Thursday, December 31, 2009

Back, with Resolution

Long time no write! (At least on the blog anyway)

But I have a good excuse.

I have been on vacation from work, and decided to take the time off from all computers (for the most part). I did not check email, Facebook or Twitter for nine solid days. And I'm not kidding.

I stuck with the writing, though. Some of it I liked. Some of it I didn't. I'm sure I'll check out some of it later on this year and like it, and some of it I won't like. If I learned anything in 2009, it's that not everything I write is going to be good. Or bad.

But now I've returned to the good ol' world wide web, and I have decided to make 2010 my year of writing.

In 2009, I wrote two first drafts of novels. That's two more than I thought I would write. Ever. I now have the confidence and the gusto to know that it's something I can do. I've tucked both of them away for a long time, and January is going to be spent editing, editing, editing. Jan. 1, they come out of the drawer.

I'm also going to unleash a more aggressive schedule with my writing. I've seen that I can do it, and I've seen (and heard) that it puts me in a better mood to unleash that stuff onto the blank page. So here's the plan:

For 2010, I'm going to wrap up at least one of those first drafts into a draft I'm comfortable unleashing to the world. It's going out with queries, and I'm looking forward to gobs and gobs of rejections (I can't wait to hear how crappy it is so I can fix it!)

But more importantly, I'm going to write more and more. I want to knock out three more first drafts of novels, and at least five polished short stories. The novels will be rough (probably very rough), but I want to pore over and fine tune the short stories to try and get them published some where.

I have some ideas for both novels and short fictoin, and I work fairly quickly, so these seem like reasonable goals.

I'm raising the bar for 2010, and I'll keep you posted on here. It all starts tomorrow.

Happy/Busy New Year!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Nose? Meet grindstone

Whoa, does Christmas keep you away from the blogosphere and Internet.

Not only have I been ultra-busy at work (vacation isn't really vacation when they cram two weeks of work into the seven days before you leave), but I've also had to worry about things like getting Christmas lights on the house, shopping and gearing up for a trip to the parents' house for a few days.

I've also found that cramming in writing and editing and all that fun stuff has been tough, too. I've written plenty of posts on how you can't let life get in the way, how sometimes it still does, and how you can make up for it.

But this month is a little different. Everybody told me that November would be a pain in the neck with National Novel Writing Month - that it would bury me up to my neck in working on the book. Well, November has nothing on December.

I probably haven't written as many words in December as I did in November, but I'm finding my sessions to be more intensive because I don't want to waste the precious few moments I have to work on things.

That said, I'm going to really have to buckle up and focus in this next week. All that family stuff is great, and I like hanging out with my family members I never get to see all year as much as anybody else. But I'm a writer, too, and that means I have to try and find time to write (if I can).

I don't want to take any days off (unless it is completely unavoidable), because one day turns into two, into four, and then into 10. At least that's the way it is for me.

So batten down the hatches, Christmas, I'm going to work straight through whether you want me to or not.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tis the season

I have not blogged for awhile, but that doesn't mean I haven't been writing.

It's tough not to get inspired when all anybody around me can talk about is how inspired they are by the Christmas season. All right. That's not fair. People talk about more than Christmas, but that's not the point.

What I'm saying is that, for whatever reason, I find myself trying all differnt kinds of techniques in my writing now that there is snow on the ground. I don't know why, but the change in the season has really got me toying with a bunch of new stuff.

For example: I'm writing a lot more short fiction, but I'm doing it in a bunch of different ways. I'm writing in first person, third person and from the sandpoints of a number of changing characters.

This shows me where I am strong, and where I am weak in my writing. It shows me what I need to work at, and what I'm really good with. That's valuable information since it's making me more of a complete writer.

I'm glad that I'm writing a bunch of changing things, an it's helping me form a style and a voice and those are things that can always use help.

But I am worried. What the heck is going to happen when spring hits?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Mood lighting

I have come to another realization. I'm sure I'm not the first to say this, but it just happened to me, so you're going to have to hear about it.

I've been writing some short stories and things of that ilk lately, and the tone and voice of those things almost always take on thhe form of whatever mood I happen to be in. That's no news flash, but it got me thinking.

I write differently when I'm writing the short stuff. A novel is something I have immersed myself in, and I take on the form and voice of what the novel is for me. With the short stories, it's more like me blasting out whatever is in my head, guided by whatever emotions and mood I happen to be in. What I'm trying to say is that I write differently when doing these different things, and it's really helped my writing (in my opinion).

All right, I have two first drafts on my hands now. That gives me two - both very, very rough. One from this summer, and the ultra-rough National Novel Writing Month piece. However, I'm giving both a breather so I can look at them with fresh eyes.

I'm still writing every day, but like I said, it's mostly the short stuff. I thoroughly enjoy working on novels and writing short stories, and now I've found that I love the change in dynamic between the two.

They're both different, but they both work. At least they seem to work for me.

So try and broaden your horizons by writing different stuff. It might put you (or keep you) in a good mood.

Monday, November 30, 2009

NaNoRebellion: Guest post by Sara McClung

(Here is a guest post from Sara McClung, a full-time writer that might just be the most bubbly person on the Internet. She took a different approach to National Novel Writing Month. Enjoy.)

I was a NaNo insurgent.
I registered as a NaNo participant. But on November 1st, I continued writing an already started novel. I wrote just over 30,000 new words in the first 2 ½ weeks. And then I stopped. I never aimed for 50,000 - I knew there weren’t that many words left before the novel would be finished. And after 30,000 words - that’s exactly what it was!

Am I technically a NaNo winner? No.

Do I feel like a winner anyway? Heck yes I do! I finished my novel!

NaNo rebels follow two of the most important NaNo principles (in my opinion):

1. We use the month of November to push forward with devotion and persistence in our writing.
2. We force ourselves to write with complete intensity without getting stuck on minor details along the way.

My goal is to continue following these principles beyond the month of November. In fact, I may just hold my own little SaRaNoWriMos from time to time throughout the year...

Unfortunately, one part of NaNo that won’t carry over into other months is the motivation inspired by the other participants! Knowing that there were thousands and thousands of other writers out there typing away furiously at the same time as I was helped to keep me going. The forums, the twitter hashtags, the blogs... Talk about motivation by the bucket loads! I’ll definitely miss the community energy.
(Thankfully, when I need motivation now - I can visit the #amwritingparty crew every night on twitter! )

Though NaNoWriMo intends for writers to start fresh, fictional pieces, the staff understands that not everyone will be at the right place to start something new - nor will everyone want to write fiction. And guess what? They still encourage us to enter! So if you missed out this year because you couldn’t follow their posted rules - I suggest you check out the NaNoRebel forum for next year!

PS. As I’m sure you read in his posts, Kerry participated in NaNoWriMo. He was a legit, law abiding, new novel starting participant. He began a new novel on November 1st and wrote toward the 50,000 word count goal that would make him a winner. And guess what? HE WON! He wrote over 60,000 words before November ended. So I’ll end this guest post by tipping my hat to you, Mr. K. C. Collins! You rocked it... the REAL way :-)

Sara McClung is a full-time writer that you can follow on Twitter @saramcclung. She also has a great blog that you can find at

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanks, Thanksgiving

I haven't been around much lately, and I apologize for that. With Thanksgiving and all that jazz, I was out of town with the in-laws, spending much needed quality fun time with that side of the family.

However, there was one negative to the whole thing. While I managed more than 2,000 words on my first day away from home, I managed roughly 1,000 over the next two days - combined.

I know what you regular readers of my blog are going to say, but let me stop you before the words leave your mouth or you scurry down to the comments section.

YES, I'm the guy that constantly harps about hitting 1,000-2,000 words EVERY DAY REGARDLESS OF WHAT'S GOING ON. And YES, I'm the guy that also blathers on and on about setting aside time to write and NOT LETTING LIFE GET IN THE WAY.

So I dropped my own ball. And it was Thanksgiving. If you're going to call me out onto the carpet for that, you're a rough crowd, to be sure.

But I picked up that ball, and kicked the crap out of it after I got home so *flllbbbbbbt* (that's my sound for sticking my tongue out and spitting at you). I hammered out more than 6,000 words today, and put a decent cap on my National Novel Writing Month work in progress. Marking my biggest day ever.

If you count those words today, and the roughly 1,000 I did over the two days I was AWOL, that leaves me with well over the 2k goal I usually set for myself. So there.

Granted, my draft from NaNo is ultra-rough, and I still think there are things that need to be added to it (and taken out, oh momma are there things to be taken out). But I'll go through all of that stuff on Dec. 1, and then look out.

As far as lessons learned from those three days: 1) I can really put together a huge day if I really want to and, more importantly, need to. 2) I tried to write, I really did, and the few hundred words each session wasn't much, but it was something. You take what you can get sometimes. 3) I really, really love green bean casserole.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Crash! Boom! Pow!

I'm no pro on the novel circuit, but I can see why people want to be - and why I'm aspiring to be.

I'm closing in on my 50,000 words for National Novel Writing Month, and that's all well and good, but that's not the big deal. What gets me going is making things explode. No, I'm not some pyromaniac. I'm talking about getting to the juicy part of the book where worlds collide.

I'm probably 20,000 words or so away from wrapping this sucker up, and all of that stuff I've been building toward is finally starting to boil over the top. It's crazy and fun figuring out where to put these characters, and how to get them in there place. But the most fun is tossing in the twists and turns that they have to take to scramble back to (some sort of) normal.

Of course, I knew these things were going to happen to them, but the characters didn't expect it. What fun would there be in that?

