Camp NaNoWriMo-July Edition

I have given this a lot of thought and I have decided to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo, which is starting in 2 days! Ahh Panic!

I have the first act outlined and I haven’t decided if I’m going to outline the rest of the story. Usually when I outline the entire book I end up changing my mind or the characters are pulling me in a different direction. So I decided to do something different.

The story I am working on is a romantic suspense about former high school sweethearts who love danger a litte too much. It’s told through dual POV. I know its pretty vague. But I’m still working out the specifics.

I’m excited and worried it blow up in my face. But I believe that is quite normal for any writer embarking on a new story.

Anyone  else participating? If so, whats your story about?

Lets be Cabin Mates! Username: samanthascribbles

Learn more about Camp NaNoWriMo:

http://campnanowrimo.org/

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Characters Are People Not Robots

A couple of months ago, I had been reading over a novel I had written last year. I wanted to see if I would be able to save it or if was really dead. As I was reading, I noticed that my characters sounded like robots. There was no real reaction to the events that happened to them and when they did react it was too much. I couldn’t believe that I had done this. Was this something I could fix? I believe this situation happens to a lot of new and seasoned writers especially when you write a quick and dirty first draft. The problem was there were no sequels. Let me first explain what scenes and sequels are. If scenes are where the action happens, sequels are where the reaction happens.

So how do I fix this:

  1. Take a deep breath. If you’re like me you’re probably threatening to rip up your novel and cursing the gods for giving you such a dump idea. Chill out. This is totally fixable. All you need is some patience.
  2. Section off each scene. I usually print out the entire story and then separate it into smaller sections. For example Chapter 1 Scene 1. But this can be accomplished on scrivener or Word as well.
  3. Make a Goal, Motivation, Conflict chart for each protagonist if you don’t already have one. I even make a GMC for the antagonist as well. Make sure you take your time on this. It’s easy to just rush through this step just so you can get back to your story. This is the most important item to not make characters sound like robots. Believe me I tried to fix sequels without this and failed terribly. Knowing character’s GMC’s will help create the correct emotion you need.
  4. Go through each scene with your GMC charts and add the correct reaction to every event. This will take time so be patient. Remember Deep Breaths. I usually find that when I add sequels I try to make them short and sweet because I tend to add too much of a reaction. If they need to be longer I will add more detail. I usually like to show my characters struggling with a decision caused by the event that happened previously. I feel like this creates tension.
  5. For sequels that are too long. Trim them. Get to the meat of the reaction and move on to the action.

How do you fix sequels?

The Importance of the Meet Cute and Five Tips to Create a Unique One

I never thought I would fall in love with the romance genre until I started my internship. Before, I viewed romance as weeping women and Fabio’s coming in to save them but that is just one spectrum of the genre. But I slowly realized I had been in love with it all along. Hadn’t I swooned over books because of the romance? No, I had never written a romance novel but hadn’t almost every story I had written included a romance plot line.

Out of all the stories I have read during my internship, the ones that stick out to me are the ones that have interesting Meet Cutes. Granted there is more a book must have to make it good but when I see a meet cute I like that usually is a step in the right direction. Before I go any further let me explain what exactly a meet cute is. It’s when the two love interests meet each other. Simple, right? But it’s surprising how many authors miss out on the chance to make their work stand out from the rest by making the most out of this moment. Most meet cutes are too boring or way over the top that it’s hard for me to suspend my disbelief.

This is such an important detail that now I take time out to think about my meet cutes before I even start drafting. Many of the submissions I read, the couple meets at a bar or party, which is fine. I think a lot people meet their potentials mates at bars. Or in my case potential disasters. But after reading the same thing over and over they all seem to blur together.

