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A Right Way to Write

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are. ~W. Somerset Maugham

When I first began writing again I read rule after rule. Write this way, no write this way…Wait, you have to write this way or you’ll never get published.

Writing isn’t about getting published, it’s about writing the story that’s inside of you. It’s about getting the words on the page. It’s about sharing that story with someone else, and hopefully, getting published–but really it’s about sharing the story.

I have written for as long as I can remember. I was writing when it was just scribbles that were words to me. Now, sometimes the words look more like scribbling, but it’s all about the words–getting the words of the story down on paper.

I have tried various means and methods of writing a novel, and I finally realized I have to do what works for me as a writer. No matter how much I like the detailed outlining, it’s just not for me–I am a loose outliner. A hybrid between a pantser and a plotter. I prefer to write the details by the seat of my pants, and plot just the core of the outline–the basics.

I think I like Nora Roberts’ quote best: “Anyone who tells you there’s a “right” way to write is a lying bitch.” ~As seen on TarotbyArwen. 😀

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Posted by on October 20, 2015 in Writing

 

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Structure, plotting, and beats oh my

What was I thinking when I signed up for April’s Camp NaNoWriMo? I was already working on a novel. I had already plotted the beginning, middle, and end…Along with the catalyst, the midpoint, the darkest moment, and the B-Story. I know, I lost my ever loving mind. I just lost it! So I decide to plot a completely different novel for Camp NaNo (April) and get most of it in my project in Scrivener, and at the last minute an idea hits me like a ton of bricks! WHOA!

Stop! So I’m working on the structure for that one. Plotting. Reading about plotting, structure, Saving the Cat, and beats…WHAT!?! Somebody has to save a cat? No, no…that’s just the hook…Oh, okay. I got it now. Back to plotting. Back to the dreaded outline. And outlines are not my cup of coffee, they never have been. I spent my first NaNo as a pantster. Then I became a plotster. I tried so hard to be a plotter, but I just get bored with that much detail being put into an outline–I’m long-winded, my outlines don’t look like outlines–No, they look like condensed essays or summaries, a few even look like short stories. And I’ve went through stacks upon stacks of index cards because there just isn’t enough room on one to write it all down.

CUT! Cut! I said cut! Okay, so that type of outlining doesn’t work for me. I wish like hell it did, but it doesn’t. So I condense my index cards to three-four word sentences, or phrases. And the whole while my inner editor, bitch that she is, is screaming. I can hear her as I write those short sentences or phrases. I finally yell back, “It’s just a friggin’ outline!” Okay, I feel better now.

I’ve looked at way too many beat sheets. One too many writing resources about structure. It’s all starting to run together. I go back to the Cat. 15 beats. Only when I look at the list I automatically want to convert the pages for the screenplay into novel pages. Where does the inciting incident go in a novel? Where is that rascally rabbit called the First Plot Point and where does he go? My goodness, don’t forget about the Set Up. So I read some more. Found examples. And wouldn’t you know I found this great post about Harry Potter and structure. Complete with diagrams, percentages, and examples that my overloaded plotster brain can comprehend. If you want to check it out here’s the link. Hell, I even printed out one of the diagrams so I could compare it to the book, which meant I could read the Harry Potter series all over again. (Yes, I realize I’m 46 years old and a grandmother and a wife and a mother and…Reading Harry Potter gave me the same feeling I got the first time I read C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia–yes, I’ve reread the series as an adult but  alas my big book is gone and I need to get another–insert extremely sad face here). So on top of trying to write 50K for Camp NaNo, reading several books on structure, along with writing in general, I am also rereading the Harry Potter series. And to be honest, each time I reach my goal I give myself permission to read two-three chapters from Harry Potter, otherwise I’d be curled up on my couch all day reading about Harry’s adventures and my novel for Camp NaNo would develop virtual cobwebs. Last NaNo I rewarded myself with an episode of Supernatural (I was catching up on missed episodes), along with copious amounts of dark chocolate. I’ve done better this time about limiting my amount of chocolate, but I can’t say the same about my reading for pleasure.

 

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Writing with a Plan

pantser quote

When I first began NaNoWriMo two years ago I pantsed it. My work is completely character driven. I put her in what I now know is more or less a hero’s journey, only she was definitely not what most people would think of as a candidate for heroism. She was the unlikely hero who fell into a situation and did what she felt she had to do, what was the right thing to do, and though it got her into trouble and put her in danger the likes of which she had no idea of how to get out of, she managed through it, just barely.

outlining quote

IN real life that’s what hero’s do. They don’t walk 6 miles like the Doctor in Atlanta did to save his patient in order to be a hero, they do it because it’s what they feel is right–they do what they need to do. But midway through, (sagging middle syndrome) I began to flail about like a fish out of water. I had no plan. I was writing from my gut and the heart of my story was great, but I got stuck because what I wanted my character to do and what my character wanted to do weren’t the same. I was following the character, but without a plan I lost control of the book/situation.

puzzler quote

After 3 NaNo’s under my belt, I’ve realized I am one of those cross breeds as a writer. I am both a pantster and a plotter. I guess that makes me a puzzler or a plantster. I don’t let the outline (which is often just a basic 3 act structure outline) rule me. I tend to write off the cuff, adlib, stray from the main course, follow the path less traveled too much to be considered a plotter, but I do my research, I brainstorm. I narrow down my plot, subplot, character sketches, and I write down a few ideas for each act and some of the chapters. The most in depth thing that I do now, versus when I was pantsing, is that I get to know my characters. I use Scrivener and that makes it so much easier. I use actual character sketches, and the corkboard for pictures and create a synopsis of each character comes up or the picture comes up. (My only problem with Scrivener is that the Windows version isn’t as detailed as the Mac version. There are things Mac users can do with Scrivener that Windows users can’t. Right now I can’t afford a Mac, if I could I’d get one.)

Character Outline on the Corkboard in Scrivener.

Character Outline on the Corkboard in Scrivener.

One of the most helpful aids I’ve found for my writings is Caroline Norrington’s template for outlining with Scrivener. You really should check it out her blog post Scrivener Template. (And the template if you use Scrivener.)  It’s absolutely amazing!!!!

Now that I’ve finally got my laptop up and running, (a new power cord, battery, and a D-Link USB adapter), I downloaded the template and imported into Scrivener so that I can use it while I’m out on the road for the next month with my husband. If you haven’t read any of my previous posts I’ll clue you in, if you have sorry for being redundant-he’s an over the road (OTR) truck driver. I went out on the road with him for a week last month. Now I’m about to go out on the road with him for a month. We’ll be home on weekends, but I’m cannot “not” write for long periods of time, so I managed to fix my laptop all by myself. A friend of ours who fixes computers kept saying it was the port that the power cord goes into but I know my computers and it was the cord. It was bent and every time you moved slightly the blue light went off and you you lost power. The battery was shot, that’s one of my major problems with HPs is that they tend to run hot and their batteries don’t last long. When I get a new laptop it will not be another HP.

North Carolina. OTR. Truck Stop. Trucking.

North Carolina. OTR. Truck Stop. Trucking.

Once the storm let up and our power came back on I began preparing for my trip OTR with my Sweetheart Mr. Rockstar/Truck Driver.

  1. Get the laptop up and running. ✔
  2. Download and import outline template for Scrivener.✔
  3. Do laundry. (Working on that.)
  4. Pack. (Nowhere near done.)
  5. Cook dinner for him for when he comes home. (Working on that as I type. Bean soup is in the crockpot and will be more be delicious when it’s done.)
  6. Go to grocery store for stuff to take OTR. (Will do that tomorrow or Monday morning before we leave.)
  7. Send D____ (my son who is in bootcamp in Missouri for the Army) his letter. ✔
  8. Pick up book of stamps so you can send D____ more letters and other people postcards. ✔
  9. Shave legs (Not yet, I just got my power back, LOL)
  10. Do research for character, place, etc. (WIP)
  11. Print Michael’s coupon.✔
  12. Go to Michael’s and purchase a new Smash Book. (Will have checked off by later today.)
  13. Go through scrapbooking supplies. (Will do later today.)
  14. Write blog. ✔
  15. Make coffee.✔

I’m drinking my coffee now and once I’m finished with the blog post I’ll be working on the research for my book.  Then I’ll head to Michaels to pick up my new Smash Book. I’m so excited about going out on the road with my husband for a month. I keep thinking of Kerouac. I am charging the batteries for my camera. Oops, I need to stop by Walmart and pick up a new memory card. Guess my list just got longer. 😉

Have a great day! Happy Writing! Reading! and Life!!!

 

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Day 1 of 30 for NaNoWriMo

scariest moment s kingWell it’s day 1 of NaNoWriMo and I’m 1945 into my word count for the first day. And it’s nowhere near midnight on the 1st so I have hours still to go before it’s the second day if I feel the urge to write more. Errands to run, bills to pay. prescriptions to get, groceries to buy (namely coffee) and I’m feeling pretty good (so far).

untold story

Switching novels at the last minute, after having spent almost 2 months plotting a novel only to put it on the shelf in the closet for a different day, I’m excited about the new one that came to me in a dream. I’ve got a book about historic Charleston with lots of goodies 😀 to use if I get stuck or for more information that I already know about it having grown up there. And I’m also quite certain that although I haven’t plotted this novel at all, and don’t even have an actual synopsis yet I’m pretty sure that I know where I’m going with it. The idea is there. The main character is speaking to me. She’s a lot like my grandmother was. Only she’s a modern day version.

every secret of a writer's soul

Here in the South there’s a saying, “You can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl.” Well, I tried to make my home in Plotterville, but it just wasn’t the right fit, so back to Plantser Land I went.

look in your heart and write

So here I go. Drinking my cup of afternoon coffee on a Friday afternoon, imagining how I’m going to get my MC to live in her grandparents townhouse. Do I kill off the grandparents? Have them hit the road in a camper? Put them in an old folk’s home? I waiting for the MC to let me know as I research a few things necessary for her trip to visit her cousin after catching her b/f of 5 years in their bed in her house with her friend…Nasty bit of drama there. Gotta hate when that happens, but she really needed to kick his ass out a long time ago she was just set in her “comfort zone” with him taking the easy way out because she thought she could change him, instead she was the one making all the changes.

If you want to make God laugh tell him about your plans

One bit of writing advice you always hear about is, “Write what you know.” Well, I know bad relationships. I know heartbreak. I know what it’s like to be cheated on. I also know what it’s like when you finally find someone that calls out to your soul and accepts you, loves you, likes you, and makes you feel like a better person and strive to be better at the same time. I also know what it’s like to lose a parent when you’re young. What it’s like to lose multiple family members in a short period of time. What it’s like to have an uncle murdered. What it’s like to have an aunt and then an uncle die of different kinds of cancer within a year of each other. So I’m going to write about what I know.

Happiness

If I take any one of those real life experiences, like finding out that your significant other is sleeping with your friend, or losing a parent at a young age, or having your uncle murdered and the murder still isn’t solved 4 years later, well there ya go… Add in the fact, that the MC undergoes emotional and mental changes because of those things, as well as a geographical change, and maybe the house she moves into is haunted, WELL…

Voice-to-Pain-72

And all of these are based on real life events (however, the names and events have been changed or altered to protect the innocent as well as the guilty).

nablopomo_november_small

By the way, I’m also participating in the National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) for November. So when I’m not posting about NaNoWriMo I’ll be writing about something from one of the NaBloPoMo prompts. Hope you have a great November 😀

 

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Happy NaNo Eve

Night before Nano

Here in SC it is a little less than 9 hours before NaNoWriMo begins. I decided when I went to bed last night that I was changing things completely. Different novel. Different character. Different setting. You name it, it’s different. It has to be the pantser in me. Has to be.

Ray Bradbury pantser quote

I’ve spent almost two months plotting a novel only to find that it is not THE novel I feel in my bones right now. A new idea hit me yesterday when I was napping. I saw the character, saw the plot. I woke up and I KNEW that was the novel. It’s based on a phrase my grandmother used to say when you were in trouble or trouble was lurking in the dark waiting to pounce.

trueblood_nanowrimo_calendar_by_tarnishedhearts-d32ks3w

So I’m now finding character names, now figuring out the name of the town my novel takes place in is actually the town I grew up in–Charleston (South Carolina for those of you not in the US or who think maybe it’s the Charleston that’s in VA). Downtown Charleston to be exact. The haunted townhouse my grandparents used to live in when I was a child. Yes, it was really haunted. I saw the ghosts and heard them myself. Many of us (cousins, aunts & uncles, my grandparents) did.

last minute change

So I need to get back to the basic stuff so I can start the good stuff at midnight. YAY! NaNoWriMo starts in less than 9 hours. 😀 And I’m truly excited. Changing things up at the last minute has me stressed out but relieved at the same time. I was becoming burdened, weighed down by all the plot/outline/structure stuff and it was taking most of the fun out of it for me.

only the plot

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2013 in Life, NaNoWriMo, Outlining, Writing

 

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