Saturday, January 28, 2006
Finding Your Voice
I don't think it is possible to give tips for finding one's voice; it's one of those things for which there aren't really any tricks or shortcuts, or even any advice that necessarily translates from writer to writer. All I can tell you is to write as much as possible.
--Poppy Z. Brite
I was talking with my coworker this week about finding your voice. She has been in several writer's groups, and mentioned that one of the writers told her that it took her years to find her voice. My coworker says she doesn't think she has found her voice, and she has also been writing for years.
Is it weird to think I've found my voice? I have a lot to learn as a writer, but finding my voice isn't one of those things.
On the other hand, I could use some help with detail . . .
In other news, I've set up a newsletter sign-up box (see sidebar). I'm sincere about not buring you under e-mail. You'll get an e-mail message when I have book news or a contest running. I hope you'll sign up!
Just get it down on paper, and then we'll see what to do about it.
I'm attending a writing conference next weekend. It starts Friday night and continues Saturday morning, way too early. (I am not a morning person.) I'm looking forward to it, although I'm such a newbie. I'm hoping I'll learn a lot from it.
I have set In Her Eyes aside for the moment. I spent too much time with it last weekend, so I need a break. I'm now working on my historical, The House Party. Tonight, I started writing an outline for it. Office Relations was short enough that I didn't really need one. I knew what the conflict was and had a solid idea of where the story was going.
In The House Party, I know the characters fairly well and have a general idea about the conflict. Nevertheless, my outline for In Her Eyes was incredibly helpful, and I think outlining The House Party will help me clarify a few things. I'm planning to finish the outline tomorrow.
No news yet on the Amber Heat Wave contest front. Maybe next week. I'd love to have good news to share at the conference.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Show, don't tell.
I got some feedback from one of my two readers. She was very helpful; she reinforced a few things I suspected about my writing and gave me some good ideas as well. I also figured out what I'm going to focus on for Jo Leigh's Uber Challenge: the art of showing. Here's an example:
"She required tidiness; even one small object out of place was a problem for her." The reader asks: "How does he know this? Show us how."
My response: good idea. There are many moments in the manuscript that could benefit from a good dose of showing.
As for compliments, the reader says, "I definitely want to know more about the world you've created, and how these two will work together." That was nice to hear.
In blog surfing news, some authors share their stories about getting published. Interesting and inspiring stuff.
Seen and Heard
Writers should be read, but neither seen nor heard.
--Daphne du Maurier
I'm blatantly disregarding du Maurier's advice: I'm getting a website. I'm just beginning the process. The designer tells me it will likely be ready in about two weeks. At that time, I can be seen by web surfers.
Still waiting to hear about the Amber Heat Wave contest. I hope to hear soon.
Sunday, January 22, 2006
Out for Review
I am returning this otherwise good typing paper to you because someone has printed gibberish all over it and put your name at the top.
--Unknown English Professor
I've spent much of the weekend revising the prologue and chapters 1-3 of In Her Eyes. Now I have sent them to two test readers for their opinions. I'm hoping they won't have the same opinion as the English professor quoted above. I doubt they will be quite so harsh, and I'm looking forward to some helpful comments from both of them.
Revising this story has been a huge learning experience for me. Chapter 3 in particular bears little resemblance to the original version. In my first draft, the conflict I set up between the hero and heroine essentially vanishes in chapter 3. I realized later that this conflict needed to last a bit longer, so that required significant rewriting. I've also bolstered the world-building somewhat.
I'm so familiar with the characters, and I know what happens in the story, so I'm quite curious about how someone who isn't familiar with them will react. I just have to remind myself that I won't hear anything until mid-February.
Saturday, January 21, 2006
Revision plays a very large role in writing. Sometimes it seems to be all revision. And the longer I write, the more I revise--and it's never completely right.
I'm still revising In Her Eyes, and I'm finding that the revision seems to spawn more revision. This week, I printed and read the entire story. It was very helpful to me to do it that way; I found that it was better than I expected, but there are still several spots that need a lot of work. The scene where the hero and heroine meet, for example, needs to be stronger, so I'm revising that right now.
I'm still planning to send the first three chapters to the Barclay Sterling Contest, so I need to get them revised and ready to go in the next two months.
I'm also considering having a website created. I've found this company, Writer Web Designs, and they are offering a great deal on websites now. I just have to make a decision by January 31 to take advantage of this particular offer. My only hesitation is the fact that I'm not published yet. So I'm still considering, but I'll keep you posted.
Sunday, January 15, 2006
58,143 and Counting
To be a writer is to throw away a great deal, not to be satisfied, to type again, and then again and once more, and over and over.
I'm back to In Her Eyes. How is it I wrote 50,000 words in November but am only at 58,000 words now? It's true that I needed a break from the story, so that's part of it. Now I'm eager to revise and send it to a few readers for advice. When I first started revising, it was quite a chore. It's still challenging, but I'm more invigorated by the process. I will enjoy that while it lasts and keep going. I'm filling in some of the early sections of the story right now, and will keep moving forward.
I've been reading Scene and Structure by Jack M. Bickham. It's been interesting so far. Some of the suggestions I have been doing instinctively, probably because of the amount of reading I do. Other advice should be helpful in future.
Monday, January 09, 2006
First drafts are for learning what your novel or story is about.
I've found this quote to be true with Hannah and Ben's story. I'm finding out what the story is about only as I write the story. Last week I talked with a coworker about my problems with this particular one, and I think I'm finally back on track. I'm getting to know Ben better and hope that will continue. At some point, I need to come up with a working title for this story.
I'm slowly revising In Her Eyes as well. I hope to have it revised in March; then perhaps I can send it to a few test readers to get more input.
Thursday, January 05, 2006
Ben, How I Wish I Knew You
A writer should know how much change a character has in his pockets.
So, Office Relations is off to Amber Quill Press, and I've been good about only checking my e-mail twice a day for news. :)
I'm back to Hannah and Ben. I've got a pretty good grip on Hannah. But Ben . . . let's just say the man is still very much a mystery. I'm not sure I believe writers need to know as much about characters as Joyce says in today's quote. But I know very little about Ben besides the fact that he is an incredibly handsome designer who is also bordering on too good to be true.
The conflict of the story isn't clear, either. I don't know what the conflict is, and that might be partly because I don't know Ben. I'm struggling to figure it out. What are his weaknesses? What's keeping him from being with Hannah and living happily ever after? It's puzzling.
My coworker says she likes Hannah better than anyone I've written. Now, I need to figure out Hannah's story.
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you're working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success--but only if you persist.
I'm an official entrant in the 2006 Amber Heat Wave contest. I was planning to wait until after I got my additional feedback from my reader, but I was too impatient to wait any longer. So now it's done, and I've selected the consolation prize I want if my story isn't selected. It's either this T-shirt or this one. I'm leaning toward the first one: Got Plot? I think it's fun.
Tonight I decided to read Office Relations aloud before sending it to the contest. I'm so, so glad I did. I caught a lot of small things like continuity issues, repetitions, and a few awkward phrases. I plan to do this with all my stories now, although this one is only a little more than 10,000 words. Longer stories will take a lot more time to read aloud.
Wish me luck! The winners are announced March 1.
Sunday, January 01, 2006
Happy New Year!
I write to find out what I'm talking about.
It's hard to believe that a new year has begun. This one will begin with a contest--once I hear from my reader, I will send Office Relations to the Amber Heat Wave contest. I'm getting a little nervous about submitting, because the date for entering has seemed like the distant future. Now that future is here. Yikes. I must come up with rewards for entering and for losing the contest. Winning would be its own reward, I think. :)
Happy new year!