Living and Writing With Depression

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


This post is going to be a little different than most. I didn't plan this post out ahead of time. This is all coming straight from my head to the page. 

I don't talk about myself much on the blog, but you should know that when I was 19, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder. That was a long time ago, but I still struggle everyday. My Bipolar Disorder is pretty stable right now but the Borderline disorder makes every day a chore. 

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Writing Quotes To Inspire and Guide You (part 4)

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

I love quotes. I've been collecting them for years. There's just something about these compact bits of inspiration or advice that really appeals to me. I collect quotes that speak to me, teach me something, or motivate me in some way. But most of all, I collect quotes that help me feel a little less alone. Hopefully, you'll find something here that makes you feel the same way.

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Using Point of View Correctly

Wednesday, August 30, 2017
using point of view correctly, examples, narration, style


Anyone can tell you that good writing flows easily from beginning to end without reminding the reader that there is a writer behind the words. Unfortunately, many beginning writers sometimes ruin that flow by constantly reinserting their point of view character back into the narrative. Once you've moved the reader into the story, you don't want to yank him out again by placing your character in every sentence. 

Kristen Johnson Ingram, an author of over twenty books and instructor for WritersOnlineWorkshops.com, calls this the "viewpoint intruder." 


"He noticed..."


In the book Crafting Novels and Short Stories, Ms. Ingram provides us with several great examples of viewpoint intrusion. The first one she mentions is the use of the word, noticed. She provides an example:

The others were laughing and talking as they sat down at the table. As Kirk reached across the table for the bread, he noticed his hands. His fingers were long and brown, and he noticed how the light gleamed off his wedding ring. 

In this example, Ms. Ingram points out that the writer has inserted not one, but two intrusive "notices." He noticed his hands and noticed the gleam on his wedding ring. The scene would be smoother if she wrote it more like this:

Kirk reached across the table for the bread. His fingers were long and brown, and light gleamed on his wedding ring. 

Here's another example, this one from an essay:

I looked over at Jenny propped up on the hospital bed. I could see her bright smile, but I knew she was in pain. 

"I looked" and "I could see" are both unnecessary intrusions (and we might even include "I knew"). The point of view character has been in the hospital for some time, thinking about Jenny's circumstances. So all she needed was, "Jenny was propped up on the bed. She was smiling, but I knew she was in pain." Or even, "Jenny was propped up in the bed, smiling in spite of her pain."

Use Your Senses

Ms. Ingram also talks about how easy it is for the viewpoint intruder to take over when we are writing about sensory impressions. She gives us another example:

Rob opened the door. He could smell fried chicken and onions, and he heard the butter crackling in the skillet. His mouth watered from hunger. 

Rob's senses are great but you can use them better by implying, not reminding us of, his presence until you need it:

Rob opened the door. The aroma of fried chicken crackling in the skillet with onion made his mouth water. 

Stay Vigilant 

Try not to be too hard on yourself when you catch your point of view character creeping into your narrative. It happens to the best writers. We just need to stay vigilant and keep a look out for those moments when we've allowed viewpoint intrusion to take over and then we just have to get rid of them. With practice, we'll get better and better at weeding them out. 

Have you been letting your character's viewpoint intrude on your narrative? 

Until next week!

Kelly

Kristen Johnson Ingram's Author Page on Amazon



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How To Create Unique Characters

Wednesday, August 23, 2017
creating unique characters, character creation, writing, ideas, brainstorming, inspiration


I'm in the character creation stage of a new story so as part of my series on new beginnings, I want to go over some great brainstorming tips I found. Today, I'm going to share something from one of my favorite books on writing, The Art and Craft of Storytelling: A Comprehensive Guide to Classic Writing Techniques, by Nancy Lamb, where the author reminds us that our challenge as writers is to "create a character that lives and breathes on the page, a character that laughs and cries and makes the reader feel those emotions." She tells us:

When you approach your characters, remember it is not only the hero that must stand out. All the characters in your story, major and minor characters, should occupy a unique place in your own imagination in order for them to occupy that same status in the reader's imagination.

