Friday, October 29, 2010

Chapter vs. Scene

What is the difference between a chapter and a scene?

While reading Robert McKee's "Story" I found that having each scene negatively/positively charged and altering is a key to a successful story. However, his book is geared towards screenwriting, not novel writing. That led to the question: What is the difference between a scene and a chapter?

I have read books where each chapter is a new scene and others where it takes several chapters to get through a full scene. So then, what should I do? For my first novel I have chosen to make each chapter a new scene. I'm not sure how that will work out when I begin to submit it, but it's good for me for now. At the end of the novel I do employ the several chapters to finish out a whole scene. Or could this just be the scene sequence McKee talks about?

Unfortunately for me McKee is writing about screenplays and not novels. This just seems to be a hurdle I have yet to jump. I am currently reading a book that uses both methods currently. I hope that by the time I finish writing my novel I will feel more comfortable with this issue.

What are your thoughts on scenes and chapters? Should each scene be a chapter in itself or should a scene play out over several chapters?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

How to Write a Novel?

The big question us non-published authors seem to obsess over: How to write a novel?

When I decided to write that big novel I started writing it. Then it hit me I didn't know what
I was doing. I looked up "how to write a novel" on Google.

The first thing that pops up is The Snowflake Method. Don't get me wrong when I say huh? If I even tried to use this method I'd be burned out and uninterested in whatever it was that sparked my imagination. It's similar to what I did on my first novel, which is currently being shelved for a later time. I got too obsessed over what to do I didn't just do it.

How often have you read an article or interview where an author said it took two years to write their breakout novel? I have all too often. So the next link had me laughing. How to write a novel in 100 days or less. Okay, for those of you who are like me and writing your first novel this looks wonderful. But with the first day you're doing nothing more than making a promise to write that novel. The second you're carving out time in your already hectic schedule to write. Hmm? Flipping from day to day I found that most of this is simply little tips of encouragement. Where's the how to? Oh well, so much for a plan.

WikiHow even has a site on How to Write a Novel. This is helpful, if you just decided today that you are going to start. It only gives the basic tips. Sound tips, but basic.

About.com even has a similar How to Write a Novel site. Helpful, but very basic. Possibly more basic than WikiHow. Not a lot of help.

My favorite online How to Write a Novel is a blog entry by author Justine Larbalestier. This is probably the most sound information I have found so far. I highly suggest reading her blog post.

So much for having lots of helpful online sites. The most popular ones that pop up aren't really that much help after all. Out of five sites only one was really helpful to me.

What sites have you found helpful?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

Taking a break

Okay, so I've been writing and rewriting this novel for over a year now. I think it's time to put some distance between us. I'm not getting really anywhere with it at the moment. Other than irritated that I'm not already where I want to be with it.

So, after a little thought I've shelved it for the moment. Yes, I do intend on pulling it back off the shelf and working on it eventually. But for the moment I have decided to continue writing, just on a different project. Or more like two different projects.

First, I have a story that I would love to get into novel form and out of my mind and onto paper. As of this writing I am six chapters deep. And ... I feel great about where I'm going with this one. My last project I obsessed about the outline and sticking to the outline - I almost felt like I was pushing the story line. And that's the last thing I want to do. This time I'm going with the flow and write what I'm feeling at the moment. Yes, I am working off the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet, but it's open for changes. I am also using different points that Robert McKee uses in his "Story." This one feels much better to me.

Second, I have a blog that I am working on short stories for. I will begin posting them I think in November. I have two shorts written, but would like to start posting once I have about six written. That gives me time to work on more - I don't want to feel forced to write a short story for a deadline. As of now I am thinking I will post two shorts a month. That is unless I get really into it and begin spitting out stories like mad.

Third, I am working on a contest for my short story blog. I'd like to do a contest for Christmas and giveaway a book or two. Of course that is given that I have followers on that blog by then. I am enlisting my daughter and her friends to spread the word about the blog to get followers. lol

Fourth, this blog. I have to get more blogs written on this one, but I'm not sure what to write about yet. I have to come up with some more ideas and get cracking.

Until next time - Have an ecstatic day!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

Outline vs. No Outline

I read a tweet the other day in which the tweeter asked if anyone else created their outline only after they had written their work. I wondered how many people actually do this. For me that is only a problem. I like knowing where my book is going. It keeps me more focused.

I tend to spend more time actually writing than worrying about what to write and if it will work when I have an outline. Of course, my outline is fluid. It is a mere path by which I tend to stray from occasionally. And for me that is alright.

However, the more I have pondered this topic over the last several days. I have begun to wonder if I could write a novel without creating an outline first. As I've said in an earlier post I use note cards for my outline. I think if I write a novel without an outline, I may have to create it as I go. I like to go back and forth between negative/positively charged scenes. I don't know any other way to keep it all together and organized. Without the organization I fear I will fail miserably. Although, maybe it will be my best story ever.

What are your thoughts on outlining?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Quote #9

"If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it." ~ Toni Morrison

Friday, October 15, 2010

Character Names

It's all in a name. Have you ever noticed how people just are their names? My husband and I struggled over what to name our son. He wanted our son to be named after him and his father. I wanted something different and cool sounding. In the end I caved and our son is a third. Now 10 months later watching him play I can't imagine calling him the other name I so wanted. That name just isn't him - his name suits him perfect.

The same thing goes with my characters. I am so funny that I not only have their first names, but I also give each individual one a middle name and last name - even if it never comes out in the book. It's part of creating a real life character. How many people do you know that only have a first name? I'm suspecting that number is close to zero.

I have had names picked out for my protagonist and her counterparts for well over a year. Recently, I read a blurb someone wrote about another book written by another author. It's a book I'd like to read. Problem is one of her main characters has a very similar name to my protagonist. ACK! I nearly fell over.

