Michille: Stages of Intimacy

With Valentine’s Day in the recent past and all the posts (not necessarily here) about love, intimacy and swiping right, I was reminded of an RWA session I attended years ago with Linda Howard in which she presented Desmond Morris’s 12 stages of intimacy as a means to build sexual tension in a story. It comes from his Intimate Behaviour (© 1971), which I looked to buy and couldn’t find until my good 8LW pal Kay gave me her copy a couple of years ago.

One mention in the book that I recently delved into is play-fighting as a stage of intimacy (Chapter 5: Specialized Intimacy). I’ve used that in my stories and, at the time, I didn’t consciously know it was one, or part of one. I’ve read it in other stories. At times, I’ve read it done well and others, I’ve started reading the sequence and rolled my eyes and blew past it because it was too cliché. Morris highlights the possibility that it could escalate into something that is far different from the initial idle start to the play-fighting. That’s when it gets interesting and can be useful in storytelling. Does something go a little too far, then retaliation, then pay back, facial expressions change, play-fighting changes to not playing, or into something else entirely. Is it violence or sexual foreplay?

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Michille: Happy Valentine’s Day

St. Valentine is thought to be a real person, recognized by the Catholic Church, who died around 270 A.D. It is thought that he was beheaded by emperor Claudius II for helping soldiers wed. There is some question about this as there was another St. Valentine who helped Christians escape harsh Roman prisons who was then imprisoned himself, fell in love with his jailor’s daughter, and signed his love letters to her “From your Valentine.” There are about a dozen St. Valentines plus a pope. The most recent saint was beheaded in 1861 and canonized in 1988, and the pope of that name lasted about 40 days. Odd history for a romantic holiday – a lot of beheadings involved.

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Michille: Write Your Novel in a Year

This popped up again for me when I was noodling around. I read posts like this every year at this time and think, I can do this. I’ve done this, not using any of these exact formula, but I’ve written a novel in a year. Heck, I’ve written them in less than a year, they’re just not publishable. Of course, at this point, that’s because of my failure to stick with editing. But I’ll put these out here in the event that one of these blogs/steps, or a combination of these, helps motivate someone or gives someone a few ideas of new things to try.

As so many people say, or in this case after I googled ‘write your novel in a year’, so many web pages say it. I’ve discussed Writers Write and Anthony Ehlers series called Write Your Novel in a Year. The blog very kindly consolidated all 52 posts here. I have Chuck Wendig’s infographic on my bulletin board (if you don’t like foul language, skip this one). And I’ve tried the NaNo method (although I knew I wouldn’t write an entire novel in a month). I don’t read these because I think any one of them will be the magic bullet, but I do regularly find motivation to keep writing. Here are some of the new ones I found:

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Michille: New Year’s Resolutions for Writers

The collective edition. I don’t have any stellar writing resolutions for the new year. Write some more. Continue researching/writing screenplay. But I noodled around on the net to see what other writers have on their lists. Many of them are the same we all know. Butt in the chair, words on the page, etc.

The Happy Guy Writing Services (not a plug for his services) has 10 New Year’s Resolutions for Writers in 2021. I like #4 – paint a picture. I’ve been watching Bridgerton and that has made me think of how the stories I’ve read have created pictures in my mind of various settings.

I like this one from The Writer’s Cookbook from 2019: 52 New Year’s Resolutions for Writers. You don’t often see “let an old project go” for resolutions, but I think it’s a good one.

Jeff Goins had these from 2017: 17 New Year’s Resolutions for Writers. ). #6 is ‘write when you don’t feel like it’. I like that one. But I don’t see #14, ‘make money’, happening for me this year. I wish it for all my 8LW friends, though.

Proedit has 10 New Year’s Resolutions from 2015. My favorite: Improve my fiction by having one conversation with an imaginary person each day.

Do you have any resolutions for this year?