A Matter of Authenticity

Before you become too involved in writing your story, take the time to do everything you can to establish the essence of your character in your own mind.

A strong character doesn't behave the way you want him to. A strong character behaves the way he should. Every time you write a new scene ask yourself if your hero's action is authentic. 

If you are writing about a woman who is excruciatingly shy, she can't walk into a party where she doesn't know anyone and introduce herself to the nearest stranger. Not going to happen.

Keep in mind that the actions of the character must be organic; they must grow naturally from the heart and mind of that character. Once you've established this foundation, you can move forward into your story with confidence. 

How To Create Unique Characters

There are endless ways to flesh out a character. One way to create multiple dimensions in the person who inhabits the pages of your book is to imagine different aspects of that character's inner and outer life. Here's a list of possible character traits for you to consider. This is a taking-off point. A framework to help you invent fully rounded and interesting characters. Add to it. Subtract from it. Embellish, embroider, and expand it. But most of all, use it.

Personality: Is your character aggressive or passive? Brave or fearful? Confident or shy? Creative? Eccentric? Introverted or extroverted? Logical? Optimistic or pessimistic? Paranoid? Risk-adverse or risk-taking?

Defining traits: Could your character be described as a bully or an underdog? A geek or a loner? A joiner or a leader? On the other hand, is he cold and warm? Confrontational and eager to please? Defiant and indifferent? Disliked? Feared? The life of the party or reclusive? 

Origin: DId your character grow up in an urban or rural area? In the big city or a small town? On which continent? In which country? With one parent or both? Was he an orphan? (How did these things affect his world view?) 

Home: Where does your character hang his hat? In a city or the suburbs? On the coast or in the plains? On an island? In the desert?

Shelter: What kind of building does your character live in? Apartment? Farm? House? What architecture style? Mansion? Public housing? Ranch? Shack? On the street?

Family Constellation: Does your character have children or grandchildren? Are her grandparents still living? Is she single, married, separated, or divorced? What's her relationship with her parent(s) or stepparent(s)? Where does she fall in the birth order? Does she have any pets?

Best Friends: Who are your character's best friends? What genders are they? How did they meet? What's the nature of the relationships? What interests do they share? How often do they communicate with one another? 

Interests: What is your character passionate about? Art, music, film, literature? Animals? The environment? Science and technology? Politics and religion? Culture, cuisine, and travel? Sports and games?

Dislikes: What repulses and irritates your character? Leafy green vegetables? Classical music? The opposite sex? Rude drivers? 

Favorites: What's your character's favorite...artist? Book or author? Clothing line? Color? Song? Flower? Food? Game? Sport? Movie or TV show?

Hobbies: When your character isn't at work, she's spending her time....antiquing? Camping? Coin or stamp collecting? Gaming? Gardening? Cooking? Painting, drawing, or sculpting? Parachute jumping or rock climbing? Shopping? Volunteering? 

Clothes: How does your character dress? Casual, trendy, sloppy, formal? Does he take pride in his appearance? Does he spend money on clothes?

Names: Does your character have a nickname? If so, what does that name reflect? Her appearance, circumstance, personality? Does she like or hate her nickname? If she's married, did she take her spouses name?

Body language: How does your character carry himself? Does he stand straight? Make eye-contact? Have a limp handshake? Walk as if defeated, with slumped shoulders? Glide gracefully down hallways? Trip and fall often? 

As you apply these particulars, preferences, and circumstances to your character, as yourself the following questions:


  • Is my character too bland? Too homogeneous?
  • How do the traits reflect the heart and spirit of my character?
  • How do they demonstrate who he is and what he stands for?
  • How do these traits indicate emotional conflict?
  • What do they say about his inner life?
  • What do they say about his outer life?
  • How do the traits indicate the complexity of the character?
  • What other traits, circumstances, or preferences can add depth and texture and conflicts to the character?