Coming up with some ideas for a book - or for your plot - is always great. It's those single, solitary moments of realization that are very rewarding. But doing the work to build up to the fireworks is the tough part.

This is one of the most rewarding parts of writing for me: Writing your characters into impossible situations and then wiggling them out of it - for better or for worse. The climax and all that good stuff surrounding it are the meat and potatoes, they're what people are going to remember.

The least I can do is have a blast writing that stuff.

Friday, November 20, 2009

They're not all home runs

There is nobody that takes advantage of a hot streak more than I do.

When I get on a roll with my writing, I hammer away and pound out chapters like my fingers are my very own printing press. My waves of confidence are high, and I ride them as long as I possibly can. Sometimes, those waves can even carry on into what would be a slump, and I plow right through those, too.

But just like any high, there has to be some coming down from it. I have been cruising, writing roughly 20,000 words in the last week, and I actually feel pretty good about it. There are times I can bash out a chapter or two and feel like "Well, all of that's getting cut later." But this wasn't one of those times. I've really felt good about what I had been doing.

Until this afternoon. Ugh. I got around 1,500 words out, and some of it wasn't that bad, but I wasn't really feeling it like I had been. And that sucks, but that's part of the deal.

Not every day is going to be "Oh wow! I just wrote 7,800 words and they're all made of GOLD." I've come to grips with that in working at a newspaper since I was 17. Not every story I write is going to win an award. But the key is to keep the slumps tiny, and the fireworks displays going as long as possible.

The only way (for me anyway) to trudge through that muck is to step away and come back when my muse has his/her guns fully loaded. So I'm giving that muse some time to get organized.

I'll be back at the laptop later tonight. I hope this slump won't know what hit it.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Obsessed with Numbers

For a bunch of people that claim to be addicted to words, the bulk of us are bunch of unwitting slaves to math geeks. We're all a bunch of numbers freaks.

Whether I'm hammering out words for the latest #wordathon on Twitter, or just trying to meet my daily goal of 1,000 or 2,000 or whatever number I've set for myself, or plowing my way toward 50,000 words in November for National Novel Writing Month, numbers dominate my writing experience.

Some days, I'm even counting how many words I'm writing per hour - which means I'm counting minutes, too! I need to stop.

That got me to thinking. I grew up in love with English class, and I hated math class. I took one math class in college - a wisely chosen course, where the bulk of the grade depended on three papers you wrote during the quarter. So why on earth am I so wrapped up in numbers?

The short answer is this: Well, what the hell. Everybody else I know worries about it, and it's gotten me some good buddies on Twitter. Besides, that's what agents and publishers want to know right off the bat. And it's easier to get locked into a routine if you get that "I'm shooting for 1,500 words every day" routine.

But it still seems bizarre to me. I hate numbers. I hate paying my mortgage (I still do, though), because of what it does to my bank account. And I need to get back to my former math-hating self, even if it's for just a short while.

So tonight I'll be naughty. For my nightly session, I'm just going to write. That's it. I'm not going to check my word count. I'm just going to go until I feel I should stop. And then I'm going to stop, shut the computer and go somewhere and read.

But it will probably be for one night only. I'll probably wake up in the morning and run to the laptop like it's my Christmas stocking to find out what my word count was from the night before, but still.

It's the principle of the whole thing.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

In the zone

This is the part of writing that I love the most.

I'm smack dab in the middle of all kinds of crap going on with my characters. I don't know if potential readers will be as enthusiastic about this part of my work in progress when (or if) anybody ever sees it, but I know that I'm having a blast writing it.

I don't want to stop working. Even when it's 2 a.m. and I know I'm supposed to be up and trying to move toward my real job in six hours. Even when it's 2 p.m., and I know I'm not leaving my real job for the next three hours.

This is why I write, for these times like this. I like putting characters in all kinds of tough situations, and then trying to see if I can work them out of it -- all in 80,000 words or less.

It's what I like to call the Writing Rubik's Cube. Mess it all up, and see if you can get things right in the world. Sometimes, you can't but that's fine, too. Even getting one of those sides done correctly can be a victory of sorts, and not everything is always going to be perfect.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Please forgive me

I know what I said earlier, but I'm sorry. I broke one of my own rules earlier today, and I feel horrible about it.

OK, so I don't feel horrible, but I figured I'd better come clean in my blog, since you know how a little white lie can fester into a gaping wound. Besides, I love the readers of my blog, and I want complete honesty with you wonderful folks.

Whew. Here goes:
While writing in my National Novel Writing Month work in progress today, I ran into a road block. I didn't know how to get around a particular part without scrapping some stuff. So I caved. I don't like to admit it, and I feel dirty, but I did some editing on the fly.

I know what I said earlier. Just hammer out the words as they come and worry about editing after the draft is done. But I couldn't avoid it. I won't blame you for thinking that I'm a horrible person, but it was just one lapse in judgement, I swear. The edits opened the floodgates to about 1,500 words in roughly 45 minutes, but that's no excuse.

All this proves is that there are moments of weakness in all of us, and sometimes the rules get bent slightly or broken. I'm only human, it's going to happen once in awhile. So I'm sorry.

I promise, it will never happen again. Unless it's absolutely necessary for the creative process.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Stay busy = Stay hungry

I learned a lesson tonight that I know has made my writing better. Since starting this daily writing thing, I know my writing has gotten better - I can tell when I read the stuff I have written that day, and I can feel it in my confidence.

Case in point:
Earlier tonight, I was asked how the book was going. I said I was over 25,000 words, which is right on pace with my 2,000 word-per-day goal for National Novel Writing Month that started on Nov. 1. The person I was talking to was confused. They wondered what I was talking about.

Sure enough, we were talking about different things. While I was talking about my NaNoWriMo project, they were talking about the first draft I finished in early October. We laughed, and then I explained that I was letting that one sit until December to look at it with a pair of fresh eyes, and then both of us went on our merry ways.

And here's the lesson (sorry for the long explanation): I've gained confidence, and I feel my writing is better by sticking to it. I know I love doing it, but doing it has to be a labor of love.

When I finished one project, I kept right on writing on the next one because I wanted to keep the writing flow going. This message isn't anything new, but I think it bears repeating: Immerse yourself in it, and you will get better, and who doesn't want to keep getting better?

My level of busy is directly proportional to my level of desire to make my projects great. That may take awhile, but it won't happen at all if I'm not dedicated to what I'm doing.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Still finding the right road

I am no expert, and I have never been published. To be honest, I don't know what advice I can possibly give you about writing (unless it's newspaper writing, and you want to know how to irk your boss). I just know what I'm going through at any given time a new blog post is published.

I'm flailing my way through this process, too, and this blog is here to hopefully show people that they aren't the only ones pulling their hair out and getting frustrated at that damn blinking cursor in their Microsoft Word document.

I ran into one of those roadblocks last night. Sure, I'm still well on pace to hit my 50,000 words for National Novel Writing Month, but that's no big deal. I knew I was going to hit it, anyway.

There are notes and a rough outline for me to follow, but even still, I hit a snag where I had no idea which direction to go to get from Point A to Point B. I know, I know, a straight line. I got it. But the straight line sucked, and so did subsequent curvy lines.

I'm not going to chalk this up to writer's block just yet, more that I haven't found the right path to take yet. (Wait. What's the difference?) In any event, I think this was good for me because it made me type a bunch of stuff I didn't like.

Last night's lesson was this: Just like you have to be able to hack your story to bits when the unncessary words are there, you have to be able to hammer out a bunch of words when the necessary words aren't there.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Another link

Here's a great blog that you should be reading, if you aren't already.

This is one I can't believe I haven't stumbled upon already, but it's It's written by Larry Brooks, who has a number of published resources on getting other authors, well, published.

Check it out. It even has a post (from Oct. 26, I believe) that is a decent read on making the National Novel Writing Month a more rewarding process. Enjoy.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Catch up!

I'm rocking and rolling during National Novel Writing Month, averaging more than 2,000 words per day.

However, there are a few of my buddies that I chat with on Twitter that are either just getting started or haven't been able to write every single day, so they're behind the pace. For them, I thought I'd throw a few tips out there that have worked for me so far.

1. WRITE EVERY DAY: Taking a day off is unacceptable! Get in a routine where you spend at least an hour a day working on it, and you'll get to the point where you feel guilty if you skip a day. You'll be happier for it, I promise.

2. LAW OF AVERAGES: Figure out how many words you need to average per day to hit the 50,000. And then write 500 more per day. By doing that, you'll be covering your rump if you have a day where things aren't clicking and you fall behind.

3. EDITING, SCHMEDITING: Don't worry about that stuff right now. That's why the gods gave us December - so we had something to do while all that snow is on the ground. Just write and write and write some more. Get the words down now. Organize them later.

4. DON'T STOP: One day off easily turns into two, so do whatever you can to find your groove and stay in it. Keep on going, and you'll be surprised how quickly those first 200 words turn into 12,000. Your confidence will go up as that word count rises, and that will make it easier.

5. BELIEVE IN IT: Trust in what you're doing and be passionate about it. If you don't like your story, why the heck do you think anyone else will? You know how it's hard to stop reading a book you really get into? Well, plunge into your own book the same way. Make it something you don't want to stop working on, even when you have to.

Those are a few things that have helped me with my writing, and have helped me with NaNoWriMo. I hope that it helps a few others, too. If I figure out a few more tips, I'll post them along the way.

