What is unusual about your story?
Write down a list of things that make your story different, special, or unusual. (maybe all three!) Every great story has something that makes it shine, and sticks out from others. What makes yours shine? And how does that move the story forward?
Write out scenes.
Writing scenes can help push your story forward. Sometimes it’s nice to take a step back, and write out of order. Write the end, or the climax. Maybe a great kissing scene you weren’t expecting! I do this whenever I get stuck, and it really helps! Especially if you’re trudging through the icky middles.
Write out three or four things that surprise you about your character. What if you just discovered that she’s a softball champ? Or maybe she’s a terrible cook, and somehow that adds to the story! This may not push the main plot forward a whole lot, but fun little quarks can help build subplots and character development.
We will be writing at my casa tonight, and also snacking. If you’re interested in participating, shoot me or my mom an email.
The children’s writing community is pretty cool. There are a lot of good people here. WIFYR has helped me socialize. (Yup. I’m not very good at that.) And I can’t believe it’s been 18 years. My youngest was two. And still nursing. The reason I’m telling you this because I want to tell you about somebody who stepped up a few years ago when my assistant at WIFYR had to cancel because of health issues. Stephanie Moore took over my class for that assistant. She organized, emailed, contacted me, contacted the class, checked in, asked how she could help. And it may have been her very first year at the conference.
Stephanie very quickly became my right hand gal. That hasn’t changed. She’s an amazing woman. The two of us work very differently (and that means sometimes there is a butting of heads) (but that also means that there is an amazing product at the end). Together, we’re sort of a whole person. I love and adore Stephanie. (Just an FYI, she won second place in the Utah Arts Original Writing Competition with her YA. Woot woot!) She has an incredible laugh. She shares my awkward sense of humor. She is a dedicated writer, a dedicated friend, and a dedicated Mom.
Day before yesterday, Stephanie’s daughter died. It was unexpected and, as you can imagine, horrifying to anyone who knew Rory and anyone who loves Stephanie. I’ve been crying since I found out. I don’t know why terrible, crummy, crappy things happen to good people but I will tell you this: the dedication Stephanie showed in helping me run an amazing conference is nothing like the dedication she has for her children and her husband. She is a perfectionist at many things. This includes sharing her love.
I cannot imagine how she must be suffering. And I wish I could take that pain away. There are no words I can offer my friend. But I can ask this incredible writing community to please pray for Stephanie and Lance and their three boys. Their lives will never be the same again. And the only chance for peace for them now will have to come from our God.
PS Dear Becca Birkin reminded me there is a gofundme for Rory’s funeral expenses.
A few weeks ago my youngest and I transplanted my lemon tree into a new pot. Every year we get one HUGE lemon from this tree and I was excited that the one lemon I had-pollinated, still clung to the branch.
Low and behold, when Carolina and I moved our tree, it rejoiced and burst out in blossoms all over!
Yahoo! More hand-pollination for me to do! The promise of more lemons!
But this growth got me to thinking. I take very good care of my southern plants. I have two orange trees, a clementine, a lime and two lemons. I have a couple of hibiscus and I’m even growing ginger (three pots full). Still, my lemon needed more love than I had given it. It needed room to breathe and stretch. And when I gave the tree what it needed, I was rewarded with blossoms.
This is sorta like our stories. Here we are, writing with our heads down, trying to get a specific number of words each day. This is exactly what we should do during NaNoWriMo. And at this point, we should be in the just-after-the-beginning of the middle of our novels. That horrible awful icky yucky-ducky place that I slog through every time I write a book. We might be feeling a little stuck. Or root-bound.
Why not shake things up a little? Loosen the roots of your book. Allow your story to blossom. How? By asking yourself a few questions. Here are a few that may shake things up for you.
- Am I allowing my character to move the plot or an I forcing the story to go the way I want it to?
- Am I adding far too many characters? Too many subplots? Too many useless words just to make word count?
- Am I feeling a forward movement in the story or have I gotten stuck because of wrong moves made in previous pages?
- Do I trust myself, my story idea, my creativity, my characters to move the story toward the climax of the novel?
- Do I know where I am headed? (By now, I think you should know what the climax of the story will be.)
- For the sake of numbers, am I adding useless bits and pieces that may throw me off course during revision?
Hopefully these questions will give you an idea of how to grow a bit more during this exciting month of NaNoWriMo. And I mean that. This month should be a growing month, an exciting month, a frustrating-but-I-did-it, fun month!
How is everyone doing? Ya’ll hitting your goals for NaNoWriMo?
I’ve kind of pushed some of my *new writing* to the side to finish up some *old writing*
I have to say, the revisions aren’t nearly as fun. But I’m still getting it done!
We will be meeting at my house to write, eat, and talk (but only a little talking!) Mostly, we’ll just be writing.
If anyone is interested in participating, email my mom! (or comment below and I can send you the details in an email)
If you’d like to share your word count, comment below! Let’s see that progress.
Last week, my dear friend Lynne Snyder died.
When my daughter approached me, her face had this look like–how do I tell Mom? I knew another person had died. But Lynne? She was just diagnosed with leukemia. How could this be?
Don’t think you know Lynne? She’s the person who commented so often here on the blog. Always words of encouragement. Man, am I going to miss seeing what she thinks of what Ann Dee or Kyra or I have written.