That's it for today! I hope this was as helpful to you as it was for me. If you have any questions or comments, let me know.

Until next week!

Kelly










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From Idea To Page In Four Simple Steps

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


I like to keep things as simple as possible. I also think it's usually easiest to start at the beginning. So that's what I'm going to do here over the next couple of weeks. Start at the beginning. As in, the beginning of your story. 

But first, we always start with an idea. The hardest part, in my opinion, is getting that idea from your brain to the page. 

Like I said, I like to keep things simple. So, a few days ago, when I had a new idea for a story, I turned to my books and to a list by writer N. M. Kelby. She's the author of a book called The Constant Art of Being a Writer: The Life, Art & Business of Fiction. In one of my favorite books on writing, The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing, N.M. Kelby provides us with a simple list to help us get our ideas from brain to page. It's a list I've turned to multiple times when I have a new idea and have to start somewhere. 

Ms. Kelby says it "helps build the frame that you hang your story on."

Step 1: Always begin with your protagonist. The readers need to discover who the hero is and why they should root for him. Introduce your protagonist, either directly or indirectly, within the first 300 words. 

Step 2: Establish time and place. Your readers should know exactly where they are. If they are wondering, they lose focus and may stop reading. They have to trust that you are in control of the story. Nobody likes to be left alone in the dark. 

Step 3: Announce the stakes. Great prose will go a long way, about 2,500 words, more or less. After that, even the most literary readers want to know why they are reading. Just a simple sentence can do the trick. At the end of the first section of The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brian writes of the letters that Jimmy Cross received from a girl back home named Martha. He mentions that they're signed "Love, Martha," but acknowledges that using the word "love" is a custom and not anything more. At the end of this section, O'Brien writes, "Slowly, a bit distracted, he would get up and move among his men, checking the perimeter, then at full dark he would return to his hole and watch the night and wonder is Martha was a virgin."

Right there, the author lets us know what's really on the mind, and at the heart of the story, of this young man who is so very far from home. 

Step 4: Organize. Once you have your story structured around the beginning you've set in place, look at all the bits of writing you've done and all the notes you've taken and ask yourself one simple question: "Where the heck was I going with this?" If you don't know, or if where you're going now doesn't match where you were going when you set out, focus on better defining those areas before you go any further. 

Next week, we will be taking a close look at what goes into writing a great first chapter. Until then, Have a great week! 

Kelly

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Point of View Examples

Wednesday, August 9, 2017
point of view examples first second third person point of view
Point of View Examples Infographic at thebeginningwriter.com


One of my readers asked for some more examples of point of view in sentence form. I got the idea to try to create an infographic but I am not sure how well it turned out. 

I hope this helps those who could use a few more examples of different point of views. 

I was going to finish my series on structure and plot next week, but now I am thinking maybe I should go more in depth on the different point of views. What do you guys think?

Until then, 

Kelly
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Get Your Act(s) Together

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Get Your Acts Together at thebeginningwriter.com


The Three-Act Structure

Today I want to talk about an important part of novel writing: the three-act structure.


It may sound like a boring topic but if you want to learn about the real craft of writing, you have to learn about story structure. Why? Because the further your story deviates from structure, the less likely you will be able to connect with your readers.


When you read a novel that isn't quite grabbing you, the reason is probably structure. Even though it may have good characters, snappy dialogue, and intriguing settings, the story isn't unfolding in the optimum fashion.

-James Scott Bell, Plot And Strucure

In The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing, best selling author Ridley Pearson tells us that there are structures and forms to writing fiction that help you hold all the pieces together and transform and idea into a story. This form, the three-act structure, has been handed down to us from the ancient Greeks, and is one that's been proven successful for thousands of years.


