Reflections from an emerging writer as she journeys through the creative process.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Are You A Good Writer?

To be a good writer, one needs to know why they write.

I heard this today and decided to look at my own writing - why I put pen to paper. Was I driven to create stories or was it purely pleasure? After perusing my stories, I decided that my love of writing was the reason I continued to write.

I don't believe I have to write a thousand words a day to be a good writer. When I need to stop and reassess my goals, I stop. What a wonderful thing it is to weave a story together. I can feel the excitement of the story as it becomes real and alive. As a writer, I shape the story from my own feelings and thoughts. I believe this personalization of a story is what makes me a good writer.

How about you? What makes you a good writer?

Monday, November 17, 2014

How To Test A Story Idea

There are four basic questions to ask yourself when you have a story idea to develop, or whether you should let it remain in your notebook to mature a while longer.

1. Is it your story to tell? Is this something I really care about, something I partly understand, something that seems to want to be worked out?

2. Is it too personal for readers to become involved with? Can I work with this idea in a caring but uncompromising way to make it meaningful to someone else?

3. Is it going somewhere? Can I dramatize this in a series of scenes with a minimum of explanation? Does it have a plot or can I create a plot for it?

4. What's at stake? Is there something quite specific and vital at stake - not just to me, but to one or more of the characters involved?

If you test your ideas against these four criteria, a lot will be tossed out, or saved in your notebook for later. Don't let that upset you. There are a lot more where that came from and some will pass the test with bells ringing and flags flying. All you need is one good idea to create a solid story that keeps you writing productively for quite some time. Good luck!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Insecure Writer's Support Group

This is the first Wednesday of the month and time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group, hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh. This is a blog hop and you can visit other members by clicking HERE.

Today I'm out of commission because of surgery, so I'm writing this before Wednesday and posting it so everyone can read it.

I've been feeling very insecure lately, because I've been working on two story ideas and hoping to develop one of them into a full novel. Unfortunately, I got stuck on both ideas, even though I outlined both ideas and started a chapter outline on one of them. I didn't want to end up going in two directions at once, but I like fantasy, however this is the weakest story. My first person story is stronger, but I don't have the confidence to invest the time to finish an entire novel. I'm not sure it will stand on its own.

I know this sounds wishy-washy and like I'm whining, but this is the time in a story's development that either shows that it will shine or it will flop. So far, neither shine out enough for me to continue, so wish me luck as I let them sit and work on something else in the meantime. What are you working on?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Dreams and Creative Ideas

I never gave too much thought to how my dreams might affect my writing until I found myself stuck for a plot idea in a new fantasy novel I've been outlining. I tried for days to come up with the right idea, by drawing, charting out my thoughts and basically tearing my hair out. Finally, about a week ago, I fell asleep frustrated, deciding to give up on the story. But then, I woke up early in the morning after having the most vivid dream about how my protagonist would proceed through the story. I crawled out of bed and began writing. I only wished I'd had some writing materials beside the bed because I had to go all the way to my desk and I could feel my dream fading fast.

Have you used a dream in any of your stories? I now believe that our creative ideas don't always stop when we sleep. Our sub-conscious mind continues to work for us even when we sleep. When we dream, our ideas filter from our mind and become our dreams. The trick for me was to remember the dream in detail so I could create a plot line from it. I don't keep a dream diary as some people do, but I am going to have something beside my bed so I can write down my dreams when I wake up. I think the more often I do this, the better I'll become at getting the details. How about you?

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I'm having cataract surgery during the months of November and December, so I'm not sure how well I'll be able to see to type and read. But I'll try to keep my blog going, especially for Insecure Writer's Support Group. Things have been slow because of my eyes, but after the surgery they should be much better. See you next week!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Plots and Sub-plots in First Person

I recently read an excellent article about sub-plots written by Anna from Shout with Emaginette. I'll share with you the sentence that stuck with me (slightly paraphrased):

If the plot is a section of fence, the sub-plots are the vines that grow upon it. The more vines, the more color and the more intertwined action.

