Monday, July 21, 2014

Getting to Know You

I have started a new project, and I’m having trouble getting two of the characters on the page. On the suggestion of Amy Huntley, I started journaling for these characters. 

Journaling is a time to be self-indulgent. It’s a place to put backstory and info dumps that can’t go in a manuscript – at least not without serious revision and certainly not at the beginning. I start by picking a font that looks like my character’s handwriting and use it for the headings. One of the characters is a doodler, so I inserted clip art of drawings she might have made. 

Then I let my characters ramble until I find their voices. It doesn’t matter if they talk about characters and events unrelated to my story. I’m getting to know them. Sometimes they say things like, “But this isn’t about Gran, Greta, Nelson or even Carlotta. It’s about Calla” or “It’s easy to write about anything except him.” My characters know they’re supposed to be helping me, even when that’s hard to do. Often it takes several pages before I get to a kernel of truth like, “Maybe having an army of mismatched relatives to watch my back makes me brave. Maybe Calla only has me.”

Friday, July 11, 2014

Overheard #289

"Butterflies like to pretend they're fiercer than they actually are."

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Big Pile of Words

Confession #1: I am a plotter. Before I begin a new novel, I write a list of events, emotions and hooks that will go in each chapter. 

Confession #2: I don’t always stick to the outline. Sometimes I discover better directions. Other times those diversions need to be cut. This time, I started with the Beat Sheet from Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat to pinpoint the major landmarks, then I filled in the outline from the beat sheet.  

Confession #3: Several chapters in my outline have nothing written in them. 

Confession #4: I started writing anyway. 

The first draft is when I get to know my characters, hear their voices, and discover what bothers, excites, frightens and delights them. I can only do that by writing. For the first draft, I rake up a big pile of words without worrying whether any given scene or character is essential. Later, I’ll analyze the conglomeration and figure out what stays, what goes and what needs to be changed. 

Many writers worry about how bad their first drafts seem to be. A manuscript can’t be fixed until it is written. Creating this big pile of words is not only useful work, it is essential.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Overheard #288

“If you’re playing with neutron stars, go big or go home.”

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

I'm Still Running Late

I forgot to mention that Kim Van Sickler's blog hop post went up on June 30. Please visit Swagger to read her answers to the questions. 

And Kristin Nitz blog hop post went up today. Please visit Nitz Bitz to read about her writing process. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Running Behind

The irises and peonies bloomed a few weeks ago.

See the mosquito on the underside of the petal on the right?
Foxgloves are supposed to self-sow. My fingers are crossed.
The wild geraniums are one of my favorites.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Overheard #287

"Washboard is not a great solo instrument."