Michille: LaQuette’s Brainstorming Hacks

I am going through years’ worth of Romance Writers Reports. Some of you know, I am completing my second year of getting rid of one thing a day, every day, for 365 days. Last year, I got rid of over 1,000 things. This year, it has only been about 500, but hey, that’s 1,500 fewer things in the house. It’s very liberating. I’m starting on the years’ worth of Romance Writers Reports that have come in the mail and I’ve just stuck on a shelf in the office, and a pile on the desk, and a pile on the floor . . . you get the idea. I found an interesting article on learning styles and productivity. As my husband is a life-long educator and currently a professor in the College of Education at a state university, I hear a lot about learning styles. This LaQuette feature was in the November 2019 volume but can also be found here. It focused on brainstorming hacks according to your learning style. I’ll condense the article here.

The basis of the article is that knowing your individual learning style(s) could be the means to making brainstorming easier. She follows the educational theory that there are seven different learning styles and gives examples of how those types of learning styles can be used to enhance creativity.

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Michille: Gifts for Writers (or Readers)

Some of the other 8LW have been posting about gifts lately so I’ll do my annual Gifts for Writers post, too. Personally, I celebrate Christmas. Even if you don’t celebrate something in December, you likely have other times of year when you do, like birthdays, Mother’s Day, etc. I’ve gathered a few ideas for the writer or reader in your life that are a little different than, say, an Amazon gift card.

Last year’s edition of this included Aqua Notes. I have since found Eureka Shower Idea Whiteboard (was available the other day, now it’s not, which is a shame for those who get inspiration at odd times). Amazon also has The Writer’s Toolbox: Creative Games and Exercises for Inspiring the ‘Write’ Side of Your Brain and I love this bracelet.

Storiarts has literary goods, handmade in Portland, Oregon – bonus points for American made products. An extra bonus for this Maryland girl is the nod to Edgar Allan Poe. The Raven Writing Gloves anyone?

Writers Unplugged’s The Ultimate List of Gifts for Writers has some fun stuff like a vintage library pendant necklace, Novel Teas, a nighttime notepad, and my personal favorite: a t-shirt that says, “I’m silently correcting your grammar.”

Bookfox has a list of 50 Surprising and Unusual Gifts for Writers with some pretty funny stuff. How about a Once Upon a Time board game? Or candles that smell like books? And another personal fav: a block of wood that says “Writer’s Block.”

Happy writing and Happy Holidays.

Michille: NaNo Not So Much

NaNoWriMo is no more. My word count was abysmal. But I’m not counting it as an abysmal failure. I started writing again. I started thinking about story again. Characters started talking to me again. That hasn’t happened for a while – several in the win column. Plus, I found some new sources of inspiration – some video series’, some blogs, etc.

One of the things I found when I was noodling around was screenwriting. It started out as some folks who do the Hallmark movies. I watched two of those and found surprising inspiration. I know Hallmark movies, and some that are now showing up on other networks, are very formulaic, but they also have to tell a story in a very compact format. So when the folks in the videos were explaining the process and the key turning points and the character goals and arcs, it took what I know about writing books and reframed in a way that stimulated my imagination and creativity.

The night before last, when I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t get back to sleep – which is a very common occurrence – movie scenes for my very first manuscript started running through my head – which is a very uncommon occurrence. Another in the win column. Last night, when I woke in the middle, the opening couple of scenes for the next two manuscripts ran through my head. Hmmm. This is worth exploring. Of course, that will be after my 12-14 hour workday load lessens. Regular grants + pandemic grants = AAAHHH!!!

So although I didn’t get a NaNo win, I got several other wins, so I’m calling it a win in general. How about you? Did you have any November wins?

Michille: NaNo at Day 12

National Novel Writing Month began on Sunday, November 1. I haven’t hit my word count on any day, but I have been writing. It is, however, more words than I’ve gotten on the page in a long time, so it was still sort of successful. As I’ve said before, I would love to hit the 50,000-word target, but I am more interested in hitting the write-every-day target. You’re seeing this post for the first time on the 12th, but I am writing in on the 11th. Therefore, the write-every-day target was hit for the first eleven days. Yeah me!

I had 40 ideas of things to write and two of them gave me 1,700 word scenes. Tuesday’s idea didn’t yield enough words and that coupled with a lack of time to tackle another idea had me missing the word-count. I can’t change the day job, the house can’t fall down, I felt the family could use some dinner, and various other stuff that limited my time and that will happen again so I’m not planning to focus a whole lot of energy on changing that. But I can change the quantity and quality of ideas in my pipeline so I can get more words on the page faster. I took to the Internet for more motivation and ideas.