The three acts are referred to in various ways:

  • Beginning, Middle, End
  • Opening, Development, Conclusion
  • The Decision To Act, The Action, The Consequences Of The Action.
Following this form will help you get a handle on what's working and what's not in your stories.

Act 1: The Challenge


"The first act establishes action, characters, and what's at stake. It shows the reader the boundaries the protagonist must operate within. They may be physical or mental; real or imagined; age based or gender based."


"The characters face internal conflicts (character issues) just as they face external conflicts (the challenge of the story). Act 1 is where all this is brought to the page."


You can think of it in terms of set up. In the first act we learn who the protagonist is and see him interacting with his everyday life. We learn what's act stake and what he has to lose. It's hear that the protagonist overcomes his concerns, accepts the challenge, and decides to take it on.


Act 2: Action


Act 2 involves the darkest moment of the story. Complications challenge characters and make everything more difficult. "This darkest moment is when everything goes to ruin and we fear for the protagonist's life (or relationship, or whatever's at stake).


"The second act is a balance of action, story development, and interiorizing the characters. We're not going to have time to resolve everything in the third act without it feeling forced. This is a place first time novelists make mistakes. Near the end of the second act is a good time to resolve sub-plots, or at least move them along so you can resolve them quickly in the third act."

Now is the time to get that stuff out of the way.



Act 3: The Consequences

The third act is where the action hits full stride. "It begins with the unexpected and ends with the long anticipated.


If we spent the first two acts making our protagonist flawed, vulnerable, and human, here's where he overachieves and becomes superhuman. Dorthy will kill the witch. Luke will slay Lord Vader."


In The Writer's Journey, Volger writes that "the story is meaningless if the hero returns without the elixer. This is a truth, an antidote, a treasure, a lesson. Dorothy realizes there is no place like home. Someone graduates from college, or training, or bootcamp. There's a truth gained, and it's worth all he has gone through."


This is the payoff. It is all that has been accomplished, all that has been learned. The reader, along with the protagonist is satisfied.


The three-act structure is there because it works. Think of a movie or book that rises above the others and I am sure it will fit into this form.


I know I'm grateful to have this foundation, this support, when crafting my stories. But what about you? Do you use the three-act structure? Is there any part you have trouble with?


-Kelly

The Complete Handbook Of Novel Writing by Writer's Digest

The Writer's Journey By Christopher Vogler

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Some Rules For Writing Dialogue

Sunday, June 25, 2017
Some Rules For Writing Dialogue at thebeginningwriter.com

Hey, guys! How have you been doing lately? Are you working hard, or hardly working? HAHA Well, in my case, I've been struggling to work. I have depression and other mental health issues that interfere sometimes. It feels like pulling teeth just trying to get anything done. So, this week is going to be a quick, yet important post.

Dialogue. It's either your best friend or your worst enemy. Writing smooth dialogue is absolutely integral to quality writing, and that can be kind of intimidating. So this week I want to cover a few "rules" I read about in a book called, 90 Days To Your Novel, by Sarah Domet.

  • Avoid beginning a scene with a line of dialogue. It's a good idea to first orient your reader to the setting and who is present at the scene. Readers process information in the order they receive it, so if you launch into dialogue before setting the scene, they may not know who is speaking and to whom.

  • Be sure to describe what your character is doing while he is speaking. When one character tells another he loves her, is is looking at the floor? Is he flipping through channels on the television set?

  • Be sure to give some insight into what the characters are thinking versus what they are saying. Such a contrast will provide tension in your scene.

  • Be sure to balance dialogue with descriptions of setting and paragraphs of exposition. Dialogue scenes are often a great place to "sneak in" sentences of exposition and character history that might stand out if it contained in separate paragraph. For example:

    • "I love you, too." Ricky said. He doubted there was such a thing as love. His ex-wife told him she loved him all the time, all the while sleeping with his brother, Mickey."

