One: So this is true. I had to have Rick Walton come over and babysit for me the other night. (Party here. Couldn’t leave the kids alone.) Anyway, Rick was here only 30 minutes but he managed to make it over to my computer and USE it!
“I can’t believe you have so many things on your desk top,” he said. “Haven’t you ever heard of folders?” This was an odd question from a guy who got on my computer without asking. He’s probably taken all my picture book ideas. Oh wait, I don’t write picture books.
And yes, I have heard of folders, but I always seem to lose things I put in folders.
Two: I found this book at a garage sale a while back. It’s one I read when I was a kid called THE CATCHER IN THE RYE. When I finished reading the novel I flipped to the back of the book and I found this list:
sit up straight
sit down in saddle
head is cocked
right arm, let hang
I like the Look Up suggestion best of all. It just seems kind of smart.
PS–The second time I rode a horse, I fell off mid-gallop. This was a good horse. It didn’t trample my guts out and I was thankful for that.
Three: The First Annual Teen Book Festival was pretty darn good. Scott Westerfeld spoke at the Provo City Library and his speech was great. I learned some cool things. Later, I emailed AE Cannon about them.
Now on to the questions to ask yourself while revising! Woot! Woot!
31. Do you know the rules before you break the rules? That spy Rick Walton is ALWAYS breaking rules–like going through someone’s computer–especially when he’s writing. If editors say don’t write in rhyme, he does and he sells the book. If they say don’t write an ABC book or a Numbers book, he does and sells them. If editors say, No talking animals Rick writes a book with talking animals and sells it. Rick knows the rules about writing picture books. He knows them so well–he knows why they are there– he can (and this is from his own mouth, I’m on the phone with him now) find exceptions–“Knowing the rules and why they are there means you can find the exceptions to the rules and use those in your writing ‘cause that’s where innovation comes.”
32. Watch tags—are they invisible to the reader? The he said and she said of writing–the tags or identifiers–should almost always (meaning 98.2 %) be said or asked. When you reach outside the tag box you jar the reader from the story. “Put that bun away,” he bellowed. Add an ‘ly’ word to it and it becomes even worse. “Put that bun away,” he bellowed violently. You can rewrite such a tag, show how the bellower is acting and make a stronger sentence that leaves the reader firmly in the story (she bellowed. Violently.).
33. Is dialog strong and real? Let’s answer this question with a question–Would your character say what she’s saying, or are you–the old person, putting in what YOU would say?
34. Does your character suddenly do something that s/he would never do? Your character may do something unexpected–but if it is completely out of character for your character, then you need to look at the motivation to see if what the character does is supported. If, all along, your main character would never speak above a whisper, and then he screams at the top of his lungs, we need to see the growth the character has made to make him act so.
35. Are you writing what you know (either because you truly know it or because you have researched the subject)? Randall Wright also says to write what you love. I believe writing what you know makes you an expert and that means the feelings and story will ring true.
36. Watch the words it, very, started, well, that. Those words can almost ALWAYS be thrown away. I’m just saying. There are more words like this but I can’t remember them.
37. Is your story realistic within the frame of what you are writing? Just like your character cannot do something he would not do, so must your story stay true to itself. If your world is a contemporary story, and you have gotten to the end and can’t think what to do so you drop a bunch of bombs on the city to end things, well that is unexpected and only works if you have foreshadowed such an event might happen.
38. How long does it take for your story to start? Some authors say start with action. Richard Peck says don’t start with scenery. Whatever you start with, make sure it’s INTERESTING so you grab your reader. And make sure you start at the TRUE BEGINNING of the story. If you find yourself jumping into a flashback very soon after the start of the story, you probably have not begun in the right place.
39. Is your main character flawed or perfect? Sometimes we tend to make the bad people REALLY bad and the good people way too good. There is no completely perfect human and there is no completely evil human. There are good and bad things to everyone. Remember that when you write. It will add dimension to your characters.
40. Are you introducing too many people at once? Too many characters that enter a scene all at once means the reader may have a hard time keeping them separated. It’s like walking into a room and meeting 23 people all wearing black and white, with no distinguishing characteristics. They seem the same. When you introduce fewer characters then you have time to make them distinct.
JUST TEN MORE and WE’RE DONE! Next week is the end of revision suggestions. There will be a quiz. I hope these suggestions help you once you finish your NaNoWriMo experience and you sit down to start rewriting.
Good luck to all who undertake the 30 days/50,000 words writing marathon.
And for those who want a writing exercise–here’s one:
Look at OUT OF THE DUST or CRANK or ONE OF THOSE HIDEOUS BOOKS WHERE THE MOTHER DIES. Now take a bit of your own work and put it in this style of writing. You will have fewer words to work with. Tighten, throw away, put just the right word on the page. What does this do for your writing?
Here’s another writing exercise.
Using the list of words I found in the back of CATCHER IN THE RYE, write a 250 + word piece (that is not about riding a horse).