Justine: The Truth, the Whole Truth, or Something Else?

fear of resultsSo I’ve enrolled in yet another class (I swear, what am I doing? I should be writing!) and since it started, something’s been bothering me.

One of the requirements is to give feedback to our fellow classmates (who, aside from my critique partner, are all strangers to me writing every variety of fiction under the sun). I’m noticing what I think is an unhealthy trend and I’m not sure if I should give in to it.

The trend? My classmates are going really easy on their critiques, IMHO. As in ridiculously easy. Whereas they make a few minor corrections and heap praise on the writer, I bleed all over their pages, praising when it’s deserved, of course, but always leaving several suggestions or bullet points at the end of their piece.

Perhaps I’m a harder reader than most.

But really, what is the point of a critique? In my view, 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: Foreshadowing

sons of anarchy poster

Sons of Anarchy (c) 2008 FX

I’m not much of a TV person. There are a few shows I’ve gotten into over the years, but for the most part, it takes quite a bit to keep my attention.

My husband is the total opposite.

The latest show he’s started watching is Sons of Anarchy. He asked me to watch the pilot episode with him and I agreed. I’d heard lots of good things about the show and there was certainly a lot of stir among my friends on Facebook when the series wrapped up.

That first episode lived up to expectations, but for one glaring thing: the blatant foreshadowing that I picked up on almost immediately. In a way, it’s almost ruined the show for me, because I was 99% sure I was right (and my good friend, who’s seen all 7 seasons, confirmed my suspicions). Why bother watching now that I know this major plot piece that will shake everything up?

All of this begs the question: what makes good foreshadowing?

In his post on the importance of foreshadowing, Larry Brooks of StoryFix 2.0 describes it as Continue reading

Elizabeth: I’m Sensing I Need Some Help Here

visualizeJustine’s post on the five senses yesterday was very timely, as that is a topic that has been on my mind recently. Like several of the other ladies, I entered a few contests this year and, as part of my revision process, I’ve spent the last week or so sifting through the feedback I received from them.

As one would expect, based on the wide range of readers there are out there, the judges’ reactions to the story vary greatly – some love it (like the judge who requested a full), some find it merely tolerable, and the rest fall somewhere in the middle. I can’t do a lot with conflicting feedback Continue reading

Nancy: In Praise of the Brief Synopsis (and How to Write Yours)

Tell me your story...in a few words.

Tell me your story…in a few words.

For most of us writers, there comes a time in our lives when we have to face the music, pull up our big-person pants, and take on a terrible task: writing a brief synopsis of our work. This is not to be confused with the long synopsis (5-10 single-spaced pages). This is the brief synopsis. One to two single-spaced pages. About 500-1,000 words. In which to summarize your 100,00-word work of genius. Yikes.

Today I’m going to discuss how to make the brief synopsis your friend. Okay, friend might be a bit strong. But it’s quite possible it’s going to be a necessary evil at some point in your writing life, if you plan to submit work to agents or editors, or to enter your work in contests. So I’ll share some ‘synopsis hacks’ that can make the process less painful, and possibly even worthwhile. I’m even going to suggest Continue reading

Jilly: Learning to Listen

Learning to ListenDo you get good, actionable feedback, on your writing or your career or any other aspect of your life? Do you make the best possible use of it?

I’m writing this post a little ahead of time; by the time you read it I should be comfortably settled at Justine’s house with all the 8 Ladies except Michaeline, who’ll be joining us from Japan via Skype. We’ll be congratulating, commiserating, planning, critiquing, brainstorming, writing, talking about writing, and generally having a fabulous time.

Some of the Ladies will have concrete goals for our writing retreat. I’m taking a looser approach. I’m sure I’m going to get a lot out of my trip to Arizona, and I think I’ll get the most by casting my net as widely as possible. Jeanne and Michaeline have already given me some fantastic feedback on Dealing With McKenzie, and I’ll be squirreling away any other comments, good and bad. I’ll be asking questions and brainstorming Cam and Mary’s story, but I suspect I’ll get my best ideas from talking about the other Ladies’ books. I’m also going on a side trip with Kay and Kat, and who knows what that will bring?

One of the big lessons I learned Continue reading

Nancy: Character Redux

Casting Call for Your Novel

Last week, I discussed character appearance/description and the lack thereof in my WIP. Of course, as with any other aspect of reading, the amount of description a reader wants to see is based on personal preference, and even among the Ladies here, we have a wide range of opinions. But we weren’t the only ones thinking about writing characters this past week.

Over at ArghInk, as part of her Questionable series, Jenny Crusie answered a question from friend of 8LW, Deb Blake, about building in-depth characters. (I love this series. Basically, if Jenny is talking about craft, I’m listening!) Jenny talked about creating characters with length (character arc) and depth (the way the details of her life reflect that arc). 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

Justine: 6 Colors to a Better Book?

justine covington, margie lawson, eight ladies writingRecently, I was looking for information on the web related to taking my writing to the next level — the third-and-hopefully-final revision level. I’ve written the first draft. I’m working on the second draft. What I feel I need help with, though, is the third (and beyond) draft. The one that really amps up my writing, makes it un-put-down-able, and a winner (hopefully for not only scoring an agent/contract, but also the coveted “Golden Heart” award for unpublished authors given each year by RWA).

One of the sites I stumbled upon is Continue reading

Justine: Throwing a Rock

justine covington, eight ladies writing, jennifer crusie, sarah macleanBack in the McDaniel days, Jenny Cruise once told us a story about a book she was writing that wasn’t working. She had her friend Lani Diane Rich read it, who said the main character, Liz, just observed other characters’ problems; she didn’t have any of her own. Lani suggested that Jenny throw a rock at her character, figuratively speaking. Jenny decided to write that into the book, almost as a joke, and it ended up becoming a key scene:

“I took another step and then something definitely moved in the dark at the side of the house.  It was just a shape in the shadows, but it was there.

“Hey!” I said, and started toward it, and something came winging out of the dark and landed in the dirt beside the walk.  “Hey!” I yelled and bent over to see what it was, and about the time I registered that it was a rock from my mother’s rock garden, something smacked me hard on the temple and the lights went out.”

I’m in need of a big rock and I think I figured out where to throw it: Continue reading