Jilly: Embarrassing

embarrassingWhen’s the last time you did something really stupid? Something so obviously dumb that when it’s pointed out to you, you can’t believe you did it?

That would be me this week.

I said in last week’s post that one of my main writing goals this year is to enter Alexis’s story in the RWA Golden Heart contest. I also wrote: I’ve entered Alexis in a few contests already, well-established ones with a track record of training their first round judges. I’ll use the feedback from those to consider what changes (if any) I’ll make to my opening pages. I don’t think major revisions will be needed…

Yeah, no. Thank goodness I did enter Alexis in those contests, because I got some feedback from one of them this week, and it was a *facepalm* experience.

One of the questions on the judges’ score sheet for this particular contest was: If I was judging this entry in the Golden Heart, I would give it a… The judge gave me 1 from a possible 10 points. In the comments she wrote: Continue reading

Elizabeth: Back to Basics – Doing the Research

Stories Yet To Be WrittenWe’ve been talking the last couple of months about writing basics; walking through individual craft elements in conjunction with the new book I’m working on.  Last week we put together the Character, Conflict, Setting, and Outline, and shifted focus to actually writing the story.

Once you finally start writing, it is quite likely that at some point, you’re going to need to do some research. Maybe you have a quick question that needs an answer like “what’s the lifespan of a bumblebee?” or maybe you need to know something a little more in depth like “what was the political climate like in London during 1816?”

At close to 40,000 words on my new story, I’ve had a few questions that I needed answers to. I’ve also had to decide what information I should include in my story and what does not need to be there.

That’s why this week my focus in on: Research Continue reading

Michaeline: It just so happens . . . .

Ah, love's young dream and the queer pranks of circumstance! On the other hand, as Ian Fleming writes in Goldfinger, "Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times, it's enemy action." (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Ah, love’s young dream and the queer pranks of circumstance! On the other hand, as Ian Fleming writes in Goldfinger, “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times, it’s enemy action.” (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

I belong to an online book discussion group, and this week, we were talking about coincidence. I said that I’d experienced some amazing coincidences in my life, and ran into a minor coincidence almost every month. And then people shared their own stories of meeting a long-lost friend or relative hundreds of kilometers away from home. Or finding out that an online friend lived only 15 minutes away.

We all know coincidence, yet there seems to be such a disgust of coincidence among readers. On the other hand, is there a work of fiction that doesn’t depend on coincidence? I tried thinking of one; I thought something by Hemingway might work, but even something like The Old Man and The Sea still has the giant coincidence of the man catching this giant fish. There are, as we know, a lot of fish in the sea – why this fish, why now?

The way I see it, we humans are a pattern-seeking species. We see coincidence constantly, and most often the biggest things in our lives happen because of something unusual – a coincidence of people, actions or place.

In addition, fiction is about the unusual – the big moment in life that doesn’t blend into everyday. That’s often going to require a coincidence.

One of the big howling “mistakes” that writers “commit” is Continue reading