I had planned to finish the second round rough draft by the end of May. Ha ha ha! I’m in Chapter 8 of 27.
This project grew from disparate things:
- Paint pens from a going-out-of-business sale
- A badly-painted “freebie” Christmas decoration
- An online ad for an outrageously-priced eyeglasses holder
- Recurring incidents of “lost” or knocked-around glasses
Despite lumps of epoxy and nicks in the paint, it had promise. Its weighted legs meant it wasn’t going to fall over when I bumped the nightstand, and its well-felted feet meant no worries about setting it on furniture.
It was a perfect project for brain-frying quarantine, particularly during the dreary days of flooding rain. I laid out junkmail flyers on the table next to my daily workspace. Between bouts of staring at the screen, I played around with the paint pens.
It took me roughly four weeks to finish.
Voila! A deer for all seasons.
Before I planted vegetables (and a melon!) in my garden, I planned. Some plants, like radishes, required containers to prevent ground-pests worming their way in. Others, like squash (and melon!) needed room to sprawl.
Unfortunately, I had forgotten a seed-packet of zucchini which I bought last year. After I planted it, I had a leftover of a different breed.* There were no more open, sunlit spaces with clearance all around… Continue reading
It’s hard to believe that theses beauties came from one scrawny plant that sprang out of the daylilies a friend brought me. And I nearly “weeded” it out!
In the background is two-thirds the front of La Casa de Tontería. The windows are my “office” (blinds drawn) and the guestroom. To the left is the short porch which runs the length of the living room and entryway.
Thursdays are usually my “screen day” of work, which means hours preparing lessons, answering emails and commenting on students’ submissions. Every 25 minutes, I must look into the distance to give my eyes a break.
The week before last, I looked up and saw two boys warily approaching La Casa de Tontería; a third waited on the road. They were heading back home after an afternoon in the State Park, an unaltered section of which lies beyond the dead-end of my street. They saw my house and wondered…
Yes, I welcomed them! It was good to see them “in the wild,” so to speak. One admitted to staying up all night – and it showed in the darkness around his eyes. Another was sent outdoors to give the rest of the family a break. The last is the quiet type with brains, which could go either way.
But they aren’t thieves or druggies. And they weren’t on the prowl for victims, just checking up on a neighbor-teacher.
It reminded me why I like kids.
Whenever I find good advice while reading about writing, I take notes and make a citation. Soon enough, certain names repeat; e.g. Donald Maass and James Scott Bell. Here are two whose work resonates with me:
- Elizabeth Sims. I don’t read her genre (mystery), but her sound advice and encouraging tone strike a chord with me. Many of her articles are available free online. This week, I’d recommend her “8 Ways to Write a 5-Star Chapter One.”
- David Farland aka David Wolverton. Long ago, in a galaxy far away, I read a Star Wars novel and somehow got onto his newsletter mailing list. (These things happen.) Some of his more popular newsletter topics can be found on his blog . I thought his post “Opening Strategies” would be good and “To Plot, or Not to Plot.”
I decided to share upbeat advice by Elizabeth Sims, an author of mysteries and frequent writer for Writer’s Digest: “Get Messy With Your First Draft.”
Unfortunately, there’s no free link to the article I found most helpful this week. “Plotting Your Way” (Writer’s Digest, September 2019) includes a quiz to determine a plotting method to fit your personality, and then explains it. The article is great whether you’ve got a plan in mind or you don’t know what you’re doing.
My quiz result recommended The Relaxed Framework Plotting Method. It’s a flexible structure that allows me to adjust plot points. I found it so helpful, I wanted to explain how I used it.
It required a “master trove,” a stack of index cards, and my working draft. Continue reading
At the beginning, of course!
Now that we’ve chosen what to write, we must choose where we’re jumping in.
I won’t bother to reiterate ways to begin the opening scene. Ruthanne Reid at The Write Practice already did the heavy lifting in Three Ways to Start a Novel. (Read it now or later – but definitely read it!)
On the other hand, we can start by writing the final scene. Continue reading
Before diving in, writers should ask themselves: What should I write? What do I want to write?
The answers might not be the same.
The “should” response may include matters of skill and marketability; e.g. you feel competent to write a particular story and/or there’s a market for it.
I should work on polishing the rough draft of a SF novel for young adults that I finished and put it aside to “simmer” before the rewrite. YA novels sell well now, and the premise of mine generated interest from an independent editor.
The “want” response is an emotional one. Characters appeal to you. Writing the action scenes is fun. The conflicts get your heart pumping.
What I want to work on is a fantasy novel for young readers who are advanced enough to handle higher vocabulary but not ready for the content of YA novels. I started working on a series of stories about these characters when I was child.* The setting feels like a second home and, with little preparation, I can pick up where I left off in the story.
Weigh the options and make a choice.
For me, the fantasy novel is the right choice. The SF novel requires research, including a trip to a currently-closed library.
* I remember tossing it into a burning barrel when I left home for the last time. However, my parents later delivered a box of source material they found in a closet: written scraps, typed character studies, and notebooks!
Re-blogging this. Chekov forces a writer to justify details; Hemingway cuts away the superfluous good stuff.
Recently I saw a passing reference to “Chekhov’s Gun” and “Hemingway’s Iceberg” theories of writing. The author (whose name I’ve forgotten) set them in opposition to each other, but I disagree. It’s comparing a microscope to a scalpel – different tools for different goals.
Anton Chekhov believed in relevance of detail:
Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.
Ernest Hemingway wrote in a pared-down manner, but his “iceberg theory” involved deliberately leaving out importantdetails or events. His idea was that if the writer knew about the important event, the readers would recognize they were seeing only the tip of the iceberg. The readers would puzzle out what was below the surface, and their effort…
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