Jeanne: One Goal to Rule Them All*

Recently I read and reviewed a contemporary romance. The setting was unusual enough chaos-724096_640to be interesting without being so weird it distracted from the story and it had likable main characters, each of whom had a solid character arc, but the book left me feeling out of sorts. It wasn’t until I wrote up the review that I realized what hadn’t worked for me: the protagonist had three different goals.

  1. She’d just graduated from college and wanted a job using her degree.
  2. She was involved in organizing a charitable event to which she was deeply committed and she wanted it to reach a certain dollar figure in revenue.
  3. She had recently broke up with a boyfriend who took ruthless advantage of her giving nature and she was determined not to date for a while. (That’s a negative goal. If you’ve been reading Eight Ladies for any length of time, you know that’s a no-no, but it’s still a goal.)

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Nancy: Just 20 Pages

As regular readers here know, several months ago, I finally gave up my high-stress, pressure-filled, deadline-driven corporate consulting job and set up my own high-stress, pressure-filled, deadline-driven writing and publishing plan. It’s a much better gig! However, one good thing about a corporate job is the structure. (That, and cake. People randomly bringing in cake. Why do my new office mates, aka the cats, never bring me cake? But I digress).

When you enter the full-time writer world, your time is suddenly your own, even with a very firm stake planted in the ground somewhere out there in Future Land. When it comes to publishing schedules, suddenly you’re thinking in terms of months or even years. Gone are the daily and weekly due dates, the guide rails that keep you plodding along on the straight and narrow. Take the girl out of the corporate world and chaos follows. At least, that’s what happened to schedule- and spreadsheet- and calendar-loving me. Continue reading

Jeanne: A Series of Unfortunate Events

Apple and forkOne of the things that’s different about writing in a series, versus writing a standalone book, is that the world-building requires a lot more planning. It’s kind of like playing chess. They say that chess masters, for each potential move, project out the next five possible moves before choosing one. That’s probably why I don’t play chess.

To be perfectly honest, my brain is not the least bit strategic. Back in my days of working as an IT manager at a Fortune 1000 corporation, they used to hold these planning sessions where people would sit around for days, blue-skying about all the things the company might want to do, and jawing on and on about all the potential outcomes for each scenario.

Those sessions made me want to stick a fork in my eye. Continue reading

Michille: Serious About Series

Callahan Family Cover 1We’ve talked about the new year in a couple of posts here. Elizabeth asked what you’re waiting for? Nancy suggested everyone get ready, get set, and set goals. So what am I doing? I am getting serious about my series. I’m taking my first Margie Lawson on-line course: Getting Serious About Writing a Series. The instructor is actually Lisa Wells (not Margie), but I’ve heard a lot of good things about the courses in general.

We are just getting started so I haven’t gotten into the real meat of it yet. Lesson 1 was on the Series Bible format. Done. Some of the other lessons deal with the connections, overall timeline, planning the ending, and writing a synopsis that encompasses the entire series. I’m thinking there is a lot of work ahead of me this month on my series. Continue reading

Nancy: June Recap

june-15-strawberry-fields-fullIt’s that time again – time to reconcile my monthly progress against plan. The good news is, my writing projects are moving along nicely. The bad news is, I’ve lost track of what my actual monthly plan is. But now that we’ve officially passed the halfway point in the year, it’s a great time to revisit (or in my case, completely retool) the annual plan. More on that in a minute. First, a progress report.

Writing: Balancing Three Projects With One  Brain. When I discussed my 2015 writing plan way back in January, my number one goal for the year was to touch my story every day. Not only did I meet that goal in June, I exceeded it. Continue reading

Jilly: Getting the Party Started

Getting the Party StartedDid you enjoy any small (or large) victories this week?

I had a chunk of time bookended between two family commitments. I didn’t want to start a new scene in case I got stuck half-way and had to visit my mum with the other half still in my head – bad for the scene, bad for mum 🙂 , so I decided to revisit my first 50 pages. I knew I had work to do. Months ago, Jenny Crusie told me she didn’t know what to root for, because each of my scenes seemed to start a new plot, and the pieces of the story didn’t fit together. Than at RWA in San Antonio, I had feedback on the same pages from an editor who said something like “these are good scenes, but they’re all in the wrong place.”

I didn’t need to be told for a third time.

If the first scene is critical – you’ve engaged or lost your reader by the end of it – the first 50 pages (about 15k words, or half of Act I) are almost as important, because Continue reading

Michille: Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, Part 3

Man_on_a_rockThis is the last installment in the Hero’s Journey – The Return. My class is over and the final project has been turned in so I will be moving on after this. I used the Key Trilogy by Nora Roberts for my final project on the Hero’s Journey but there are so many good examples out there. Other students used Through the Looking-Glass (Alice in Wonderland), Bridesmaids, Field of Dreams, and Siddhartha for their final projects. So here are the final six stages of the Journey. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Cliffhanger Cranky

Uh oh, what's going to happen?

Uh oh, what’s going to happen?

We’re well into the month of May, which means television shows are wrapping things up with season ending episodes. I watched one finale just last night for a show that’s a favorite of mine.

It did not leave me a happy viewer.

I may have ranted about the episode a bit once it was over. Possibly again this evening. Why? Because the episode ended with an out-of-the-blue unfulfilling cliffhanger.

We’ve talked before on the blog, as we did in the McDaniel classes, about the contract the writer makes with the reader (viewer) at the beginning of a story Continue reading

Nancy: Promises, Promises


In our McDaniel classes, we spent one of the modules comparing the beginnings of our books to the endings. We looked for ways that our final scenes echoed the first ones with elements such as location, characters, and repeated motifs. And we looked at the differences that showed how the characters had changed over the course of the book to make sure the character arc of the protagonist was complete. I wrote about this idea of beginnings and endings and coming full circle in this post last fall.
Another thing we considered during this exercise was whether, by those final scenes, our stories had fulfilled the promises we’d made to the readers with our story openings. It was this aspect of analysis that haunted me this past week when I got back to my WIP. Continue reading

Michille: A Community of Writers

EightLadiesinWaterYears ago, I started hearing voices in my head. After months of trying to block them out, I finally decided to start writing them down. When I got them all down, it was about 50,000 words. I thought, “Wow, I could write a book.” I turned to the internet for information. I probably searched on something like “how to publish a novel” (talk about naïve – as if 50,000 words would instantly put me in a position to be published). I did find this thing called a writers conference. I went to a Maryland writers’ conference and apparently met Nancy as I have her business card with a note written in her handwriting on the back. Neither one of us remember this meet.

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