I mulled that over for a couple of days, since one of my current projects is in first person. I came to the conclusion that in order to create those vines it would have to be through the eyes of the main character and how she/he perceived other characters and events. Her/his ideas, thoughts and feelings would have to react with other characters to create sub-plots around those characters.

Since in first person we only know what our protagonist knows, it seems the challenge would be to make sure the vines intertwined enough to create action so the story doesn't bog down. I decided to make one of my sub-plots around a secondary character who has an agenda to hurt the protagonist. In order to create suspense, I wrote him as being sullen and then openly hostile, but without any direct threats towards the protagonist. Also, the protagonist can overhear his plans as he talks to someone else.

It is fun and a challenge to work in first person. I'm hoping that all the vines intertwine and make an exciting story for my readers. If nothing else, it will be an educational experience for me. One that I haven't had since I was in my last writing class in college.

How do you create your sub-plots? Are they created around different characters? How do you relate them back to your protagonist?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Dragons of Mar: A Trilogy With A New Name

The Dragons of Mar...

Is a trilogy I wrote during this past year but now has a new name. Because of issues beyond my control I made some changes to this series.

The story is the same as before, so if you have a copy downloaded, it won't be necessary to re-download another copy.

 The Dragons of Mar is about the dragons, and their riders, who go on a quest to stop a sorcerer that has usurped the throne of Mar. Each story tells a little more of the tale about Mar.

These three books are available on Amazon and Smashwords as ebooks. I hope you enjoy all three!

Call of the Dragon, Book 1

The Puzzle Box, Book 2

Dragon's Fury, Book 3


Now get a free copy of Call of the Dragon, Book 1 during the next 30 days!

Use coupon number: CL49X at Smashwords for your free ebook. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

IWSG One Year Anniversary

October 1st is the Insecure Writer's Support Group's website's one year anniversary! Happy Anniversary! As always, it is hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh. This month, his co-hosts are:
Fundy Blue http://selkiegrey4.blogspot.com/
To go to the website and visit other members of the IWSG, click HERE.

I wanted to give you ten tips on e-book publishing today. These tips were gleaned after publishing six e-books at Amazon and Smashwords. They are not in any particular order, but all are important tips to make a successful publication.

Tip 1: Always keep a backup file. Before preparing your manuscript for publication, set aside that file. If you make mistakes on a copy and accidentally erase the copy, you still have your backup or original file.

Tip 2: Never use more than four consecutive paragraph returns (hard returns by hitting ENTER). On a small screen device, this creates blank pages.

Tip 3: Don't use tabs or space bars to create first line paragraph indents. Instead, code your paragraph style at the top of the page under "paragraph."

Tip 4: Don't use fancy non-standard fonts, colored fonts, compressed or expanded fonts. And, in most cases, drop caps don't work either. Think of the different size tablets that your reader will be using and keep it simple.

Tip 5: The e-book doesn't come out the same as a printed book, where you can set the page. It will change with the different size readers and the page will be different on each one. Also, no page numbers.

Tip 6: Use font size 11 or 12, or 14 at maximum. Consider the different size readers.

Tip 7: Microsoft Word gives the most predictable results and works well when converting your book.

Tip 8: Make sure your book is edited before publication. So many times a good book can be spoiled by poor editing or none at all.

Tip 9: If you aren't a graphic artist, consider hiring someone to do your book cover for you. The cover is the first thing that a reader sees of an e-book.

Tip 10: Activate Word's show/hide before you start formatting. This is the backwards "p". When clicked, it exposes your paragraph returns, extra spaces, tabs, or strange formatting.

These ten tips are a few things I've discovered that will help make a cleaner, more well-formatted book. Also, both Amazon and Smashwords have books to help you format specifically for them and the last time I looked, they were still free. Good luck with your newest publication and I hope these suggestions have helped.