the tale of the self-imposed deadline

Once upon a time, Christine really needed a deadline. For writers that don’t have book contracts, it can be hard sometimes to stick to goals. Even when I am in the most motivated of moods, I still need a goal in mind. After attending BookCon a few weeks ago, my inspiration levels were at an all time high. With that, came a determined Christine, ready to give herself a self-imposed deadline, and talk in third person a lot. (You can read about how I calculated my daily word count goal here.)

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I’m here to report that it is going FANTASTIC. I feel more alive than I have ever felt and am currently 100% supportive of the self-imposed deadline. I’m hoping that my high levels of inspiration last. As always, #5amWritersClub on Twitter has been a huge support. Writing before coming to my day job makes a big difference in my day.

 

Thanks for joining me here today. Tweet me your thoughts @AWritersWay. Remember, you can join me here every Thursday for new posts!

Until next time,

Christine

5 writing books I love

It’s safe to assume that if you are a writer you are going to purchase books about writing. I don’t think I know a writer that doesn’t have at least one! Sure, some writers may take it a bit too far and stop reading other genre books, but for the most part I think certain books on writing can be a helpful resource to turn to. I do believe that if you really want to strengthen your writing, it’s a good idea to dive into a big pile of books written in the genre of your project. However, there needs to be balance and we just love reading everything anyway, right?

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For today’s post I thought it would be fun to show you five writing books that I absolutely love and give you some reasons why. Take a look!

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Reading Like a Writer 

by Francine Prose

This is a book that I bought many years ago after taking a fiction writing workshop. Since then, I’ve read it a few times. Prose draws on the writing and experience of many familiar authors you may know like Austen, Dickens, and Wolff. It’s a great book to keep on your nightstand or in your purse to flip through from time to time.

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The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Expression 

by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

Oh, I can’t say enough about this series of books. Yes, it is a series and there are all types of emotions covered. This is the first one out of the series that I bought and I think that’s why it’s my favorite. You know when you’re writing and you keep using lame adjectives? This is a great book to turn to. Pick a feeling and there are tons of ways to express it right there in front of you.

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First Draft in 30 Days 

by Karen S. Wiesner

Ever tried NaNoWriMo? I guess it was about five years ago when I tried it for the first time. Faced with the task of writing 50,000 words in one month, a friend of mine told me to buy this book. I would describe it as a very helpful, detailed guide on how to write an amazing outline. I remember utilizing parts of the book (which I still use today) and it helped my novel flow.

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What Would Your Character Do? 

by Eric Maisel and Ann Maisel

This is my oldest book on writing for sure. It was one of the first writing books I ever purchased when I was just daydreaming about what it would be like to call myself a writer. What’s so cool about this book is, it forces you to take your characters out of their comfort zone. It has tons of different scenarios to put your characters in, questions to ask, and what it all might mean.

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Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft 

by Janet Burroway, Elizabeth Stuckey-French, and Ned Stuckey-French

This is my most expensive and recent writing book purchase. After completing the Frost Place Poetry Seminar workshop, this book was recommended to me based on my interest in novel writing. The reason it was so expensive was because it is technically a textbook that is used in many current MFA programs and I felt compelled to buy a brand new one. So far, I’m not sorry. It’s proven to be worth the money. Sometimes you need to feel like a student again and turning to a textbook forces you to think that way. Each chapter has exercises at the end to reinforce the content you just read. I highly recommend it.

So, there they are…in no particular order…5 writing books I love. You can follow the links attached to each title to grab a copy. I hope that at least one of these books has peaked your interest. What are some of your favorite books on writing?

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Thanks for joining me here today. Tweet me your thoughts @AWritersWay. Remember, you can join me here every Thursday for new posts!

Until next time,

Christine

 

 

 

 

is an outline right for your novel?

There are so many different ways to be a writer. Each one of us is unique in our processes. Sometimes the things that you’ve been doing forever work well, and other times everything falls flat. Today I found myself pressured by my upcoming deadline. I have a self-made goal of finishing the first draft of my novel by July 15th. With that, comes a word count goal of 60,000 words. Normally, I attempt to not get bogged down by word count goals, but they exist and are necessary.

For the past two weeks, I’ve been making very little progress on my novel. While I love to say the phrase “progress is progress,” and move on with my life, it’s not going to work with my current goal. As of today, I have 42 days left to achieve my goal if I take weekends off. (I’m a firm believer in having days off to recharge.) That leaves me with a daily word count goal of approx. 670 words. Manageable? Yes. However, I need a plan of attack.

That brings me to my topic today: to outline or to not outline? I will admit that a rough outline of the first half of my novel already exists, but what lies ahead is mostly a mystery to me. For a lot of people, it’s nice to sit down to the page and just go with it.

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That wonderful feeling of unveiling points in your novel right along with the characters can be thrilling. However, sometimes we hit walls. I think with a lot of fantasy novels, it is important to do a certain amount of planning. Now I am faced with the question of whether or not an outline is right for me. For some writers it works really well and other writers despise them. I land somewhere in the middle of it all. I am not a fan of super detailed outlines.

I like general points, organized. If you keep it simple, it will work. If you don’t, it turns into an additional project. Something like this:

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method to my madness:

-The setting of my novel changes a lot. It’s good to keep track.

