Separating Plot Lines

It’s no big surprise that I am still struggling with the middle of my WIP.  It seems no matter where I go with it, I dislike it, scrap it, then write something else (usually some maudlin poetry) just to keep the fires lit.  This vicious cycle has gone on for a few months now.  Needless to say, I am tired of it.

Angel Orchids

Being the determined person that I am, though, I refuse to give up.  I’m fully invested int his project and I cannot just let it go.  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and reading and I think I may have come up with a solution.  I generally write in a linear fashion, creating the manuscript as I go. (Even though I have already know the ending, I haven’t written it yet.  It’s only documented in long-hand notes.)  I do this because it gives me a sense of clarity.  One day, I discovered this nice little feature of Scrivener which I never fully utilized before:  You can write out a chapter entirely in scenes.  Okay, admittedly, I have paid more attention to the writing than the finer points of the software I use, but that’s for another post.

This nifty feature, when selected in the compilation, will print the scenes in the chapter AND it allows for easy reorganizing.  Earlier this week, while rewriting a recent scene, the lightbulb went on: write the plot lines separately, then worry about weaving them together later!  What I’ve come up with is simple.  I created a folder called Plots.  Within this folder are the sub folders containing the main plot and the subplots.  Within those will be the scenes that formulate the individual plot lines.

I think, after all is written out, these scenes can be moved into chapters and weaved together more effectively.  I can also fine tune each plot without having to search for it within the chapters.  I’m hoping that this approach will offer me the clarity I need to survive the middle of my WIP and bring the project to fruition.

I have high hopes that this will get me back on track!  I’ll keep you posted.

-AH

Post Writers’ Conference Hitch

Oh my goodness.  How am I supposed to get back to normal?  Attending my first writers’ conference in early May was a dream come true.  Really.  I learned so much more than I ever thought I would.  There is one little hitch though.  Now, I over-analyze everything I write.  Every sentence, practically every word.  It’s starting to get in the way of the plot because I am focussing too much on the words and structure.

So, exactly how am I supposed to get back to normal?  I mean, every time I write a few sentences, I start to think that they aren;t punchy enough or I have used the same word too many times or the structure isn’t right.  I am even finding myself fixing previously written text to accommodate what I learned at the conference.

Am I just over-editing?  Will I return to normal soon?  What am I supposed to do if all I think about is how mundane my writing must be?  Oh the conundrum!

As usual, writing things out, especially issues I have, seems to help me come up with solutions.  My first thought is to get back to writing and worry about the editing later.  Somehow I have to trust that my story is more important right now than which words I choose and how many times I use a word.  This has always been difficult for me, but now, trying to add in the nuances I learned about at the conference, is making me crazy!  Not to mention, the “Doubt Monster” is really tearing at what little confidence I have in my own writing abilities.  I almost feel as though I cannot write at all.

OK, ok, stop whining and practice not editing. See how that works out.  Hopefully I can return to some normalcy in my writing soon.

(also posted on She Writes)

Perfectly Placed Eye Lashes

I have a distinct appreciation for make-up, eye make-up to be exact.  I can get drawn in by the flawless application of color and lashes.  I look closely at the details. I focus on the closeups to see how the color was applied, where the shadows are, and how the lashes blend into the eyeliner.

smokeyeye1What has all this talk about eye make-up got to do with writing?  Nothing, on the surface; but if you think about it, it’s the same as writing a great story.  You draw your readers in with the flawless application of plot and characters.  Your readers will fall into the perfection of the scenes.  As a writer, I read other authors closely.  I scour the details, focus on the events, how the action is applied, and how the subplots blend into the main theme.  The meat of the story is in the details. It’s how I learn to write better.  It’s how I understand the structure.  The finishing touches, the satisfaction of the ending, reminds me of perfectly placed eyelashes.

Kaua`i Writers’ Conference – A Retrospect

This past week-end, I was thrilled to be attending my first writers’ conference!  I’ve been to many conferences, but never one devoted to writing, my craft of choice since I was a child penning my first poem.  I looked forward to three full days of talks from authors, agents, and editors.  Not knowing what to expect, I just wanted to learn from these people who had somehow successfully navigated the process of writing and publishing their work.  I wanted to know everything.

Because I live on Kaua`i, it’s difficult to find anything more beautiful than being on the beach here.  Unless you want to take in the gigantic rugged mountains, or the lush valleys.  But, it really doesn’t matter to me where a conference might be held as long as the presentations are relevant.  Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the beach is a close view from the conference room and the tropical breezes are wafting through the open air dining room at lunch. It’s what people expect in Hawai`i.

