Tag Archives: Martine Leavitt

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

Three Thing Thursday on Friday. Again.

CHERYL SAYS: I remember the story of a speaker at a conference I attended. She related the tale of a man who had married an incredibly beautiful woman. A few months into the marriage, he came to his mother, feeling like he was at his wit’s end.
“She doesn’t work, she doesn’t cook, she doesn’t clean, she doesn’t do anything, Mom. What should I do?”
His mother responded, “You married her for her looks. Go home and look at her.”
Do you have sentences and paragraphs like this beautiful wife? If they aren’t pulling their weight, you have to cut them loose. Every sentence needs to move the story forward. Never, ever, alter your story to make your prose fit. The story is king. Everything supports the story, or it has to go.
For me, it’s easier to save these little darlings in another folder, telling myself that someday I’ll find a home for them. Maybe I will. Maybe I won’t. But I know that my story is stronger for having dumped them.
I think part of the reason that it’s so hard to cut these sections stems from fear. What if I never write anything this beautiful again? What if this is the best sentence in the entire novel? What if I’ve already peaked?
Get rid of these thoughts. Every time you write, you become better. You are stronger, you are wiser, and your words will reflect that. Not only will you write something as good as the lost prose, you’ll write something better.
CAROL SAYS: So that idea of planning for NaNo? For sure, I am a pantser. (WordPress wants me to be a panther. My girls want me to be a cougar. But I am a lowly writer who never plans.) It’s hard to plan out what I’m going to write. I just don’t want to. The thought of deciding what goes in chapter one and being smart like Caitlin Shirts?
So here’s what I am doing. A Carol Plan. Easy and not restrictive.
I’m jotting down every idea of what COULD happen in my books.
Everything.
Night before last I couldn’t sleep.
Wrote thought after thought of what could happen to my Wrasseling Gals. The more I thought about it, the more possibilities came to me.
The truth is, I know I won’t make it in NaNo without forethought.
We’ll see if this helps.
AND:
Martine Leavitt‘s YA novel CALVIN has won the Governor General’s Literary Award of Canada in the category of literature for young people.

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Filed under Exercises, Family, Life, Uncategorized

Several Bits of Inspiration to Help Improve Your Wiritng

1. After all this time, we are ready for registration for Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers.

Please tell your friends about the conference. And for those interested in advanced classes, you need to go through me.

http://www.wifyr.com

2. Kyra received Martine Leavitt’s latest novel, My Book of Life by Angel. All I can say is, “read it.” The reason I can’t say more is because Kyra is planning on doing a review of the book. Plus, guess what? Martine is teaching an advanced class at the conference this June. Wish I wasn’t teaching so I could sit in her class. She’s pretty darned amazing.

3. Coming the next few weeks and months on Throwing Up Words: interviews from faculty from WIFYR.

Plus, interviews from many agents and editors and authors. Plus a few writing marathons.

Several writing exercises.

And Ann Dee’s baby.

4. John Steinbeck died when I was a very little girl. I can remember, as I read his books growing up, how I wished he had stayed alive long enough for me to meet him. John Steinbeck was one of my first writing teachers. I read just about everything I could get my hands on that he wrote. Here’s a great quote from Mr Steinbeck: “When I face the desolate impossibility of writing five hundred pages, a  sick sense of failure falls on me, and I know I can never do it. Then gradually, I write one page and then another. One day’s work is all I can permit myself to contemplate.”

5. This week, put yourself in a situation to listen in on another person’s conversation. The mall is a good place to linger and and keep an ear out. Go somewhere there are a lot of people.  Wait till you hear what you need–just a tidbit that will make you want to write. When I visit BYU campus and listen to the people in the hallways, I wonder what I can use from what I see and hear.  Jot down the words, the emotions, the way YOU feel. Now, how can you change that up, that whole scene, and make it work in your book?

6. For me, emotion in writing is what connects the reader to your book. Here’s what dictionary.com says about emotion:

noun
1. an affective state of consciousness in which joy, sorrow, fear, hate, or the like, is experienced, as distinguished from cognitive and volitional states of consciousness.

7. Allow yourself to really feel something that you are experiencing this week. Maybe it’s taking care of a young child. Maybe it’s helping an older teen. Maybe you have a friend that needs you. Maybe YOU need you. As you are in these moments, connect with the emotion the incident brings up. Feel it all. Experience that emotion. Later, when you get a moment, write that emotion down, exactly as you felt it. Every bit of it. Now you have something you can use later in your writing. Borrow that emotion for a scene that you may be struggling with.

8. Ann Dee still hasn’t taught me how to do the blue letters.

9. My deepest sympathies go to the Kristyn Crow and her family at the loss of her father-in-law this last week. You all are in my heart and prayers.

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Filed under CLW, Editors, Exercises, Interviews, Kyra, writing process