Since then I have opened my mind to changing my protagonist's name. So, what's the big idea you might ask? Her name suits her already in my mind. At the same time I can't give her a name that is so similar to an already published characters name. I've decided that for the moment I will continue to use the name I gave her. When I edit my story, just before I submit it, I will again look at her name and see if there is anything else I like better.

How do you come up with your characters' names?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Monday, October 11, 2010

What to write?

Okay, so I'm working on my first novel. It's a young adult novel and I hope to have it published. That said, I have several other ideas swirling around in my head at this time as well. They won't go away. Of those, two are really fighting to get their stories told. I also love to write short stories. Obviously I also have a blog.

So, in comes the question: What to write?

Do I work on my current novel? Do I work on outlining my other novels? Do I work on my blogs? Do I work on a short story? Hmmm?????? What to write?

Yesterday I chose to work on designing my blog schedule. I picked out quotes, pictures, and topics to write about. Today I uploaded and scheduled all of my pictures for October, as well as all of my quotes for both October and November. Now I'm working on writing and scheduling my actual blogs. Whoa! What a morning. I'm only four deep so far. I have a long way to go.

At the same time I'm still itching to get to all of the other writing projects I have. Too bad I can only work on one thing at a time.

I would like to start my second novel soon. As I write my first novel I am also working on outlining my second novel. Little by little is my newest motto.

Usually whatever is most on my mind is what I deal with. Today it was the fact that I didn't have a blog written and scheduled for the next posting. I had to get it done! Now I'm on a roll writing blogs.

Until next time have an excellent day!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Quote #8

"I'm not a very good writer, but I'm an excellent rewriter." ~ James Michener

Friday, October 8, 2010

My Outlining Process

What to write and when to write it? All in the name of a good story. This is where I had a difficult time. There are so many things to take into consideration.

How long do you want the story to be?

What types of encounters do you want to include?

From start to finish, how long does the story take?

These were all my main questions when I wrote my first draft of my outline. I thought without one I would surely fail. I worried over an outline that was so in detail it went on for pages and pages. Then I scrapped it halfway through the writing process to create a smaller, less detailed, outline. I rewrote my entire outline after finishing the story. I decided that after all of that I wasn't as happy with what I had written as I had hoped to be.

That was when I read "Story" by Robert McKee. That's when I had to take into consideration the positive and negative charges of scenes (or chapters). I had never thought about this. Or thought about the many other terms and guidelines he lays out in his book.

I redid my outline.

Instead of my story taking place over several months it now takes place over only a few weeks. This prompted me to take out the Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas scenes.

Instead of writing out my outline on my computer I carried around note cards for several days. Each chapter (or scene) goes on a separate note card. If the first chapter starts out positive, it ends negative. As a result the second chapter must start out negative and end positive. I continue with this up/down method until I get to the end. The stakes get more difficult as I go. In a way the noose gets tighter around the protagonists neck as the story progresses until finally she overcomes the hurdle of the story.

Then as I write I use the note cards to make sure I have hit all the points I want to hit. To make sure that the positive/negative charges fluctuate throughout the story. So far I am halfway through my story and this note card method is working great.

I also have yet another story I am working on without using an outline at all. I have decided to use Blake Snyder's "Beat Sheet" and fill it in as I go. It's a bit scary, but I am determined to see where it takes me.

How do you outline?

Monday, October 4, 2010

My "Writing Bible"

So, I heard recently all writers should have a "Bible." I never thought of it that way, but I guess that's what I have. I carry it everywhere when I'm writing. It followed me to Texas this past summer and even follows me from room to room in my house depending on where I'm writing at the moment. Yes, I love my laptop. It can go anywhere!

My "Writing Bible" is almost stuffed. I'm sure I'm going to need to upgrade to a larger binder very soon. As of this moment it consists of a 1" binder full of everything pertaining to my story. I have a character sheet for every single character in my story. I have my own version of Blake Snyder's "Beat Sheet" and a quick over view of what I want to happen in my story. Then I have notes, random notes. Sometimes I will think of something I want to do later on in the story or fix. That goes into the random notes.

I have a map of my town included. Silly enough I even have a house plan I copied out of a house plans book for my main character. I'll never get lost in her house! As I finish chapters I will print them out. I think it helps when I have to do revisions. I can read through what I wrote and then comment to myself in the margins. Later, I can do the actual revisions on the computer.

So, that's my "Writing Bible." What's yours like?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Quote #7

"The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say." ~ Anais Nin

Friday, October 1, 2010

"Do I have to have dialog?"

I recently asked myself this very question.

"Why of course you do?" I countered myself, "How else are you going to bring your characters to life and give them (and the plot) dimension.

I just really feel like I am lacking in the dialog skills department. I have found in the past that I tend to struggle with what I want my characters to say and how they need to be talking to each other for the reading audience to visualize what I have already visualized in my mind. In recent days I have come to the conclusion that I must just get something out of their mouths and onto the paper. I can always edit and make it better.

Speaking of, this is where studying comes into play. I love to read. Reading other works is a great way to learn how to write dialog. I look at other authors who have managed to write dialog throughout their books. I mean think about it. How could you get through your day without talking to others? I couldn't. So, I look to see how they portray things and make note of it. It's a great tool.

But, I have to keep in mind that no matter what I write, it has to be in my protagonists voice. Not mine. Therefore, I have to figure out how she thinks. Likewise, if I am writing dialog I have to write the other characters' dialog from their perspective. This is where I get confused. I end up switching back and forth from perspectives and occasionally they get all mangled together. Editing, editing, editing!

I love editing!

Until next time have a wonderful day!