There are a lot of websites that have NaNo advice. Suggestions like write every day, don’t edit, or write the last scenes first to change things up. One of the tips I came across is “don’t sweat the roadblocks.” If you get stuck, just skip to the next scene. I do this all the time. If I can’t figure how to get out of the scene I’m in, I’ll stop that one and go on. That was one of the reasons I didn’t get more than 659 words written on Tuesday. I got to a point and couldn’t figure out where the scene was headed. Writing sprints is another suggestions, but I still have to have a scene idea in order to do that. Continue reading

Michille: NaNo Fast Approaching

With NaNoWriMo fast approaching, I am trying to plan out a new story so I have lots of writing fodder to meet the 1,667 words-per-day goal. Just looking at that number doesn’t seem that hard to do, but I’ve done NaNo a couple times. Did it once to finish a manuscript that I now has just sat. Another time, I got to 35,000. This time I want to start a new one.

In a very timely fashion, I got an email recently about screen plays and another from the Save the Cat lady. I thought, awesome, I’ll take those mini courses for motivation and to foment ideas. Then life interrupted and nothing happened. Now, NaNo starts on Sunday and I don’t have lots of fodder or creative juices flowing.

But there is still time and I would really like to do it this year so I’m going to do those two mini courses between now and Saturday (I swear). And I’ll come up with the basics: a main character and a problem facing that character. Then write down the scene ideas for the character and the problem. This is often how I start. Although, I tend to start more the main character’s goal, and then have difficulty with the conflict lock. I don’t usually do a full plot outline in the early stages (could be why I have a conflict lock problem). I tend to just start writing and then have to do the outline later when I’m figuring out where I am and where I’m going.

Here is a quote from author Ken Follett describing his process: “I rewrite the outline – and this may happen several times. Typically there will be a first draft outline, a second draft outline and a final outline, so it would twice go through the process of being shown to a number of people. The whole process of coming up with idea, fleshing it out, doing the research, drafting the outline and rewriting the outline comes to about a year all told. There are quite often a couple of false starts within this. I may spend a month working on an idea before I realize that it isn’t going to work and abandon it. But after this whole process, I’m ready to write the first draft.”

Looks like Follett is a planner/plotter, too. Where are all the pantsers? Are any of you folks getting ready to NaNo?

Michille: National Novel Writing Month

November is National Novel Writing Month. For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo is a “fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing.” It starts on November 1 and ends at 11:59 p.m. on November 30. Participants attempt to write a 50,000-word novel in that timeframe. I’ve tried it before and was successful once, almost successful once, and an abysmal failure several times.

So how does it work? The NaNo-er signs up and completes a profile, decides what to write, selects a “home region” (used for stats on the website and offers the potential to meet with others in your area for writing time or inspiration), and starts writing on November 1. During the month, stay tuned to the NaNo website to upload word count and check on others’ progress. Although, you can just do it on your own without the website.

The manuscript I was working on during the McD program was born one November. I only made it to 35,000, but it was a good start. My successful NaNo was the next one in that series (all of which are currently languishing). One of the things NaNo does for me is mostly a head game, but when I’ve done it in the past, it was a license to write absolute schlock. The goal is word count, not quality. There are a lot of helps during the month: pep talks from authors, badges, word-count helpers, etc. If I were more competitive, that would be a help, too.

One thing I’m going to try this year for prep/motivation is to listen to the best RWA sessions from the past couple of years. I’m going to start with Michael Hauge, hoping to get some motivation and story ideas out of the sessions. In person, they always get me super excited. Listening isn’t exactly the same, but here’s hoping.

I’m starting a new story. I have no idea what that story is, but hey, I have 2 weeks to figure that out. So 50,000 words on the page that I can then edit into usable stuff for a story that isn’t in my head. At this point, I’ve done so little writing (read: none) in ages that if I get any words on the page, it will be a success.

Are any of you planning to NaNo? What are your reasons to do or not to do? What are you hoping to get out of it?