Nancy: Week 3 of the Plan: Applying the Math

The good news: the math required to build your writing schedule will be much easier than this!

The good news: the math required to build your writing schedule will be much easier than this!

What I’m about to tell you could get my ‘writer card’ revoked, but I’m going to say it anyway. I love math. I love the elegance of a descriptive equation and the joy of solving a complex problem. And spreadsheets with built-in math functions – you know how I love  spreadsheets! So this week as we discuss our Big Plan for writing, we’re going to break it down with some fundamental math. But not to worry if you’re not a math geek. There will be no hard problems, no pop quizzes, and not even spreadsheets (unless you really want them).

In week 1 of the plan, we discussed setting writing goals and aspirations for a year or two or five. (Improving craft and/or publishing? Traditional, self, or hybrid publishing? Novels, novellas, short stories? Series or standalones?) In week 2 of the plan, we started looking at the building blocks necessary to reach those goals and laying them out on a high-level schedule of weeks or months per task, considering all the steps that go into creating a book, the additional steps and time required for self-publishing, and the mysterious black hole that is the timeline for traditional publishing.

At that time, I asked you to think as objectively and critically as you could about your own capabilities in meeting your schedule, and cautioned you to pad that sucker like an Olympic fencer. This week, let’s take a look at a week-by-week approach to writing, apply our metrics, and figure out if the math works. Sounds like fun, right? Trust me, it won’t be as painful as you think. Continue reading

Nancy: Week 1 of the Plan: The Big Picture

Woman With a PlanA few weeks ago here at 8LW, I threw out a challenge to come back to the blog over the next few months to work out and discuss writing plans and goals not just for your current WIP or the next few months, but for the next year or two (or five). This week, we’re going to start that exercise by going big.

Like many of us, you might tend to keep your head down, focus on the WIP in front of you, and if you’re feeling particularly well-organized, set a deadline for yourself to finish it. This is a good and noble thing. This might be the only plan you need right now. But today  I encourage to step back from the WIP and think about the big picture. For the moment, let’s just call it your writing career, or at least the next few years of it.

Question and Explore. What is your ‘place’, your destination? Where do you want to be as a writer and a creative soul a year from now? Two years? Five? Before you answer, take some time to really consider this. Drill down into this goal. Let each question you answer lead to more questions. Continue reading

Justine: Fiction Fundamentals, Part 2: Character Motivation

motivationLast time in Part 1 of Fiction Fundamentals I discussed a character’s Goal…the “what” of what they want to do in your story.

This installment is about your character’s motivation: the “why.”

Let’s look back at a few goals from books/movies I discussed last time:

  • She wants to go to the ball (Cinderella)
  • He wants to defeat Voldemort (Harry Potter)
  • She wants to return home (The Wizard of Oz)
  • He wants to return to earth after being stranded on Mars (The Martian)
  • She wants to quit being a prostitute (Pretty Woman)

For each of these, we want to know why. Why does Harry Potter want to defeat Voldemort? Why does Dorothy want to return home? Why does Vivian want to quit being a prostitute?

Their motivation is why. It gives the reader (or viewer) the reason for their goal. It helps us understand the importance and urgency and determination behind the goal. A good way to figure out the motivation is Continue reading

Justine: Fiction Fundamentals Part 1: Goals

Welcome to the first of at least a 10-part series on Fiction Fundamentals (referred to a week ago as Back to Basics, but Elizabeth has already trademarked that!). Over the next several weeks, I and a few guests will be discussing things new writers should consider when writing a novel. While having a great idea is certainly top on the list, there are many other topics writers should work on nailing down to make their novel strong….and salable.

goals arrowThis week’s topic: Goals (not yours…your character’s)

If you’ve attended any writing workshops at all, it’s likely you’ve heard many people talk about your character’s goals. They need to be good. They need to be strong. But how do you know if they are?

Your character’s goal is the very essence of their part of the story. It is why they’re part of it. Each of your major characters (protag, antag, love interest — which may sometimes be one in the same) should have a goal. There are two types of goals to create for your characters: 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

Justine: The GMC, Ma’am, Just the GMC

conflict, gmc, debra dixon, goal, motivation, conflictSo I’ve been in judging hell this week. Last week, I’d spent a bunch of time totaling scores for the contest I’ve been managing…this past week, I’ve been reading paranormal entries for the 2015 Golden Heart (the “Oscars” for unpublished romance writers).

Elizabeth wrote in this post about some recurring items that pulled her out of the story (poor grammar/misspellings, not following rules, starting at the right place, etc.).

For me, there was one BIG issue that hit me over and over again on the poorly written entries. It’s something I admittedly didn’t know much about (at a conscious level, anyway) before I started writing, but I’m glad I learned about it. Those of you just jumping onto this writing wagon would do well to learn it yourself: Continue reading