Good luck, and feel free to drop any other tips in the comments section. And then get back to your novel.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Spread your wings

The National Novel Writing Month is going great. Much better than I would've thought at this point, actually. Four days in, and I have more than 8,500 words. And with a day off from my day job tomorrow, I'm going to be shooting to hit the 11k (or maybe even 12k) milestone.

We'll see how rambunctious I'm feeling.

And that's what this whole NaNoWriMo business is all about, methinks. That's why I'm happy I chose the idea I did for this project. I had a few ideas bouncing around in my head for this thing, but I picked the one that would pose a little bit of a challenge -- one that would force me to ask questions about myself, and one that would force me into a few challenging situations as a writer.

I like finding out what I can and can't do as a writer. Then I try and do as much of the stuff that falls into the "can't" category as I can. That's how you become a better writer. If you keep doing the stuff you know you can do and know you're comfortable with, where are you going to grow?

My advice today for everybody that writes, whether you're working on NaNoWriMo or not, is to keep trying new things. It's all about finding your own voice, so keep pushing that envelope to see how far you can go.

After you've found your limit? Well, then keep going a little bit past that. That's the fun part.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

More help always welcome

As I plow forward with National Novel Writing Month, I have uncovered a few more helpful resources for those participating in the November event.

I uncovered this great blog called The Blood-Red Pencil that is absolutely great. More importantly, there are a couple of posts from that blog that have popped up over the last week or so that will be particularly helpful for those participating in NaNoWriMo.

The first post you should check out from the BRP is the Oct. 27 entry on a novel checklist. After you're done reading that and have finished your applause, click on this link to the Oct. 24 entry on creating villains. I found both incredibly insightful.

Also, NaNoWriMo is all about hammering out words and throwing caution to the wind, only to worry about editing later. If you're a nut for edits on the fly like me, but also like the encouraged reckless abandon that goes along with NaNoWriMo, this helpful resource is definitely for you.

By the way, I came across all of these goodies on Twitter. So if you're not following @BubbleCow or @KatMeyer, you should get right on that.

OK, read the links, and then follow those two. You'll thank me for it. Really.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Off and running

My second plunge into the deep end of novel writing started up today as National Novel Writing Month got underway, and it got off to a rip-roaring start with more than 2,000 words under my belt.

As usual, I'll be shooting for 2k per day, and that should get me more than enough words to hit the 50,000 word goal for NaNoWriMo.

I think I have a pretty good idea this time around, but I wasn't sure I'd have the same gusto I had for my first novel. That was an exercise in "Can I do this?" so I was constantly busting my butt to prove that I could. Now I know I can do it, but I was worried that I wouldn't be able to really crank on this project like I could on the last one.

Boy, did I prove myself wrong. My 2,000 words today came in about an hour and a half, and I was able to stop at a comfy spot that will allow me to jump right into things tomorrow.

I probably could have gotten another session in today, but I'm a sucker. Unfortunately, starting on a Sunday produced a lot of distractions. Equally unfortunate, I am very easily distracted.

At least I got off to a good, confident start, and that's always a very important thing.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Only a day away

With all due respect to Little Orphan Annie, we're less than 24 hours from me starting my second (really? second? that still sounds weird) novel. It's also my first foray into National Novel Writing Month, so that should also be interesting.

The first draft of Novel No. 1 is still hibernating in the hopper, so it's full steam ahead and all focus on the next idea. That's refreshing on a few levels.

First of all, I know that I can do it, so it's not nearly as intimidating this time around. Secondly, I'm just as excited to get going on this one as I was on the next one. And finally, I have an idea that is completely different from my first idea, so I can't wait to tackle the challenges that brings forward.

The thing about NaNoWriMo is that you're trying to get 50,000 words crammed into 30 days, but I don't think it should be a problem. I was averaging around 2,000 words per day over the final month of writing my previous first draft, so I'm not worried about the goal.

What I am worried about is making sure the silly thing makes sense. The key in doing this, as it is with any writing, is to maintain that confidence and stick to your guns. I'm looking forward to the experience - and seeing if I can do it all over again.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I may actually know what I'm doing...

Just a few days away from starting up the next first draft - this time as part of National Novel Writing Month - and the second time around has a little more organization surrounding it.

The last time I started a novel, I was just kind of flying without a parachute. Or a map. Or any lights on the runway. I pretty much had just a sort-of plan in my head and started writing. Now that I think of it, that's a pretty good way to head into NaNoWriMo - just sit down and write.

I plan on sitting down and writing for pretty much all of November, but this time I have a little more than just some gas in that plane's tank. I've taken some notes, gotten my idea a bit more organized, and have a better sense of direction going in.

I am not under the illusion that my first novel is going to magically get published. But it showed me some good things and some bad things about my writing process - like what works and what doesn't. Surely, I will learn a few more things through the next process and each ensuing process after that.

Maybe someday, I'll actually get this whole thing figured out. Either way, it's been a pretty fun trip so far.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Gearing up

Two weeks ago, I was just trying to figure out which of the numerous endings I had written should I stick on the end of the first draft of my first novel. I was happy to be wrapping up that first foray into novel writing.

Now I can't get enough of it.

I haven't written on anything that big for a few weeks, and it has me wringing my hands, not waiting to start another novel. It's like crack - or what I've heard crack to be like - ultra-addictive. But I'm waiting to check out the first draft and go through another edit for a few weeks.

And I still have to wait for a few more days before starting on another novel. I'm participating in National Novel Writing Month for the first time, so I can't start going on the next novel until Nov. 1.

As much as I like writing short fiction, I really, really can't wait to start going on another big project again. But for now, I'm stuck. I am relegated to poking out my hokey short stories and working on set-up stuff like outlines and such for the next novel.

Now that the first one is wrapped up (except for edits, of course), I can't wait to start the next one.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

More to Read

The post mentioning Stephen King's ON WRITING drew a lot of positive feedback in the comments and the emails, so I thought I would throw out a few other books that help me throughout my writing process.

One great resource is THE 3 A.M. EPIPHANY by Brian Kiteley. It's a book that is loaded with exercises to try and get you thinking outside the box. Kitely is a creative writing prof at the University of Denver, and the thing this helped me a lot with is writing tighter.

Struggle with dialogue? Then you gotta read LUSH LIFE by Richard Price. It's not a help book, but he's a master of writing dialogue. Reading that book showed me ways to use dialogue differently, ways to use different voices and it just plain helped me in that department. Besides, it's a damn good book.

One of your characters missing something? Check out WRITER'S GUIDE TO CHARACTER TRAITS by Linda Edelstein. This book won't tell you a better way to write characters, but it will show you how to give them more layers. This book helped me make my characters seem more realistic.

Those are just a few. Of course, one of my tips for any kind of writer is to read, read, read. Then take a nap, write and read some more.

Anybody else have some good resources that helped you in your writing? Share them in the comments for everybody. Go on. Don't be bashful.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Back on horse, sort of

With my first draft in the vault for awhile, I've found that starting up on other stuff is much, much easier.

Before I got into a routine, it was tough getting myself to write. I've long said that the most important part of writing is actually getting your can in front of the computer and just typing. Now that I'm used to it, things are much, much easier.

I've come up with a couple more ideas I think are good, but I'm trying to organize them now. I don't want to start any of them until National Novel Writing Month starts, but I should be good and organized for my first foray into NaNoWriMo.

In the meantime, I've been enjoying doing some other stuff - short stories for the most part. The one thing I've noticed is that things come much easier to me know. I don't have the novel hanging over my head any more, and I was worried about this limbo between NaNoWriMo, but I can tell that my writing is better. Even with this short stuff.

Top benefit of finished first draft: I'm a more confident writer, and that has led to better writing.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sealing the Vault

With my quick edit finished, I'm in kind of a tough spot.

I'm not going to look at that work in progress again for probably six weeks. This is a little tip I got from reading Stephen King's ON WRITING, so you leave it for awhile and then take it on with fresh eyes. The tough part is that I don't want to put it away, and I'm going to have to force myself to not do anything with it.

The timing is interesting, as I'll be away from it for all of November, where I plan to write during National Novel Writing Month. However, I'm having a tough time leaving it alone. I've dumped so much into it over the past couple of months, and it has consumed a good chunk of every day during that time.

But this is a crucial part. I know I'll be able to tackle it better when I come back to it with an open mind, since I've been so up close and involved with the thing over the past couple of months. I've got to let it marinate.

By the way, if you're a writer, and have not read King's ON WRITING, get thee to a bookstore posthaste. You can read it in two or three days, and it will be a vital, vital tool in your working. I know it was for me.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Say what?

The bulk of the stuff I'm editing right now has a lot of dialogue, and that's been interesting to me.

I want the different characters to have different voices, but there are times I think I may have been trying too hard, so I changed them up. This is the good part of editing, especially with dialogue. When I read these conversations between characters out loud, sometimes I find myself saying "Well that guy sounds stupid."

Dialogue is a bit of a toughie. You really have to think it through. It has to be well-planned, but it can't sound staged or set up in anyway or it comes across as phony.

Also, now that I'm through the whole draft, I have a better handle on my characters than I did when I started, or even after I was going for awhile. That familiarity means I know who they are, and know what they would say. That helps with the editing of their dialogue in earlier chapters.

The words they say have to keep them within character, but they have to help develop them, too. This is a pretty tough balance - and it's a balance that isn't going to be achieved in just one edit.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Back on the horse

I'm just about finished with the quick edit of the first draft, and then the book is going into the drawer.

Does that mean this blog is finished? That I just wait for six weeks before talking about things again? Oh, heavens no. Obviously, this blog is here through the whole process: Writing, editing, hair-pulling, the whole works.