I can’t say enough about the organizers and hotel staff.  From start to finish, the service was seamless, and the presentations were definitely relevant.  I am amazed at the amount of information I absorbed.  I had an excellent first experience.  I never imagined I would have all my questions answered or that so many others had the same questions that I had!  Writing is a solitary business up until the time you set out to publish, so we forget there are others out there creating their own works of art.  That in itself makes attending a writers’ conference worthwhile.  But having first class presenters talking about everything you ever wanted to know but didn’t know HOW to ask, well, all I can say is, “Priceless.”  Yes, that may be cliché, but it is certainly true.

While much of the information is still percolating, I have to say that I took so much more away from the conference than I could have anticipated.  I am inspired to continue my journey writing my first novel.  Thanking everyone involved for such a lovely and educational three days is a must, and I do!  I look forward to next year’s conference and hope that I will have something to share then.

Mahalo nui loa!

AH

Grammar-ease: When to Capitalize a Season

I know many writers think the publisher’s editors will correct all the bad grammar in our writing; but the truth is, they really don’t have time for it. They are busy trying to make you book read and flow well so that it will sell.  They  shouldn’t be bombarded with poor grammar.  Having just been to a writer’s conference with agents, editors and authors, one thing is clear: editing your own work before you get to the agent is crucial.

Then there’s the question of self-publishing. If you don’t have a good grasp of grammar, you are doomed.  Taking personal responsibility for your writing includes at least attempting to spell-check and grammar-check your work!  So, sit back and take a moment to read this wonderful post from Lisa J. Jackson (Live to Write – Write to Live). It will do you a world of good!

Live to Write - Write to Live

So, here in New Hampshire, we had one of the coldest winters (or is it Winters) on record, weeks of single-digit and below zero temps.

Then we had April, definitely labeled spring (or is it Spring) on the calendar. It was filled with temps averaging in the 40s.

daffodils_april_10_03_editedNow it’s May 4th and temps are in the 80s.

To say we had a short spring (or is it Spring) is crazy, but, honestly, 80 degrees after weeks in the 40s? I’d say summer (or is it Summer) is here! It’s definitely shorts and t-shirt weather!

To the topic of this post — it’s a common question: Do you capitalize the seasons when writing about spring, summer, winter, or fall?

The short and simple answer is: no.

You only capitalize the season of spring, summer, winter, or fall when it’s part of a title…

View original post 121 more words

Conundrum: A While vs Awhile

While writing today, I came across a conundrum of word usage.  What’s the difference between “a while” and “awhile”? This type of issue rarely happens to me, since I was an English teacher in a previous life, but I just couldn’t get it, so I looked it up.  QuestionGirl

Here’s what I found on Dictionary.com:

The noun phrase a while can and often does follow a preposition, such as for or in: “He said he would be home in a while.” The adverb awhile cannot follow a preposition, a rule that makes sense if you revisit the definition of the term and drop it into a sentence such as the one above: “He said he would be home in for a short time or period.” However, if we omit the preposition and rewrite it as “He said he would be home awhile,” the sentence works with a slightly altered meaning.

So, when you have that burning need to know the correct usage of a word, look it up.  I went right on writing, satisfied that I was using the proper version!

Write More!

AH

Practice Writing

Sometimes I feel like I’m going to be writing this novel forever.  I am at a standstill, again.  I really need to figure out how to get my action going.  So, rather than sit in front of the blank outline this morning I decided to write a blog post.  Just to see if I can get those creative juices flowing again.

I saw a title of a book on a webpage.  The title was “The Practice of Writing” (by David Lodge).  While I have not read the book, its title got me thinking.  Like anything else we do well, we do so from practice.  Then again, there is the noun form of practice, such as meditation or yoga or spiritual practice.  In either case, practice is what you do to hone your skill and your connection to the activity.

When I get up in the early hours before dawn, my intention is to work on my novel.  I never really looked at is as a “practice” before.  When I saw the book title, it suddenly dawned on me that maybe deep inside, I’m not taking this as seriously as I take, say, my morning meditation practice.  While I really don’t think of writing as a hobby — after all I’ve done is professionally for more than 20 years — I never thought of my fiction writing as a practice or even a job, for that matter.  You know, it’s just something I love to do — no matter how frustrating it can be.

So, if I change my thinking and consider writing as a practice rather than just something I do because I love it, maybe I’ll break through that little barrier that keep me from taking my novel to the next level.

Happy Writing in 2015!

-AH