Jilly: Time Out

Time OutDo you ever allow yourself the luxury of an unscheduled time out? I don’t do it very often, but I’m declaring one today.

I’m really happy with the way my WIP is shaping up. I wish it would come together faster, and I have lots of discovery work still ahead of me, but I like what I have so far, and I have a clear idea of the remaining scenes that will get me to the end of the first act. I think it will take me about two weeks to get there, and I’m really excited to write it.

I expected to wake up this morning refreshed and raring to begin, but out of nowhere I feel drained and mentally lacklustre. That’s not a feeling I want to infuse my story, and once I get started, I want to write through to the major turning point without losing momentum, so I decided to award myself a day to recharge.

I might think about my story – I almost certainly will – but I won’t set myself any specific tasks. No word-count goals, no problems to solve.

My plan for the day Continue reading

Nancy: Borrowing From the Masters

In this terracotta relief circa 450 BC, Odysseus, disguised as a beggar, tries to make Penelope recognize him.

In this terracotta relief circa 450 BC, Odysseus, disguised as a beggar, tries to make Penelope recognize him.

There’s nothing new under the sun, or so say Ecclesiastes, Shakespeare, and conventional wisdom. When it comes to writing, there’s truth in that. You’re not going to be the first to write a love story, a murder mystery, or a journey into the depths of misery of the human soul. But, so continues the thought, that’s okay because you’ll bring something else to your story that no one else can – you.

Sometimes writers go even further and base a story on the structure and meaning of an existing work. In fact, they do it all the time, sometimes quite successfully (West Side Story, anyone?). Borrowing from existing works such as mythology, fairy tales, and Shakespeare allows us to learn from the masters as we write, and can give us guideposts for our own writing. And it’s not all bad for readers, either, as readers’ minds to attach to the familiar, even when it’s barely recognizable, and hopefully a story will bring enough new twists to surprise and reward along the way. Continue reading

Kat: Story Inspiration

Hopi House Grand Canyon

Hopi House Renovation
Grand Canyon National Park

This past January, I had the pleasure of visiting the Grand Canyon with two other 8Ladies—Kay and Jilly. If you’ve never visited the Canyon or have only visited during the high season, I highly recommend a wintertime visit. Yes, the weather can be risky in January, but the tradeoff is no traffic, parking woes, or mobs of people to elbow aside for a view. There’s also a very different vibe in winter—a quiet feeling of stepping back in time.

The structures scattered around the canyon reinforce the feeling, and while there, I assumed that Hopi House, Bright Angel Lodge, Hermit’s Rest, and in particular, The Watchtower at the north end of the park were hundreds of years old, built by some ancient people and abandoned. Here’s where the story gets good. Continue reading

Justine: Travel…Are You a Plotter or Pantser?

planeThe Eight Ladies have been talking bucket lists lately. My bucket list has only one thing in it right now – my trip to England in exactly a month (I arrive on May 7th for 10 days!). You’d think with such a big event, I’d have meticulously plotted out where I will go and what I will do each and every moment of my trip.

Surprisingly, I haven’t. In fact, Jilly, my awesome partner-in-historical-crime/tour guide/(and I hate to say it, but) chauffer have only (mostly) nailed down our accommodations today. Continue reading

Nancy: The Month of the Phoenix

The Phoenix: Mythical Beast That Rises From the Ashes

As this is the first Monday of a new month, it’s time for me to recap my writing progress (or lack thereof) for the past month, as I promised to do way back in January. (Remember January? We were so young, so naive!) This time, however, I want to spend less time looking back and more time looking forward. This might lead you to think my progress in March was less than stellar. You would be correct. But that’s not the main reason I’m going to focus on April

This shift in perspective came from reading Michaeline’s and Jilly’s posts Saturday and Sunday, respectively, here on 8LW. Micki pointed out the first quarter of the year is over, and she was wondering what she’d gotten done (I’m right there with you, Micki), while looking forward to the next quarter of the year and what she hopes to accomplish. Jilly wrote a poignant post about the very personal and happily triumphant wake-up call she and her husband had two years ago. After a weekend of thinking about the upcoming quarter, bucket lists, and not letting one more day go by without pursuing dreams, Continue reading

Justine: Finding a Pot of Story Gold

story ideas, history in story, historical events, writing, eight ladies writing, corn lawsHappy St. Patrick’s Day! One of the best things that can happen to a writer is to find a pot of “story gold.” That wonderful, juicy tidbit of information that lends credibility, interest, or detail to your story. My pot of gold? The Corn Laws.

(Yeah, I know…you’re scratching your head, saying, “Eh?” Stick with me, though!)

The Corn Laws were British tariffs assigned to imported grain or corn (anything that could be ground), but especially wheat. They were the result of a political dispute between the Continue reading

Michille: First-Pass Editing

I completed the first draft of my current project which is a contemporary romance based on Sophocles’ Antigone (without the live burial and triple suicide). I started knowing I would need a minimum of 16 scenes, but it grew to 27 scenes and 28,000 words. Obviously, some of the scenes are short as the average is just over 1,000 words per scene. Because I am writing scenes that represent various elements/components of fiction through time, some of the scenes don’t need to have much in them. For example, Stasimon Four (scene 18) is the chorus giving three mythical stories that could explain Antigone’s motivation so that scene is only 500 words whereas scene 24 combines three elements including the climax so that scene is about 2,500 words. Now it’s time for the first pass of edits. I figure there will be at least two more passes after this one so I’m not feeling pressure to fix everything (and I’m still figuring out parts of the story) – that pressure will come with the deadline when they’re still not all fixed. Continue reading

Kay: Stimulating Creativity

sunflowersThe Eight Ladies spend a fair amount of time talking about creativity—having it, losing it, stimulating it, harnessing it. I, for one, am often concerned that I have so few ideas. I get one at a time. And that’s it. I have to beat it to death, because who knows when I’ll get the next one? I’ve heard people say, “I have so many ideas, I don’t know when I’ll find the time to write all the books bouncing around in my head!” Yeah, that’s not me.

So I’m open to any ideas for how to stimulate creativity. The more, the better. Continue reading

Michille: Plot Devices Ensued

http://obeythemuse.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Plot-device.jpgI just returned from my first ever writers’ retreat (thank you very much Justine). I had a very productive weekend. I got my story structure outlined, several scenes written, a couple of problems solved, and suggestions to solve a couple more. Since I was not at my own home, I didn’t feel any obligation to hop up and do laundry, go to the grocery store (although I did got to the grocery once), pick up or drop off a child, etc. I didn’t need to refocus on my writing the way Elizabeth described in her post because I never got too far away from it. Continue reading

Kay: The Comfort in Reading

girls japanese readingDuring the holidays, I thought I spotted a common thread in the other Ladies’ posts: every so often, someone would say that after she completed a task, finished a job, or visited the in-laws, she planned to reward herself by reading a book. Or if somebody had suffered a disappointment, she wanted to cheer herself up with a book. If somebody needed a present, she bought a book. Reading, everyone said, is comfort and joy.

Is it just us? I wondered. Or does everybody find happiness in reading?

The Gideons certainly did. In 1908, this group of businessmen started a fund to place a Bible in every American hotel room so travelers could find solace there. Selected passages were described as suitable for “comfort in time of adversity, sorrow, loneliness, suffering.” Continue reading