Just because my first novel is finished doesn't mean that I've stopped writing. I took a couple of days off, but that was it. In the meantime, I've worked on a few different things. Short stories and the like, but now I'm back.

I'm still editing, but the writing is back. A few people have asked me "What do you work on now that you've finished your novel?" The answer is that I'm gearing up and starting the next one.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

First first draft, now first contest

I finally got around to doing it. I entered my first paragraph (or what is the first paragraph so far) of my first draft in agent Nathan Bransford's contest.

You can check out the post about the contest at this link.

With around 2,500 competitors when I submitted mine, I have no illusions about winning anything or even becoming a finalist or anything. But it was kind of neat to be able to see the various other first paragraphs out there by people in the same spot as I am.

I also have to admit: It's a pretty good feeling to have something to submit into something like this.

Here's my first paragraph:

Somewhere, paint was drying. Boy, was I missing out. Lying in the ditch and staring at the road's dusty dead end had lost its luster awhile ago, but I couldn't find it it in my heart to tell Will how boring this was. He had been so wound up. But when I heard the snakes rattling, I figured I had been on the ground long enough.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

This ain't so bad

As a newspaper guy, I hate editing. Editing stuff is never any fun. I know, I know, it has to be done. But so does laundry, and that stinks, too.

But through the process of doing a quick run-through of my novel, I've found that editing your own stuff isn't so bad. I don't want to sound selfish, because getting another set of eyes on copy for a newspaper is one of the most important things before it goes to print.

It's just different. Nobody has seen what's in this novel so far except for me. Taking a look back at it as a whole is refreshing and fun. I mean, this isn't the main edit that will create my second draft, but this is a neat look for me at the finished product (Hey, it's still rough, don't get me wrong, but it is finished). It's neat for me to see where I've taken these guys from start to finish.

All of this stuff from here on out is new for me. I've written tons of things before, and the writing of this novel was a blast, but I'm starting to find out that the rest of the parts - even stuff like editing - can be pretty fun, too.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Where did this come from?

I'm going through a quick edit of my now-completed first draft, and I'm having a few revelations.

The main revelation is this: "Man, I don't remember writing some of this stuff."

Sure, it was a couple of months ago when I wrote some of this, but I couldn't believe how different some of my writing is. I've cleaned a few things up and changed some things to make it sound more like the other stuff I wrote, but still.

This isn't the main edit, I'll be doing that probably at the end of November. But reading through this once - from the beginning - before I lock it up in a drawer really shows me how far my main character moved along through the book. And that makes me happy.

I'm sure I'll change some stuff around and add words and hack words out, but getting this first glimpse of the thing as a whole is pretty neat for me. And refreshing, too.

Friday, October 9, 2009

And on the 64th day....

I rested.

I didn't do one thing with my novel today after finishing up the first draft on Thursday. I'm taking one day from the thing before starting one quick edit over the next few days. From there, I'll drop it in the drawer and let it marinate.

And I have to say, I don't like it. For the last two-plus months, I've written nearly every single day on that thing. Of course, there has been one or two days off because of situations out of my control, but those days off were few and far between. This real day off is nerve-wracking.

I can't say that I won't write tonight. I'm sure I'll get home from work and want to do something - work on a short story or start another book or whatever. OK, I probably won't start another book just yet, but I thought I would throw it out there.

For me, a day without writing usually isn't a very good day. But this was a day to relish what I've accomplished. It's been a pretty good day.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Eagle Has Landed!

Don't look now, but I might actually be a novelist!

I finished my first draft of my first novel tonight, and I feel like I'm walking (and typing) on air. The last two sessions wound up being two of my best of the whole process, as I typed 4,067 words today. And boy, did the time fly when I was doing it.

I can't believe I actually got there, and now I know why people want to do this for a living. It's for these types of moments, right now. I've never been as giddy typing a blog as I am tonight. I apologize if I'm rambling, but I don't really care.

Will it get published someday? I don't know. That's not why I did this. I set out to see if this was something I could actually do, and now it's done. It's rough and will need a lot of editing, but it's DONE.

The total word count for the work in progress is 79,731 words, and it took me exactly two months and one day from when I started to hammer it out. In a weird sort of way, I can't wait to start hacking out some of those words I agonized over in the editing process!

But that's for another day. For now, however, I'm going to relax and enjoy tonight. Woo hoo!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Final Countdown

Finished a key chapter tonight, and now all I have left of my first draft (before clean-up, quickie edit) is to wrap up two or three chapters that have given me a little bit of trouble.

I wanted to have this draft finished by the end of October, but now I'll be disappointed if I don't have it done by the end of the week. I've said before that it doesn't seem like the end, but it is.

The work in progress is more words than I would like, but that's just fine with me. Too much in the first draft is better than not enough, and I'm sure I'll be able to chop it down.

What I have learned through this process so far is that I have good writing habits, and bad ones (who doesn't?).

But the good traits have found their way to outnumber the bad, and that's when I flourished. The main thing for me throughout this process is that I don't have to force myself to sit down and write anymore - even thought that's what got me through the rough patches. Now I'm looking forward to each and every session that I write.

And I've found I'm pretty darn good when I get on a roll. Yes, that's me patting myself on the back (I think I've earned it).

I ended on a roll tonight, so let's hope that continues into tomorrow, so I can finish this thing with a flourish.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Strange Days

This is peculiar. I'm only a little ways away - probably two or three writing sessions - from finishing my first draft.

I can't believe I've written more than 70,000 words on something that started on Aug. 7 - exactly two months ago tomorrow.

I'm still trying to hammer out a couple more options as far as endings go, but this is the finish line. It feels weird. It's like I don't want to wrap it up because it seems like it's been one of the only things I've been thinking about for the past couple months.

Don't get me wrong, I want to finish the first draft, but it's a different kind of feeling knowing that you're writing the last few thousand words on something that started as just an idea clanging around my skull.

After I'm done writing, I'm going to do some housekeeping on the thing where I make a quick read through, do some quick editing and make sure I have everything in the right order. Then I'm going to print the thing and toss it in a drawer for a month or so. Probably more like six weeks.

But that still seems like miles away, even though I'm aiming to be printing this thing out for the first time in a couple of days. (A couple of days? Am I really this close?)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Take that!

Is there anything more liberating than writing a scene in which one of your characters tells everyone to go fly a kite?

That's what I got to rattle through today, and the result was a whopping 2,030 words in an hour and 15 minutes. I had been waiting to write that scene, and had it all locked up in the ol' noggin just waiting to bust out. Once it got out there, it felt great.

I'm coming down the home stretch (I know, I've been saying that for awhile), but I really feel that I'm only a few more writing days away from wrapping up this first draft. I'm starting to tie up things here. For as much frustration as I had trying to decipher an ending, getting there is a very liberating feeling.

This has done a lot for my motivation, and I really can sense that I will have this first draft done in the next week (or early next week at the earliest).

Not only are my characters starting to free themselves from the things that were holding them back for 55,000 words, but I feel like I'm starting to free myself from the frustration of writing the last 10,000 to 20,000 words.

And man, it feels pretty darn good.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

This Ending is Confusing

No, I'm not pulling a page out of Lost on the ending of my novel, and the direction I'm taking does make sense. The confusing part is coming up with the right ending.

I've already blogged about multiple endings, but it's the part of the book that's really weighing on my mind right now. I'm closing in on 70,000 words on the work in progress, and that doesn't include any of limited writing I've done on potential endings.

I've read in a few different places (and heard from a few friends) that the ending will be something you will have to write multiple times before finding the right one. And the right one might not necessarily be the one you like the best.

A few options have been jotted down already, and I have some other ideas that I want to get down, but I must admit that I'm avoiding it. I've spent the last few days fine tuning some of the stuff that I already have, which has, in essence, been ignoring the 500-pound elephant in the corner.

Maybe I don't want this whole process to come to an end. Maybe I don't want to fight the dragon known as the ending. Maybe I'm just rotten at writing endings. Maybe I just don't know what I'm doing.

One of these days, I'm going to sit down at my computer (with my sword) and I'm going to attack this thing. Hopefully, some good blog posts come out of it. I'm pretty sure I'll win the fight, but that doesn't mean there won't be some bruises.

You gotta fit in

I did a mini-editing session last night, and found a couple of speedbumps.

There were a couple of scenes in there that I remember being important when I wrote them, but seemed stagnant with the direction my novel wound up heading as I get close to the end. I had a couple of choices to make: Whack and hack, or Spice and Nice.

The Whack and Hack is simple: Chop them out and go on as if nothing ever happened. The Spice and Nice is a little more tricky: Make them worthwhile by jazzing them up with a new coat of paint to make them look good to the rest of the novel.

Sadly, some of that stuff was beyond repair, and not even I - their creator - could save them from being out of style. However, jazzing some of the stuff up can make your novel even better, I've found.

Remember, those thoughts and ideas fit in somewhere once upon a time, so maybe they're not that far away from being in the club once again. I've been able to turn a couple of them around (with a snip here and a snip there and adding some more words over there) to make them great.

I've found that a ruthless editing pen is a must, but it's OK to give some scenes a chance to say their peace before you hit that DELETE button.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Exorcise the Demons!

I've been toying with different types of internal conflict with my characters, and it can be kind of a sticky wicket sometimes.

How does my main character deal with this stuff? How does he work it out in relationship to the other characters? I've been working on writing a variety of different scenes to try and resolve some of the major beefs my main character has as I truck toward the ending of this thing.

