Category Archives: Life

Monday, Monday

Every time I start a new semester, I get behind. When you add behind to behind to behind what you get is me. Someone who can’t seem to catch up, no matter what.

Here is a writing exercise for you so you don’t get as far behind as me. You can take this experience of mine, find your own that is similar, and write an incident that can fit in your book.

My best friend’s shoes are in my closet. A pair of his jeans in a drawer. He’s been dead just over a year.

“Do you want me to take these?”I ask him. He’s in a hospital bed. He can’t speak. SO he nods. I gather the shoes, the pants. “I’ll take these until you’re better.”

And here’s this article from my dear friend Trent Reedy. what do you think?

https://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/how-to-write-100-000-words-per-day-every-day?utm_source=nextdraft&utm_medium=email

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Exercises, First Line, Life, Uncategorized

Merry Christmas Day 13 & 14 & 15

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?

Why?

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Ann Dee, Character, Life, Revision, Uncategorized, Voice

NaNoWriMo, Lemon Trees and Blossoms

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!

3 Comments

Filed under Ann Dee, CLW, Exercises, Family, Kyra, Life, Uncategorized, Writing Marathon

LAST DAY!

You have just one day–just these last few hours–to complete your writing goal of One Hour a Day.

When will that be for you?

Will you join me for one hour right after I post this blog?

 

I’ll post one more time tomorrow.

But may I just say, even if you write five times with us this last month, good for you. What we do? It’s hard. And you’ve been doing hard things.

Enjoy your last hour on this challenge.

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE

Leave a comment

Filed under Ann Dee, CLW, Kyra, Life, Voice, Writing Marathon, writing process

TWO DAYS LEFT!

Today!

Tomorrow!

How will you finish the challenge?

We hope you’ve been writing.

I know I have tried to write Every. Single. Day.

Hint:

Put your head down.

No need to try and make up lost time. Just WRITE today.

And tomorrow.

Enjoy these last two days.

Love your words.

Love this chance.

Love your story.

Leave a comment

Filed under Ann Dee, CLW, Exercises, Kyra, Life, Voice, Writing Marathon

Monday Challenge Hint(s)

Do you know where this book is headed? By now you should have an idea. If you’re stuck, write scenes. One scene an hour.

What have you learned about your main character?

Who has surprised you most in this writing process–as far as characters? People you’re working with? Living with?

We’re two weeks in. Have you written one hour each day? Do you miss the time if you don’t write? Are you thinking about your novel on off hours?

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Ann Dee, CLW, First Line, Kyra, Life, Plot, Writing Marathon, writing process

Sketchbook Summer (and Writing?)

Over on Facebook, my friend Matthew S Armstrong is challenging artists to draw every day for one month. All this month of July! Fill a sketchbook!

Yes!

My youngest is doing this. So far, so good. She shows me each evening.

This month of July I want to–again–write one first line of a new book everyday. Five minutes to do it. Great opening lines. If it takes less than five minutes, I can write line 2, 3, 4. But it can’t take longer. Five minutes to get something new on the page, daily.

Remember Richard Peck? You’re no better than your first line? That opening is a key. The entryway.

As I have done this first line on a new novel before (three minutes to write them then!), I’ve found I need a few moments to think. Think about what I might want this book to be, otherwise I can’t do it. Not for 30 days straight. I don’t often start an idea with a line of writing.

I read somewhere that the opening line of a book should have voice, a little bit of mystery and character in it. Can you do that with each start?

That opening is also a promise of what is to come. It’s exciting!

So join in. With Matthew or me or both of us.

1 Comment

Filed under CLW, First Line, Life, Voice