I love Lynne and I will miss her. She was funny, extremely kind, and man, had she hoed the road. I remember she told me she walked around for a week–in agony–having no idea she had a broken leg (had she broken her femur?). Her writing was incredible. I met her years ago when someone trashed her work–along with the work of many other writers–and she was determined to never write a gain. Then I read her stories. I was blown away. So much talent. She painted (watercolor) and made caramels that would make you cry, they were so good. But what she did best was love people. All people. No matter who they were or what they did. She opened her arms to the world. Lucky for me, I made it into those arms.
I asked a dear friend, DeAnn Campbell to say a few things about Lynne. Here is her tribute.
Years ago, when I lived in Utah, Carol Lynch Williams introduced me to Lynne Snyder. “You should be in a writing group together,” she told us. And so we were. Our small group of three and sometimes four met weekly. We wrote, we critiqued, but we also loved and laughed and cried and shared each other’s lives. I once heard an author say that all writing in its heart is about loss. Now we’ve lost our beloved Lynne Snyder.
I will tell you that she was witty and funny. She had a great, big open heart. She was a whiz in the kitchen. She painted beautiful watercolor paintings. Her family was her everything and she loved everyone she met. She was a writer. Lynne had had her share of loss and she wrote about it, beautifully. She had a lot to share as a writer, but the part of herself that she shared as a person was always greater than what she gave as a writer. Because of this, there are no published books with her name on the cover. I don’t know if her essays and writings are hidden in notebooks in a drawer somewhere, or on a hard drive or if they’re in a sampling of letters in a shoebox. Knowing Lynne, they are probably in all of those places, scattered like feathers.
Lynne wrote amazing stories. Some were poignant, like the one about the death of her baby and the dream she had of that baby – a dream that taught her how to keep living after such loss. Some were funny, like when she almost ate an entire cake and so she baked another before her husband came home from work. Some were difficult, like the story of when her first father took off in an airplane while her mother begged him not to go; he died when that airplane crashed. Although Lynne wrote fiction her personal essays, the stories of her own life and losses, were especially beautiful.
In “The Lonely Man” Louis L’Amour wrote, “And if I have not written words upon paper as I should like to have done, I have written large upon the page of life that was left open to me.” That was our Lynne. And I wonder if is it okay not to write grandly or far-reaching. Not all of us will publish or have our names in lights. Maybe for some of us the writing is simply for the sorting out of our own souls. Maybe the writing is to help us navigate the loss, the difficulties, and even the joy that comes to us all. Those sorts of personal stories were Lynne’s greatest writings and I was lucky enough to have heard some of them. Not all who knew her were able to read her stories, but all who knew her were the recipient of her great love, her great generosity, and her ability to take you as you are. There was never any judgment or trying to fix you. There was just candid, honest conversation and love. So much love.
To know Lynne was to love her. She was famous for homemade caramels and bottles of delicious sun-dried tomatoes. She doled out love on the lawn swings in front of her house. She doled out love everywhere. I will tell you that her family was her everything, but everyone was family. Her love cast a wide, wide net. It reached everyone she knew. She was funny. She saw the world in a beautiful way and she believed in all of us. She believed that we would be the best versions of ourselves.
I remember talking with her not long ago after the death of her son. “I am changed,” she said. “I will continue to live and love, but I will never be the same.” She understood that loss changes us. Her life changed us; now her loss changes us too. When my own mother died fifteen year ago, the faith that I had carried for a lifetime dwindled to only a hope. Despite my public declarations at a pulpit, the reality was that I knew nothing. I only hoped. I hoped everything. I hoped that everything I believed was true.
Now, I hope it for my dear friend Lynne. I hope that she is welcomed home by all those that she has lost. I hope they love her as much as we do. I believe they do. And I believe that the reunion is grand.
WHO IS WRITING?
Day 2 and I may or may not already be a tiny itty bitty bit behind on my goals. But that’s okay, because I will catch up tonight at our NANO party! (It’s in Orem. email my mom for deetz!)
Sometimes it’s hard to start fresh when you’re in the middle of revisions, but I think I can do it!
How is everyone else doing? Did everyone reach their goals yesterday?
Keep it up!
On Thursday I wrote a long list of things we could do to prepare for NaNoWriMo and for some reason, when I went to post, it wouldn’t.
I pitched a fit and stomped off.
Went to the TH evening party and it was a lot of fun.
You have today and tomorrow to think about a few questions so you can jump into NaNo a little more prepared.
BTW, if you want to play with WIFYR, email Bruce here: firstname.lastname@example.org and make your goals. Bruce will add you to the list. The goal is 1,000,000 words as a group! Woot woot!
- Who is your main character?
- What does she want?
- Have her write a note to you.
- Ask her 25 personal questions and write this interview down.
- Who are her friends?
- Her enemies?
- Her family?
- What is she afraid of?
- Can she sing?
- Is she funny?
- Does he have a crush?
- A true love?
- What is the scariest thing that can happen to her?
- Will it happen to her?
- What do you see as the climax of the story? Do you have a general idea?
- Name three things she will lose during the telling of the story.
- Are you trying to teach a lesson?
- What are you willing to give up to complete your 50,000 words?
Also, every Thursday evening, from 7-10 pm we will meet at Kyra Leigh’s house, eat and write.
Last year this was a lot of fun. This year it will be even more fun because I won’t have to clean every TH in anticipation of people arriving at my home. YAHOO, KYRA LEIGH! Anyway, if you want to bring potluck (which is what gets you into the house) and write for a few hours with fellow NaNoers, let me know. We have room for about 15 people.