  • Less is more when it comes to dialogue. People don't often speak in long paragraphs. At least not without some breaks. Dialogue scenes can quicken the pace of a novel and give your reader a needed rest from long paragraphs of exposition or description.

  • Your characters should all speak differently from one another. If you randomly extracted a line of dialogue from your novel, you should be able to tell to whom it belongs simply by analyzing the dictation, content, and tone.

  • Make sure you include dialogue tags so we know who is speaking and to whom. A simple, "he said" or "she said" usually works best and does not draw attention to itself as "He pontificated wildly" might. Your goal is to aim for invisibility when writing dialogue tags, so this is not the best place to demonstrate your creativity.

  • Avoid too many adverbs in your dialogue tags that tell your reader how to "interpret" a line of dialogue. Consider this example: "'I hate you, I hate you, I hate you, Ricky!" Penelope is saying something as strong as "I hate you, I hate you, I hate you," we can assume she's saying it angrily. Your dialogue should be able to, pardon the pun, speak for itself. Trust that your reader will "get" it.

  • Avoid overusing exclamation points!  These can be easily distracting and irritating to your reader! Plus, it makes it seem like your characters are breathlessly exclaiming something, when this isn't always the case! Punctuation should, like dialogue tags, never draw attention to itself! Never ever!

  • Always read your dialogue out loud. When you do this, you'll be able to pick up on awkward phrases and dialogue that sounds stilted. It will also help you generate ideas.

Well, that's all for this week. I know it's not much but I am still getting back on my feet. Next week I'm going to take a more in depth look at dialogue so be sure to come back for that.

Until then!

Kelly


For more info: 90 Days To Your Novel by Sarah Domet

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Some "Rules" For Writing Dialogue

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Hey, guys! How have you been doing lately? Are you working hard, or hardly working? HAHA Well, in my case, I've been struggling to work. I have depression and other mental health issues that interfere sometimes. It feels like pulling teeth just trying to get anything done. So, this week is going to be a quick, yet important post.


Dialogue. It's either your best friend or your worst enemy. Writing smooth dialogue is absolutely integral to quality writing, and that can be kind of intimidating. So this week I want to cover a few "rules" I read about in a book called, 90 Days To Your Novel, by Sarah Domet.


  • Avoid beginning a scene with a line of dialogue. It's a good idea to first orient your reader to the setting and who is present at the scene. Readers process information in the order they receive it, so if you launch into dialogue before setting the scene, they may not know who is speaking and to whom.
  • Be sure to describe what your character is doing while he is speaking. When one character tells another he loves her, is is looking at the floor? Is he flipping through channels on the television set?
  • Be sure to give some insight into what the characters are thinking versus what they are saying. Such a contrast will provide tension in your scene.
  • Be sure to balance dialogue with descriptions of setting and paragraphs of exposition. Dialogue scenes are often a great place to "sneak in" sentences of exposition and character history that might stand out if it contained in separate paragraph. For example:
    • "I love you, too." Ricky said. He doubted there was such a thing as love. His ex-wife told him she loved him all the time, all the while sleeping with his brother, Mickey."
  • Less is more when it comes to dialogue. People don't often speak in long paragraphs. At least not without some breaks. Dialogue scenes can quicken the pace of a novel and give your reader a needed rest from long paragraphs of exposition or description.
  • Your characters should all speak differently from one another. If you randomly extracted a line of dialogue from your novel, you should be able to tell to whom it belongs simply by analyzing the dictation, content, and tone.
  • Make sure you include dialogue tags so we know who is speaking and to whom. A simple, "he said" or "she said" usually works best and does not draw attention to itself as "He pontificated wildly" might. Your goal is to aim for invisibility when writing dialogue tags, so this is not the best place to demonstrate your creativity.
  • Avoid too many adverbs in your dialogue tags that tell your reader how to "interpret" a line of dialogue. Consider this example: "'I hate you, I hate you, I hate you, Ricky!" Penelope is saying something as strong as "I hate you, I hate you, I hate you," we can assume she's saying it angrily. Your dialogue should be able to, pardon the pun, speak for itself. Trust that your reader will "get" it.
  • Avoid overusing exclamation points!  These can be easily distracting and irritating to your reader! Plus, it makes it seem like your characters are breathlessly exclaiming something, when this isn't always the case! Punctuation should, like dialogue tags, never draw attention to itself! Never ever!
  • Always read your dialogue out loud. When you do this, you'll be able to pick up on awkward phrases and dialogue that sounds stilted. It will also help you generate ideas.