So how do you make a meet cute that stands out from the rest of the crowd? Here are five tips I use:

  1. Choose a location wisely. If there are a lot of people at the location, seclude the couple. The reason bar scenes don’t work is because there are too many people being introduced. As a reader, I don’t want Jane and Joe friends names shoved down my throat when I haven’t even gotten to know them yet.
  1. Let them meet early in the story, preferably the first scene/chapter in a romance. In other genres there is more leeway but if possible make sure it happens in the first act.
  1. Create a situation that will highlight the character’s personalities: (Is the guy a show off, does she get embarrassed easily). Showing off a character’s personality is a great way for a reader to get to know them.
  1. Start budding the romance (How do they view each? Do they touch a little and it sends waves of chemistry? Make it impossible for them to forget this moment.)
  1. Set up the conflict. This is the key element. It is so important to create a physical or emotion obstacle that is standing in their way of being together. (During the meet cute, it’s not important to show all the obstacles but it’s a great idea to hint at it.) It will set up the romance plot for the rest of the story.

In your current story, how does your couple meet and how do you try to make it unique?

Miss Me!!??

I’m Back!

Let me first start off by saying I have missed my blog. It has been a long time since I posted anything on here. I actually thought about shutting it down since I hadn’t wrote anything in over nine months but then I changed my mind. If I had the courage to put this blog up in the first place then I should keep it, right? Even if I’m just sharing my thoughts with myself.

Over these past few months, I haven’t written or read many books. I have been in this funk where doing those two things seemed like torture. Looking back now, I think I needed the break. I got so overwhelmed that my passion turned into a chore and that’s no bueno. Things are slowly getting back to normal and I feel the writing bug buzzing inside of me. I have learned so much and I want to share it.
To hold myself accountable there will be some changes to here:

Weekly Memes

Buried in the Slush Pile: Weekly tips/rants I have seen as an editorial intern. (Don’t worry I won’t be using any exact examples from people’s work) I figured this would be a great way to keep track of what I learned for my future work and also to share with you guys.

Book Love Fridays: Which will be a book Review or a rant about a book.

I also might throw in some random things here and there just to spice things up.

I’m happy to be back!

Mission Statements

A few months ago, Susan Dennard, the author of the Something Strange and Deadly trilogy, talked about the importance of making mission statements in one of her newsletters. If you haven’t already I would suggest subscribing to her newsletter. She gives wonderful tips. I will leave a link down below if you’re interested.

But until then I never really thought about what mine would be. Couldn’t it simply be that I wanted an agent and then to be published one day. It didn’t need to be anymore complicated then that. But lately I have been really thinking about it. At the beginning of this year, I thought I would be querying agents by December well that definitely isnt going to happen because my book is not complete. I have been feeling like a failure because another year has past and I am no closer to being published. What the heck was wrong with me? Susan says you can’t really control if or when you will be published unless you self published, which has been something I have thought about doing. But I believe the point was to make a plan that you actually have control over. The sad and hard truth is I could work my butt off and still not get published.

So here is my new mission statement:

I want to build better writing habits so that I am always progressing on a novel or story. I want to write stories that I love. I want to build strong connections between readers and writers. This blog has been a great start but I would love to connect with more people. That means you! 😉

What do you think about making mission statements? Have you made one?

Newsletter About Mission Statements: http://us3.campaign-archive2.com/?u=cdd0d036e9531dd416bf945b3&id=f7f3da0038

Susan Dennard’s newsletter:

http://susandennard.us3.list-manage2.com/subscribe?u=cdd0d036e9531dd416bf945b3&id=11e0c331be

Make Them Move

For the last few months I have been interning at Entangled Publishing. It has been such a cool experience. If you want to get into the publishing business in any sort of way, I would recommend trying to find an internship. I feel like it’s the best way to see what it takes to be published and common mistakes authors tend to make so that you could avoid them in your own work.

As I read more and more submissions, I find that one of the most common problems is that authors don’t make the characters move. There is a lot of dialogue and internal thoughts but nothing is happening. And after reading about fifty or so pages of this, I am about ready to throw the book at the wall. I know in real life people do a lot of sitting around and talking but in a book it doesn’t work. It’s important to keep the characters moving, allow them to interact with the world around them. This doesn’t mean have them walk around the neighborhood or consistently throw bombs at them but make sure they are doing something. While dialogue and internal thoughts are an important part of the story, action gives the story life.