-Having 2-3 plot points helps me to keep the flow going when my mind wanders.

-I don’t always use the note section, but if I introduce a new character to the story or something happens that I absolutely must remember to go back to, I put it there.

So, there you have it. Starting tomorrow I will be working on the outline for the rest of my novel. Hopefully it will help!

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How do you feel about outlines? To outline? To not outline?

Thanks for joining me here today. Tweet me your thoughts @AWritersWay. Remember, you can join me here every Thursday for new posts!

Until next time,

Christine

how to track character emotions

Many years ago, I finished a young adult, paranormal-romance novel. It was my first completed manuscript and I was pretty new to that level of the writing world. When it came time to start editing, I felt a little lost. Unsure of how to tackle such a task, I turned to some writing books. In doing so, I found many instances where the importance of character development was brought up. I thought, “Duh. Of course there is character development in my story.” How could there not be?

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Just to be safe, I decided I would map out some details about my character chapter by chapter. Boy, was I surprised. Suddenly, it dawned on me. While my character made changes and evolved, there were certain details that weren’t quite consistent. Now, before I continue I will admit that the novel I speak of wasn’t very good and I did ultimately end up shelving it after many rejections. My personal life got in the way of the book and now it’s in a drawer somewhere. Since then, I’ve worked on many other projects and I’ve taken my experience with tracking character development with me.

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I’m currently working on a young adult fantasy novel and I absolutely adore my main character. Last week, I took a moment to consider my progress with her. As I contemplated a blog topic to cover for this week, I realized that my character development exercise is one that comes at a perfect time. What I’d like to share with you today is my emotion tracker for the characters in your W.I.P.!

Character emotions are an important part of character development. As you read a novel, you want a character who is progressing in one way or another. You definitely don’t want one who is happy one second and miserable the next for no good reason. Emotions can be unstable, but need to be monitored. For some writers, this may come naturally. Let’s just put it this way…it doesn’t hurt to check. I would rather double and triple check my manuscript before I find out that’s the reason an agent rejected me.

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Here is my simple method for tracking character’s emotions chapter by chapter:

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For each chapter, write one emotion that your character is feeling at the beginning, middle, and end. See what that progression looks like. Is your character consistently flat? Is your character too happy in dire situations?

This is a great exercise to build into your outlines too. I am currently finding it to be very helpful as I navigate my main character through a very tricky situation. I have found that I often make her overly anxious. She’s constantly in a state of panic or heartache. While it is fitting, now that I’ve tracked his pattern, I can expand her scope of emotions and play around with her inner thoughts in a different way.

Thanks for joining me here today. Tweet me your thoughts @AWritersWay.

Remember, you can join me here every Thursday for new posts!

Until next time,

Christine

the art of brainstorming

“Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of a job: it’s always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins.”

-Neil Gaiman

I’ve been pondering how often I allow myself to contemplate as a writer. Day to day life gets so hectic that it can sometimes feel impossible to spare time for actual writing let alone brainstorming. At this point in my writing career, I’ve worn a few different hats. I started out writing poetry, moved to novels, back to poetry, worked my way into the freelance writing world of pop culture news, and came back to novels about a year and a half ago.

My current passion project is a young adult fantasy novel, and thanks to social media groups like #5amWritersClub, I have been able to get on a really nice regimen with my writing. With that said, I’ve also been considering how much more productive I am when I sit down with the blank page after allowing myself time to brainstorm.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Christine, how? Why? I don’t have time.”

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I understand. When I first started dating my boyfriend, who is also a writer, about two and a half years ago, I was perplexed when he would tell me about how important brainstorming is. As a writer who always scrambled to the page, crossed my fingers, and hoped for the best, I couldn’t imagine setting aside time for that.

After a while, I realized the difference between my writing methods and the way my boyfriend did things. As an expert ponderer, he always approached his writing sessions with ease and not a lot of anxiety. I figured, I had to give it a shot! I would make time for brainstorming and see if it helped.

Well, there’s a reason this post is called “the art of brainstorming.” People, it works. The more I ponder, the more prepared I am when I get to the page. Sure, it’s not always butterflies and rainbows, but the difference is clear. When I allow time for brainstorming, the writing flows.

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If it sounds like a daunting task, start small:

  1. Put on a song that inspires you and brainstorm what your next scene will be about for the length of that song.
  2. Write down three plot points that you know you want to conquer in your next chapter.
  3. Take a walk and think about what your characters are feeling at the present moment in your W.I.P.

If you already fancy yourself a brainstorming expert, cheers! Pour yourself a hot cup of coffee and stare at the ceiling while the scenes come to life in your imagination. Don’t let anyone tell you that brainstorming isn’t productive. It absolutely is a necessary part of creation and it should be practiced.

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Thanks for joining me here today. Tweet me your thoughts @AWritersWay. Remember, you can join me here every Thursday for new posts!

Next week will be about breaking bad writing habits.

Until next time,

Christine

Monday Motivation.

I joined #5amwritersclub this morning and I am feeling great. Starting my day off by focusing energy towards my passion = a fantastic start to the week. I hope you’re following your dreams too…even if you have to wake up extra early to do so before you head to your day job like me. ✨🌛