Since I'm writing from the first-person point of view, it's been fun to write about the confusion my main character has with his perceptions and what's really going on with those around him.

But I'm all about conflict. I can come up with all kinds of problems and bumps along the road for characters, but wrapping them up and coming up with realistic and interesting ways to do it isn't always easy.

The trick is to make sure the problems get resolved without just dropping some deus ex machina into the works. That's also the fun part, too.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Testing dedication

Sorry for the lack of blog posts lately, but I have been on a mini-vacation.

I never knew how much I relied on a routine for writing the book when I was at home, until I took off from home. When surrounded by friends and family that you rarely get to see, it's hard to find time to yourself for writing (and updating your blog).

I know what you're thinking. You may remember a previous post on this blog about not letting life get in the way. What I'm going through with this lil' trip is a test of exactly that.

I have stuck to my guns, and I have churned out 1,000 words per day, but I had been used to getting at least 2,000 per day for a couple of weeks. I'm still comfortably on pace to have the first draft finished by the end of October, but the volume of words I've been writing has slowed over the past few days.

That isn't necessarily a bad thing. If anything, this has allowed me to take a step back and look at some of the stuff I've written. I've learned that a lot of words doesn't always mean a lot of good words. I'm still pretty happy with what I've accomplished so far, but I think that now I've learned that sometimes you have to slow down to get another burst of momentum rolling again.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Tough Get Going

This is hard.

I'm getting down to the nitty gritty with this novel, and I'm having a hard time wrapping it up. I'm still knocking out words at the same nifty pace that I always have, but my last two writing sessions weren't loaded with the same confidence.

I know I'm going to have to redo some of the stuff that I've written lately, just from how I felt after I read it when I was done writing. I wasn't completely sold on what I had done. I'm happy with the prose and the dialogue and all that stuff, but I think that part of the story needs to be stronger.

I'm setting my standards pretty high when it comes down to the ending, because I want it to be strong. How one's book ends is how good of a taste you leave in their mouth. I want the reader to be rewarded and feel refreshed when they finish the book.

So I'm racking my brain trying to figure out a good, clean way to finish this. Or maybe I need a good, messy way. Whatever way I find, I just don't want it to be a bad way. Obviously, I'm new at this, and this is a big hurdle to clear.

I'm sitting around 66,000 words on my work in progress, and I've gotten through a lot of the story that I wanted to tell. That's a good thing.

People say that it's always hard to say good bye. I'm really feeling that lately. This ending business is a head-scratcher. I'll figure it out, but it's going to take a few tries.

So I'm going to come up with a bunch of different options and then hope I have to bang my head against the wall trying to decide from two or three great options. Having too much is always better than not having enough.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Life isn't a distraction

Sometimes, I've heard, that life gets in the way of writing. I don't know if I really buy this.

Life might get in the way of the actual, physical process of writing, but it's those "drop everything!" moments that sometimes help out your writing. And when you miss out on a writing session, doesn't it make you want to get back to that darn project even faster? It does for me.

My latest example, and the inspiration for this post, happened with work today at the newspaper. I was able to break a story last night, and had to spend a good chunk of today chasing down follow-up stuff. That axed out my first of two writing sessions that I've grown accustomed to during the day. It was a rewarding day at work, but it made me appreciate my passion for my novel even more.

Now I can't wait for work to be done, so I can get to, well, work on what I really want to be writing. Usually when I'm at the point where I'm twitching and itching to get to work on the thing, I crank out a lot of words in a short amount of time, and I'm usually happy with the result. This might not be the case with everyone, but that's how it's worked for me.

I know this example isn't something a lot of people can relate to, but I'm sure people all have things pop up during some days that gets them away from their writing. Sometimes, those experiences make for great stuff to use in your writing.

When it's time to get back to the writing, don't curse life for stalling you, use it as a motivator. It's really worked for me.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sit down and don't move

I am fully convinced that a good chunk of the writing process is actually getting your tushy in the seat in front of the computer.

Lots of people have said that you can't wait for the mood to strike, since you could be waiting for years, and I'm a firm believer in that. If you just sit down to do it, that damn blinking cursor is going to goad you into writing something, anything, and then you're on your way.

If I miss a session, or feel like I'm not in the mood to write, I start to feel fidgety - like some heroin addict in the fourth day of a seven-day detox. I've found that I just have to sit my butt down and get to work, and everything usually works out.

The hardest part of any trip is getting there, and this also goes for my computer. I don't know why it's hard to just sit down and do that stuff, but sometimes it is.

I mean, that laptop is just sitting there, begging for me to write. But be careful. That same laptop has Twitter and Facebook and all those other things made by the devil.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

To the victor go the spoils

There is nothing more rewarding than a super-duper writing session, and I had two of those today. I don't like tooting my own horn, but I feel pretty darn good right now, so I had to write about it.

Since this morning, I conquered a HUGE (in importance, not necessarily in size) chapter in which there is a giant conflict between a few characters, and it was one that had taken me some time (and a few fingernails) to get through. I had been struggling with it, and had typed up a few different options for it.

Finally, the trees became the forest, and everything came into view. I was able to plow through the chapter, and I went over 60,000 words on my work in progress along the way. To stick with the forest metaphor, I'm not longer on the way into the woods, I know really, really feel like I'm on my way out. There are a few more important scenes and whatnot left to write, and things might get tinkered with in editing, but confidence right now is over the moon.

I'm not published. I don't know what it feels like to get 'The Call' from an agent or that first check from a publisher or any of that good stuff. But that's not why I started writing a novel.

I started writing this novel because I love writing. I continue writing this novel for the feelings of accomplishment like I have bubbling through me right now.

I was going to go to bed, but I just can't.

Write it all down...All of it

I'm going crazy lately. That may not come as a surprise to people that actually know me, but bear with me, please.

A bunch of different ideas have been flowing for the novel. Some for the ending, but some for the meat in the middle, too. I don't know if they will fit better or worse or just the same, so I didn't know what to do at first with all of these wonderful new friends that decided to stroll into my consciousness.

Instead of hemming and hawing over them, I have decided on a cure-all for this dilemma. I'm writing everything down. If they fit, they fit. If they don't work, well, I know where the delete key is on my keyboard.

I have no qualms about editing my work. Spending nearly two decades at newspapers has shown me that editing is more of a friend of yours than it is an enemy. Besides, who doesn't like options? I'm sure many of you have been used to writing alternate scenes for parts of your book or whatever it is you are writing.

When I started this process, I had a pretty good idea of where I wanted to go, and I had a decent outline in place. But I'm flexible. I'm going to use as much of my creative process as it's willing to give me, even if some of it is going to end up getting wiped out.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Rhythm is gonna get you

With all due respect to Gloria Estefan and her fans, her music stinks. But that lady knew how to put together a catchy tune.

There's something to be said for rhythm in writing, as getting into a good flow while you're writing can be important. I've found myself reading the stuff I've written out loud, and if it doesn't sound good - if it's choppy or rambling or incoherent - I hammer the backspace button and rework the darn thing. This technique is proving to be very helpful. If my ear hates it, so will a bunch of readers.

I'm not saying I have to write in iambic pentameter or anything, but words that don't sound good probably don't read very well, either.

The actual act of writing should also be done with good rhythm, too, I've found. I'm closing in on finishing my first draft, I can feel it. I'm probably a week or two away. Now is not the time for me to slack off.

I have gotten into a groove of writing right away when I get up, and usually once more in the evening. I missed one of those sessions yesterday, as I didn't write in the morning. It threw me all out of whack, and I spent valuable time today scratching my head while trying to get back into the old routine.

I was shocked at how used to this my brain had gotten, but I learned a valuable lesson from all this: Write every day. No days off. Stephen King said in his great book On Writing that he never takes a day off when he's in the middle of something. Not Christmas. Not his birthday. Not his wedding anniversary.

Now I know what King was talking about. And he might know a thing or two about writing.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Happily ever after

As I'm closing in on the, well, closing of the book, a bunch of questions are rattling around in my head.

The main one is "How in the heck am I going to finish this thing?" Of course, I have a few ideas, but I don't know what the right one is just yet. How a book wraps up is such a huge thing, but when is it done? Will I know what the right ending is when it shows up? What if I come up with 30 different ways to end my book, and I hate them all. Or worse, what happens if I come up with 30 different ways to end my book, and I like them all.

I've always told myself that it will be finished when it is finished, but there are times I get so worried about it that I think I'm just going to wind up writing and writing and writing and writing. And then it won't get finished.

That's silly, of course, since I know I'm going to finish it. But as of right now, I just don't know how.

There is still some writing to do before I really have to face this dilemma, but I would be kidding if I said I wasn't thinking about this a bunch.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Fighting temptation

I'm coming down the home stretch in my book, and I'm pretty happy with what I've had so far. But one thing that's tough for me to do is resisting the urge to go back and change things.

I know there are some things I need to rearrange and change with the words I've already written. That's inevitable. But I feel like I've got a lot of good momentum going with my story, and I want to get it all out there before I start tinkering, or I might lose some of that beloved momentum.

When talking about it with one of my friends today, someone who edits while they write, I likened my process to dumping a bunch of Legos onto the living room floor. I'll figure out exactly what I've got once they're all spread out and out there. I know I've got a bunch of good things, but what I have, exactly, won't be certain until I get them all in the right place.

It's not that I just have a bunch of ramblings jumbled together into one long file with no chapters or anything. I have it organized, I just don't know if it's organized exactly how I like it. I'll delete some words. I'll add some words.

