above, you can see these should be avoided in your manuscript. It's far too easy to use these our plots. For example, it would be too easy to let the heroine I described above find a car running and ready a few feet away from where the villain ditched her.
The car is a smaller form of Deus Ex Machina. A larger example would be if our heroine confronted the villain at his house. While in a knife fight, we might learn that the hero hid at the house the whole time and he comes bounding out of the attic to fight the villain and save the day. Way too easy! Why not have the heroine save herself in a battle to the death?

How do you avoid plot devices? If something is critical to making your story work, it should be fully ingrained in your plot. If you have a magical necklace that saves the day, give the necklace a history. Foreshadow it. Make the object a more active part of your story. There are ways to surprise the reader in the end without giving them the "cringe effect."

Cringe Effect: When a crit partner reads your work, cringes, and moans, "Oh, c'mon that came out of nowhere!"

Here are some great articles/blog posts on the topic I discussed above:

Any other terms you can think of when you started writing?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Meet the Synopsis Wizard!

Okay, after a busy Labor Day weekend I've emerged from the mad scientist's lair with another toy! The Synopsis Wizard. If you are like me, you hate writing a synopsis. You hate thinking about them, plotting out what needs to be written, and then having to write them down. I hope this little tool will at least make it less painful. This doesn't magically make the words in your head come out. You'll have to do the work and add in the elements for your synopsis.

Once you add in all the "pieces" your synopsis will be generated in a new window. Copy and paste into your preferred word processing application and then you are done!

The wizard is hosted on my website since it needs more space than this little window! If you have any questions or spot any bugs let me know!

Introductory Video: