Thursday, December 31, 2009

Act Two- Part One - Sequence Three and Four

In Act Two, the character crosses over into his/her new world. A plan is made, allies are gathered, and tools and training is acquired. There is usually a failed battle before the final battle. The character goes through at least two attempts to reach his/her goal. Each try will be a sequence. In some stories, this section will contain more than two sections. The climax of Act Two - Part One should give a glimpse of the final answer, sometimes mirroring its opposite.

Act Two - Sequence Three - On the train, Harry quickly gathers his team. They arrive at the school and Hagrid escorts the kid into their new world. The climax, the sorting ceremony, Harry must make a choice between good and bad, which gives us a glimpse at the answer to the central question. Will Harry be a good wizard? The sequence ends with Harry feeling lonely, pulling the audience in to care for this young boy.

Act Two - Sequence Four - The story shifts to morning and we meet the teachers. At Lunch, a new question is formed. Is Hagrid good or bad? The missing item from 713 raises suspicion in Harry's mind. Harry has a flying lesson and becomes the youngest Seeker ever. On the forbidden third flour, the kids discover yet another of the school's mysteries.

Act Two - Sequence Five - On the athletic field, we are reintroduced to Harry's double nature. He would be a good Beater(bad) as well as a good Seeker(good). At class, Hermione shows her true character (she is perfect, isn't she) and Ron doesn't like it. There's trouble in the trio, already.

We are told that the girl is in the bathroom and then a disturbance of a troll is made known. The two boys rush to Hermione and discover that she's under attack. Together, they stop the troll. A strong bond is formed between the kids.

Notice there is an additional sequence in this Act. The movie is long, allowing for additional directions within the story.

As usual, feel free to comment.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Act One - Sequence Two

Act One - Sequence Two - Each sequence should take up about fifteen minutes of a movie and fifty pages of a four hundred page book. These counts will vary.

In sequence two, you will finish your set up, move your characters through the crossing threshold and end with the central question of the story. This is also known as the turning point one.

Now back to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

Sequence two begins in a tavern and then moves to Diagon Alley. Harry gathers the tools he will need in his new world. Harry's inner need to use his powers for good is revealed at the wand shop. This also sets up the central question of the overall series. Will Harry turn out good or evil?

Back in the tavern, Harry's biggest enemy is revealed and the Central Question for movie one or book one is set up. Will the dark wizard come after Harry, and will Harry be able to survive?

This sequence ends with Harry jumping through the pillar at Platform. He enters his new world which ends Act One.

Again feel free to share your thoughts and/or examples.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Act One - Sequence One

Act One is the set up of your story. You will reveal the major players, themes, locations, conflicts, and the main conflict. You will show the inner and outer need of your protagonist. There will be setups and payoffs, rising stakes, and a possible time clock set into motion.

Act One- Sequence One- In a movie, this will normally take up the first fifteen minutes. In a novel, of four hundred words, you will find it in the first fifty pages. The page counts will vary per novel.

In sequence one, you will answer the questions who, what, where, when, and why: Characters, goals, setting, time, and motivation. This sequence will end with the inciting incident.

I'm going to use Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone as an example. I hope everyone has seen the movie. If not, watch it before moving forward. It's a very good movie.

Sequence One begins with the prologue, where we are introduced to the setting of magical world meets human, or muggle, world. We met the main character, Harry, as a baby and are introduced to his mentors.

The movie then flashes forward to present time. We are introduced to the main character's normal world and his conflicting family.

The zoo scene introduces a foreshadowing, those who have seen the series will know what I'm referring to, and the main character's desire to have a real family.

The invitations are the main character's call to adventure, or inciting incident. His uncle steps in as the Refusal of the call. But, the call cannot be refused when Hagrid arrives to escort the boy to the Hogwart's School.

As the main character follows Hagrid out the door to begin his adventure, we arrive at the end of Sequence One.

I'll end there for today. Look forward to seeing you tomorrow as we walk into Sequence two of Act One. Feel free to share examples of your own.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Three Acts, Eight Sequences

The basic structure of fiction: Does it apply to all fiction? I don't think so. I've spent the weekend going over my index cards, applying the structure to movies, and glancing through some of my favorite short stories. All have a beginning, middle, and end, which is the main concept of the three acts, but breaking them into eight sequences, seemed to be another matter entirely.

I watched Tears of the Sun this weekend, paying close attention for the sequences and yes they are there. It seems the process is much clearer in visual work rather the written word.

I was able to divide my cards, False Memory by Dean Koontz into three acts and managed to find a few of the sequences. It appears that the first sequence may be missing from books entirely, jumping quickly into the next sequence.

I read through short stories in Shroud Issue 2 Mar/April 2008. The acts are there in short versions, but seemed a waste of time looking for sequences, which I did not find. I'm sure longer short stories may have apparent sequences within.

Throughout the week, I will be visiting the different Acts and sequences. Feel free to share your comments on the structure.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

MERRY CHRISTMAS


I want to take a moment to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

May all your dreams become realities and your goals become reachable.

Each year, we begin with a fresh plate full of hopes and expectations.

I hope everyone sees their future brighten, and faiths restored.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Dissecting a Novel - The Index Cards

This has been a long process. I'm reaching the end of the book and thought I'd share with you samples of the index cards. I hope you are able to read my handwriting. This is just to give you a general idea of what can go on the cards.

Setting, POV, Summary, Scene Type, end thoughts.

I found the Scene Type a little hard for me. As I neared the end, I began leaving it blank all together.

These are scenes from False Memory by Dean Koontz.

Hope my steps help others toward their goals of writing a novel.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Screenwriting Tricks for Authors

Directed by a comment to my post on Dissecting A Novel, I found this blog. There's a wealth of information on the structure of the novel. There are even breakdowns of popular movies such as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and The Mist.

Author Alexandra Sokoloff has even been nice enough to supply a table of contents to her blog, making it easy to maneuver through her posts. At the moment, all the links are not there, but it still gives a general idea of which topics to look for to read the posts in order.

I'm deeply thankful for being told of this site and felt the need to share it with my followers.

Alexandra can be found at: http://thedarksalon.blogspot.com/2009/08/screenwriting-tricks-for-authors-table.html

Monday, December 21, 2009

Creating Short Fiction by Damon Knight

Damon Knight, a great writer and teacher, blessed us with this book Creating Short Fiction. He goes into detail of every aspect of writing a short story or any fiction for that matter.

He begins by exploring techniques of developing your talent as a writer. There's also a great section on turning ideas into story. The aspects of fiction are divided into three divisions: Beginning a story, controlling a story, and finishing a story. He then goes through the concepts of being a writer. There are many exercises throughout to help you become more aware of where your weaknesses lie.

I'd recommend this book to any aspiring writer. It's also a great read for you seasoned writers.

Feel free to share your own thoughts on this book. You can look inside the book at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Creating-Short-Fiction-Classic-Writing/dp/0312150946/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1261439163&sr=8-1

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dissecting A Novel

In an effort to better understand novel structure, I've sat down and began dissecting a novel. I've read for years that this is a good process to help a new writer get a feel for writing their own but have continued to put it off.

I recently read Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell, which is a great book for any writer. He describes a method of dissecting a novel to learn plotting. So, before I begin my revision on my NaNo Novel, I decided to give it a shot.

He suggests doing six different novels. I have my novels chosen and have begun my first. Will I do the other five? It depends on what I learn from the process.

Here's what you do: You read the book for pleasure, and then you take index cards and map out each scene. For each scene, you write the setting, point-of-view character, a two-line scene summary, and scene type. You also include thoughts on the ending. Does it make you want to read on? Why or why not?

Now that you have your cards complete, you can divide them into the three-act structure. You can identify your point of no return. You have a better view of the book as a whole broke down into sections.

I'll let you know what I learn.

Has anyone else ever done this? Would you like to share your methods of dissecting a novel?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Disappearance

I want to take a moment to apologize to my followers for not posting last week.

I jumped out of National Novel Writing Month straight into house shopping. I've found my new home and am now going through the steps of purchasing and will hopefully be moving in in January. Bear with during this time. I will try to get some new content posted as soon as possible.

Thank you for understanding.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Finding Time to Write

Most people find it hard to fit writing and the multiple tasks that go along with it into their daily routine.

If only there were more hours in a day. Wouldn't it be nice to have extra arms? The ultimate multitasking: Let your left brain get busy on one project, while your right brain is busy doing something else.

Unfortunately, there are only so many hours in a day and we can only do one thing at a time. So how do you fit it all in?


A fellow blogger, Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz, has taken the time to interview and post the thoughts and scheduling methods of eight authors. Take a look at how the pros do it.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Life's Little Complications

Every time you turn around, life throws you another curve ball. You feel as if you are making progress toward your goals, and then there's another wall to climb.

Frustrations can grow in anyone's life, but you must learn to keep moving forward. Climb that wall, dodge that ball, do whatever is needed to continue progressing.

When things go crazy, do you let your dishes pile up? Do you grab clothes from the hamper for lack of clean ones? Do you skip showers? Do you take the day off from your job? For most people, the answer her would be no. So why is it so easy to skip a day of writing?

Forming the habit of writing, is a must for writers who wish to succeed. There are many ways to accomplish this. According to scientists, a habit can be formed in thirty days.


Make a schedule. Take a moment to sit down and plan out your day. Include your chores, work hours, television viewing, and etcetera. Now, look through your items and eliminate anything that can go. Fit in at least an hour a day for your writing - preferably, the same time each day.

Set a word count goal. Determine a reasonable amount of words to accomplish each day and strive to hit that count daily. Again, doing this at the same time each day will help. Make the count low and feel free to go over the amount. The point is to get you in the seat and writing at a regular basis.

Set a weekly goal. For those of you that have such a hectic life that you are unable to plan out each day, try setting a word count goal for the week and reach it. This will allow more flexibility, but be sure to complete the count by the end of the week, even if this means writing for hours over the weekend.

I'm sure there are other ways to get your writing in order. Feel free to share your habit forming procedures and your writing habits.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Winner of National Novel Writing Month

I managed to find the time and pushed out the words to complete the challenge of the National Novel Writing Month. It's a great feeling to have accomplished so much within a month's time.

The reality is I have a lot more work ahead of me. I began with no outline, with only a speck of an idea. The scenes came to me in spurts and not in logical order. Sifting through the produced work should prove to be a large task. The results and the learning experience will be well worth the effort.

Congratulations to all who participated. It takes a lot of motivation and courage to attempt such a feat. Whether you won or not, you gave it your all and that is what counts.

Good luck with your finished product and keep writing.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!


The big day is tomorrow. I want to take a moment and give thanks to all those who have guided me in my writer's journey.

I'd like to thank my best friend, Alisyn, for being a constant sounding board for my ideas, both good and bad. Mostly, I'm thankful for you being by my side through it all.

I'd like to thank my boyfriend, James, for understanding that I need time alone when writing and giving me the space needed.

I'd like to thank my critique partners and critique groups, past, present, and future. Without you my skills would not have grown so quickly.

I'd like to thank all of my blog followers. I appreciate your visits and comments.

I'd like to thank my family for providing me with the material that finds its way into my stories.

I'd like to thank god for giving me the gift and desire to write.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving. Try not to eat too much.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

National Novel Writing Month - Day 21

NaNoWrMo, it's almost over. How many will complete the word count? How many of those novels will make it into the next stage?

At this point, I doubt myself. It's bringing back memories of the first time I did this challenge. And again, I'm wondering if it was a mistake to start. I'm sure every writer goes through this when writing a novel. But, I wonder how much of it is from the added pressure of getting it all down within a month. I'm sure an outline would have lessened the stress.

I'm still tapping the words out in hopes of meeting the challenge. At this point, I have to get twenty-five hundred words a day for the remainder of the month. Shouldn't be hard if I can think of something more to write.

Good luck everyone, as they struggle through this challenge.



27552 / 50000 words. 55% done!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Save My Job at USPS

I know this is off topic for this blog, but I felt the need to voice my thoughts on this subject.

I am an RCA for the post office. My job is to fill in for a regular carrier during her days off. A RCA is guaranteed one day per week. As I'm sure you've all heard the post office is considering dropping down to five day delivery. The postal service isn't totally sure how they will work the system out, but it would definitely be the end of most of the substitute's jobs.

The cause of this is low mail volume. In my opinion, the reason for this is the internet. We now have email and online bill paying options.

I am as guilty as the next person of not using the postal services as much as I have in the past. If each person was to send out one letter a week, or even a month, can you imagine how much mail that would accumulate to be.

Help save the postal employee jobs. Reach out to loved ones. Send them a personal letter once a month. Forty-four cents could save my job.

Friday, November 13, 2009

National Novel Writing Month - Day 13

Friday the 13th. Didn't realize what day it was until just now. Nothing bad happened to me today. It was actually a good day. Wonder if it would have been different if I'd known it was the dreaded thirteenth. Anyone have odd occurrences because of the date?

Sorry about the lateness of this post. I've been working hard trying to keep up with work, life, and NaNo. The whole word count responsibility is really cutting into my daily life. In less than two hours, I can produce the words needed, but sometimes it's difficult to know where the story should go next.

How are the rest of you doing out there in NaNo Land?


21439 / 50000 words. 43% done!

Monday, November 9, 2009

National Novel Writing Month - Day Nine

I've made it a whole week and stepped into the second. Things are going great. I have a solid plot line now. I just have to fill in the pieces. I've managed to write the end of the story, now I have to work on the middle scenes.



14790 / 50000 words. 30% done!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

National Novel Writing Month - Day Four

I've made it to day four, with only small problems. The story I began on day one has been put to rest. It was a good story line, but I regret to say I am not the one to write it.

I began a new story on day two and it is moving right along. I don't have the entire plot worked out yet, but it will come to me as I go.

As of today, I'm at 6,154 words.

How are you other Nano participants doing?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Inspiration

The main source of inspiration comes from within you. It usually takes an outer source to bring it into a brighter light. These sources can include a loved one, a favorite photo, a poem, and even nature. Most will find that coming into contact with these sources will cause you to feel an instant surge of release.

My inspiration comes from many sources, but lately it has been a tree. Yes, a tree. It sits in my backyard and I visit it daily. Sitting on my back porch, I watch it sway and listen to it whisper in the wind. It's leaves form many patterns. I notice different aspects of it at different times. If I'm stuck on a story or just feeling out of wits, I can visit my tree and everything will seem different.

Where is your favorite place to find inspiration?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Letter That Will Come Tomorrow by Naomi O'Hara

A trip you will remember.

'A Letter That Will Come Tomorrow' begins with Dr. Naomi O’Hara, a recently retired therapist, stepping on a train heading to New York. The year is 2021. We meet some very interesting people along the way and are introduced to a new way of life. The author has created a world that everyone should visit. The story is well written, characters come alive, and the descriptions are fresh. A must-read!

More info can be found at http://www.amazon.com/Letter-That-Will-Come-Tomorrow/dp/0595478832

Monday, October 26, 2009

National Novel Writing Month 2009

I wasn't sure whether I was going to participate this year or not. I've only did this one other year and the results sit in a file folder. That year instead of a novel, I came up with many beginnings for books. I reached the word count but not in the method of building an entire novel.

I still haven't got a plan for the novel I'll be writing this year. I'm hoping to come up with an outline this week. If not, I'll wing it. I look forward to giving this a shot and coming out with a decent novel.

Good luck to all attendees. Are you participating?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Monsters Of The Eighties

In honor of the coming holiday, I'd like to delve into the monsters of the eighties.

It was a time of great horrors. We were introduced to monsters in our dreams, scary dolls, cars with personalities, vampires, and so much more.

My favorite was Freddy Kreugar: Nightmare on Elm Street. What could be scarier than having someone stalk you in your dreams? The only escape is to stay awake. You can only do that for so long. The producers went on to introduce sequels to the original, but none were as good as the first. Now there is a remake coming out. I wonder if it will even come close to the introduction of this wonderfully horrifying nightmare. http://www.nightmareonelmstreettrailer.com/index.php

Who was your favorite? Why?

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Sacred Sin by Estevan Vega


At the young age of eighteen, Estevan Vega has proven himself as a talented, ambitious writer with this second book. "The Sacred Sin" is a well-written descriptive story, with great characters and just the right amount of suspense. On the downside, some may find it a little too descriptive as the story moves slowly along. Jude Foster, a detective with a past, pursues a supernatural killer. The story is intriguing and entertaining. A good read.

Vega is growing as a new writer, and I look forward to his next book.

Servant of the Realm is also available by this author. More information can be found at http://www.estevanvega.com/

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Keeper - Short Story Accepted

Long Story Short has accepted my short story, "The Keeper". It will appear in January at http://www.alongstoryshort.net/.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

2010 Muse Online Writers Conference


This conference is free, but don't let that fool you. It is very professional and contains a lot of needed information. The pitch sessions alone are worth attending, not to mention all the workshops and chats. Donations are accepted, but not necessary to join in.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Muse Online Writers Conference

Registrations have closed for this year, but it’s something to think about for next year.

This year the workshops range from writing horror to writing for children. There are workshops for tightening your prose, marketing, blogging, and so much more. Many editors have also made it possible for the attendees to pitch their work to them in special pitch sessions. The editors and publications range from short stories to novel lengths. The conference lasts a week and is packed with great opportunities.

http://www.themuseonlinewritersconference.com/

Check it out and get ready for the conference of 2010.

The organizer, Lea Schizas, published author and award winning editor, works hard each year to bring writers this conference at no cost.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Reading to Improve Your Writing

At first, I planned to post a book review. That was until I realized that the book was about ten years old and after visiting Amazon learned that there are over five hundred reviews listed. Here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/False-Memory-Dean-Koontz/product-reviews/0553592149/ref=sr_1_1_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1 I figured no one really needs my opinion on this book.

Guess what, I will share it anyway. If you are a Dean Koontz Fan and haven't read False Memory, do yourself a favor and pick it up. It's one of those rare ones that once you pick it up, you won't put it down. When I made the purchase, I felt that I'd lost interest in reading. I couldn't make it past the first few chapters with anything I picked up. Halfway through this book I realized that it wasn't my interest that was lacking it was the writing of the book.

Reading to Improve Your Writing This is where both types of books come in handy.

How did the writer pull you in? How did she fail in doing so?

Watch for flashbacks. Do they work? If so, why?

Do the characters feel real? If not, what qualities should the writer included to make them real?

As a writer, much can be learned by other's successes and failures. When it's done right, the stories flow like magic. The seams are hard to see. But when it's done wrong, different characteristics of the story will pop out at you.

I'm currently trying to read another book. It was written by another of my favorite authors. It's just not sucking me in. Why? For one, I feel the writer jumped from one character's view to another's too often. It also seems that most of what is going on at the beginning is letting the reader get familiar with the characters, who are great by the way. I'm hoping that the pace picks up soon and stuff starts happening. I guess that may be my number one issue with the book. The pace is unusually slow.

What do you look for as you read a book?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Plot

What is Plot?

This is what happens within the individual scenes and the overall story.

One way to simplify this is to break it down into three acts. (There are other methods.)

Act 1 should include introducing the main characters, their goals, conflict, and setting. There should be plot conflict (What the character wants and what’s in their way), character conflict (Why they want what they want), and stakes (what will happen if character does not succeed).

Act 2 should show the stakes increasing (now instead a trophy, the character needs the prize money to pay the mortgage his mother didn’t pay), and decrease the characters ability to be able to obtain goal(perhaps the character is entering a car race and he finds out that the engine has to be overhauled before he can race, this puts the pressure one.)

Act 3 is where it all comes to a close. The character either reaches or fails to reach his goal. She faces the consequences of the outcome. All loose ends are brought to some sort of closure.

I’m not sure how many writers draft their stories using this method or any other structure. I feel more comfortable with a free flowing method. Once the story is down on paper, I may check to see if the ingredients are there, but it’s usually apparent when they are not. The story will not feel complete.

Please share your thoughts on structuring your story’s plot.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

War of Words - Poem Accepted

I sent a poem to Long Story Short and it has been accepted. 'War of Words' will appear in the April 2010 edition at http://www.alongstoryshort.net/ .

Monday, September 14, 2009

Reading Your Work Backwards

Over the years, I’ve ran across the advice of using this method for editing many times. I’ve never really thought much about it and had never put it to the test. While editing my last story, I decide to give it a try. I was amazed by what popped out at me and even more amazed that I did not catch the mistakes during the normal read through.

The steps I took: I began by reading the last sentence, then the next to last sentence, and continued this until I was done with a complete paragraph. After this I reread the paragraph from beginning to end. I made corrections as I went. Some were just straight reading, there were no errors, but a few paragraphs receive complete makeovers. I continued this process from the end of the story to the beginning.

Depending on the length of the story, I suggest doing this in small intervals. The eyes get tired and begin to scan over the words after a while.

Give it a try. There’s nothing to lose, but a little time. I’m sure this process will be useless to some, but you’ll never know for sure until you give it a shot.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Stories That Flow

Have you ever noticed that some stories work you to death, while others just flow from your fingertips?

I’ve been working with one story that has been through many edits. I’m still working on it. I’m beginning to wonder if I’m not working it to death. Am I telling the wrong story? Do the characters wish to remain unknown? This story has taught me a lot. I believe my writing has improved considerably from reworking it.

This thought occurred to me because of another story I wrote a month ago. It flowed from me so magically and after one edit it was ready to send out.

If only they were all that easy.

Maybe some stories are meant to be lessons, while others are precious gems waiting to be shined slightly.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Finding the Time to Write

It’s one of the biggest issues plaguing the writer. Even if you have plenty of time, most writers will discover new things to do to keep themselves from sitting down and writing. Overcoming the fear of writing is the number one obstacle. By writing every day, this will become a thing of the past.

Every writer is different and each will find a different routine that works for him. Some need structure in their day. Others enjoy that spare of the moment writing.

One of two things is necessary to get your butt in that seat. A timed schedule will work best for you structured writers, while a set goal of words or pages may work better for you others. Of course, it is possible to use both.

A timed schedule can be set up relatively easy. You’ll need a scheduling graph, including each hour of the day. First, write in all of your obligations and tasks that have nothing to do with writing. Now look for openings for writing time. You should allow for at least two hour sessions if possible. This will give you time to stare at the blank page, but still enough time to get something wrote.

A set goal should be something of word count or pages done in a week’s time. Find a calendar and set your goals. Sunday would be a good choice. Say you decide upon five pages. You have no obligation of when to write, but by Sunday evening you need five pages wrote. This allows you to use thirty minute sessions, or even three hour sessions, depending upon what you are capable of.
I’m still setting up my routine, but I feel I’m getting close to having one that will work. I’m leaning toward the timed schedule. In this way, my allotted time can be distributed between writing, editing, research, and marketing, depending on what needs to be done at that time. As I move along, the speed of my tasks should also increase allowing more to be done within my set time.

I’d also like to set a goal system in place to up productivity, but this will wait until I have a comfortable routine.

Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions on developing a routine. I look forward to your comments.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Some Thoughts on Writing

When I first began writing, I thought it was the easiest thing in the world. I wrote daily, stringing words together into wondrous stories. Then I sent my work out and was rejected over and over again. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong, so I wasn’t sure how to fix it. I laid my pen down, and gave up. In the back of my mind, I still believed that one day I would be a writer.

After years of avid reading, I looked back at those pieces and saw major problems. There was no rhythm to the prose. The characters moved around from one point to the next with no thoughts. My writing lacked emotion and detail.

I began writing once again. Three years later, I still hadn’t sent anything out in hopes of publication. No rejections. You may consider this a waste of time, writing with no rewards, but still no rejections. A true writer writes for the joy of it, not the promise of fame. The truth was I was still learning and hadn’t reached what I consider my time to submit.

I’ve recently began submitting and receiving rejections. Now, I don’t look at the rejections as a bad sign. I look at them as stepping stones. It may be a long walk, but each step will bring me closer to being a published writer.

I’d like to share with you some of the things I’ve learned over the years.

There are many tools that you will use, but there are four I’d say that are a must. They are: American Heritage College Dictionary, Roget’s Thesaurus, Punctuation Plain & Simple by Edgar C. and Jean A. Alward, and William Strunk Jr., and E.B. White’s The Element of Style. These should be on every writer’s bookshelf, and don’t forget to use them.

Writer groups have both good and bad points. Writing is a solitary job and will become very lonely. It’s good to have a few people around who share the same ambition in life, even if they are in cyber-space. But on the downside, you can read too much into criticism. You must be careful when having your work critiqued. Everyone has an opinion, and they are not always correct. Your story is just that, yours. Now, I’m not saying to turn a blind eye to the truth. If you have five people read your story, and they all ask why your character did this, chances are you haven’t provided motivation for your character’s actions. Trust in yourself to know which advice to take and which to discard.

Reading is a major part of a writer’s life, because you learn from the examples of others. Your ideas will grow and techniques will improve. I asked a member of one of my writing groups what type of books he read. His answer was he didn’t have time to read, he was too busy writing. If you don’t read, how can you begin to know how to write? Each day should include some sort of reading; consider it part of your job. And by all means, enjoy yourself.

Writing, of course, is the most critical issue. It should become part of your daily routine. Most writers compose and rearrange scenes in their mind, which is perfectly fine, but you have to sit down at some point. Every writer has a different routine. It is important to establish what works for you. Start out slow, maybe thirty minutes a day, and increase the time limit as it feels right.

Self-editing should be separated from your writing time. Don’t let that part of your mind mess with you while you create. Find a different location to do this task if necessary. Let your piece sit for a few days. Try to detach yourself from it, as if it was written by another. Like writing, you will also need practice at editing. One way to get practice is to edit another writer's work. It’s easier to see flaws in writing other than your own.

I would also like to suggest reading material of an inspirational level. There are many articles and books out there telling you how to write. I’m not saying not to read these, but don’t dwell on them. There is no simple plan to show you how to write that best seller. I suggest reading the few that tell you why they do it.

One, in particular, I would like to recommend is Stephen King’s On Writing. He offers a few pointers, but what I enjoyed was the way he lets you step into his world and begin to understand why this man is so widely read. He writes for himself, as you should write for yourself. If you’re not having fun, what’s the point?

Above all else, a writer needs ambition and drive. If your desire isn't strong enough, you won’t get very far. Writing is hard work; it’s more than stringing words together. You must be able to create worlds and characters that the reader wants to get to know.

Now go, create something wonderful.

Feel free to share your thoughts. Are you a struggling writer trying to get published? Have you found the path to publication? There is always something to learn from others. Share with me what you’ve learned along the way. Ask questions.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Welcome to the Footsteps of a Writer

I am beginning this blog as a way of charting out my way as a writer. You will find topic on becoming a writer, among other things. I'm sure thoughts on tarot cards will make it into the room. Be on the lookout for book reviews.

I plan to map out my journey from aspiring writer to published writer by sharing thoughts and getting feedback from you the reader. I hope to take a few of you with me into the publishing world. I hope you enjoy the walk.
 
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