Category Archives: Voice

Writing Challenge, Monday Hint

Did you get your goal number of words for last week?

Did you write everyday?

Have you five hours writing logged?

Is your goal where you can see it?

Hint: Do not stare into the sun during the eclipse. Damage can occur in moments.

Another hint: Do not sing Total Eclipse of the Heart. CORNY!

(Now I will have to sing that dumb song. I will change the words to Turn around blind eyes in case one of you looks at the eclipse today.)

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Filed under Ann Dee, CLW, Plot, Revision, Voice, Writing Marathon, writing process

Three Thing Thursday–Lots of Hints for Our August Challenge

August 15 is now just a few days away.

Are you ready for our August challenge? (If you are wondering what we’re talking about, go to August 1, 2017 and see Ann Dee’s post.)

Here are some things to help you and your family get ready for your one hour a day.

  1. Decide on a time. You may want a trial run. Is 6 am better for you or 10 pm? Practicing will help you know what is best for you and your family.
  2. Make your place, for this one hour, sacred and private. Time for you and your words.
  3. Alert everyone for the next several days that you WILL be writing at this time and you’ll need this time, alone, to complete this challenge. IF you can write with children at your feet, more power to you. Just remember you are working toward 60 minutes of straight writing.
  4. If you are writing a book that needs lots of research, do that now. Perhaps, as you experiment with what hours are best, you can look up the price of chicken in 1929 (the same price as in 1969), which Apollo launch caught fire and killed the astronauts (Apollo 1), or how far Tampa is from New Smyrna (just over 2 hours down I-4). Get the pre-work done so you can follow Ann Dee’s rule of writing a solid one hour.
  5. Set a goal for how many words you’d like to write in that one hour. Anyone can sit in a chair and look at an blank computer screen ¬†and put down a word a minute. But you want to end up with a good number of words on the page. 500 words? 1000? 2000?
  6. Do some brainstorming now. What is your story about it 25 words or less? What does your main character want? How do you keep that from happening? What are five subplots for your book? What is the climax? How do you expect this book to end? Knowing little things (not all the important details but having ideas) will help you succeed.
  7. Jot your ideas down and post where you can see them.
  8. Tangerine oil is supposed to help your creativity. I’m thinking of purchasing some and putting it in the diffuser I bought months ago and have never used.
  9. Bring your snacks with you and don’t get up to go get more.
  10. Write scenes instead of writing chronologically.

So those are a few helps. We’ll have a few more before next Tuesday.

What if we also watched this movie as a final reward?

 

Also, I won’t go see this but I really want to because RYAN REYNOLD’S!!!!!!

(for those of you with sensitive ears [like me] don’t watch with the sound on as there are lots of swears. This is a rated R trailer. I listened to them for you. Mostly I just wanted to see Ryan Reynold’s face. It is cute.)

 

 

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Filed under Ann Dee, Character, Kyra, Voice, 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.

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Filed under CLW, First Line, Life, Voice

Save on Phone Plans: 25%

I’ve lost my phone.

This worries me as I have an appointment with two friends. What if I’m late?

I fought against getting this phone. But year before last when people were messaging all over Waterford trying to find me, and the last time my agent had to listen to Carolina’s weird answering machine, I realized it was time to get a phone of my own.

Where is that darn thing?

#40

What has your main character lost?

How important is it to her?

Does this loss play a necessary part in your story?

Look through your novel. IF this loss is important, in needs to be present. It can’t be forgotten.

When Rick Walton was ill, he was always on my mind. Always. He’s still on my mind quite a lot.

Loss can be anything. Anyone. Keep it age-appropriate, and remember loss for a young child is as important as for an older person, even if the object isn’t as huge as a lost cell phone. ūüėČ

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Filed under Character, CLW, Exercises, Family, Revision, Voice, writing process

Animal Testing? NO WAY!

(Controversial!)

Long ago, I met Claudia Mills when shecame to speak at an SCBWI event. Oh, I LOVED her immediately. Little did I know, I had found a writer who’s books I loved right at the same time and had been reading all the author’s works. AND IT WAS CLAUDIA! AND THEN I MET HER AND REALIZED THIS IS MY FAVORITE GAL!

Anyway, I said to Claudia, “Do you like Oreos?”

She gave me an odd look. “Yes. Why do you ask?”

“Because your characters always eat them when they have a snack.”

People know who I am when they read my books, too. Bits and pieces of me slip through.

As writers, we must remember we are writing for teens or kids and not writing to drive home an agenda. Spoon-feeding a reader isn’t fun for the reader.

#37

What is the most controversial thing in your book?
Is it there because you want to make a point? Is it there because you are trying to change someone’s mind about something? Or are you just telling your story?

Go through your work.

Is this what a kid would say? Think? Feel?

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Filed under CLW, Exercises, Point of View, Voice, 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

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?

 

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