Monday, July 22, 2013

Ditching the Setup

Howdy folks! I'm on a two day revision stent right now and whipping my WIP into better shape. Thank goodness for fabulous CPs and beta readers. What would we do without them, eh??

One of the things I was concerned with in my story was the first three chapters. I had reason to believe the pacing was slowed and there wasn't enough action. But I wasn't positive, and I still loved my first chapter.

I scoured the internet for some advice, and found this video from Worth a listen for sure. I'm highlighting a few key points you may find helpful if you're struggling with the same issue.

Editor Deborah Halverson says, "Ditch the setup."

Say what?? I wasn't even sure if my first few chapters were setup, but after listening to her break it down, I reconsidered. And it's not like I'm a newbie novelist. I've been writing for six years and on my seventh manuscript. Still, I fell into this setup snafu.

Halverson says most manuscripts she reads are guilty of telling too much about the characters up front, instead of putting them into action. Readers want to see the characters living in their world, and learn more about their personalities through revealing moments.

On the other hand, I know from experience that too much action up front is a turnoff. We need to get to know a little bit about the character (even if only a few lines) before they get in that car wreck, or find that dead body, or ->insert plot point of choice<- here. But we can also bury our readers in backstory and setup too early on, which slows the pace.

Halverson says to consider, for example, having your MC stuck in a tree and show the reader what resources or ingenuity she uses to get herself out. This is how we get to know the character. Find that perfect dynamic to put the reader in her world and watch her in action. Readers don't need a breakdown of how the characters got where they are. Just put the scene in motion.

I know many authors suggest nixing the first few chapters altogether and getting right to the catalyst. (not to be confused with the inciting incident). Don't know the difference between the catalyst and inciting incident? Check out YouTube for the Plot Whisperer videos. She does a fabulous job of breaking it all down. Plus they're free!

After listening to the full Dear Editor video that I linked above, I decided to merge my first two chapters and get the story moving faster. I still liked my original first chapter and felt it worked, and if I were a successful and well renowned novelist, I doubt it would've held back the reader. But since I'm just a squirrel-scribe with a nutty idea of being a novelist, I did what traditional editors suggest works best.

So how about you? Are you guilty of too much setup? Find yourself falling into little story structure traps you weren't even aware of? We all do at times. Tell me all about it....

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Mid Week Medley

Hello my fine bloggy friends! We're finally getting some sunshine down here in the Sunshine State so I'm happy to report my post at the poolside has been restored. I knew you were concerned about whether or not I'd pull off that summer suntan, right? *wink wink* :p

I'm also still smack dab in the middle of Revision Purgatory, and haven't lost faith! Thanks for all your supportive comments last week. I'm moving along swimmingly. *splish splash*

Today I'm participating in the "Always Do the Thing that Scares You" Blogfest for Mila Ferrero and her new book, Spiral. 

                        Click on the picture to get to Mila's blog and find the rest of the entries (along with a contest.) 

I liked the sound of this fest, because I think fear assaults all of us in different ways, but standing in the face of it can make you feel more alive than you ever have. I'm talkin' full body buzz. I've never been one to be scared of heights or roller coasters or snakes. I was pretty much a daredevil adrenaline junkie my entire life. (seeing those same traits in my daughter already and it's a bit scary

But there is one thing that's always made me FREAK ... Dun Dun Dun ....

Interviews and formal presentations

Go figure. But that's why I'm a writer. I've always loathed selling myself verbally, which I'll have to overcome if I'm to sell my books, I know that. But that's a little different. I can sell my art. I'm passionate about that. But corporate America ??? Oh boy.

Before my daughter was born--almost seven years ago--I was climbing that corporate ladder. I trained classes all the time, sometimes in other parts of the world, and was looking to keep moving up with the company. But once I found myself a mother of two small children and decided to work from home, I changed. And I decided to pursue writing, which is something I've always wanted to do. 

Well, a couple months ago, an opportunity came up to get back into that old corporate position, but I had to present to a room full of corporate managers I'd never met before. 

I convinced myself I could do it. I wanted to try because I needed a change. But boy was I petrified. 

When I got to the hotel and saw that small room with a panel of superiors, all I could think was American Idol. This is like auditioning for American Idol. Only I wasn't showcasing my art--I was supposed to convince them I was enthusiastic about the company and be poised and articulate. 

I was ready to vomit. No joke. My entire body was a jumble of nerves. I hadn't done this in so long, and even though I had plenty of classroom experience, I wasn't going into a classroom--I was going in to be judged. 

I considered leaving. I mean, I REALLY considered bolting because I didn't know how I'd get a hold of my nerves. But the Big Guys and Gals had already seen me, and I worried how that would look too. Of course, the candidate who presented before me was one of  those people who always makes everyone laugh and is super witty. So that wasn't helping. Plus she was in there forever and I could hear the judges laughing and having a great time behind the closed door.

Talk about stress. Oy. 

