Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

The Next Big Thing

Thanks to Stevie Thompson, I get to take part inThe Next Big Thing blog hop!

I had never heard of this before but the plan to have authors from all around the world to answer the same 10 questions about their current project. The goal is to start on one blog and follow the links to discover other authors and books that you may not have found otherwise.

1) What is the working title of your next book?
I'm working on two many projects at one time but #1 is called, "Changes."  That's a working title only. I'm terrible at titles most of the time.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?  
I was had an idea that came out of the blue and I wrote a short story about it. My beta readers really liked it, so did I, so I decided to explore the idea into a longer piece.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

It's Young Adult Fantasy.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Gee, I don't know. The main characters are only 14 years old in the book and I don't have a handle on teen actors. 

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Vivian has a secret and the Fairy Court wants to kill her to keep it that way.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Agency, I hope.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I keep starting and stopping and working on 100 other things but this book should come out to 64,000K and that will take about 5 months because I write after my day job.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I'll have to think on that.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I've been writing for years (since I was a child) and I've had tons of inspiration from family and from my career as an editor, journalist, and an English professor.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?
It's a mix of teen drama, love triangles, the fairy realm, and the keys to controlling the world.

Some fellow authors to check out:
Stevie Thompson
Rhiannon Douglas 
* more to come *

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Methods of Writing: #2 Snowflake

Methods of Writing: #2 Snowflake

     In my last blog entry, I discussed how I usually favored a Linear Writing style or method but that I was open to exploring other writing methods as well.  I also said that I despised people who referred to my typical Linear Style as being a Pantser, aka flying by the seat of our pants. It makes us sound like we are taking a plane with one propeller blade and ten ounces of fuel on a cross-Atlantic jaunt. Not so.  These people refer to themselves as Planners.  One style of writing especially favored by Planners is The Snowflake Method.  Since snowflakes are known for their uniqueness and individuality, I think naming a method writing system after them is odd but I'm sure there is a good reason for it.

      Upon investigating, I found out the following information about the Snowflake Method, invented by Randy Ingermanson. Namely, that it is a ten step process wherein the writer starts with a simplistic theme and then grows the novel out, in varying levels of complexity from there.  One of the advantages of this program is that it has structure and eliminates the writer losing steam on a tangent or a side arc that doesn't really fit in to the final picture. The biggest disadvantage, in my opinion, is a lack of allowing the creative process to have room to ebb and flow.  It feels a bit anti-creative right out of the gate.

     The ten step Snowflake Method process neatly breaks down to:

1.) Write a one sentence summary of the proposed novel.  (This isn't a bad idea as all good pitches should be able to be summarized in one to two sentences, a la an elevator pitch.)

2.) Take the one sentence summary above and expand it into a full paragraph detailing all of the main events in the story and what the ending will be.  

3.) Write a one-page summary of the main character. This summary needs to show the main character's motivation, goal, conflict, and epiphany (i.e. what does he or she learn through the novel). It should also include a one paragraph summary of the character's story arc. (Here's where planned methods such as these start to lose me. I feel, in my opinion only, that by the time I write all of this, I could have already had one to two pages of the first chapter done. After all, I already know my character in my head. But that's just me.)

4.)  Go back to #2 now and expand each sentence into a full paragraph.  (What? Why? I'm getting bored now.)

5.)  Now write a one page description of each other major character, telling the story from his or her point of view.  (Okay, now I'm going to start to mix up POV's in my head.  I do it easily enough in my Linear Method when I don't even mean to do it.)

6.)  Expand the one page synopsis of the story into four pages. (Sounding like an actor here, but what's my motivation for this? I could be finishing chapter one by now.)

7.)  Expand each of your character descriptions into character charts. (No. Don't want to.)

8.) Using the expanded synopsis from #6, make a list of every scene you will need to write to complete the novel.  (Every scene?)

9.)  Using the scene list from #8, write a page-long narrative description of each scene. (Am I shooting a movie?  If not, this just doesn't work for me. I seriously could be well into chapter two by now.)

10.)  Now it's time to (finally) write the first draft.

     I am not trying to diss a writing method that can very well work for others but this style just doesn't flow for me.  A basic estimate for me is that by following a Linear Style instead, I would be at least 40-50 pages into my manuscript by the time a Snowflake Method writer is ready to start his or her first page of the actual first draft.  Now, granted, I wouldn't have all of my scenes mapped out but because I find my characters have their own minds and go there own ways, I prefer to let them flow and not keep them trapped down into a specific pre-planned format.  But that's just me.

     Have you used the Snowflake Method and has it worked for you?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Methods of Writing: #1 Linear

     Methods of Writing: #1 Linear

     I was asked recently how I write.  Well, I just do.  The truth is not often enough because I work full-time but I've tried 700 novel writing methods and I keep coming back to "Just Write It."  For me, that means writing in a Linear format.  Start off with a blank page, type in a working title (WIP is perfectly fine) and then type Chapter One, return twice, and start with sentence one.  I just write and the story flows in a linear, how it should look in the finished version of the book, way.

     Now, of course, the Linear Method is not for everyone.  I can't even say if it is always for me as I have tried, and I'm totally open to continuing to try new methods and approaches.  I am an educator and I loved being a student so learning is always welcome in my world.  However, I have to say that I absolutely hate, as in despise, as in detest, when some people calls it "Pantsing."  They are referring to the Linear Method (as I call it) being nothing more than a writer just flying by the seat of his or her pants. First of all, "pantsing" sounds like it should describe something that drunk college guys do to each other as an initiation, it certainly doesn't have a very nice ring to it.  Those that call a Linear writing style "pantsing" view pantsing as the opposite of planning.  They say a writer is either a Pantser (first time I read that fast, I thought they were calling certain writers Panthers...) or a Planner.

     The reason I don't like this comparison is that it insinuates that those who write in a Linear style don't plan.  Not true.  I might write the scenes as they will appear in the finished product (ideally) but in my mind, I have future scenes, pivotal interactions, and most importantly, the ending, already envisioned.  The key is that they are only envisioned, not committed to paper yet so "Planners" don't feel these eventual scenes don't count until committed in some way to paper.  I disagree.   As long as I know where I'm going, I don't need a minute-by-minute GPS system to get me there.

     One of my personal reasons for favoring Linear Writing is that I feel some planned writing, or methodical writing, systems waste too much of the author's time.  They require note cards, systematic fill out this or count out these methods, or they take outlining (an otherwise true love of mine) to the extreme.  I find that if I pursued any of these methodical systems too rigidly, I burn out on my own story before I even commit a full chapter to paper.  However, in the spirit of learning and exploring, I plan to look into and evaluate several different writing approaches: Snowflake Method, Marshall Plan, Outlining, Note-Carding, and Mind-Mapping to begin.

     As for a break-down of my Linear Method, the steps are:
1.) Have a solid idea for a story;
2.) Have a general audience in mind: middle grade, young adult, adult, mystery readers, women, etc;
3.) Have a general idea of where you are going. What kind of story do I want to tell?;
4.) Know where you envision yourself ending up. The ending may change by the time you get there but overall, you know where you are going;
5.) Start writing.

     This method certainly isn't for everybody, but is it for you?