I'm sure there are plenty of different ways to go about writing a novel. I might even do it differently if I start another book after this one. Right now, the ideas are flowing. I'm not going to turn off that faucet.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Boy Scouts were right

Ever get a great idea for your writing at an inopportune time? Like when you're standing in line at the grocery store? Or when you're sitting at a red light? Or when you're walking to your car?

Don't let those fleeting moments go away. When those fireworks are going off, don't just ooh and aah, dang it. Take a picture! I've let some of these thoughts slip away, either because I was unprepared for them or because I thought I would remember them later on.

I've learned to come prepared, and now I carry a notebook every single place I go. This may seem like some very basic stuff we're dealing with here, but this is something that you have to do everywhere. I don't go anywhere without a little notebook in my back pocket.

If I'm just walking up to the gas station a block from my house for whatever, I bring it with. I bring it downstairs into the laundry room, even though I know the laptop is right upstairs. The best thing about the notebook is that it gives you a running start when you hit the laptop to write at your next session.

Multi-tasking is not fun

I feel like I can do quite a few things at once. I mean, even as I type: I'm breathing, my heart is beating, my fingers are moving, my brain is trying to spell words correctly, and my eyes are watching this. Voila! Multi-tasking!

But seriously, folks (koff, koff). Writing a novel is tough because of all of the extra stuff that goes along with it. I'm not only pounding out a bunch of words into my novel each day, but I'm also dedicating a bunch of necessary networking time into things like Twitter. And there's also time that goes into this blog. I try to post at least twice per day so it doesn't get stale.

On top of that, I'm reading as much as ever, and that has only helped my writing. Oh, I also have a job where I write for a living. And I cover sports, so it's not a very busy time there at all.

But hey, it's all worth it to me. This whole process - the writing, the meeting people on Twitter, the creation of this blog - has been one of the most rewarding things I've done for myself already. And I'm not even done with the book yet.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mix and match

I hit 50,000 words on my work in progress tonight, and I would've gotten more words in if it weren't for a revelation of sorts.

Now that I have a pretty substantial work rolling here, I'm finding that some chapters fit better in other places than the spots I initially wrote them in. So there was some copying and pasting, and some rough edits in spots I knew there would be inconsistencies in the story, but I'm pretty happy overall.

Everything isn't ironed out yet, but that's what revision is for. This might make the editing process a little more painstaking - making sure there aren't confusing bits from the moves and things like that. It's going to cause some head-scratching moments in the editing process, for sure, but I'm a smart cat. I also have notes to fall back on (thank the heavens).

This might make one of the steps later on take a little longer. But this is about making my work the best it can be, and this is as excited as I've been about the whole thing for awhile. It's actually coming together, and that's pretty cool.

More Help!

Holy moley, did I stumble across a great blog for aspiring authors.

The blog is a bunch of tips, rattled off in quick, concise fashion that will help anybody in the pursuit of becoming published. AuthorTech is also on Twitter, and it is a valuable resource, since getting published is no longer about just the writing any more.

Of course, my free blogger blog pops up in No. 6 of today's post, but I'm workin' on it.

Check it out. Here's the link.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Treading water

This week's writing is going swimmingly, at least in the word department. However, there are times where I feel like I'm really not going anywhere with the story, and that sucks.

When I read things over, they read just fine, and I know that I'll be getting back to some stuff later on, but it doesn't feel like it's moving as quickly as I would like it to right now.

I realize that I'm as an impatient as my dog when he's ready to go for a walk, and that not every single paragraph is going to be jam-packed with prose that readers want to underline and show all of their friends. But I feel bogged down now at times.

Understand that I still love the writing aspect, and my time to write is the time I look forward to most each day. Maybe I'm being too careful with where I'm trying to go, or maybe I'm too worried that I'm going to leave somebody behind, or maybe I'm worried that the directions I'm choosing to go aren't going to be the right ones (or should I say, the best ones).

Any way you chop it, I know the cure. I have to just sit down and write and not think about all that other stuff that may or may not be slowing me down. I know I've built up good characters. I know I have a good handle on the setting. I have to trust that they'll take me in the right direction.

And if they don't, I can always cut 'em out in the editing process.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Guest? Me?

It's nothing major, but I actually got to be a guest poster on another blog. This is encouraging because it actually means that one other person is following On the Write Foot.

My take isn't about novel writing (there's enough of that on here), but about novel reading. And this time I get to ramble on about a book that has helped change my life (so to speak).

You can check out my post on Steph Bowe's great blog about writing and reading and fiction and other fun stuff called "Hey! Teenager of the Year."

Follow this link right here.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Consistency is the key

Now that I'm at least halfway through my novel, it's time to really sit up and pay attention.

I mean, I know what the heck is going on in the novel, but there are a few things I have to make sure I don't forget about or lose in the shuffle. Those things I'm talking about are how characters react to each other, and making sure that the main characters are growing in the direction I want them to without me repeating myself. Or keeping the symbolism and foreshadowing consistent. I don't want to hint that something is going to happen and then never go back to it.

Of course, a lot of that ironing out will happen in the editing process and subsequent drafts. Still, the more of those things I pay attention to now, the easier that editing process becomes.

It's easier to lose track of some of that stuff than you think. There's a lot of darn words in there.

My outline is skeletal at best, but I have a pretty extensive file with character traits and their relationships to each other and all that business. It's a necessity, at least for me. There is so much going on in there now, I've got to have a crutch to lean on.

It's not cheating, because it's my book. That means it's my rules (at least for now anyway).

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Word up, homey

Sorry for no blog post yesterday. When you're a sports reporter, and it's September, Fridays can be a little wacky.


I hit the 40,000 word mark yesterday with the novel, and that got me to thinkin' again. How many words is enough? How many words are too many? Not enough?

Well, not enough words is easy. If you're story's not done yet, you probably don't have enough words. If your story's done, and it's not very many words, you probably don't have a novel. Maybe it's a short story or novella, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Too much is probably around six figures. I've read that unpublished authors that are trying to submit a novel over 100,000 words will get shot down faster than a bald 40-year-old at a singles bar. So save your War and Peace until you've got a couple advance checks under your belt.

As for me, I'm probably around halfway or just past halfway finished. I feel like there are still things I need to do, but I also feel like I'm coming out of the woods instead of going in. I don't know.

Either way, I'm at the point where this thing seems real -- like it's actually going to get finished somewhere in the near future. Another month of 1,000 words per day, and I'm sitting at 70,000 words. That doesn't seem like that much time at all.

Maybe this is something I can actually do.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Where on earth are you?

I've talked a lot about characters and character development on this blog, but there is one thing that's just as important as any of that stuff: Setting.

One thing I've been conscious about through this whole writing process is where all this stuff is going on. If setting wasn't important, why in the world did you pick it to be where you did? There has to be a reason for it, and it better be a darn good one.

To me, where the story is taking place is just as important, and sometimes more important, as the people that are walking around in there. I'm trying to make where it takes place into one of the whos.

It's a living, breathing thing that affects how the people in the book react to each other. I plan on using it to the fullest.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Catching up

One of the beauties of any novel is how the different characters and their stories mingle with each other, but it's easy to leave one (or more) characters in the dust.

While stretching out the story of one dude may get you on something of a roll, I can't forget to let the other guys (and gals, for that matter) catch up with their stories, too. I'm writing in the first person, so that takes some of the sting away, but there are still things going on.

You can't set up a meeting that has to happen quickly between two characters, and then return to it 15 chapters later. Well you can, but that's not something I want to do. Readers aren't stupid, and they're not going to forget things, but if one character says "I can't wait to talk to you about" something, then he/she really can't wait. You gotta make it happen while all the other stuff is going on around them.

As a newspaper guy, the 'Point A to Point B' has been my business for the better part of the last two decades. One story. One string. With the novel, now I have a lot of strings. I'm pulling them all in the right direction (I hope), but I gotta make sure I'm pulling all of them. I don't want to accidentally drop one.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I didn't mean to ignore you

While I feel like I've been on quite a roll with the novel lately, there is part of me that is feeling like I'm neglecting some of the characters.

I've been spending a lot of time on one main thing, and it's made some stuff I've already done obsolete. There is a character I really like, and think is a good idea for a character, but I don't really know if he's fitting in with the direction my book is going. Because of that, I don't know how long that guy will be hanging around.

It won't take that much to cut him out of the novel (a snip, snip here and there, and he would be gone), but it's tough to do. He's one of my guys. I took the time to come up with him, and he was important enough for me to put him in there in the first place.

But that is part of the process - cutting out the riffraff to keep the project on track. If there is anything more annoying than extraneous stuff in a novel that doesn't keep the story moving forward, I don't know what it is. It's my story, and I'm sticking to it, even if it means letting go of some stuff I like.

This has happened to me before, with some of the other short stories and things I've written in the past. Sometimes you come up with a character that doesn't fit in with what you're working on. I just toss 'em in the back of my brain and let them hang out until I come up with something that fits them.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Double time

I'm getting into the real guts of the novel now, and I've been trying something a little different as of late with the writing sessions.

It's no secret to my loyal blog readers (the two or three of you out there) that I shoot for at least 1,000 words per day. I usually try to get my writing out in one big session, and I try to get that session in during the morning.

The past few days, I've really been writing with a lot of confidence, and I've tacked on another writing session, this time right before I go to bed. The result? I've cranked out more than 6,000 words the last three days (and counting). I don't know if I can keep that pace up, but if I can, that would translate into 60,000 words per month. That's not too shabby.