I’ll admit I have done this myself in previous manuscripts but I never realized how annoying it was to read until I started reading other people’s work. It’s so easy to write pages of dialogue and not realize your main character hasn’t left her couch since page two.

Here are some tips I use to keep those my characters moving:

  1. Make A List: I start by thinking about what my character’s wants and needs are and why they want/need them. Then I create a list.
  1. Create a Goal: From that list, I come up with ways to satisfy them. What are they willing to do to make sure that their wants and needs get met. After I come up with some answers these become their goals. EVERY SCENE MUST HAVE A GOAL. Be specific as you can. By creating a goal, I force my character to do something instead of just sitting at the house. After that, I create a conflict that will add a complication to her achieving her goal.

Example: to go to the store and steal food.

  1. Bring on the Motivation: There is always a reason a character acts upon a goal. This happens in real life all the time Goal: to go to college Motivation: You want to earn a degree so you can eventually make decent money or maybe just to party without your parents looking over your shoulder. I know sometimes we as people live by the seat of our pants and there is no why for an action but in a story that doesn’t happen.

Example: Motivation: She is hungry and hasn’t eaten real food in weeks.

  1. Interact with the Surroundings: We all have certain gestures we make when speaking and interacting in our surroundings so it makes sense that characters will do the same. It will get boring if they are just standing around at store or park. I tend to add body gestures, different people speaking or looking at them etc. If I ever get stuck on how my characters would act. I look back at my list. Let’s go back to the character that is going to the store to steal food because she is hungry. Maybe she is jumpy or keeps looking around to see if someone is watching her. Personally I have a problem with adding too much body movements so even though it’s important you don’t want to overdo it.

Characters are important to the story so get to know them and then move them around the page. How do you keep your characters moving in your stories? Let me know in the comments below.

Book Review: Romancing the Rumrunner by Michelle Mclean

Romancing the Rumrunner

Summary: Prohibition Era Chicago

She’s worked too hard to be run out of town…

Jessica Harlan spends her nights as The Phoenix, the owner of the most popular speakeasy in town. Her days are spent running her respectable butcher shop and dodging prohibition agents and rival club owners who all want to put her out of business.

He’s worked too hard to let his heart get in the way…

When the opportunity arises to go undercover for the Feds to catch The Phoenix, Gumshoe Anthony Solomon jumps on it. But he never suspected the notorious rumrunner would be a dame – or that he’d be so drawn to the feisty little minx.

They play a dangerous game of cat and mouse, knowing they can’t trust the other, but unable to walk away. While their hearts dodge the crossfire, the mobsters raise the stakes, and even The Phoenix may not rise again. ~Taken from Goodreads

Initial Reaction: Oh, how I love the 1920s!

Lets just take a moment to admire the cover. Isn’t it beautiful?

What I liked: Jessie and Tony’s relationship was kind of like a tease. They were smart enough to know that the other person was up to something but they couldn’t help but like each other. Their passion boiled close to the surface but before it could explode they would retreat back to their corners. When they were together it got pretty steamy though. But they both had an agenda to follow and falling in love would be a mistake. There was a scene where Jessie followed Tony to see what he was hiding and ended up meeting his mother. I thought that was so cute! She saw that Tony was a momma’s boy but she also saw that he was loyal. He proved he could be loyal to her as well by his gesture at the end. It was a very touching moment. I kind of wanted a Tony of my own after that.  I love it when a story keeps you on your toes and wondering how these two people are going to make the relationship work and that is exactly what this story does.

If you love the 20’s like me you then you love the speakeasies. I thought where Jessie’s club was located was kind of neat but I found myself wanting more. There was only a glimpse of the place just enough for you to get the idea of how all the illegal activities went down. But because of my obsession I wanted to feel the energy of the club.

Overall:

It’s a short read so it goes pretty fast. I would recommend you try it if you like the 20’s and looking for a passionate romance.

Release Date: June 9th 2014

Length:253 pages

Format: Ebook