So each day (not including weekends) until WIFYR starts on June 12, I’m going to give us a writing prompt/activity. Monday through Friday.
Today, we get three to start us off #WritingLikeAWriter.
- Take ten minutes to write what your character is most scared of. Why is she afraid of this thing? Does this thing play into the book? How is this connected to who she is and what she wants?
- Write a letter from your character to you from six months BEFORE the book begins. Write another letter from your character two years AFTER the book is over.
- Print five pages of your work, double-spaced. Now, pretending like you’ve never seen this work before (think the Amazing Claudia Mills), start editing. Cut adverbs, adjectives. Slash extra words, useless phrases. Add sense of place, strong dialog. Then, after you’ve done some good tightening, take a step back, literally. How is the shape of this piece? The movement? The pacing? Look at your work from a distance. How is the story physically different?
Happy writing, Everyone! WIFYR, here we come!
I always say you make time for what you love. You just do.
Love to eat sweets?
You eat peanut butter bars.
Love to exercise?
You make wall hangings.
Ann Dee and I have talked about this so much. And guess what? I’ve found myself saying, lately, that I don’t have time to write. I don’t have time to do my job. To do what I love.
Last night I realized I need to do what I preach. If I want to write novels, dang it, I gotta write them. No matter what.
So starting today I am giving myself at least two hours each day to accomplish what I want–I’m writing again.
It feels good. In fact, I feel empowered. And Ann Dee and I sent off our book this afternoon. Tonight, I’m writing with Cheri. I’m in a critique group so that means I’ll have words to write for a deadline. Nice!
I’ll let you know next Friday how I’ve done.
I’ve just learned something I need to do, or stop doing, when I’m trying to flesh out my character and find her voice. I need to stop reading British mysteries. It’s doesn’t work well when trying to write a contemporary 17-year-old American girl. The MC in the novel I just finished is alternately a 15-year old girl in Cornwall in 1931, and then an 85-year old woman in London in 2003. The storyline jumps forward and backward in time a lot. Anyway, while I’ve been on vacation, I’ve been writing and reading, and what I’ve been reading is bleeding into my character’s voice, as well as my own. I used the word “ghastly” to describe the huge ugly cacti that we saw all around this island, as we were on a bus taking us to a beach excursion. I wasn’t trying to sound British, it just came out! My husband looked at me funny, “Ghastly? Since when do you use that word?” I don’t. Normally. And the MC in my novel would never use it. I realized I’ve been having a harder than normal time writing in a close 3rd person that sounds anything like an American teenage girl. Good thing I also brought a YA book to read. And maybe I need to hang around the cruise ship’s hot tub more. Although, with all those half-naked teenagers packed in there, it’s definitely hormone soup.
Does anyone else have a hard time developing an authentic voice when you are immersed in reading a different genre?
Every spring I think, This year I’m growing a garden. And I try. Last year? TONS of cherry tomatoes that I picked off the vine for breakfast, a few green beans and peppers and a big mess of potatoes.
Growing a garden is like writing a book–a lot of hard work. But it’s worth it. Writing just the right word is kinda like eating those warm tomatoes. You can’t believe YOU did that. Well, with help of course.
Right now I am in a hard place in my YA murder mystery. It’s like putting together a puzzle with weird edges. But when I read some of the words I think, Maybe I can do this.
The truth is, most people who want to write books never finish. It IS hard. If we rejoice in the small things, the tasty bits, there will be more joy in the work.
And One More Thing
I just made up a word. Slag bottom.
Or so I thought.
What word did you think YOU made up?
Last month I read The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge. Absolutely phenomenal. It weaves together character, storytelling, action, worldbuilding, and social issues flawlessly. The character was so smart and I loved watching her in action. She captured so well all the things I felt growing up but could never put so eloquently. For example:
“There was a hunger in her, and girls were not supposed to be hungry. They were supposed to nibble sparingly when at table, and their minds were supposed to be satisfied with a slim diet too.”
I love it! All through the book I was just in awe, wondering if I’d ever write something that brilliant. But another part of me didn’t care, because I was just happy this book was in existence. That made me think…will I write something that someone will feel that way about? Is there a story in me that needs to be told, and that someone else needs to read? And if so, what am I doing to make sure that story comes into existence?
Following the excerpts above, write either place or description that breathes life into your story.
Feel free to share.