I knew I couldn't compete with what they'd already seen. I didn't have it in me. I'm a writer now--used to spending hours alone on my laptop. But I stayed, faced my fear, and presented my material the best I could. I was so proud of myself for getting through it, I almost didn't even care if I got the position. And that felt great. 

I did not get the position, and the reason, was for my lack of enthusiasm. No big deal. It truly was a blessing in disguise since the position would've required lots of travel away from my family. But the important thing was, I did what I set out to do, and although I'd never put myself through that again, it does give me comfort to know I can and would only get better over time. 

Mila's book, Spiral, is a New Adult romance about facing fear. Click on the picture below to get to her blog and rafflecopter with a $50 gift card, and learn more about her book:

   Congrats to Mila! And also revealing her cover today, is S.K. Anthony  

                          "Strength is one thing, an unlimited source of power is quite another."

Learn more about this New Adult story on GoodReads and Facebook.  And find S.K. on her blog and wish her congratulations! 

Today's also the second Wednesday of the month, which means it's all about Indie Life!

And the two authors I featured above just happen to be Indie Authors. Kudos to them and their efforts. I love when writers take the reins and make their dreams come true on their own. Mila has a great post on her blog today about the fears of Indie Life, and I recently read a fantastic article on 10 self-pub tips if you are considering the Indie Life. Find that right here. And to get to Indie Life HDQ click on the picture above. 

Also, if you write for tweens or have a tween (that age before actual teen-dom) you may want to check out this brand new blog called Emblazon. They're all about celebrating tween literature, whether children, adults, or new writers. They go live today so check them out!

Hey, thanks so much for stopping by and putting up with my lengthy post. Was there a time when you faced your fear? How are you with interviews? Got any new releases to share? Tell me everything because I love reading your comments!! 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Losing Faith - IWSG

Well hellloooo bloggie friends! Hope you're summer is nothing less than smashing so far. Been raining buckets in my neck of the woods. Soggy and sticky and algae growing on the sidewalks. Looks like my 4th of July will be rather wet.

So the first Wednesday of the month, as you know, is Insecure Writers Support Group day. You can get to HDQ by clicking on the picture below and check out all the entries. But don't leave yet! Read on for what I mean with Losing Faith ...

Remember the Garbage Pail Kids? They were pretty big when I was a kid. My brothers and I had an entire collection of cards, that unfortunately were lost over the years and I think some are actually worth money now. But one card managed to stick around and I have it on my desk:


Pretty funny stuff, right. Those cards were always a riot. But ironic to me that this one stuck around, since this is what tends to happen to me after I write a story and start the subbing process. I begin to lose faith in the project. And that's exactly what I don't want to happen with the one I'm working on right now. All that subjectivity leaves me riddled with doubt.

If you remember a few weeks ago I mentioned I was experiencing First Draft Euphoria--feeling all giddy and psyched, but knowing as well that once I had some critiques and beta reads there'd be stuff to fix. 

Yep, that Euphoria is pretty much fizzled now. lol

Now I enter Revision Purgatory--the face-melter of story crafting. BIG changes need to be made and I feel like a nervous first time surgeon with a scalpel jittering in my hands, sweat beading at my temples. What if I mess up????

But everything can be fixed, right? And revisions are all part of the process. Editing is my favorite part of the process, but big revisions give me heart palpitations. Still, after much marinating of thoughts and jotting of mental notes, I'm ready to bite the bullet and get in there.

Nip and tuck. Snip. Snip. Snip. Hack. Hack. hack.

But here's the part that makes me insecure--every editor who may request pages, will have a different opinion that will leave me questioning my project, and eventually cause me to lose faith in it. So I'm wondering if I should even bother. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all for making improvements and doing the work it takes to make it the best it can be, but that passion I feel about my story right now is worth more to me than anything a pro editor can offer me. I don't want to lose faith. Which makes all the author options out there right now a beautiful thing. 

We can go right to the reader and let them be the ones to steal our passion. LOL

Anyway, my Losing Faith card is a personal reminder that it doesn't have to be that way, and it makes me smile. 

So look who I met the other day:

Yep, that's Neil Gaiman signing my book in Miami. He spoke to a group of us and then I waited in a two hour line for him to personalize my book. To give you the mental image, I felt like Oliver Twist waiting in line for more porridge (or whatever it was they served at the orphanage) only instead of dejected children, we were all jacked up on caffeine and giddy to meet the man himself. And funny story, I told my hubby that it'll be our luck to finally get up there and then Neil will decide to take a break. 

Well you gotta give the guy credit, he sat there for hours signing books and it's gotta make your hand tired, but just as I predicted, I was next in line and he took a pee break. LOL. So that added another 15 minutes to my wait time, but his staff was super cool and because he made us wait, Neil let us snap a picture with him--which was originally against the rules.

I not only got a book for myself, but I got an autographed book to giveaway to one of my lovely blog readers later on down the line. So keep a lookout for that. 

Okay, I'm sorry this is such a long post, but since the summer has been kicking my butt, it'll be up for awhile. I can't wait for school to start again so I can get my life back. lol

How about you? Do you ever find yourself losing faith?