Jilly: Too Many Dogs

Do your favorite authors have signature metaphors? Do you?

I’ve just finished working through my developmental edit on The Seeds of Power (yay!). Among many other smart observations and suggestions from my editor, Karen Dale Harris, I was surprised to find this comment: You use metaphors with dogs a lot. Do a search for “dog” and try to vary this.

My reaction: I do? Dogs? I don’t even have a dog. And no dog plays a significant part in this book. Really?

A search revealed the following:

  • The man was like a fighting dog. Once he sank his teeth into a problem, he never let go.
  • Her whole body came to attention, like a hunting dog on point.
  • Captain Randsen’s hackles rose like a well-trained fighting dog.
  • The prince was dressed and waiting. Soft boots, loose overshirt and trousers, and the ill-contained impatience of a dog who’d been promised a walk, despite the fact that the lad probably hadn’t gone to bed until the small hours.
  • Daire said nothing, but if he’d been a dog, his ears would have pricked up.
  • He put his enforced inactivity to good use, worrying at his mission like a dog with a sore paw.
  • Oriel had described her as a strong ruler, politically astute, fiercely protective of her family and their domain. Again, nothing to set the dogs howling.
  • She had the Hollin deep blue eyes and challenging stare, and she looked at him as though he’d thrown her pet lapdog to the hounds for a snack.

Yikes! Dogs, dogs, everywhere, and I hadn’t even noticed.

I’ve fixed it, but I wonder what else I write without realizing. And I’m even more convinced that quality editing is money well spent.

Do you, or your favorite authors, have a go-to metaphor? Or is it just me?

Elizabeth: There’s No Comparison

ComparisonQuote_Blog2

I came across this old post the other day and thought it was both a timely reminder and a message worth re-sharing.

It’s easy to fall into the comparison trap. I’ll be heading off to RWA nationals soon and, although I’ll undoubtedly come back with a lot of useful information and a renewed commitment to my writing, it’s very likely that I’ll also come back with thoughts of “I’ll never write as many books as Author X” and “I’m not nearly as far along in my writing career as Author Y.”   It doesn’t help when I see notes from ghost-writer friends about their 10,000 word days or how they drafted out a book in a week.  Though I intellectually know better, and it tends to take the shine off my own progress, it is regrettably easy to do.

“Comparison is the thief of joy” ~ Theodore Roosevelt

Continue reading

Elizabeth: Back to Basics – Starting a “New” Story

Stories Yet To Be WrittenA few weeks ago I mentioned that I was trying to decide wether to keep plugging away on the current manuscripts I have in process or to call it a day and get on with my (writing) life.

The part of me that felt I was trapped in revision paralysis was all for “let’s build a bonfire / I’ll get the matches.”  The part of me that never stopped reading a book partway through (until Madame Bovary), was more “quitter, quitter, quitter.”

A conundrum, indeed.

Fortunately, I think I’ve come up with a solution that pleases no one combines the two options.  I’m taking one of my three manuscripts and starting it all over from scratch.

Sounds like fun, right?  No?  Well, it was Jilly’s idea. Continue reading

Kay: The Plot Thickens

Photo: The Harris Poll

It’s always something. Just a few days ago, Jeanne talked about how she used enneagrams to clarify who her characters are, because she thought they weren’t behaving consistently. I usually have a pretty good grip on my characters right from the start—that’s almost always why I write a story to begin with. Somebody out there speaks up.

My problem is plot. And conflict. Which, if I had enough conflict, I’d have more plot. It’s a vicious cycle.

A few months ago, when I was ready to start a new project, I didn’t have any new ideas. Nobody spoke to me, demanding to be put on a page. The girls in the basement didn’t send anybody up. So I decided to write a story that’s been noodling around in my brain for a few years. It would be the continuation of a two-book FBI series, of which the second book was finished in 2012. Continue reading

Kay: Quiz for Y’all: Must I Show the Wedding?

Dear readers, I need your help again. I have finished book three of my interminable trilogy about Phoebe and her steadfast beau. Brimming with triumph, I showed the final two chapters to my critique group last night, and…they didn’t like it.

Here’s their problem. After three books of Phoebe’s not being ready to get married, now finally at the end of book three, she’s ready. Our hero has a Plan, and she says, surprise me.

The surprise is taking all the book’s characters back to Las Vegas, the city where they met, where they will be married in the wedding chapel by the people who first employed Phoebe when she arrived in Vegas at the start of book one. (Now they live in Washington, D.C.) The final scene of book three is everybody just boarded the plane, ready to rest up from the vigorous trials of the day before and me tying up loose ends. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Muffling the Inner Critic

Okay, technically I’m not suggesting you go out and get drunk as part of your daily writing practice (unless you want to, of course, or you’re channeling Hemmingway), but there is a nugget of wisdom in the quote above.

It has been suggested a time or two, by people who know me, that with the addition of a little alcohol (a modest amount, not a “hold my hair while I retch” amount), I’m ever-so-slightly more charming and delightful.  I’m not much of a drinker, so just a small amount goes a long way toward giving the world a happy / soft-focus appearance and making stress and worry step back a bit.  It also does a great job silencing that inner voice that always seems to be worried about saying something dumb or doing something embarrassing.

When it comes to writing, your version of “drunk” may mean kicking off your process by listening to your favorite playlist, relaxing in a warm bubble bath, or doing a little mind-clearing meditation.  Whatever helps you get your mind in the story, and drowns out that voice that insists on judging every word you put on the page, is a good thing.

I’m out of bubble bath, but I’ve got a nice bottle of port in the kitchen, so I’m going give it a try (for research purposes, of course).  If it doesn’t help me get some words on the page, at least I’m likely to get a good night’s sleep.

So, what ways have you found to silence your inner critic so can focus on getting words on the page?

Kay: Hitting a Wall

I’d been progressing well on the WIP, galloping along at what for me is top speed, until this week, when I hit a wall. I’d written through my first act and was heading into the second, otherwise known as the Middle. And in my case, although barely begun, the Sagging Middle.

I queried my critique partners, who are only too familiar with the problems of Phoebe and her errant friends and fiancé. What to do? I asked. Within minutes, I got a reply.

What’s your story question? Patricia asked.

Ah, yes. What was my story question?

It’s not good if you don’t know your story question. A person can go down a lot of rabbit holes if she doesn’t know what she wants to say. Continue reading