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:
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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?
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:
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Over a year ago, I started to take my writing more seriously. For most of my life, I have wanted to be an author. But the problem was I never did anything about it, well not really. While I was in college, I tried my hand in a few stories but never finished them. I got to about eighty pages and got distracted with everything life managed to throw at me. After I graduated and got my first job, I had a moment of clarity. If I wanted to become an author one day, I needed to start now so I decided to hop on the train and never looked back. I learned about plots, characters arcs, story structure etc. But the one the thing I kept hearing is that: Writing is hard. Writing is rewriting.
Even though I kept encountering the statement, I didn’t believe it, how can writing be that hard. And if I get a good draft out, there was no way I would have to rewrite it maybe tweak a few sentences but that would be about it. Besides I had done it before and it wasn’t that hard (of course my stories before were rather short and had little structure).
Last year when April came around, I decided to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo. It was such a rush and it gave me anxiety but I was determined to get to 50,000. At first it was great and my word count was adding up pretty nicely. But then putting out that daily word count slowly got harder to manage and by the time the month was over I felt happy because I had won but drained. When I started to revise that mess I realized that I had a lot of rewriting to do. What happened to my idea of the perfect draft?
I told myself I could improve. I would learn more about story structure and surely next time it wouldn’t be so hard. I decided to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo last month and writing that story was even harder. My beginning didn’t feel right, the words were just wrong. I ended up starting over twice causing me to lose NaNoWriMo.
I put a lot effort into my work to make it great. The crazy thing is I love writing more now because it is hard. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when I just need a break and I walk away. But I am always lured back into the story. I am constantly pushing myself to get my daily word count goals done, thinking of new ways to improve my plot and characters. I believe if writing were meant to be easy, we as writers would never learn from it. I have learned so much about writing craft in the past year that my brain sometimes feels like it might explode and the thing is I don’t ever want to stop learning. Being a writer is learning to adapt even when things appear to be impossible.
So writing is indeed meant to be hard but that is just my opinion tell me what you think in the comments below.
Do you find writing to be easier as you write more stories?