Author Archives: CLW
Merry Christmas day 13
Life has a way of throwing curveballs. We never really know what to expect. And that can be pretty darn crummy. Another thing that is crummy is when you can figure out what is going to happen in the novel from page two or three. There’s no reason to read a book when you already know the ending from the beginning.
Look carefully at your novel. Is it too easy to see who done it? Wha? You’re not writing a mystery novel? Well, you sorta are. All novels should have something that has to be figured out. Giving that surprise away too soon, or writing poorly so there is no surprise, or just plain being lazy in your writing leaves the reader wanting more.
How can you change up your book so there are plenty of curveballs? Plenty of surprises?
Merry Christmas day 14
For me the name of the character is really important. My editor at St. Martin’s Press said, “Carol! I cannot believe you named your characters after your daughters.”
Well, I do. My daughters. Or other family members. Or people I love. Or people I hate. They all wind up in my books. (I joke I should have given them each three names not just a first and middle name.)
In my newest novel, MESSENGER, I used all of my grandmother’s sisters and brothers names. That’s a family of 10. Because I love my extended family, the book became that much more important to me.
So who would you write about?
How did that person change you?
How is that person complex?
We all know we can’t use our relatives exactly the way they are, but what are 15 things you would write about this person? What are 15 things you would keep the same about their personality? Their mannerisms? Their speech? Their loves and hates?
I always, or almost always, have Nana smoking, drinking beer, cleaning house, wearing polyester, and laughing. Those are just a few of the things Nanny did.She died almost 25 years ago. I miss her. When I write about her, she lives again for me.
Merry Christmas day 15
I just saw a post on Twitter about not using adjectives. And I have to admit that I am one of those people who is trying to trim my overuse of them. Or at least I’m trying to do as Lance Larsen says and turn them on ears. (We’ll talk more of this next year.)
Anyone can talk about the Christmas season in cliché ways. It’s snowy. Glittery. Cold. But using adjectives in new and different ways will make your prose sing. It will make the reader stop and pay attention. Yes! That’s what we want!
Take one chapter of your novel and mark all the adjectives. Now go through and look at the ones that you can cut. Which ones you can change and make more special? How can you use them in unique ways?
Ack! It must be the season. I used the word special. I really don’t like that word.
Merry Christmas Day 9
Make this beautiful pie X 2.
(When I grow up I’m going to remember how to save pictures on this blog.)
Now, when the pies are freezing, imagine a girl who is a bit of a klutz.
She can’t walk without falling.
She can’t adjust her own glasses without poking herself in the eye.
She decides to make this pie, too. How does she do? Is she Amelia Bedelia? Or me? Write her experience.
Merry Christmas Day 10
Share the second pie with someone who needs it. You can decide who that person is and why there is a need.
Before you take the pie over, write a note expressing your love for this person. You may give it along with the pie, or treasure the thoughts for yourself. However, I have found when I don’t move on a particular thought (when it comes to others), I always miss an opportunity.
One Christmas, there was a surprise blackboard where Santa had written my sister and me a note.
“That’s Nana’s handwriting,” I said. I looked squint – eyed at my mother and grandmother. Then I shrugged off that coincidence and went to open all of my presents, which happened to be Barbie stuff. Including a toaster that really popped the toast up.
I believed in Santa like a crazy gal. I argued with first graders, and when I went to second grade, I argued with second graders, and when I went to third grade, I argued with third graders. According to my mother, I believed in Santa until I was 12-years-old.
I still sort of believe. And while I never taught my own children that Santa gave them presents, I did tell them there was someone who gave to people who didn’t have anything and that he lived long ago and he is the real Saint Nicholas. And because I love Him, we talked a lot about Jesus.
By the way, Mom said when she told me Santa wasn’t real, I cried for hours. Then she said I ran back in to the living room, and asked, “Well, what about the Easter Bunny?” It was a rude awakening.
So what do you believe?
Who is your hero?
What means the most to you at this time of year?
How does your character celebrate?
Write 25 adjectives showing how your character celebrates Christmas.
what would your character fight to the death for?
And finally, if there were a Santa Claus, and there may be, what would he do for you?
When I was little, my beloved Nana had a silver Christmas tree. It was as big as the whole room and there were pink-bulb ornaments and Santa-faced ornaments and I loved that tree. It was a dream. There were promises tied up in it. When it came out of the box and the lights went on and you turned out all the ceiling lights, you couldn’t help but gasp. The whole room twinkled.
What memory do you have, that may be a little different? Is it your grandmother, cigarette smoke a wreath around her head, sitting in a darkened room, smoking? Does she have a cold beer in her hand? When she laughs, does she mean it?
How can you change your memory, or the feeling of your memory and put it into fiction? Can you write an essay? Can you make someone your children never knew, live? Can you almost touch the image you create?
That is your writing exercise today. Write about someone, without being sappy, and make them breathe.