Well, that's all for this week. I know it's not much but I am still getting back on my feet. Next week I'm going to take a more in depth look at dialogue so be sure to come back for that.


Until then!

Kelly

For more info: 90 Days To Your Novel by Sarah Domet
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Eight Ways To Structure Your Story

Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Eight Ways To Structure Your Story at thebeginningwriter.com

Structure is nothing more than a way of looking at your story material so that it is organized in a way that is both logical and dramatic.
- Jack M. Bickham

I recently started a new writing project and I know that the idea is bigger and more complicated than anything I have every done before. I knew that I needed to get organized or it was going to be a complete mess.

Distinguished Author Nancy Lamb wrote about story structure in her book The Art and Craft of Storytelling. She reminds us that structure isn't a prefabricated box that you cram your story into. It is more like a flexible framework that helps you move through your narrative without losing your way. 

She tells us:

"Think of structure as a series of road signs posted along the journey of your story. Without it, narrative has no form and plot has no provocative way to move the reader from one moment to the next, from one scene to the next.

The most basic element of structure is what we are all taught in school: every story has a beginning, middle, and end. Every scene has a beginning, middle, and end. But how these elements are dramatized, how they are conceived and shaped, juxtaposed and presented, is up to you.

Storytelling rules aren't restrictions. In fact, a basic understanding of the rules frees you to you to do your job as a writer. Each author must approach the structuring of a story in a way that feels comfortable to him or her."

Eight Approaches To Structuring Your Story

There is no perfect way to fit the pieces of a story together. We have to plan and experiment, fall down, get back up, fall again, and get back up again, before we settle on a way that works for us. The most important thing is that we keep going until we get it right. 

With that in mind, Nancy Lamb has provided us with eight ways to approach structuring our stories. 

#1 Keep It Simple

The most fundamental way to look at story is as a narrative with a beginning, middle, and end. Formulate what each of these means to the plot and how they relate to each other. Then write your story.
  • In the beginning, define what your hero wants and why he wants it.
  • In the middle, create the obstacles the hero must overcome in order to accomplish his goal. 
  • In the end, resolve the situation in a believable and logical way.
Once you've settled on these fundamentals in your own mind, build a story around them, expanding each section and enlarging each plot point as you move through the narrative. 

#2 Play It As It Lays (Otherwise known as pantsing) 

Make a few notes on your characters and scenes. Get a firm concept in your head of what your book is about. Then take a deep breath and begin.

Here's your winging it, allowing one situation to lead to the next that leads to the next. There's not much advance planning but there is room for spontaneity. 

For most authors, even seasoned ones, this is a risky way to write a book. The open-ended approach makes it too easy to stray from a well plotted story path. That said, there's no question that this method works for some people. Playing as it lays is analogous to walking down a dark and unfamiliar read using only a tiny flashlight. You can't see very far in front of you but if you focus carefully on the business at hand, it's possible to make it all the way to the end of the road. 

In this approach, begin by putting your hero in the opening situation and presenting the opening complication. Then let your characters do the talking and your imagination do the walking. 

#3 Take Baby Steps

Break your story into manageable segments that remove the intimidation from the task. Establish the primary story elements of beginning, middle, and end. Once you've done this, envision your narrative as an ongoing, interconnected chain of scene and sequel. One action causes a reaction that causes another reaction and reaction. Step by step, scene by sequel, you construct one progression after another, shaping a story, from simple to complex, with these basic building blocks of plot. 

For instance, after you open your scene, ask yourself the following questions:

What is the logical sequel to this scene?

What action does this scene trigger that leads to the next scene?

How have I planted the hook to pull the reader into the next scene?

What has my hero done to move the story along?

What does this scene contribute to the larger context of the book?

#4 Create a Literary Outline

Although your outline is an integral part of the structure, you needn't consider it a fixed entity. Don't be afraid to make changes or explore a new possibility when characters lead you down a different path. 

Before you write the book, break down each chapter into a basic outline form, noting which characters and situations are involved in each chapter. You don't need to be too detailed. The purpose of the outline is to provide a map for you to follow and give you an overview of the book. Furthermore, it's not necessary to plot out every twist and turn in the road; some of the most interesting journeys involve sudden detours and unexpected encounters. Even as you follow the map, make every effort to stay open to surprise. 

#5 Walk the North Forty

Develop a detailed chapter-by-chapter diagram of your book, creating a visual map for you to follow. Once you grasp this overview, you'll have a stronger picture of what is happening in your story. When you see those places where you have dropped a plot stitch or where one character hasn't appeared in a while, you can pick up the thread before you move on. 

I began writing my first novel without a plan. But it soon became evident that I needed a structural guide for my loosely conceived story. With the help of a friend, I constructed a running chat of my book, laid out and organized on shelf paper. A lengthy visual aid, to say the least. But it worked.

First I divided the paper into chapter sections with a vertical line. Then I did the same with the characters, plot, and subplots in horizontal lines that intersected the chapters. I then marked down the appearances of the various characters in different colored inks throughout the grid. One character was blue. One was red. Another was green. I did the same thing to the plot lines, making notes here and there as reminders that I shouldn't forget to include these things in the book. 

When I finally rolled out the plot diagram, all twelve feet of it, across my living room floor and took a look at it, my entire novel was laid out before me in living color. 

In order to make sense of what was happening in the book, I strolled the length of my outline like a rancher checking the fence on the north forty. I looked for plot and character omissions. I examined my overlaps and excesses, most of which were immediately apparent after inspecting the chart. If there were no red and green or blue notations for two chapters, I could see that I had to remind the reader about this character or pick of the thread of that subplot. If the plot was dominated by one color, I re-examined the balance I had created between characters. 

This strategy can apply to fiction and nonfiction, short books and long ones. In fact, I've used variations on this approach for several of my books. 

#6 Decorate Your Wall

Make scene-by-scene notes on 3x5 cards and arrange them on a wall or bulletin board. The advantage of this method is that you can change your cards around, add and toss others, without messing up your overall story. 

If a bulletin board is too confining, choose a door or a blank wall. Then use Post-it notes to define characters and create scenes. Not only do these notes come in different colors, they also come in different sizes. Take advantage of the variety. Color-coding characters and plot helps you clarify your story. Once you have the visual of the whole, you can see what character or theme or plot point is missing. 

#7 Use Classical Structure

Follow classical story structure of Greek drama from the inciting incident to the climax, to the resolution. Whether your're writing a story of a quest or puzzling through the challenges of an experimental novel, this method offers a time-tested way to formulate your story. 

#8 Mix and Match

Do your own thing. Consider all the different ways to structure your narrative, and then choose the methods your prefer. If you want to mix scene and sequel with a literary map, do it. There are no rules here. Your goal should be to find the combination that is the most effective for you, as well as your story. 

None of these approaches are carved in stone. You've got lots of options and room to move. As I said before, the best way to structure your story is what works for you. This is the time to experiment. If one approach isn't a good fit, try another. As you try these out, ask yourself:

Which method gives me the most confidence in writing my story. 

Which method do I feel most comfortable using? 

Which plan allows me to move from beginning to end with the most ease?

