Wednesday, January 24, 2007


I think we're on 9 anyway.

Sorry I haven't been able to blog every day but I've been very busy coordinating American Christian Fiction Writer's contest for published authors.

I am now on a first name basis with every DHL, FedEx, and UPS driver in the region. LOL!

My Postmistress was forewarned so she's cool with it. I think. He he. My FIL goes to pick up the books for me since I still can't life after surgery. It's funny because I hear the doorbell chime, go to the door and here stands this stack of boxes with legs. LOL! I can't even see my FIL's face or head due to so many packages of books in his arms.

Anyway, that has nothing whatsoever to do with Plotstorming so let me get back on track.

I've only had about four hours of writing time but in that four hours I've managed to get to 3, 200 words. I'm nearly through Chapter Two.

I'm not really happy with my opening, but I'm REALLY picky about my opening. My first line has to be perfect and I do seriously agonize over it for WEEKS before getting it right. Yes, one sentence causes me such grief. Actually I LOVE coming up with opening hooks and usually scored REALLY high on that in contests. Most people who read my stuff compliment my hooks so the hard work pays off. So I'm semi happy with the opening line but I may end up changing it if something better comes to mind. I groveled over my opening scene for the past two weeks and finally decided to just jot something down to get the story rolling. I may end up going back and revamping the opening because I really feel it is SO important to hook readers. So I agonize over my first chapter....then try to write every chapter as if it were my first. I use hooks to end the chapters and to begin them, but the most important hook is the one in chapter one.

So that's my progress. I am finally getting a better picture of what Chance (my hero) looks like. Since there are 7 USAF PJ's in this series, I want each guy to be as distinct as possible. Since they are all basically Alpha Males and Special Forces Soldiers, they all have some of the same traits and qualities, so it is an extreme challenge to make them each distinct. That's been fun. The hardest part has been deciding Chance's personality and physical appearance. I see the story in my head like a movie in moving picture with color, sights, sounds, everthing so that's how I try to write the story. So my reader can "see" the story like a movie when they read the book. So in order to help my reader picture everything, and feel, hear, see, smell, etc with all their senses, I have to be clear on how things look, smell, etc.

That chasm of constructing words and sentences in such a way to show the reader instead of tell them is one of the hardest things, because I'm not sure until an outside reader reads the story if I'm accomplishing that or not. What I see as a sympathetic character, three out of four judges in a contest thought he was stuffy and rude. So I gave him a personality makeover. I saw him as sensitive and compassionate but obviously that wasn't coming across in the writing. So bridging that chasm between what I see and hear in my mind and portraying that on paper...or in Word actually since I type my stories instead of write one of my greatest challenges. And yes I obsess about getting it right because I'm a perfectionist. On the other hand, I know the story will go through many rewrites and revisions before I send it to my agent and editor, so I don't stress on self-editing issues while I'm penning my mess draft. As an author I know says, "No Rules. Just Write."

That's how I am approaching this first draft anyway. The one thing I do is change the font to pink and blue depending on whose POV I am in.

Okay, I plan to write a bunch this week, so hopefully by Saturday, I will have gotten pretty far into my rough draft.

I am writing in scenes at this point. I'll smoothe out the transistions as I go along because I'm anal like that. But as far as adding layers of setting description, and sensory description, the bulk of that will come later. Right now, I'm getting the basic dialogue snippets down and character introspection and their action beats.


"You gonna eat that bagel?" (Dialogue snippet)
Shauna shrugged. "Nah. Go ahead."
Nick eyed the bagel with deadly intent. If he ate the last one, would she think him rude? Was she just saying she didn't want it since this was their first date? Most girls didn't like to eat in front of guys on their first dates, right? (<--Introspection) Nick reached for the bagel, tore it down the middle and handed her the biggest half. (<--action beat)
Shauna grinned and pink tinged her cheeks as she took the bagel. "How sweet. Thanks."
Her smile caused his stomach to do a little flipper thing. "You're very welcome," he said. (<-Dialogue tag)

FYI: One thing I used to do and one thing I see many beginning writers do (more beginning than me I mean...he he) is they use many creative words other than plain ol' "said" for dialogue tags. Such as: He Spat, She sputtered. He hissed. She yelled. He countered. She explained. He proclaimed. She argued.

I've heard many, many, many editors say they prefer the use of plain ol said unless you need to use a different tag word for emphasis or to set tone, such as this:

"Did you hear that?" she whispered, crouching behind the barn.
He stilled, nodded and held his arm out, prohibiting her next step. She froze. A flash of light shone through the trees. Like a streak through the yard, he dropped his arm and bolted after the would-be intruder. "Stop!" he yelled, already on the heels of the hulking form.

Okay so that was sort of a cheezy example but you see that "whispered" and "yelled" helped set the tone for the scene.

Another thing newbie (hey, I are one so I should know) writers tend to do is put both a dialogue tag and a beat when only one is necessary.

Here's an example:

"Are you going to the Parent-Teacher Conference after school today?" Miriam asked, leaning against the fence separating her property from her neighbor's.
Trina set the water hose down beside the plants and answered, "I think so. Want to ride together?"
"Sure," Miriam answered, pushing her sleeves up to help her new neighbor pull the overgrown weeds from her flower garden.

That could be rewritten as this:

"Are you going to the Parent-Teacher Conference after school today?" Miriam leaned against the fence separating her property from her neighbor's.
Trina set the water hose down beside the plants. "I think so. Want to ride together?"
"Sure," Miriam answered. She pushed her sleeves up to help her new neighbor pull the overgrown weeds from her flower garden.
"Great!" Trina smiled.
Since I have action beats there, denoting the speaker by each new paragraph, I don't really need the "Said" or "answered" or any other tag. Likewise, if you say, "said," you don't actually need a beat if you've sifficiently shown the reader the character's stance and action and established the setting for that snippet. You want to be sure not to have very long stints of dialogue with tons of tags but no beats though. That's called "talking heads" and makes it hard for the reader to:
Keep track of who's talking.
Picture your character and what they're doing at that moment.
Hope this helps you in your journey.



-- Gal. 2:20 Pouring my vial of words over Him.

A SOLDIER'S PROMISE~ Steeple Hill Love Inspired~ Jan. 2008

1 comment:

Hope Chastain said...

I remember that from creative writing class! *grin* LOL Talking head syndrome. (Have you noticed how bad TV is about that, especially soap operas? We don't watch much TV any more, but we usually leave it on to baby the picture tube, and so many times, they'll get into a scene, set the scene with an opening shot, move to a two shot, then go for the POV shots, ending up closer & closer until it's just two head shots going back & forth. That's okay for short periods of time, but using the same gimmick scene after scene is really boring!)

I appreciated your help on this when you critted my ms! I saved a lot of words getting rid of tags & substituting action beats instead. Plus, it made the ms. flow more smoothly. :)