Michille: Reasons for a Scene

After reading Elizabeth’s post from yesterday, I decided to set a goal for the next week to get a couple scenes written. Any scene. I’ve been watching Virgin River on Netflix. Maybe I’ll try to come up with a powerful scene that could happen between some of those characters. A bit of fan fiction, if you will. By powerful, I mean scenes with multiple purposes in the story (which Virgin River has). As we have discussed here many times, every scene is a unit of conflict. I want to write scenes that go beyond a unit of conflict.

Debra Dixon, in Goal, Motivation & Conflict, suggests that there should be at least three reasons for every scene and at least one of those must address a characters goal, motivation or conflict. Dwight Swain talks about scenes and sequels with the sequel consisting of reaction, dilemma, and decision. Other purposes I’ve come across are to establish atmosphere, develop pathos, or create suspense. I’m hoping that by combining reasons for a scene, I can eliminate backstory, narrative summary and other ‘reasons’ that drag a story down.

But maybe I should say, restrict backstory, narrative summary, etc. Because stories need backstory. They don’t need big narrative passages that dump it all on the reader (especially in a series when the author does a soap opera style “as you know” rehash). I recently re-read Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series. I shouldn’t because I want to watch the series and I know it will be so different from the books that I’ll be yelling at the TV the whole time – prime example: they changed a twenty-ish gossip rag writer to an octagenarian. Sheesh. But I digress. There is a scene in An Offer From a Gentleman that is repeated in Romancing Mr. Bridgerton. In the first story, it is in Benedict’s head (as I recall). In the second, it’s in Penelope’s. I suppose it’s more of a prologue scene in the second book, but it happens before the real story starts – therefore backstory. It’s a good scene, but since I read the preceding story, I didn’t need a rehash – just a few lines would have done it woven into another scene. Of course, since Julia Quinn makes a lot more money writing romance than I do, she can’t be doing too many things wrong.

Conflict is a given. In trying to apply the three reasons to my scenes, I will need to identify some of the reasons for the scenes that are in addition to the main conflict. Some could introduce new characters, increase sexual tension, build or break down trust, expose backstory, or foreshadow a future event.

What reasons do you have for your scenes? How many have you been able to include in a single scene?

Michille: 11 Things Every Romance Writer (Doesn’t) Need

Young woman writing at a portable writing desk

Ideas disappear if you don’t capture them. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

As readers may have noticed, there is a particular blog that I really like (which I’m not naming here because I am going to bash a recent post). So I was extremely disappointed when said blog recently had a post about 10 Things Every Romance Writer Needs. At least one of the blog owners is a romance writer. Apparently the writer of this post is not. At least I would find it hard to believe if he is because the content of the post bordered on insulting to the writers of the genre that essentially pays the bills for the whole fiction market. It is a well-known phenomenon, this casual dismissal of the romance genre, and one that prompted the creation of the International Society for the Study of Popular Romance, the partnership of the Romance Sociologists, and was recently explored by Laura Kahn in her documentary Love Between The Covers.

Not all of the 10 things were insulting. Some of the ‘things’ apply to all fiction writing like surrounding yourself with good books to help keep your head in the good-fiction game, to spend some time reading like a writer, and to take encouragement from the success of a well-written book. Some of them apply to all fiction writing, but used cutesy sexy titles like “Quickies,” which is essentially advice to keep your eyes open and a notebook handy so you can jot down the ideas that come to you at unexpected times. The “Shoulder to cry on” thing emphasizes the importance of community – find a fellow writer or a good friend you can bounce ideas off or lament to when your writing stalls, someone to believe in us, encourage us – a good thing for all writers, not specific to romance, but would you suggest that CJ Box find a shoulder to cry on?

Then there are the ridiculous, like: Continue reading

Michille: Procrastibaking

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This is a re-post of an old blog post. In my work world, which is K-12 grants, things are OUT OF CONTROL. All those headlines of schools going remote or hybrid or face-to-face with modifications have earthquake tremors that run through a school system because they affect EVERYONE. We have a county school system set up (as opposed to borough or township which other states have) so our school system is large (41 schools). The $21 million in restricted revenue flows through my office. Much of that requires that we submit plans to the funding agency detailing how we are spending it. Well, folks, all those grant plans we submitted in the spring need to be amended. ALL of them. So now I’m dealing with fiscal-year end AND amending the bulk of our grants. I wish I had time to procrastibake. I have a cake I’ve been dying to make.

Procrastibaking is for another day for me, but maybe you can do some procastibaking or procrasti . . . Continue reading

Michille: Preparing to Attend a Writers’ Conference

RWA2020-virtual-logoRWA National Conference is fast approaching. So it’s time to start prepping for it. Of course, getting the conference schedule is a top priority and deciding which sessions to go to, which to avoid. I’m not pitching this year, or I’d be working on that. I suck at elevator pitches and tag/log line type descriptions so creating those is torture. In order to make sure I’m not forgetting anything, I googled to find some internet advise.

