Category Archives: Life

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.

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Filed under CLW, First Line, Life, Voice

One Pound of Gold Hidden Where?

If you were going to hide gold, where would you put it?

I have to admit, I love gold.

A lot.

And our writing, when done well, is as shiny as gold.

That’s my goal: to write as well as possible.

#45

Your writing prompt today is reading.

Read this great article, and maybe even buy the book.

http://www.openculture.com/2015/05/10-writing-tips-from-legendary-writing-teacher-william-zinsser.html

I love William Zinsser. I’ve never read this book, but I know I would love what he says here, as I believe these ten hints are genius.

PS Check out the links below the article for more things to read before you write today.

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Filed under CLW, Exercises, Life, writing process

A Crime of Passion?

How are you coming with the writing prompts? Are you giving yourself thirty minutes a day to work on these different ideas? I’ve decided, when Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers (www.wifyr.com) is over this year, I’m gonna go back through all these and do each one.

One per day.

Perhaps I will post some of my results. There seems to be serious interest in this blog and I want to keep this going. (Imagine a gif with people laughing their heads off, literally.)

I keep bugging my friend, Trent Reedy, to write a book with me.

He is a boy.

I am girl.

We would have different points of views. This is good in writing.

But I can tell my friend isn’t interested in the ideas I come up with.

He’s very kind about it but he has no passion for my ideas.

Not too long ago Ann Dee and I brainstormed the next book we want to write together. We have this terrific start that’s a little scary because we’re only sorta sure where it will go. SO we wanted to think of something else.

 

As we went back and forth, the ideas I felt excited about, she was sorta like, “Uuuuummmmm.”

And then when she came up with a new idea, I was like, “Eeeeerrrrr.”

We didn’t share a passion. And without that–Trent Reedy and I or Ann Dee and I–can’t get a good book on the page.

You must care about your work.

# 38

Do you care about your novel?

Why?

Why not?

Is it worth the hours, the sweat, the worry, the writing and rewriting you must do?

Why?

Why not?

Is this book worth sticking though the tough parts?

Why?

Why not?

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Filed under Ann Dee, CLW, Exercises, Life, Plot, writing process

Heartbreak at 36–When Life Doesn’t Go the Way You Hoped

(Are these titles bringing in more readers?)

(Can you believe we are at #36?)

Emotion grounds our reader in such a way that the reader should be changed at the end of the book. It is our duty, as writers, to allow the reader to feel. We do that by putting emotion on the page.

Once, many years ago, I asked a few amazing writers, how they put emotion on the page so that their books rang true-so they felt like real life. Jerry Spinelli said this:

“You need to experience that emotion yourself. You don’t have to be experiencing it as you’re actually writing, but you need to be able to tap the keg where the memory of it resides and, so far as you are able, relive it.”

Martine Leavitt gave me this advice: “Create a powerful story, and you will create powerful emotion. Novice writers sometimes try to spoonfeed their readers the emotion they want them to feel, but language has the great knack of diminishing emotion. Put an emotion into words and you will undoubtedly drain it of power. All you must do is write a great story, a story full of love, honor, pity, pride, compassion and sacrifice (Faulkner’s six), and your reader will feel every emotion you want her to feel.”

David Gifaldi answered the question this way:

“For me, emotion comes only when I have become close enough to the character
to feel what he/she feels at every turn in the story.”
#36
List important events in your story.
What do you feel as you write these parts?
How do you want your reader to feel?
How does your character feel?
Are you getting the emotion across?
How?
How can you de better?
Do you have Faulkner’s six in your story?
Do you know how your character feels at every turn?
Are you tapping into your memory keg?

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Filed under CLW, Exercises, First Line, Life, Plot, Voice, writing process

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.

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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.

 

 

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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?

 

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