Author Archives: CLW

Lose More Weight, No Diet, No Exercise–Even at 35!

Yes! We are now at number thirty five. Who’da thunk?

We have four chickens and a TURKEY.

And I’m going on a walk.

PLUS I’m trying to figure out HOW to make this murder mystery shape up. I have the most of the words. Now I need to put them in order.

#35

This writing prompt requires no pen, no paper, no computer.

Give yourself 30 minutes private time where you just think.

Close your eyes.

Imagine your book, published.

Let the ideas come to you, think about the way the story unwinds, and then think about those trouble spots.

How might you fix them?

What could help?

No need to push or worry or struggle.

Just relax. Imagine that book in your hands.

If you take a nap, who cares? You went to sleep thinking of your novel.

Let your brain work out those troubles while you shower, or nap, or wash dishes.

Envisioning, relaxing, letting your brain help you, all of these things are a pretty cool part of the process of writing. When you finally come upon a fix, it almost feels magical, like the Muse stepped in. But no. It was you.

Leave a comment

Filed under Character, Exercises, Life, writing process

Sexy at Thirty Four

# 34

In the center of a blank sheet of paper, write your main character’s name. Circling your main character, write all the people s/he will encounter. Draw a line from that person to your MC.

When you have written everyone, no matter how small the interaction, write a brief description of how your character relates to that person. Are they friends? Enemies? Lovers?

Is it a teacher? The gas station attendant? A sibling?

As you write these relationships, decide if they’re fully formed (or as fully formed as one run-in can develop). Do you need to work on this relationship? How can you flesh these out?

Relationships offer dimension, plot, emotion, life, depth etc. Make sure EACH one in your book is developed.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Character, Life, Plot, Uncategorized

Sexy Sexy Sexy Review

I heard if you give your posts good titles, you get more views.

Woot!

We may go up to TEN readers!

#33

Are you doing your one first line per day?

I’ve found having a slight idea helps me know what to write. Getting better at just saying anything and then thinking where the book may head. But I like having an idea and writing to that.

How many first lines do you have?

How many are great?

How many will lead somewhere?

 

2 Comments

Filed under CLW, First Line, Life, Plot, Revision, writing process

Sexy Sense of Place

“The author must know his countryside, whether real or imaginary, like the back of his hand.” Robert Louis Stevenson

When my first editor, the amazing Mary Cash, bought my first book KELLY AND ME, one of the things she said was, “We need more sense of place.”

“How do I do that?” I asked.

“Read,” she said.

And so I did. I found lots of books that painted worlds for me. But the authors I learned the most from for that writing exercise were Bill and Vera Cleaver. They wrote WHERE THE LILIES BLOOM (Newbery winner). All their books (yes, I read them all) were so beautifully detailed that I fell in love. I’m STILL in love with their writing.

A Few Facts about Sense of Place

  1. If well done, setting can become a character (what one reviewer said about KELLY AND ME).
  2. Not just fantasy novels need world building–ALL books do.
  3. If you feel like the book you’re reading is a desert (when it’s not!), that’s because the author has failed in making the world real and visible. The author is your eye.
  4. When your main character talks about place, remember he will speak only about what he notices. YOU have to make him notice what allows the reader to believe they are there.
  5. Use all five sense when you write. At this moment I can hear the baby and, across the street, a lawn edger going. I can feel the cool air blowing in around my feet from the open window. Outside my window there are two trees, one with leaves the color of an almost-ripe lemon. The smells coming from the bathroom? Let’s just say the wintergreen smelly thing ain’t helping a lot. And then, of course, there are the keys under my fingers. All of this is part of my sense of place–of the world I am in right now.
  6. Don’t use all sense at once, like I did above. After you build a place, it’s your job to remind the reader where they are. And I don’t think it’s a bad idea to do that two or three times a page.
  7. The amazing Tim Wynne-Jones gave a great talk when I was at school at VC, about the emotion sense of place can give a book–how it can forecast doom or help readers feel joy. There’s a name for this, and try as I might, I can’t remember what it is. When I do, I’ll add it.

 

#32 Rewrite your book opening using sense of place.

#32.5 Do what Mary Cask said: Read for setting. How does the writer do it successfully?

 

2 Comments

Filed under Editors, Exercises, Setting, Voice, writing process

1:23 Monday Morning # 31

I can’t sleep.

If I don’t sleep, my dog, well, he’s parked next to me. Wherever I am.

This is a good ol’ dog. I lucked out when he came into my life.

How about you?

Do you have an important animal in your life?

The girls got me a turkey and four chickens for Easter. They’re kinda cool, too.

 

We can’t forget about great award-winning books for kids with animals in them.

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

The One and Only Ivan

Shiloh

Mr. Wuffles! and The Three Pigs

My Friend Rabbit

Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web and The Trumpet of the Swan

Babe and Ace and The Cuckoo Child

I could keep going, but I won’t. Instead, let’s think of

 

#31.

Give your main character a companion that is an animal.

Don’t spend more than ten minutes writing about this pet.

Give a good description, including loyalty traits and then answer this: what would your MC character do without this sidekick?

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Character, CLW, Family, Life, writing process

Friday = 30

Write three memories from your main character.

One that concerns a confrontation,

one that has the MC meeting someone who is/was significant,

one that makes the MC question some belief.

Leave a comment

Filed under Character, CLW, Exercises, Uncategorized

#28, #29

Life is never how we expect it, is it?

I learned long ago to not say, “Things are going well.”

“Hey, we’ve had no real troubles lately.”

“Yup, life’s running pretty smoothly!”

A recipe for disaster, those comments. An invitation to the Universe to look a little more closely at my house.

In writing, there are things our characters shouldn’t say, too. Not because they may pull the heavens down on themselves but because they may lose readers.

“He writes teens like they’re adults. No kids talks like that.”

“She was way too smart. Too political. If felt like the author was talking, not the character.”

“It was like reading the story of a 40-yr-old woman, not a teen.”

“Not one line of dialogue sounded real or had depth.”

“I thought she was a stalker.”

These are all things I have heard about books out there on shelves. Ack! Don’t let that be about my writing, please!

When writing dialogue, you shouldn’t imitate ‘real speech,’ as we are boring. I’ve seen this plenty when teaching, talking to my girls, hanging out with my buddies. Not everything I say is that great, and people wind up with their eyes glazed over.

However, this isn’t a good idea for a writer.

You don’t want people skimming your work, looking only for great kisses or funny lines. You want them to read each word. No eyes glazing over! No 40-yr-old shining through! No political agenda! In writing dialogue, our characters should get to the point. No hemming and hawing. There isn’t time for that in a novel for kids or teens.

Every word must count. Every word should carry weight. No wasted words. None. Dialogue can show who a character is, can reveal information about the story, can move the plot forward and plenty other amazing things–and you should use dialogue for just that.

#28

Look over your dialogue. Is it doing work or is it just a way to fill white space?

Are your characters saying things they never would?

Is the story moving because of the dialogue?

Are you trying to preach through your characters?

Are you letting the story just shine though?

 

#29

Without looking at your work, rewrite a scene of dialogue.  Change the characters so a secondary character is now the MC. How does the dialogue change? Motivation should change the scene.

Wanna read a professional’s dialogue?

Check out the Blossom family by Betsy Byars. We’re reading WANTED . . . MUD BLOSSOM aloud. (Yes, all my kids are grown, but we still read out loud over here. Does wonders for storytelling.)

Hilarious!

Want to learn more? Here’s this great article:

http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/rewriting-the-7-rules-of-dialogue

 

2 Comments

Filed under Character, Exercises, Uncategorized, writing process