PSYCH!!! Continue reading

Michille: First Lines

Take a HintI have blogged about first lines before – best, worst, would you keep reading, etc. One time, it resulted from my daughter (another voracious reader) bringing home a bag of random books and we sat around the dining table after dinner and read the first lines/paragraphs of several of the books. The motivation for this post came from a book I just started, which has a funny first line that gives a very good impression of the writing style and the language the characters use:

Talia Hibbert, Take a Hint, Dani Brown: The moon was high and full, the night was ripe for witchy business, and Danika Brown had honey on her tit. Continue reading

Michille: One More Writing Course

Like Elizabeth and her post yesterday about being Creativity Challenged, I find myself very challenged creatively. And although I swore I wouldn’t do another writing course until I got more words on the pages of my current WIP, I just signed up for one. Productivity Hacks for Writers by Jessica Brody on udemy. The tagline for it is: Simple Strategies and Proven Techniques to Be More Productive and Get the Most Out of Every Writing Day. I attended a breakout session at RWA (Atlanta, I think) that was excellent. She is an enthusiastic, endlessly positive, motivational speaker who believes wholeheartedly in her product. In fact, she reminds me of Steven Covey, except with a cheerleader’s energy and pompoms rather than Covey’s slow-paced, methodical delivery. Continue reading

Michille: One Thing A Day

 

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Image by Shahid Abdullah from Pixabay

This week seems to be about re-evaluating some of our lives. What brings you joy? What doesn’t? What do you need to give up to be happier? Both Elizabethand Jeanneare doing some decluttering, so I thought I’d share what I have been doing for the past year and a half: getting rid of one thing a day every day, 365 days. Last year, I got rid of over 1,000 things, not just 365. Of course, when you pile all your sweatshirts into one pile and have 27, it’s easy to get rid of 7 of them. This year, it’s been slower because I got rid of so much last year. I do have a stash of cookbooks that I use when I haven’t found the thing for the day. I’ll go grab one from the attic that I haven’t looked at in years. A lot of that free crap I pick up at the RWA conferences over the years has found its way into the discard pile. I’m trying to be environmentally friendly about it, too: scrap metal to a recycler rather than the trash, textiles to a textile recycler (although I did take a bunch of fabric there at the end of 2019 that I could have used to make masks [sigh]).

But this blog is about writing. So, I started thinking of one thing a day, every day, 365 days a year that I could for my writing because I’m seriously stalled. But what could that be? Here’s a list I started:

•  Write every day

And already, I don’t like that. Writing something every day may work for some, but I don’t think it works for me. One writing related task would work.

What one writing related task do you do every day?

Michille: Beach Reads 2020 (and before)

His Lady to ProtectI’m a week late to post for the start of the summer season with the holiday weekend behind us wherein lots of folks (idiots) in my area and around the country headed to the beach. For our non-US friends, Memorial Day in the US is a federal holiday for remembering and honoring people who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. It is currently observed on the last Monday of May, which means a lot of Americans have the day off (and head out of town or have a cookout).

With beaches on the mind (or currently in my imagination), I was thinking about beach reads for this summer. I’m not heading out anytime soon because having 100,000 Americans die of COVID-19 (that we know of) scares the crap out of me, especially since I was dog sick in January just after returning from a 2-week trip to China. Pneumonia makes me one of those ‘vulnerable population’ folks. But I will probably have some time to put my nose in a book despite the new crazy workload created by this pandemic (and I’m just so incredibly thankful that I have a job that I can still do [albeit 12 hrs a day]). Continue reading

Michille: Character Actions

Reading Week Lessons LearnedOne of my favorite writer blogs is Writers Write. Most of what they write about is creative, but they also discuss business writing, and blogging and social media. A recent topic was a fun one for me – 60 Things for Your Characters To DO When They Talk or Think. What things can characters be doing while talking? What actions will reveal character more thoroughly?

When I read the list, I mixed up a few which ended up giving me amusing images, like bathing a cat (I mixed up giving a dog a bath and cuddling a cat) and watering a child (mixed up watering houseplants with watching a child play). Of course, giving a cat a bath could create some hilarity in a story. Some of them seem a little too much like sittin’-and-thinkin’ activities, like knitting, hiking alone, or waiting in the doctor’s office. Continue reading

Michille: COVID Break

taking-out-trash1On Monday, Kay posted some Entertainment! for us and while I know this site is about writing, I’ve been working at home and going a little loco. So I’m going to add to the entertainment. Here is a column from the LA Times written by a high school pal-o-mine, Mary McNamara, about how the line between work and family is changing in these strange times we’re living in.

My kids are older, but my husband and I share our home office and we’ve had to adjust times for online meetings so we’re not both talking at the same time in different meetings. He’s a college professor so I can pop into his meetings with students, and so can the kids and the dog (the students love when the big ol’ golden retriever jumps into the frame). However, I work for the government (local school system, actually) and it’s not as fun in my meetings. Although, my husband used to work at the same place so he did pop into my frame before the meeting started this morning to say hi to some of his old colleagues. When I’m on with someone from FEMA, I don’t think they’d appreciate it all that much. Continue reading