Sunday, December 19, 2010

Getting Ready for a New Year

As the holiday season pummels us... I mean greets us, it is a great time to breathe in the winter air (or summer depending on your hemisphere) and think about what writing means to us.

Many of you participated in NaNo this year and I commend you, at the same time I am hearing a lot of burned out people on the stream. Or maybe you didn't do Nano but wished you had. Or maybe you just fear your book will never, ever get done.

I am hear to tell you, time will fix everything. If Nano spent your energy, take this time to regain it. If you didn't do Nano, set your own goals. Remember if you simply write 3 pages a day in 100 days you will have 300 pages done. That is SO doable!

If you haven't gotten your book done, there truly is only one thing standing in your way. Fear.

You are afraid of being exposed. Most of the time you are afraid of both ends of the spectrum. You are afraid of being exposed as a hack, but also as a success.

I can't believe the number of authors I meet on social media and in real life that are too timid to do an interview or go on our IBC radio show. Um... I know writers aren't talkers, but come on!

If you aren't going to want to shout your book's virtues from the rooftops, then who will?

So I say let's take this whole, time for reflection and look forward.

Pretend your book is already done. How are you going to promote it? What do you want interviewers and reviewers to say about your book?

For some of you this exercise is terrifying. You quake at the thought of approaching strangers to read your book and give a critique. Great! You might as well face the fear now, rather than when your book is out and needs your help!

If the thought of getting out there and talking about your book excites you... Great! Let that feeling invigorate your writing. Let it motivate you to finally sit down and get a writing schedule.

Whatever you feel your shackles are to writing unfettered, spend these next few weeks releasing them. Start the New Year with a New Attitude!

Embrace your writing and it will embrace you back :-)

Obviously for the next few we won't be talking. That doesn't mean we aren't thinking about our writing (at the least!)

Have a fantastic holiday season and see you next year! :-) :-) :-)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Structure - Your Nemesis. Your Friend

This week I kept track of every time I used structure to help a my own writing or that of a client/student's. I lost count after about 107.

With the exception of word selection, structure pretty much informs every single line you write. And if it informs it, it can help it!

Let's say you aren't sure how your Hero is going to get out of a fight with your villain.

Now of course you want to find a super creative way to handle this, however structure can at least get you in the ball park.

Let's say this situation is in the first act. Well, first off we know that the Hero cannot win. Not even close. As a matter of fact, if this event is happening in the first act, this villainous situation is usually going to propel your Hero to take the Opportunity.

If this event happens in the second act I can nearly guarantee you that your Hero is going to fail... miserably. Usually lives will be lost.

The 3rd act is the ONLY place where your Hero really has any shot at all of winning (and even then at a high cost).

Each scenario requires a different set of events to take place to move you along to your next plot point.

Remember everything in your story needs to be moving forward. No event in your work can be suspended in a bubble. If you can get rid of a scene without having to MAJORLY rework your story, that scene needs to be cut.

Your story is a tightrope and structure is well... the tightrope.

Hopefully you can see how structure has helped color your options. Now it is still up to you to figure out the details, but at least knowing where you are in the story (and trust me we can go down much deeper into the sub-acts and come up with some even more fine-tuned advice) helps you to figure out your options.

Here is my challenge...
Either call into the radio show (2pm PST Saturday)or Tweet your question onto my Twitter stream @writingnodrama about a problem you are having with your story and see if I can help you with structure! #game #on

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Writing for an Audience

The main difference between writing for yourself and an audience is well... your ego.

I'm not saying don't like what you write. I mean, we all want to savor the words on the page.

I am saying though, EVEN if we like what we write, if it isn't resonating with your Beta readers, we need to rewrite.

If you are writing to sell, the page is not the place to have a therapy session and exercise your demons. It is a place to entertain.

But, but, but... you say... you told us to dig deep into our personal experiences and put as much of ourselves and our flaws into our work.

Why, yes I did. And I meant it. However when I give advice about using external research or experiences, I always mean for you to put all that information through your Hero's filter.

There is no way your Hero feels exactly the same way you felt after the experience you had. If they do, then you are really writing an autobiography, not fiction.

So even if you have your Hero go through a hold up at a diner, your Hero can be INFORMED by your own experience as a robbery victim, however the words on the page should be about your Hero, not you.

Once you put your ego aside and really roll up your sleeves to write your Hero's story and let that their journey go where it needs to go, even if it was EXACTLY the opposite of what you experienced yourself under the same condition, you are on your first huge step to writing for an audience.

We talk a lot about structure, the Hero's journey, pacing and scene setting. But why? I mean besides the fact we want to grow our craft?

It is because we want the reader to ENJOY reading our work. We don't want them to skim. We don't want them to have to go back and read something over again to understand it (unless of course you just blew their mind with a paradigm shift).

Now you can guess at what the reader's experience is going to be and hope you get it right, or you can understand the modern reader. You can get inside their head and know what their hopes, dreams and expectations are as they read.

Because if you have a good idea of what they want... you have a great chance of fulfilling it!

And a fulfilled, satisfied reader creates a loyal reader. One who will buy your next book. One who will leave good reviews. One who will spread word of mouth. And for an author there is nothing so coveted!

We discussed all of this in-depth on my radio show this past Saturday at 2pm PST.

If you have any questions about this subject or any other, call in to have them answered LIVE! Or if you feel too shy, just submit your questions on my Twitter stream @writingnodrama!

Also don't forget to contact me on Twitter @writingnodrama if you would live any of your work performed by our resident MFA actor Ben Hopkin then critiqued on-air!

Remember you can also subscribe to my show through iTunes and listen to it on your iPod, computer or Mp3 player!

"Talk" to you Saturday 2pm PST!