October 14

Plot Outlines or Lack Thereof – How Do You Do It?

plot-books-diana-gabaldonIt should come as no surprise that I follow Facebook pages like Freedom with Writing, Author’s Publish and Writer’s Write, and am a member of one of many NaNoWriMo Groups, and that this image on the left came across multiple of these pages about the same time last night.  The quote made me pause and think.

I don’t outline.  I’m horrible at outlining.  Most of my story ideas come to me out of the blue and are often the middle of the story, not the beginning and definitely not the end.  I write the story as it comes to me, as the characters talk.  I don’t really have an idea of where they are going or what they will doing in a solid sense.  It’s vague.  I let the ideas forge ahead on their own.

Sometimes I just write down something a character says and put as a “for later chapter” in my manuscript because I know it will be in there when the time is right.

I know many authors swear by outlining, needing a beginning, a middle and an end all plotted out to reach their goals and for a while I was thinking I must be doing something wrong that I wasn’t creating outlines and working on the story as a straight line until I saw this quote from one of my favorite authors, Diana Gabaldon. She nails it.  Like her, I don’t work on or with an outline nor do I work in a straight line.  Well, let’s be honest, pretty much everything she says in the quote is how I’ve been writing my WIP.  Most didn’t start at the beginning, with the exception of The Wolf Siren, and honestly, her story didn’t really start in the beginning as I have a few short stories related to her elsewhere that I haven’t incorporated in yet, but for the sake of the contest, I forced myself to find a beginning to start with and went from there.

But even now, chapter 5 wrote itself before chapter 3 and 4 were finished.  Sections of future chapters are written and waiting for me to catch up to them.  The same can be said for my other work in progress that’s posted on the site.  That excerpt was written in 2009.  I only just figured out the first chapter(s) and got that written.  It will be interesting to see where these novels pan out.

How bout you? Do you swear by the outline and plot method, or do you let the writing of the story guide you as you go, writing chapters here and there then getting them to all work together?  I’d like to hear other author’s ways of tackling the plot monster.

October 13

A Comedy of Errors – My #SYTYCW14 Contest Entry

so-you-think-you-can-write-logoDo you ever think that cosmos is conspiring against you to have everything go wrong, and then some? I strongly believe that was the case when I decided to enter the #SYTYCW14 Contest.

For those of you scratching your head at SYTYCW14, the abbreviation stands for So You Think You Can Write and is a yearly contest held by Harlequin to find new blood for their various series.  I heard about the contest, Sept. 12 and on Sept. 13  I decided that I could do this.  Sure, I didn’t have a novel written yet, but i had a solid idea in mind, solid characters and had determined I would submit under Harlequin Nocturne and started writing so I could submit within the first few days of the contest.  I started writing.

The night of Sept. 14 I developed a headache, but didn’t think much of it – until the next morning.  Woke up to a full blown migraine and ended up calling off work because of how bad it was.  I rarely do this and was frustrated that I had to call off – but it was needed as I tried to sleep away the migraine.  Sadly, that didn’t work.  Come to find out I had a tension headache that morphed into a migraine and needed to do some physical therapy and other treatments to resolve that issue.

Still, I tried to write, despite the pain and got the first three chapters written before I tackled the task of writing the 100 word pitch for the contest.

If anyone tells you a pitch is easy, they are lying to you.

Between working with my test readers and rewriting, I finally got the pitch I liked, then we worked on a few changes to Chapter 1 and Chapter 2.  After finishing Chapter 1 to my likings, I broke down and submitted the Pitch and Chapter 1 to the contest Sept. 27 and sent links to friends to read and comment on.

I’ll admit now, i still have tweaking to do to Chapter 1, but that won’t be released till the manuscript gets published.

Now, during all this, I had signed up for a vendor and craft fair (prior to the contest) that i was also getting stuff ready for and then attending for three weekends in a row.  I was still writing, but not at the pace I wanted because I couldn’t focus between my neck and work and the fair, etc.

I finally found my writing muse and was churning out a few thousand words a night when, another unexpected event happened – a client asked if I could go to Fort Worth during the week the contest winners would be announced.

I was planning to write 10k a day on the weekend and 5k-8k words a night to complete the manuscript in case I made the Top 25 finalists.  The trip changed all that.  Laundry had to get done, other things that I was going to do during the week needed to be finished, etc., so nothing got written on the weekend.  No sweat, I’d just have to write more when I got down to Fort Worth.

Except that didn’t happen.  Monday’s drive drained me and I had no brain to write when I got in, even though I had all the ideas popping in my head loudly while I was driving.  This was one of those times I wish I had a laptop with a voice recognition program that I could have had running while I was driving then I could have just narrated and cleaned up each night.  Factor in I was disappointed I hadn’t gotten a call yet and yeah…demotiviation set in. The following days my brain was assaulted with the topics I was gathering for for my job and the topics really kill my fiction muse.   By Thursday I was going to be heading back home, but I had a last minute meeting with another client to shoot some photos.  Right after I got done with that, I saw I had an email and read it on my phone.

I had been picked as one of the top 25 finalists.

“Son of a bitch.”

Those were the exact words that were spewed from my mouth when I read that email.  I knew there was no way I could complete the manuscript and I had already told myself I wasn’t going to make the finals anyhow.  Yet I did.  Taking a deep breath to collect myself, I called the editor, explained the situation and regretfully informed them I would be unable to submit my manuscript to complete the contest.

writers-dreamIt was a bittersweet moment that made me extremely happy, but also had me cursing up a storm the whole drive home.  Let me tell you – 9 hours of swearing and berating yourself isn’t a lot of fun, but I got it out of my system.

My brother suggested that I just get home, write till it was done.  I wish I could have done that, but in my opinion, the manuscript would have been half-assed and I wouldn’t have been proud of it, so I refused to do that.

Instead, I plan to finish the manuscript, sit on it a few weeks, re-read it, edit it to my heart’s content, then submit it to Harlequin. If they accept it, great.  If not, we’ll go on from there.

The contest has confirmed one thing for me, which I always knew before but kinda ignored: Editors out there liked my writing.  I made it to the Top 25.  That means I have a shot at being a published author.

Here’s to that dream.

October 10

A Generic Welcome Message of Sorts

reading-book-by-candlelightSometime it’s easy for me to start a post, sometimes it’s not and this time, despite being an avid writer and author, I don’t have a good introduction, except for this.

Whew, intro out of the way.

This is my “author” site.  I was going to say I don’t have anything published yet, when I remembered I have been and that statement would be inaccurate.  So, I haven’t published a full-length novel – yet – but I have been published in several print anthologies and many newsletters where my name isn’t credited, but have been printed, as well as the websites I’ve written for and freelance writing I’ve done throughout the years.

It was suggested to me by a couple of friends and test readers that I should create an author page where I blog about writing as well as sharing some of my online writing here from time to time to help get my name out, so I’m doing just that.

Check back here for more posts on a semi-regular basis.

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