Friday, December 19, 2014

2 things I learned about the novel process while I wasn't writing my blog.

Yeah. I haven't been posting. I've been involved in novel writing. Too involved to actually complete a post. I've started several, but never got around to completing them, or proofreading, or any time consuming sort of thing like that which requires effort.
I was busy having writing epiphanies. Too busy for blog posts.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Describing Setting: An Exercise

Someone in my writing group today was having difficulty moving her character from one location to the next. Yes, we had a writing group on Black Friday. We're writers and we like to spend Thanksgiving weekend writing.

She said she always gets stuck when transporting a character from one place to another. After several suggestions, including “Don't just write your characters walking around” and “Why not just put her in the next place?” and “Don't worry about it now. Get through your draft and come back to it later,” she informed us that she felt she needed to write that walk from place to the next so she could emphasize the setting. 
Setting must convey something. (Image courtesy of Mariluz Rodriguez on Flickr.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Who is Your Narrator?

You've carefully thought out your characters and planned the plot and structure of a novel. Then, once your characters get moving and start revealing new aspects of themselves that you never expected, everything changes. They'll start doing things in your story that you hadn't planned and you'll find yourself going back to rework your plan. Again.

That's okay.
You are not the puppet master. You are a novelist. (Image courtesy of Matthijs and altered.)
As a writer of novels, you have to give up control. Planning gives you direction and helps you move through the story so you don't get stuck, but no matter how much you prepare, your characters will eventually take over.

There is one place you probably can retain a shred of your

Monday, October 20, 2014

27 Things You Know as a Writer in Middle Age

1. You know that writing is not a romantic endeavor. It's a struggle. It's sacrifice. It's not a party and drinking doesn't help. It's real love.
Michael Douglas as Grady Tripp in the 2000 film adaptation of the novel The Wonder Boys.
Grady is on page 2,611 of his second novel. 
2. You know that it takes a lot of sitting and that leads to

Monday, October 13, 2014

Issue 02 of Four Chambers has been realeased.

Jake from Four Chambers asked me to pass this along...

Four Chambers—what certain members of the community are calling Phoenix's pre-eminent literary magazine (but only in

Sunday, October 5, 2014

How Procrastinating Helps You Write More

Procrastination is critical for a writer. Sometimes we get trapped in our writing schedule and our deadlines and our goals and our word counts. That can mean death to a novel. 

We get hung up on “Writers write”. Gawd, how many times has someone said (or written) that snarkily in response to someone discussing writing?

Really, it pisses me off.

You want to know when I've done the most and best writing? Those periods in life when I walk a lot, when I read a lot, when I get the chance to talk about writing.

Want to know when I don't write pages and pages or particularly well? When I'm working all the time, have my writing scheduled, and I'm insisting to the people around me, and to myself, that I need to sit down and write because I need to get it done.
Image: Nick Kenrick on Flickr (text added)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

12 Steps to Really Knowing Your Characters

In my previous post, I presented a series of questions to help think about your character-driven novel as a whole. The intent of this was to make you consider what you want your readers to feel and what you expect a novel to do. It also got you to think of your main character in terms that would help her to push the plot along, rather than depending on outside forces to move through the story.

Now I'm going to ask you to contemplate who your all characters are in greater depth. Even though we often spend a lot of time inside our protagonists and imagining them in great detail, sometimes we think about other characters within a limited context of the story. If you go to a critique group, you might be asked why character X lies to the protagonist. Your answer is probably about his motivation.

Well, if you're really writing a character based novel, simple motivations aren't enough.
Add depth to your novel by shedding light on the complexities of your secondary characters.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

3 Steps Before Starting the Novel

Back in June, I began to talk about where the idea for a novel comes from and how understanding your main character helps develop plot. 

I stand by this. 

Your novel starts with a compelling protagonist. The character doesn't need to be entirely sympathetic, but somebody who we can see humanity in, someone we can feel. And they must have a goal and a desire. (Note that I used and there—not or—I'll get there, eventually.)

I am also a proponent for writing several scenes until you develop an understanding for your character. This makes writing sound magical, though.

Writing is not magic. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

"There is no literary community here."

I live in Phoenix--widely known as a cultural wasteland. But it's not. Or it doesn't have to be.

When I lived in Downtown Phoenix a few years ago, the arts community was organizing in a grass roots way. There was so much need for it that the First Fridays grew into First and Third Fridays. It grew from people setting up folding tables on the sides of the streets to having to rent space and white street fair tents. The single block that had art parties on Saturday night grew

Friday, August 15, 2014

If you're a novelist, you have to be a little self-centered for at least a brief time.

We spend so much time being other things for other people--at our jobs, our volunteer work, with our families. But sometimes we forget that, as writers, our "other" job (our real job) is to present to the world a work of fiction that is somehow relevant, that deals with a truth that doesn't get dealt with on the surface and out in the open in everyday lifeor doesn't get the treatment it should there.

To do that, to really dig around in the grime of the truth, you (the writer) need to deeply question your own. Most people don't have time or the energy for such things. Life is easier without them. But, 
somehow, those same people read—and readers crave truth. They sense

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Blog Hop Begins

As previously posted here and on Writing without Workshops, I've enlisted a few people to start out a “blog hop”. I've never done this before, and I don't think any of the people starting it out have either, but that's not stopping us.

The idea of it is to encourage writers to discuss their own work in a way that will be relevant to themselves and to 

Friday, August 8, 2014

"What should I write about?"


When people ask this, I think, "Seriously???" (I have the extra question marks there in my mind.)

Really, though, people who tell me they are writers, or want to be writers, ask me this. It's difficult for me to imagine. Personally, I never have a shortage of things to write about—I don't have enough time.

But maybe it's coming to writing from a different place. Maybe it's a place where you know you want to write because you enjoy it but you don't know 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Blog Hop!

We're all writers. So why not share what we do?

The idea of a blog hop is to encourage authors to discuss their own work in a way that will be relevant to you and to readers interested in writing and the writing life. The plan is to give all bloggers about writing a lift, to build a writing community, exchange ideas about writing, and to support each other in our writing projects.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Need Time to Write?--Go Public!

5 ways going public will help you find time to write...

You say you want to write your book. You need to write your book.

The story is constantly on your mind, but you are not writing nearly enough. What's the deal?
So much to ask about the story. One question for the writer: Why am I not writing?
(Image: Orin Zebest on flickr)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Character Based v. Plot Based Fiction

Are you writing a character based novel or plot based novel?

A lot of us will insist that we are writing character based fiction because we've spent what seems like ages developing our characters. Our characters are engaging and funny, and they are the reason people read our work.

But we might be wrong.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Finding Plot within Characters--Simplified

The first step in finding a plot for a character based novel is knowing your protagonist well enough to understand how she will make a transformation throughout the story.

It is that transformation that becomes the plot.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

I am NOT a Fuck Up--Part 1

You're a writer and everyone else is doing better than you.

It doesn't actually matter.

You need to insist you are not a fuck up and that you make your own path.

In my last post, I revealed that it took me over ten years to begin to write this novel 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Just Beginning...

While I'm just beginning this blog, I'm a few years into the book. Many, many years of thinking and over one year of writing.

I'm still just trying to get through the story. My tendency is to build characters and scenes, to try to find what's really there, behind the action and the talk, to let my characters do what they will. Unfortunately, characters don't always do what you tell them to. Or even if they do, they do it half-heartedly, like they're saying, silently, "Okay, I'll go through the motions for you." So the story doesn't always do what I want it to--or it takes forever to get there.