Jilly: Make Me Care

Copyright: chepko / 123RF Stock PhotoHow was your week?

Last Sunday I admitted that I messed up the synopsis for my romantic fantasy WIP by getting so engrossed with the fantasy plot that I forgot to make it clear the story is a romance driven by a fantasy adventure, not a fantasy with occasional romantic interludes.

This week I learned the same lesson all over again.

I’ve been wrestling with one particular scene of my WIP. I’m embarrassed to say how long I’ve spent on it. First I squeezed all the life out of it by solving the big crisis instead of making it worse. Then I compounded the felony by writing (and rejecting) a dozen versions of the H&H wrangling about stuff that needed resolving, but not at that place and time. I bored myself writing it, so I have no doubt it would have been dull as ditchwater to read.

Things improved Continue reading

Justine: Mapping Your Story

Mayfair, London, UK courtesy Google Maps (c) 2105.

Mayfair, London, UK courtesy Google Maps (c) 2105.

So the other day my husband and I took our kids to see Hotel Transylvania 2. Don’t worry, I’m not going to blog about the movie (er, wait until it comes out on video…or just skip it entirely).

Anyhow, my husband and I didn’t like the movie and I told him the reason why is there was no plot. No GM + C. No…nothing.

That discussion progressed to us kvetching about cop-out endings and it reminded me of a series of tweets Emma Coats did about Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling. Twenty-two awesome rules of  storytelling.

I showed my husband #19: Continue reading

Justine: Conflict. Wait…What?

Trouble is coming. Or is it conflict? Image (c) 1950 Disney Animation Studios.

Trouble is coming. Or is it conflict?
Image (c) 1950 Disney Animation Studios.

I’ve spent a lot of time in the last week reading through the second half of Three Proposals (and highlighting á la Margie Lawson’s EDITS). I’m amazed at how crappy it all is. I mean it! I might have done some good, award-winning work on the front end, but the back end is just that…a back end. Mind you, I finished that draft nearly two years ago (??seriously??), but good grief…apparently I hadn’t yet learned the lesson about “sittin’ and thinkin’” or “conversation for conversation’s sake.”

I certainly didn’t know about conflict. Well, maybe in theory, but not in practice. There are several scenes I’ve written where I have to look HARD to find it, and in many instances, it’s not there. What is there is trouble, but that’s not the same thing.

Now, the good thing about that is Continue reading

Justine: Getting Back on the Writing Horse

sagging middle, writing again, eight ladies writing, justine covingtonIn the month of May (and continuing here on into June), I sort of fell off the ‘ol Writing Horse. It wasn’t intentional. I didn’t want to not write. But with kids finishing school, a trip to England, and a serious sagging middle in my book, it didn’t happen.

Okay, the sagging middle was probably the biggest reason for me not writing. I was stuck. My story had gotten boring. And I needed to fix it.

So what IS a sagging middle? Besides the paunch on that hairy guy at the beach. Eew…

The sagging middle is Continue reading

Michille: Adverbs and Other Writing ‘Mistakes”

adverbsElizabeth’s post about Nancy Drew earlier this month brought up some reasons for the success of that series. It brought to mind one of the things that pops into my head whenever I see the blanket advice that adverbs are bad – cut them. The ghost writers for the Nancy Drew series used adverbs heavily – Nancy and Ned and Bess and George did everything somehow-ly. When I write my first draft, I also use a lot of adverbs. In editing, I type ly in the find box and try to strengthen the verb that is qualified by the adverb. Sometimes I can and sometimes I like the way I wrote it in the first place. 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

Justine: Regard Readers as Fish

eight ladies writing, writing hooks, hook your readerDid I get your attention with my post title? I hope so. I wanted to “hook” you in, make you want to read. And that’s what I’m talking about today — hooks.

We’ve all heard about the importance of writing a “good hook,” one to get your reader invested in your story. Typically, the concept of the hook is relegated to the first chapter/first few pages of your book (or even just the first line). However, hooks need to be pervasive in your book. You don’t just want readers getting hooked on page 1 — or line 1, for that matter. You want to hook them at the end of each chapter, forcing them to turn the page and start reading the next one. Think of fishing: you don’t just drop one hook into the water, hoping the fish will jump into your boat, you Continue reading

Justine: Using Your Nose

smells, scent, writing sensesThis probably goes without saying, but it gets hot in Arizona. Really hot. Sizzle-eggs-on-the-sidewalk hot. Naturally, when it’s hot,  everyone who can has their A/C on….in cars, trucks, and homes. One of the rather unpleasant side effects of A/C is the stale air you breathe. You don’t realize it’s stale, though, because you’re so obsessed with how HOT it is.

Then fall comes. The air grows cooler and more comfortable. I actually need a sweater in the mornings (it was 68 last week — positively chilly for Phoenix). I’ve stopped using the A/C in the car all the time, opting for fresh air from open windows, and I was completely taken aback at what I’d been missing all summer… Continue reading

Justine: Fiction as Reference Books

eight ladies writing, justine covington, writing fiction, romanceWe Ladies seem to have fallen into a book theme this week (we swear it was unplanned), starting last Friday with Kat’s post about one of her favorite authors, Jilly’s about reader reviews, and Nancy’s post yesterday, where she shared some of her favorite novels.

Today, I’m talking about fiction as reference books.

Naturally, I don’t mean “reference” as in something scholarly that you’d use for your PhD dissertation (although I’m sure you can do that); I’m talking more about using fiction as a reference for what you should — and shouldn’t — do when writing. Continue reading

Justine: Two Steps Forward, Twenty-three Steps Back

margie lawson, EDITS, justine covington, eight ladies writing, writing

A pretty heaving editing job on one of my scenes.

Take a look at that image to the left. Go ahead…click on it. Make it BIG. I’ll wait.

Done looking? Tell me, does it look familiar? Well, not familiar in that you wrote it or anything, but familiar with all the scratch-ups, rewrites, highlights, arrows, lines, numbers, and copy editing symbols? I’m going to assume, even if you don’t edit on paper like I do, that your answer is Continue reading