I blogged earlier about how I like to stop when I'm on a roll, setting myself up for a running start when I get going the next day. I've found it invigorating and motivating when there isn't much time between my writing sessions, and my ideas have really been flowing.

I don't know if I'll be able to keep up this pace (being that work is picking up a little more as the school year has started), but I'm going to ride the wave as long as I can. The main thing this has shown me is that there is room for growth with my writing sessions.

The only drawback? Sometimes, the later session has ended late. I'm usually so jacked up after writing that I can't get to sleep right away. But is that a bad thing?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Stare straight ahead

Days like today are the reason why writing rooms need as few windows as possible.

It's 82 degrees with neither wind nor cloud in the sky, but I've got to get cranking on the book before heading to work. This is why I write with nothing in front of me but the computer screen and a wall that has been painted some shade of tan.

What I'm talking about here is distractions, and they're all over the place - especially for the sometimes-scatterbrained souls like myself. (You know who you are...Ooh! Something shiny!)

I have to stay dedicated, or this thing will get away from me. To do that, I have to be trapped in a room all by myself. The dog is allowed, too, but only if he's quiet. He knows the deal. I want no distractions. No TV. No radio. No nothing.

I don't want to look out the window and see people grilling and playing catch with a football. Of course I want to do that stuff. But mom creeps in here: You can do that stuff when you get your work done.

Priorities, mister! Priorities!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Quit while you're ahead

I've unearthed an interesting technique in the last few days of writing. I've stopped when I'm on a roll.

When I get in a groove and I'm already well over my goal for the day, I have found that it helps out extremely in subsequent days if I just plain quit. That's different from when I started. At the outset of typing this novel, I would write and write and write until I had completely wrung out the sponge.

Now I shoot for my goal, write past it if I'm on a little bit of a roll, and then stop. If I still have fuel left in the tank, that's great. It keeps the ideas churning in my noggin until my next writing session. Some days, that turns into another writing session later on in the day. Other days, I just hit the ground running when I start rolling the next day. I'm not tapping my fingers thinking 'Where the heck do I go next?'

But what if I lose it? What if I forget where I was? Well, if I forget where I was when I sit back down at the computer, I have bigger mental problems than just coming up with believeable characters. That's why you write every day, so it stays fresh.

Everybody talks about making sure you leave your readers wanting more - making it so they're turning pages. Well, I'm discovering this for the first time, too, so I might as well leave myself itching to get to the next part.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Jaws was a sardine

I'm not at the point of writing a query letter yet. Not even close. I'm only a third of my way through the first draft, and haven't even carved up anything with revision yet.

But that doesn't mean I'm not already terrified of the querying process. Alas, there is a life raft out there, and I'm more than happy to share.

If you're an aspiring author that wants to get published you MUST check out this blog: Bookmark it. Follow it. Love it.

The queryshark is a relentless agent that will slice and dice your query so you don't look like a knob when you send yours off.

I'm a big fan of brutal honesty, so this is right up my alley. Do yourself a solid and get this blog up your alley, too.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

First and foremost

My novel is in the first person, and it's tricky.

I know what's going on in the world around my main character, but that doesn't mean I can describe what I know is going on. I have to describe what's going on through his eyes, and as he sees it.

I started the novel in the third person, and then switched over midstream when I discovered that one character was in every scene. He's easily been the focus from the start, so it just seemed to make more sense. I don't know if that's common or uncommon, but that's the hand I've dealt myself.

Just because the first-person narrator of the story thinks somebody's a jerk and talks about him that way, doesn't necessarily mean that person is a jerk. But that jerk is going to be described as one through that first-person narrator's eyes, you can be darn sure.

This has caused for some editing on the fly, since I catch myself holding down the backspace button uttering "No, no, no. He wouldn't say that, especially about that guy." Or things to that effect.

One thing I really love about writing in the first person is that it allows me to dive into another character. It's up to me to transform and grow along with him, or he's not going to come off as realistic. Of course that means drawing on personal experiences and having that main guy do things I would've done (when I was his age, of course, since he's 17) in a few instances. The fun part is writing his reactions to other characters, and deciding what I want those reactions to be.

As usual, I'm learning as I go. Characters are great, and I think I've got a few good ones, but putting that much emphasis on one character in my first crack at a novel is a bit intimidating.

Switching gears

I'm a newspaper reporter by day. That can cause some problems on the fiction writing front. Not only do I get burned out some days on writing, but they are also two distinctly different styles of writing.

For the newspaper, the emphasis is tell the story. Tell everything. Tell them all the gory details and leave nothing to the imagination that could lead to a different interpretation from the truth. In newspaper writing, the reader is an assumed idiot, so we have to tell them everything, leaving no stone unturned.

For my book, telling the story isn't good enough. In the book, you're supposed to show the story. Leave things for the imagination, and guide the reader into filling in the holes on his/her own. In novel writing, the readers are not idiots. We know they are smart. I don't have to describe the every detail of the inside of my character's house, since you know what a house looks like.

Both are fun for me, but different kinds of fun. The hard part is shifting from one to the next quickly after a shift at the ol' ink-stained paragraph factory.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Just a darn minute

Every writer is different, I've said that a million times in my 20-some posts on this blog. But something different happened to me during my writing today.

Before I even started writing today, I had a revelation about something that could happen much earlier in the story from where I am currently plodding through. I went back and cranked out about 1,300 words on the brand-spanking new chapter, and it was like a handful of light bulbs went on.

That new blurb (which isn't yet finished) has opened the doors to a new idea with the main conflict, and even more character development. I'm always worried about my characters and whether or not they're cardboard cutouts or not. Making just one or two of them look a little more flawed and normal is a step in the right direction.

But the moral of this story is with my writing. I had always stayed pretty linear during my writing, going straight through from one chapter to the next. It had worked best for me, and I would worry about making any major adjustments in editing or in a subsequent draft.

This told me that it's all right to go back if I am so moved, and that it's probably a good idea. This might not be some world-breaking revelation, but it helped me out for today - and with my future writing.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Don't forget the others

A big help in this whole writing process has been with other people have written. But this time, I'm not talking about the links I've made to other blogs or web sites or all that good stuff.

Read other books. It's tough when I want to write, write, write all the time, but when I'm not writing, some of that time has been spent reading. I'm reading whatever I can get my hands on, and pretty much everything I've read since going gung-ho with this book at the beginning of August has helped me.

Don't forget all those fantastic words that have been written before your fantastic words. They're a big help. After all, those dudes and dudettes got published, so why not follow their lead? Well, sort of. We're not talking stealing their goods here.

The biggest things I've learned, from my reading are these three nuggets:

1) You don't have to describe everything. Yes, we all can write wonderfully descriptive flowery stuff about how a garden looks or how a school needs a fresh coat of paint. People know what that stuff looks like, you don't have to tell them. Leave in only the stuff important to the story. I've been in a bar. So have you, or you've seen one on TV. I don't need to tell you about every stool and neon light on the walls.

2) Talk the talk. People don't speak in perfect English. Not even people in England. Nervous kids stutter. Drunk guys slur. High school kids swear and say stupid phrases that don't make sense to older people. Make it real.

3) Backstory is important, but keep it tight. A lot of books tell you what got so-and-so to this point, but they don't waste a lot of time on it. Readers want to know where the heck Capt. Protagonist is headed and why. Where he's been? If it was so important to spend gobs of time on, wouldn't we have written a book about that stuff? Stick to the basics when talking about the past. It keeps things moving.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Getting to know you

Today's writing session provided an interesting twist for me.

No, I didn't introduce a race of zombies into my town, or turn all of the characters into aliens, or reveal that the whole story was happening in a snow globe.

This isn't something new to writers, and I'm sure it happens all of the time. But for the first time, I had a revelation about a character that wasn't the main character. Suddenly, this guy went from static to dynamic in, oh, about 500 words.

I was just typing along and it hit me: This guy's a waaaay bigger deal than I thought. He was just sneaking up on me. Once again, I got to hit one of those milestones that I'm sure most writers have all of the time. That doesn't mean they don't feel good.

I'm getting t0 points where stuff is happening to a lot of different characters, and it's cool to watch them turn into different things. Some of this growth and development will change how they talk or act (or both) in the earlier stuff I wrote, but that's what second drafts are for.

Discovering more about your characters has helped me discover more about my writing, and proved to me - at least for one day - that something's actually going on with these guys.

Another good blog

I just found another good blog (it's getting cozy in My Blog Cabin at the right) that is loaded with some good tips.

They're a bunch of authors called the Deadline Dames, and their blog is Today's post is particularly good. It's five tips for writers just starting out, so check it out.

You can also follow them on Twitter at


Writing a novel isn't rocket science (get idea, write idea, edit idea, pray for agent on good day). However, there is a lot of multi-tasking that goes into the whole shebang.

I'm discovering more and more of my time is going into the whole networking thing. Twitter this, Facebook that, self-promote this, "Look at me!" that. All of that is necessary, yes, especially in this day and age of the interwebs and everybody being able to talk to anybody.

But don't forget why you're doing all of that stuff. And don't forget where you have to go. All the friends in the universe won't help you get published if you don't have the thing they want - the dang book!

There are a number of things to do in this decathlon of trying to become a published author. But never forget the book. The writing is the most important thing. All that other stuff takes time, and it can be a little intimidating when it isn't going as fast as maybe you would like. But never take your eyes off the writing.

Any writing has goals. I've set deadlines for myself to get stuff done, but sometimes you go off course. If the detour was faster, it wouldn't be called a detour.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

It's the good stuff

Don't you love writing a part of your nove you know is one of the super-duper main parts of the story? But don't yout hate it, too?

