Saturday, August 28, 2010

What keeps you writing?

Ever have that day where you wake up and ask yourself "What am I doing this for?" Why the late night writing sessions, constantly being distracted by the story in your head, while seasons come and go. Well today is that day for me. It's been a year since I started my novel writing journey and though I've completed two lengthy novels and on the cusp of finishing my rough draft of UNDISTURBED, I still find myself in days like today when I wonder if I've just wasted a year of my life.

I don't even know how I manage to be so discouraged before I've even sent out a single query letter. I mean its one thing to stare your rejection letters in the face and feel defeated, but how do you contemplate an end to something that hasn't actually begun.

Why can't I find something more practical to obsess over like grad school or my retirement plan? Maybe it's because at any given moment of the day there are words, images, and stories swarming around in my head; that when ignored, only get louder. Or maybe it's how my pulse quickens whenever I sit down to write.

Writing brings a joy to my life that nothing else ever has. Sure it's what I'd like to do for a living, but even if that never happens, I'll never stop. It's like the characters in my stories, following their journey, not knowing where it will lead them next. Their drive and determination keeps them moving forward, and as long as they keep going, so will I.

How about you? What keeps you writing?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Questions you should answer before writing

So I was sharing my new writing process with one of my amazing critique buddies and she asked me what are some questions to ask when writing each scene and chapter, and I thought "Why not post them here?"

1. What does my main character (MC) want? (Goal)
2. How does my MC feel about it? (Emotion)
3. What are they doing to get it? (Action)
4. What (More importantly who) is standing in their way? (Conflict)
5. How do they react to it? (Reaction)

I've also learned that scene's can't have neat endings. There has to be a hook on the end. The MC can't just get what they want. That stops the story; instead they have to have some unfinished business that leads into the next chapter.

After you answer all these questions then take your answers to #4 &5 and ask yourself "What if..." (Tension)

For example Chapter 1 of UNDISTURBED

1. Deyan wants to make it through the rest of senior year without having her secret exposed.
2. She feels like a fraud and a fake, but she has no other choice.
3. She wears gloves and hides among the elites to keep people from singling her out.
4. Bobby's campus hotties list draws unwanted attention that she fears will lead to questions.
5. She's on a mission to find him so he can remove it.
Also the side story require the same questions and since it's the first chapter it requires a bit of set up and introduction.

The tension in the scene: What if...

What if her friends weren't speaking to her because they were jealous over the list?
What if girls started mimicking her?
What if guys started paying her more attention?

All these things make life worse for Deyan on top of her original problem, her secret. The chapter ends on a cliff hanger and there's set up for chapter two.

Six questions that will ensure each chapter and scene is a good read. Oh, I almost forgot one last question to ask yourself about every action your character takes or doesn't take.

What will happen if they don't or do________? (Stakes) These should be high and upfront. It will make the reader care about your story.

Any ways,

That's what I've learned so far. I'm still reading and studying the craft and I'm confident that applying these elements will create stories worthy of turning the page.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Fanatic Entry #1: K-Stew (So not Bella)

If you’re like me, you probably didn’t recognize the phenom, Kristen Stewart, who plays the role of Bella Swan in the Twilight film saga, from her Panic Room Days. Thanks to Netflix I was able to look up some of K-Stew’s pre-twilight films and I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of edge she brings to the screen.

I love her as Bella, but there are so many amazing characters that she’s played over the years. From a physically disabled girl in Cake Eaters to a selective mute in Speak. Every role she plays is deep, dark, and damaged, but she finds a way to make them all unique enough that you forget who she is. I believe her now when she says she’s so not Bella, she is so much more.

So if you’re a Netflix subscriber I highly suggest you view Kristen Stewart's film catalog, you won’t be disappointed. I look forward to seeing more of K-Stew long after Breaking Dawn.

Here’s a list of her more principle roles.


Cake Eaters

Adventure Land

(I won’t list twilight, since everyone on the planet has seen it)


Yellow Handkerchief (Coming Soon)

Welcome the Riley’s (Coming Soon)

Friday, August 13, 2010

WriteonCon! Whooo Hoooo, Whooo Hooo (It's stuck in my head)

Writeoncon was such an awesome experience. I almost feel lost without a reason to rush home and long on. I'm still trolling the forums for more crumbs of knowledge. The organizers really packed the three days full of helpful chats, professional opinions and some very funny you-tube videos (I'm still laughing at naked barbie and the pie in the face.)

I even got the first five pages of one of my works in progress critiqued by Kathleen Ortiz:

BTW, I'm already totally re-writing, using the new techniques I picked up from my reading.

I also had the chance to meet some amazing writers, so of who are now my critique partners. The most important thing I've taking from the conference is to not stress about the query, the genre, the edgy issues. That it's all about writing a unique and entertaining story, and approaching the process of query as professional as possible. I very much look forward to next years conference.

Thanks again to the organizers. You gal's rock!

What I learned from Donald Maass

Writing the breakout Novel was by far the most thought provoking book about novel writing I’ve read. The questions is it draws you to ask about your stories will help develop not only your stories but your view and style of writing. The examples provided were excellent and some have even made their way to my fall reading list.

Though Maass doesn’t offer an outline or formula for writing the break out novel, he does cover every property of a breakout from Premise to theme, larger than life characters to settings, plot and more. It’s definitely a book that you should keep near, I’ve referred to it numerous times in reformulating my scenes and chapters. I have such a better understanding of the properties of a published novel and what was missing in my own.

I’ve decided to follow up my reading with Fire in the Fiction also by Donald Maass and The How to Write a Breakout Novel workbook.