Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Fall Foliage: World's End State Park

I've been editing a bit, keeping busy. But the truly noteworthy event of the last week was my husband and I's trip to World's End State Park. And this photo:

autumn mountains, World's End State Park, PA

And that photo is quite enough for one week. I'll share more next week, but this was the best.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

In the Thick of Things

Banff National Park
I took this photo in Canada - somewhere in Banff Nat'l Park.
I don't quite remember where exactly.

My post this week will be short and sweet. Or just short.

I have yet another new query that I entered into a contest hosted by Michelle Hauck and others. I'm actually rather excited about this query. It's more lively than many of the others and helps point out what's unique about my book. I find out on Thursday if I got into the contest or not. (This contest is to help me polish my query and then put it in front of a few agents Michelle lined up.)

Banff National Park, Canadian Rockies, cold
My husband being cold on a Canadian hike.
I have the name of the place written down somewhere.
Not here, though.
This is from a few years ago.

I'm back into editing. I've set an ambitious goal of editing five chapters a week (which I failed to meet for the first week b/c I spent half of it rewriting my query letter). Now I'm in the midst of editing my YA scifi, which will keep me busy for quite a while.

So. That's what's up in my writing life. And that's about all I've got to say this week. Have a good one!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

YouTube: A Writing Education

bicycle and screen door
Photos for this post shall be random photos I took that I like.

Making Your Own Education

For those of us without a formal writing education, there are lots of amazing resources online (and elsewhere I'm sure). Lately I've been watching Brandon Sanderson's lectures at BYU (here's a link to the first one.)

cracked door frame
Actually, the photos aren't that random.
They're of a house my parents fixed up.

Sanderson's BYU Lectures

By this point I've read plenty of recommended books, blog posts, and listened to lectures on plotting, character development, etc. So it's not like all this stuff is new, but there are a few things I particularly like about Sanderson's lectures:

  • He's a NYT Bestselling writer, so he's got the credentials to be giving advice.
  • He acknowledges that his way isn't the only way. In fact, he tries to mention as many different methods of writing as he can because he knows different methods help different types of writers.
  • He writes SFF. I haven't gotten to the world building lecture yet, but I'm definitely looking forward to it.
  • These lectures are from a well-known writing school (BYU), and he has experience teaching this class, and I think it shows.
  • He seems like a nice, funny guy. This might not matter to everyone, but if you're going to listen to someone for hours out of your life, it helps if you're smiling rather than grimacing as you listen.

shadows, abandoned house
It's a pretty cool house. It looks way more liveable now.
But it looked kinda cool all beat up.

Other Resources: Podcasts, Books, and Blogs

In other posts, I've linked to this two minute clip from Trey Parker and Matt Stone. They talk about how they plot out South Park, and it's a fun insight.

Sanderson recommends one of his fellow writer's YouTube posts, Dan Wells on Story Structure.

Sanderson also has a podcast with several fellow writers called Writing Excuses. It's not as structured or pared down as his BYU lectures, but it's a fun listen, and eleven seasons (and counting) gives them way more time to delve into issues. I'll admit that podcasts just aren't my thing, so I've only listened to a few here or there.

Then, of course, there are the books I hear recommended over and over again. The three I think I hear mentioned most are: Story Engineering by Larry Brooks, Save the Cat by Blake Snyder, and Stephen King's On Writing. The first two books are all about structure and tricks to improve your book. On Writing is more of an entertaining memoir with some solid writing advice thrown in (it's actually a really fun read whether you write or not).

There are a TON of great writing blogs out there. In fact, Writer's Digest puts out a list of the 101 best websites for writers every year. I personally like Jane Friedman, formerly of Writer's Digest, for some good all-round advice. Best selling author Chuck Wendig veers off track more often than not, but almost always in entertaining ways (if he's your style), and there are some nuggets of excellent writing advice thrown in. I still use Nathan Bransford as a reference when I want to remind myself, for example, how to write a pitch. I don't think he's posting as much any more, but he's a literary agent turned MG writer, so he knows his stuff. And I've personally found some good advice in C.S. Lakin's blog.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Writing from Two Main Character POVs

Nigel and I, several year ago
Badlands National Park (I think)

Well, it happened. I missed a week of blogging. This weekend I began to suspect what I'd done, but I wasn't quite sure until I just checked the dates of my posts because sometimes the weeks start to blur together.

Oh well. I'm back!

I picked a picture of both Nigel and I for my top photo because, first of all, we look super cool in this photo. And second because my draft that I finished back in August (mentioned here) has a dual point of view. So I picked a picture of the two of us!

Get it? Two people = two points of view.

Maybe I shouldn't take any more weeks off from writing these posts. I feel like this one's going poorly.

In an unusual YA twist of events, I haven't actually decided whether the two main characters (Zander and Mara) will be love interests or not. They're telling about a futuristic sci fi governmental collapse from two different perspectives.

One MC's plot, written out in detail.


Plotting this novel was really difficult. I have a lot of subplots and characters that needed to come together. I actually started off by plotting out the villains' perspectives because, as it turns out, villains are pretty good at keeping the plot moving.

Once I knew my major events, I started plotting out each individual MC's full story arc. I'd actually already written a draft of this book (which I don't quite consider my first draft, for some reason) or else I'd have had no idea what the full plot for each character would involve. Those early ideas gave me a lot to work with, but I did make a number of plot-related changes.

Each MC had approximately one page of plotting like the one you see in the image above.

Nigel's Magic cards were taking over our table, infringing on my outlining.
And apparently I've got my blanket on the floor.
What can I say? We're a mess.

Intertwining the Two Plots

Once I knew the plots for each MC, I typed the two different plots up with bullet points for each plot point (and I annotated if it was Zander's or Mara's on each bullet point).

Then I cut apart each bullet point and started weaving together the two stories. There were a few points at which the stories HAD to meet up. But sometimes a few bullet points got grouped together into one chapter. I think I may also have cut one bullet point up into two different chapters.

Then I copied and pasted the two word docs with the two MC's plots together to match up to my new, whole-book outline.

I'm sure other people write dual POV books in other (probably better) ways, but this was how I wrote mine so that the two stories wove together just right.

And now I have to start editing it all ....... ugh. It'd better not mess up my plot structure.