Oh the Pain

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SnoopyWriting“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
― Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

If you’ve ever had the urge to write and get a story out of your system or tell the world about an important topic, then you know the pain. The ideas of your untold story ruminate inside you until the urge to share overwhelms you. You do have a choice. You must sit down and write.

Crafting Stories

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I am in the thick of crafting a story. Some days I make a lot of progress. My characters respond. The plot flows like a mighty river. Other days the characters fall flat and the plot gets twisted and hard to understand. And I’m writing children’s books. Writing adult fiction must be a brutal process to wade through.

Yet this is the writing process — full of twists and turns and insurmountable challenges. I love it!

Here are a few meaningful quotes that keep me moving past my first and second drafts to the final copy. I hope they speak to you.

“Plot is people. Human emotions and desires founded on the realities of life, working at cross purposes, getting hotter and fiercer as they strike against each other until finally there’s an explosion—that’s Plot.”
Leigh Brackett, WD

“The first sentence can’t be written until the final sentence is written.”
Joyce Carol Oates, WD

Book Ideas

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What book are you currently working on? When I get a new idea for a story, I get pretty excited. Fresh ideas are hard to generate and even more difficult to write.

I start the writing process and get through a few chapters and bam! — my story begins to take shape. I usually get to the middle or to a plotting problem before I start to look at other books in the genre I am writing. I wait because I don’t want to be influenced before my idea takes shape.

I go on Amazon.com or some other book publishing site and search. I am trying to find out if my idea is, first of all, similar in some way to other books. I am also looking for originality within that genre. Does my book pose some new question or idea that is unique. Since most writing ideas are just the same old stories retold with a twist, I have no problem finding similar stories. But all writers are always trying to share something new with their readers. That’s when it happens, I get re-inspired and the real work begins.

My new book idea is about … well, a stick boy and stick girl named Dot and Scribble. I love symbolic or literal names that make me think and re-think. The concept for the story is “what would happen if things that were drawn could come to life?” Think about it. Pictures do stir our memories. They do stretch our imaginations and inspire us. My idea is about that. I am just starting, and the story has already gone through several rewrites, but I’m making progress. 

I thought I’d share some of the other books out there that have similar themes to mine. They have really captured my interest.

Harold and the Purple Crayon is a 1955 children’s book by Crockett Johnson. Johnson’s most popular book led to a series of books, and many adaptations.

Harold and the Purple Crayon (book).jpgThe protagonist, Harold, is a curious four-year-old boy who, with his purple crayon, has the power to create a world of his own simply by drawing it.

Harold wants to go for a walk in the moonlight, but there is no moon, so he draws one. He has nowhere to walk, so he draws a path. He has many adventures looking for his room. In the end he draws his own house and bed and goes to sleep.

 

 

Rewriting Your Story

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“Good stories are not written. They are rewritten.” Phyllis Whitney

“The first draft is a skeleton….just bare bones.

The rest of the story comes later with revising.” Judy Blume 

Judy Blume knows a lot about writing for children and understands that revising is part of the writing process. Do check out her site as she has a lot to offer new writers.

The topic today is revision or rewriting. From books for the very young to fiction for adults. All writers share one common practice–rewriting. I have learned this first hand with the publication of my new book Stink Bomb.

Telling you that a book must be rewritten, revised, edited, etc. is one thing. Doing the hard work of rearranging the words is another task entirely. Revising seems like a daunting task, but in the end the well crafted manuscript is worth the effort.

Elmore Leonard put it this way- “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”

In my book Stink Bomb, the rewriting process meant seeing the story more clearly through the main character’s point of view. Often, that’s what the process of rewriting entails–following yourPOV character more closely as they wander through each of your scenes. Revising can also mean removing a minor character, changing the setting, or making the dialogue sound more relevant for your audience. Revising usually means cutting parts of a story as well.

A tip if you’re about to do some rework on your current novel or essay. Print it out, grab some colorful pens, and go to a different location. In other words, get out of your normal work environment as you attempt to look at your writing piece with fresh eyes.

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Writing and Rewriting, Revising and Editing

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“Good stories are not written. They are rewritten.” Phyllis Whitney

“The first draft is a skeleton….just bare bones.

The rest of the story comes later with revising.” Judy Blume 

Judy Blume knows a lot about writing for children and understands that revising is part of the writing process. Do check out her site as she has a lot to offer new writers.

The topic today is revision or rewriting. From books for the very young to fiction for adults. All writers share one common practice–rewriting. I have learned this first hand with the publication of my new book Stink Bomb.

Telling you that a book must be rewritten, revised, edited, etc. is one thing. Doing the hard work of rearranging the words is another task entirely. Revising seems like a daunting task, but in the end the well crafted manuscript is worth the effort.

Elmore Leonard put it this way- “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”

In my book Stink Bomb, the rewriting process meant seeing the story more clearly through the main character’s point of view. Often, that’s what the process of rewriting entails–following your POV character more closely as they wander through each of your scenes. Revising can also mean removing a minor character, changing the setting, or making the dialogue sound more relevant for your audience. Revising usually means cutting parts of a story as well.

A tip if you’re about to do some rework on your current novel or essay. Print it out, grab some colorful pens, and go to a different location. In other words, get out of your normal work environment as you attempt to look at your writing piece with fresh eyes.

 

10 Ways to Start Your Story

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“… To craft a compelling story, you must first launch it in the right direction.” Jacob M. Appel

Here are the next items in the 10 ways to start your story.

6. Start with a minor mystery. 
While you don’t want to confuse your readers, presenting them with a puzzle can be highly effective—particularly if the narrator is also puzzled. This has the instant effect of making the reader and narrator partners in crime.

7. Keep talk to a minimum. 
If you feel compelled to begin a story with dialogue, keep in mind that you’re thrusting your readers directly into a maelstrom in which it’s easy to lose them. One possible way around this is to begin with a single line of dialogue and then to draw back and to offer additional context before proceeding with the rest of the conversation—a rare instance in which starting close up and then providing a panorama sometimes works.

8. Be mindful of what works. 
Once you’ve given some concentrated thought to your own opening line, obtain copies of anthologies like The Best American Short Stories and The PEN/OHenry Prize Stories and read only the first sentence of each story. As with any other aspect of writing, openings are their own distinct art form—and exposure to the masterwork of others is one of the best ways to learn.

9. When in doubt, test several options. 
Writers are often advised to make a short list of titles and try them out on friends and family. Try doing the same with opening sentences.

10. Revisit the beginning once you reach the end. 
Sometimes a story evolves so significantly during the writing process that an opening line, no matter how brilliant, no longer applies to the story that follows. The only way to know this is to reconsider the opening sentence, like the title, once the final draft of the story is complete. Often a new opening is called for.

Needless to say, a brilliant opening line cannot salvage a story that lacks other merits, nor will your story be accepted for publication based on the opening alone.

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