Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Death Penalty-Pros and Cons

Sometimes we have characters in our novels that just aren’t doing anything to move the plot along.

Perhaps we like this character and so we mold and shape him. We give him the correct lines, witty banter. We even make him wowzers handsome.

Here’s the truth of it.

That guy’s gotta go.

If he ain’t pulling his weight, no matter how dynamic he is, you gotta get rid of him.

# 38

Look at the earlier writing prompt where you drew a circle, with your main character in the middle. All those lines lead to characters in the novel. Are they all important? Can you do without a few? Are there any people not doing their duty?

Every person who shows up in a book must DO something. No talking heads. No mannequins (unless you are Richard Peck writing SECRETS OF THE SHOPPING MALL. Mannequins WERE used in that story.)

So, get rid of all those who are weighing down the story.

And if they are super cool? Use them in another book.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Character, CLW, Exercises, Plot, Uncategorized

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

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

Monday, Monday!

Many years ago, I read John Steinbeck’s novel THE GRAPES OF WRATH. I love JS and I loved this book.

I remember one scene where the Joads stop for gas and there’s a man who pumps the gas at the station. He had a missing eye and he didn’t wear an eyepatch. I don’t remember if JS described that open socket or if I added my own bits and pieces to it. But 100 years later, I still remember that one detail.

 

#26

Give one important detail for each of your characters that sets them apart, that makes them unique.

 

Remember, good writing is in the detail.

Leave a comment

Filed under Exercises, Life, Plot, Uncategorized, writing process

And One More Thing about Words

Watch this. It’s terrific!

https://www.yahoo.com/gma/2-people-whove-pen-pals-42-years-meet-205807992–abc-news-lifestyle.html

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Prompt

# 24

Write 25 first lines for your novel.

Jot them down quickly (you already have a first line, and you’re working on a book, so you know where you’re going–this will be an easy exercise), a minute or less per line.

That first line is a promise to your reader. It can show voice, hint at character and plot, show mood and it certainly should grab the reader.

So what are you doing with YOUR book opening?

Remember, Richard Peck (LONG WAY FROM CHICAGO, A YEAR DOWN YONDER) says, “You are no better than your first line.”

Once Richard read the first few pages of my novel that is under consideration right now. “You don’t have your best first line,” he said. He was right. I chopped off the first paragraph AND learned a valuable lesson from a great writer.

Leave a comment

Filed under First Line, Life, Publication, Revision, Uncategorized, Voice