Which approach offers me the greatest chance in finishing my book?


Until next week! 

-Kelly




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(Even More) Quotes to Inspire and Guide You

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Like most writers, I am a voracious reader, and I am always writing down my favorite quotes. So, as you can imagine, I've collected quite a few over the years. I've shared some of my favorites here on the blog before. You can find them here, and here, if you care to look.

For this week, I've pulled together another collection of quotes that I love. Some provide helpful tips and advice but I also love the ones that let us know that, as writers, we're not alone. That other writers go through the same things we do. That they experience the same insecurities and fears we do.  

So, here we go!

"The greatest part of a writer's time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book."
- Samuel Johnson

"Write. Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read. I know no shortcuts."
- Larry L. King

"Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries and predecessors. Try to be better than yourself."
- William Faulkner

"People say, 'What advice do you have for people who want to be writers?' I say, they don't really need advice, they know they want to be writers, and they're going to do it. Those people who know that they really want to do this and are cut out for it, they know it."
- R.L. Stine

"Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers."
- Ray Bradbury

"When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done."
- Stephen King

"Every secret of a writer's soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works."
- Virginia Woolf



"Know your literary tradition, savor it, steal from it, but when you sit down to write, forget about worshiping greatness and fetishizing masterpieces."
- Allegra Goodman

"One thing that helps is to give myself permission to write badly. I tell myself that I'm going to do my five or ten pages no matter what, and then I can always tear them up and the following morning if I want. I'l have lost nothing. Writing and tearing up five pages would leave me no further behind than if I took the day off."
- Lawrence Block

"Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others."
- Virginia Woolf

"It is perfectly okay to write garbage. As long as you edit brilliantly."
- C.J. Cherryh

"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you."
- Ray Bradbury

"You don't have to be great to get started, but you have to get started to be great."
- Les Brown

"It is better to write a bad first draft than to write no draft at all."
- Will Shetterly



"The best rule for writing, as well as for speaking, is to use always use the simplest words that will accurately convey your thoughts."
- David Lambuth

"There are simple maxims... which I think might be commended to writers of expository prose. First: never use a long word when a short word will do. Second: if you want to make a statement with a great many qualifications, put some of the qualifications in separate sentences. Third: do not let the beginning of your sentence lead the readers to an expectation which is contradicted by the end."
- Bertrand Russell

"The hardest thing about writing is, in a sense, is not writing. I mean, the sentence is not intended to show you off, you know. It is not supposed to be 'Look at me!' 'Look, no hands!' It's supposed to be a pipeline between the reader and you. One condition of the sentence is to write so well that no one notices that you're writing."
- James Baldwin

"If you find a lot of explaining is necessary, something is wrong your material or your approach to it."
- James Gould Cozzens

"You can't tell or show everything in the compass of a book. If you try to show or tell everything, your reader will die of boredom before the end of the first page. You must, therefore, ask yourself what is the core of the matter you wish to communicate to your reader? Having decided on the core of the matter, all that you tell him must relate to it and illustrate it more and more vividly."
- Morris L. West

"Begin with something interesting rather than something boring; begin with action rather than beginning with background information; speak about the characters after they have appeared rather than having them appear after having having spoken about them."
- Alexandre Dumas Pere

"The best thing is to write anything, anything at all that comes into your head, until gradually there is a calm and creative day."
- Stephen Spender

"I think the best thing any writer can do is keep a journal. During writer's block, your journal is invaluable. Write to yourself about being blocked. Explain to yourself the feelings of frustration you are feeling, or the anger you are having with your talent for letting you down. Describe to yourself the chapter or scene you are writing you are writing: who the characters are and where you are trying to get to in the chapter or scene. Write about it. Believe me, it will start to come, right there in your journal."
- Dominick Dunne



Well, that's it for this week! Do you have a favorite quote? Let me know and I'll add it to the post. 

Have a great day everyone and I'll see you next week! 
-Kelly




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