I tackled that today in my 1,000 words. It's a confrontation between two of the main characters about the main theme in the book. The tough part? I didn't want to screw it up.

I know it's the first draft. I know when all is said and done that I'm probably going to change it a million times, and it's not even going to look anything close to what I pecked out today. But still, it was a little nerve-wracking, and that was different.

I've been writing all of my life. I've written for daily newspapers for the last 17 years, and there are very few instances where I fell uncomfortable when it comes to writing (at least that I've run into so far). But today was a toughie. This wasn't typing a story from some football game, it was an important part to the most engaging and all-encompassing writing project I've ever done for myself. Yeah, no pressure.

What I've got to realize is that the first time anything comes out isn't going to be the absolute final cut. I need to get the skeleton out, and then start to work the muscle on it when I go through subsequent drafts.

The best part about this? I'm actually starting to get the to the meant and potatoes of this project, and that's always a good thing.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Don't stop...Believin'

The novel-writing process can be a confounding one.

Do you ever experience the strange feeling of hammering out a dozen sentences, and then just stopping? As if your thoughts ran off a cliff? Do sentences seem to come like you're dragging them through a trough of oatmeal? Do you finish a chapter and stop and wonder 'Now what am I going to do?

If you answered yes to any or all of the above questions, then I'm with ya. And it stinks. Some of the toughest parts are keeping the momentum going. I have written more than 4,000 words in the last few days, and I'm still shaky about all of them.

The problem is that I can't be paranoid about where I'm going when I plod through the first draft. For me, just getting a cohesive story down first and foremost is an important part of the process. Straightening it out? I can take care of that when I'm banging my head against the wall during the editing process.

For now, I'm enjoying watching my idea start to take shape. I know which direction I want it to go, but sometimes the machete dulls a little bit as I'm hacking through the jungle to that destination.

I'm still confident in what I've got, and I still think what I've got is pretty darn good. Of course, it's my first novel, so it will probably get shot down faster than a guy in a leisure suit at a Victoria's Secret convention. But that doesn't mean I'm going to quit, I'll worry about getting rejected when I actually get rejected.

Right now, the focus is on the book. You gotta believe that it's good, and going to be good when you get through the tough spots, or no one else will.

Because you never know. Maybe when that guy changes clothes, and tweaks his delivery, he'll score one of those dream dates.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Always in the mood

If today has proven anything to me, it's that any time is a good time to write.

I've heard a lot of people say that they have to be in the right mood or the correct frame of mind to be able to sit down and work on their novels. To me, that's just horsepucky.

There have been times where I have sat down and really felt like writing, and I knock out a bunch of words and feel that sense of accomplishment. There are times where I have sat down and said "man, I don't feel like doing this right now," but I knocked out a bunch of words, and still felt a sense of accomplishment.

I've said this before, but I've promised myself that I'm going to write at least 1,000 words per day by hook or by crook, and I won't accept anything less. It keeps me involved in what I'm working on, and it keeps the story and characters and everything else fresh and bubbly in my head.

Today, I was going on about 4 hours of sleep when I went and helped a couple of good friends move into their new house for the bulk of the day. I got home and ate. One of the last thing I wanted to do was start dealing with the problems of the folks in my novel. I wanted to lie down and go to sleep.

But I knew I couldn't do that. I've got a book to write, dag nabbit! An hour later, I had nearly 1,300 words, and have a good idea of where I'm going to start off tomorrow. Done, and done.

I know, I know. It's different strokes for different folks. No two writers go about getting their stuff from brain to flash drive in the same fashion. But my advice would make Phil Knight proud: Just Do It.

Whatever works for particular writers is going to work. But what happens when you're not in the right mood for a few days? And your characters get stale? Or worse, they get bored and take off from your consciousness?

This is something that I want to be doing. It's just me, but I'm not going to wait for the mood to strike. Whether it's there or not, and you write stuff you wind up taking out later, that's all part of the process. And it's all helpful.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Don't forget your friends! (The friends you haven't made yet)

Ask just about anybody that's writing, and they'll tell you about all kinds of distractions. Life gets in the way of everybody's writing, and it takes dedication to stick to hammering out all those little words into one big, fun book.

But there is more to becoming published these days than just penning a gem. Getting published is becoming as much about networking and creating your own brand as it is about whipping up pretty prose.

The stupid internet might be the biggest distraction to my writing. I love Twitter. I love Facebook. I play fantasy football (Hey, I'm a sports reporter in a middle market. It's practically in my job description). That stuff sucks hours out of my day just like anybody else that's trapped in a cubicle.

The trick is to use it to move things forward not to just pass the time. I didn't know about this until one of my buddies told me that writing a good book wasn't enough anymore. So I started poking around the web to find out why. There's a whole treasure trove of stuff out there just for us - budding authors. And the support system is pretty fantastic in the fact that everyone seems friendly and helpful.

My twitter account has pretty much become a main contacting ground for people in the biz (or trying to break into the biz). Every day, I read posts and chat with literary agents, fellow authors that are both published and non-published. Some of them probably (hopefully) read this very blog. How on earth could that hurt me in the process of trying to get published? It can't.

Not only has all of that helped my writing immensely, but it's also given me a foothold on where I have to go once my product is finished. I'm not close to that yet, but at least I'm starting to understand how the process works when that time comes around.

I'm thinking about my novel all the time, anyway. If part of my free time is going to be spent on the internet, I may as well be learning about how to make it better -- and make some friends in the process.

But just like writing the dang book, it's a long process that takes patience. Sticking to making the novel is important. Sticking to making the friends to help the novel get to your adoring public is also just as important.

Dangers of writing late

I just wrapped up my 1,000 words, and it's creeping on 2 a.m. in my neck o' the woods.

Yes, it's late. I know. The snoring dog and test pattern on the TV will attest to that. I should be relieved I stuck to my plan and got in my daily dose of words, right? Well, not so fast, my friends.

That last session was a really good one. I finished another chapter, so there was the sense of double accomplishment. Those 1,326 words felt so good, in fact, that I immediately read through the the chapter again and did a quick lil' editing session, too. And I'm pumped about it.

And there's the ol' Catch-22. I'm relieved to be done so I can go to bed. But hitting the sack right now would be an exercise in futility. I'd just lie awake because of what I was just able to accomplish. I'm still a little jazzed up.

In case you haven't read, I'm a reporter by trade right now. These kinds of accomplishments are akin to hammering out a good, complete story under the gun and getting it in just under deadline. There is an adrenaline rush that makes you turn into a box of Mexican jumping beans.

But that's part of the draw of being a reporter, at least for this fella. Part of the reason I want to write a novel is for that same type of rush, so bring it on, no matter the hour. It does wonders for my confidence, even if it cuts into my sheep counting.

It may be 2 a.m., but I'm still enjoying what I just accomplished. Yeah, I'll be tired tomorrow, but I don't have to be at work until around noon (silver lining, right?).

Maybe I'll end up taking a nap, which could lead to knocking my sleep schedule out of whack again, which could lead to me being up at 2 a.m. again tomorrow doing more cartwheels about writing.

Isn't this fun?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Wanted: More hours in a day

I'm a reporter. A sports reporter. I love reporting. I love sports. But come on, here. I just started a novel!

With the school year starting, that means my schedule is going to get a little wackier than the laid back summer schedule of only working 50 hours per week.

The problem with that is that there are only 24 hours in a day. If some one could find a way to bump that up to around 26, that would be ideal. Just take my suggestion into consideration.

The problem lies in this: I have dedicated myself to typing 1,000 words per day on the novel (at the very least), and I don't want to turn myself into a liar. I also don't want something as silly as my job getting in the way of my book.

Colleen Lindsay wrote a great post on her blog, The Swivet (see links on the right) about life getting in the way of her duties as a literary agent. That means I'm going to have to do some planning.

It may not sound like a big deal, but sticking to your guns when working on something like this might be the most important aspect. Even more so than character development and dialogue and plot and everything else. None of that other stuff happens if you're not writing everyday.

Making time will go from scheduling ahead, or just cramming in my 1,000 words whenever possible. I would like to do it all in one sitting, but I'm not going to get picky if I'm in a pinch.

I have no problem shirking sleep at night. I'm used to doing that anyway, because I love naps. Besides, the people around me are used to me being cranky during the week anyway.

Monday, August 24, 2009


I know I'm not the first person to go through this, but man, writing dialogue can really suck sometimes, and that's what my day was filled with today.

Does what these characters say in my head make sense when I type it out? All I know is that the dog has to be sick of hearing these conversations when I blurt them out to him.

Making dialogue realistic isn't the hardest part for me, it's making it dynamic. I know how people talk, and I know what I want them to get across in a particular moment in time in my writing. However, no two people really talk the same.

Sure, we all speak English (or at least the characters in my novel speak English). But the way we talk isn't all the same - even if your novel is set in a small town. There are similarities in local vernacular, but how do I keep the voices from sounding like the same person is talking back and forth?

I don't want my dialogue to read like it's me saying both parts to my dog. Who the hell wants to read that? Certainly not my dog.

If there is anything I've edited more than anything else, it has been my dialogue. I can say whatever I want in my prose, but if it's important enough for somebody in my book to speak it out loud, I better make sure that what is being said is believeable and true to that character. If I want it to just be me saying it, I'll just throw it in my writing.

Besides, I get to say enough in my book already. Maybe I should give the characters a turn to speak their mind. Sheesh.