Virtually Reconnecting

Since Covid 19 emerged, the world has not fully course corrected. In an effort to avoid the virus, numerous writers groups have ceased meeting in public. Has your group shifted to Zoom or have they stopped connecting? We know there is power in eye contact and reading body language. Seated across a table from someone gives strong indications of how they receive feedback as well as what they really think of your WIP. Seeing the group online doesn’t give the same true projection. Don’t let the lack of physical closeness stop you from receiving feedback. There is strength in meeting with your fellow writers, even virtually. The support and push to keep going is priceless.

Meet with your group in person if you can. Or see them a couple a times a month via Zoom if that is how members are most comfortable. The goal is to hold onto what works, what feeds your creativity and keeps you going.

Embrace The Protagonist & Antagonist

As you develop your main character (the protagonist), keep the following in mind:

He or she should not be perfect. A huge part of the appeal of a protagonist is that he/ she is kind, but also selfish at times and prone to being emotional, in other words, like us.

Allow the character to experiences a bumpy journey. It is through this process, that he/she grows.

Embrace the antagonist; it is as important as the main character. It’s job is to hinder the protagonist. The challenge can be a person or thing.

Remember Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White? Mr. Zuckerman was the antagonist, determined to take Wilbur’s life. He is the catalyst that leads to Charlotte creating life saving webs.

In middle grade novel, Freak The Mighty by Rodman Philbrick, the antagonist is the burden of the protagonist father’s crime.

Your antagonist does not have to be a villain. From The Desk of Zoe WashingtonbyJanae Marks, has the mother as the antagonist. Her love drives her to protect Zoe creates an obstacle to the child’s goal.

As you review your mark, ensure that the protagonist and antagonist are as strong as possible.

Line By Line

Your writing should be as polished as possible.

If you’ve completed a draft, it’s time for a line by line edit.

This is helpful because early drafts of manuscripts are often a bit rough.

Grab a hot drink, open the document and let’s get started.

A line by line edit is exactly what it sounds like.

Read each line of each page carefully. Is it clear and strong?

Do the opening and closing lines of each chapter strike the cord that you want them to?

Are your characters’ voices consistent throughout the entire story?

Are the descriptions of appearance and place clear?

Take your time with this editing process.

Be open to changing, adding or eliminating words that don’t fit.

Embrace the line by line edit.

Your work deserves this level of care.

Yes, It’s Bad

There are times when the words flow. Plotting is as smooth as ice. There are also times when every sentence is crap. Yes, pure garbage. The urge to toss out the laptop or to throw out the pages is strong. RESIST. You can’t fix what’s not on the page.

Create…

The M Word

It’s Monday. There are a dozen things demanding your attention. Squeeze writing into the day. Jot down a couple of sentences for your WIP in a note app. Or leave a voice mail for yourself regarding a plot point.

Your WIP is as important as everything on your to-do list. Creation is part of your purpose.

Go, write a bit!

Muse Food

Ready, set read! Yes, read. Every month, writing magazines come out. They fill shelves in bookstores. As scribes, we build worlds and create characters out of words. Excellent. However, how often do we feed the Muse? Yes, we have blogged about how to lure, but not as much about the care and feeding of the Muse.

Writing magazines are ideal Muse food. Articles on craft, information on conferences, contests and pitch tips can be found throughout.

So, before the month ends, pick up Muse food. Your creativity will be nurtured and an answer as to how to fix a plot point may be found within the pages.

Read, write and come back here soon!

Climb On In

Let’s do a creative strength, also known as a writing exercise. Open a blank document or grab pencil and paper. Here is the prompt:

You have been dropped into your WIP. I know, weird. But let’s roll with this.

What is the first thing that you notice?

How does one of the characters react to your arrival?

Once you’ve answered the questions, save anything from it that can be used to enhance your WIP.

You’re warmed up and ready to write. Go, write!

Spin A Tale

Once Upon A Time…The story comes to you, complete with major plot points. You pause, it’s a retelling of a fairy-tale. Write it! The Grimm Brothers were collector of stories, you spin them. Not sure there’s an audience? Think again.

YA Novels: Cinder by Marissa Meyer based on Cinderella, Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige inspired by the Snow Queen, A Court of Thrones And Roses by Sarah J. Maas the core of which is Beauty And The Beast.

Adult Novels: Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth re-imagined Rapunzel, and The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman based on the Snow Queen.

Tell your story. If it’s inspired by a fairy-tale then so be it. There are readers waiting to read it. Go write!

RESPECT

You are a creator. You and your words are worthy of respect. People all over the planet want to write, but so few actually breathe life into a blank document.

As we head into the second half of the year, practice ignoring both your inner critic and people who refuse to value your art. Tune them out!

A prophet is not without honor except in his own country. John 4:44

Protecting WIP

This is an important message for every writer on the planet who uses a computer/tablet or smartphone. Ready? Here it is : BACKUP UP YOUR WORK. USE A CLOUD, FLASH DRIVE OR EXTERNAL DRIVE!

Recently encountered someone rocking in a corner and muttering to themselves. Upon careful approach, the words they were saying became clear. “Shouldn’t have dropped the freaking computer! Why didn’t I backup my files? Why! What if the computer tech can’t recover my WIP? ” These words were repeated constantly.

BACKUP UP YOUR WORK. USE A CLOUD, FLASH DRIVE OR EXTERNAL DRIVE! Writers, heed this warning!

Crashing Through

You want to write, need to pour words into your WIP. However, writer’s block makes it feel impossible. Here’s a tip to crash through that wall;

Take a walk in an unfamiliar neighborhood. Take your time and pay attention to the buildings, apartments or houses. Pick one that stands out from the others. Imagine who works or lives there. How old are they? What is their typical day like? What do they look like? Why makes them interesting?

Hold that thought and go home. Write a paragraph about these imaginary people.

This act of creation will awaken the Muse and melt the wall of writer’s block. Open your WIP and move forward.

Stepping Into The Writers’ Pond

Writing workshops and conferences are back! After two years, the doors are opening to events that help creatives refill their wells. Some of you want to dive into this pond, to connect with your peeps. Some are still concerned about the virus that stole so many lives. So, what to do?

Zoom has been invaluable for virtual meetings but it may be time to step out a bit. Stop. If you’re ready, follow CDC guidelines and attend a writers conference or workshop. Dive in waist deep, if you need the socialization with people with similar interests. However, remember that the world has not completely returned to normal. Proceed in a way that protects your health.

Not ready to touch the pond of in-person conferences or workshops? Zoom, Teams and Slack are still ways to connect. Trust yourself to know when to test the water.

Connect to other writers virtually or in-person. Just connect…

Editing PT 2 ~ Roll Your Sleeves All The Way Up

Now it’s time to deal with the crossed out lines and the clunky sections of your draft. Consider the crossed out ones gone. When you return to the Cloud or Word version of this draft, delete the those. Now let’s work with the circled, it’s time to smooth them out. The circled sections fall into two categories: 1) Words or sentences to delete as they don’t serve the story. 2) Words or sentences that need to be rewritten for clarity or to help the section flow.

Decide which of the two categories the circled fall into and get to work. Kill great lines that fail to add what is needed. Yes, kill your darlings~ William Faulkner.Your draft will be better for it.

Rewrite the lines that require it.

Take your time with this process. Editing drafts is a marathon, not a sprint.