Wednesday, December 17, 2014

I Hereby Banish You, Inner Critic

Okay, maybe not entirely because an inner critic can be a little useful in moderation.
I find that writing advice/information that I didn’t realize I needed, pops up at the right time. I’ve seen lots of mentions and advice about inner critics the last couple of months, which is perfect timing. Mine has been nattering.
My last blog on New Story Jitters is an example of the inner critic preventing me from starting a new project. Now that the novel is underway, I fret that I’m missing elements, that my characters aren’t right, that my plot and sub-plots aren’t unfolding or meshing together or any other things that could prevent me from finishing.
Be still, Inner Critic!
When the nattering starts, I remind myself that this is only the first draft. It doesn’t need to be perfect. That’s why we revise...and revise...and revise...oh wait, need to revise some more. For me, the point of the first draft is to get the story out, then go back to flesh out the characters and story, rewrite, tear chunks out, maybe cry a bit from frustration, and keep remoulding until it’s a masterpiece – at least until I read it again and start the process over.
If your inner critic is rearing its ugly head, don’t worry, you’re not alone. The most important thing to do is give it the finger and forge on, reminding yourself that rewriting is always an option once you have the story down.

Friday, December 5, 2014

New Novel Jitters

It’s been a trying and busy time on many levels, which has kept me from posting. But here I am!
As mentioned in a previous post, I had started the sequel to my first novel a few months ago. I’m proud to say the first draft is finished and a completely new project is underway.
Before I started my sequel and my new novel, I was very nervous, almost afraid. My first manuscript was finished over four years ago and tucked away when I got pregnant with my second child along with the rest of my life. When I was able to get back to it, all I had to do was revise (easier than it sounds).
After revisions, I started the sequel in September. I found I was very resistant and worried that I couldn’t write another novel. I knew where the story was going, though hadn’t worked out all the details (I’m more of a pantser than a planner). I reminded myself that I had written a novel once and could do it again. Finally, I started the story and wrote the first draft in three months; it’s now resting, awaiting the revision process.
My new project is different from the first two and has been percolating in my brain for several months. It’s time to write it. Again, I was very nervous to start. The resistance was almost like a wall and I found myself doing little chores to put off starting my new manuscript. All sorts of doubts plagued me. What if I can’t do it? What if I get part way through and hit a wall? What if, what if, what if? The list goes on.
I recalled a quote from Stephen King: “The scariest moment is always just before you start.” I relate to that.
The most important thing though is that I realized it, sat down, reviewed notes I had made on the world I was about to start creating and started writing. Now that I’m aware of it, I hopefully can accept it and not let it hold me back.
It’s better to have something on the page because I can always go back and revise. That’s not possible with a blank page.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Ripping and Tearing

This week I've been busy tearing apart the first several chapters of my novel and sewing it back together and giving myself grey hair in the process.
I attended a writing and revising workshop on Saturday with Brian Henry who runs the fablous site Quick Brown Fox. This was my first writing workshop and found it well worth the eight hour round trip, even with my two imps. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to share my first 1,000 words with the group and receive feedback. Brian suggested I take out the first part of chapter one to start closer to the action, which was something I had been considering but wasn't sure about. One thing I learned at the workshop was that I need to trust my instincts more.
So, I started cutting and realized that I really didn't need the end of chapter one, since the whole point was for my main character to meet her love interest. Why not have them already dating? How they meet isn't vital to the story since the core of the story is about her struggle with her nightmares, not their relationship. Out came the scissors again and I kept cutting, eliminating 10,000 words in the process. My mantra the whole time was, if I don't like it, I can always change it back.
Now I've successfully worked out a new beginning for my novel, made the story tighter and have a word count under 100,000.
It's almost liberating to start cutting up my manuscript but frightening at the same time. I worry that I'm losing the feel of the story or that it's not going to work. At the same time, it's like putting together a puzzle and working to fit everything in the perfect place so I have a wonderful picture at the end. Mind you, like a puzzle, I was throwing my hands up in frustration a lot.
I have read other posts by writers, talking about the need to cut scenes, even ones they are extremely attatched to, in order to make their story stronger. I totally understand it. It's not easy, and I've cut many scenes from my novel already but when I went back and read the manuscript, the story wasn't lacking. Maybe someday, when my book is published, I'll put up some of the deleted scenes on my website.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Can You Push Your Main Characters Too Far?

I have read a couple articles recently about needing to “kill your darlings” when you are writing. If you’re too close to your characters, it can be hard to make them fall and face (seemingly) insurmountable conflict that you need for your story.

When the time came for me, I didn’t just shove my main character off the cliff, I threw her. There were times when I was uncomfortable with some of the things she needed to do, but I would take a deep breath and tell myself, “You have to go there.” Sometimes I challenged myself to go even darker. It’s not easy and it can break your heart to write about some of the things your characters do. I still get emotional at the end of my story.

I used a friend as a beta reader for my novel and she came to see me yesterday to let me know she finished. I’m always excited to get feedback so I asked what she thought. She told me that she had an issue and wasn’t sure how to tell me because she didn’t want to offend me. A little surprised, I asked what it was. She explained that she had to put down the book part way through because she didn’t like what was happening to the main character.

I wasn’t offended at all. I’m always interested in the different reactions people have to my work and, if it’s sincere feedback, I want to hear it (positive or not). I was thrilled that she was so attached to the main character and that I was able to evoke such a strong emotional response. That was a major victory for me.

On the other hand, what if she hadn’t finished reading the book? You don’t want someone to put down your book with no intention of finishing it, especially when there will be more in that series. She did finish reading and was pleased with the outcome. She also asked when I would be finished writing the next book because she wants to read it as well (yay!).

Her comments have me wondering: Can you tear down your main characters too much?

In Shadowed Soul, the main character loses herself and changes dramatically, leaving the reader to wonder if she will find her way back. My friend didn’t like the person the main character became, so it wasn’t that the story was bad, she was just upset that the main character turned into someone she didn’t like very much.

She’s the first to have this reaction and I still have a couple more beta readers working through the book, so I’m going to wait for their remarks before I decide if I need to reel in the conflict or not.

It’s a very interesting issue, and one I hadn’t thought of until now.

Have you faced this issue before, either as a writer or reader, and how did you deal with it?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What If...?

My attitude towards my writing and journey to publication swings to extremes a times. One day I'm ready to take it on, other days I wonder if I know what I'm doing. Many things can trigger this, the weather (it's been raining here for a week, which has been quite draining), a peice of information I come across that sheds light on my journey to being a better writer and getting published or my own inner critic.

Today seems to be one of the down days, like I mentioned earlier, this cold rainy weather is getting depressing.

Today I wonder, what if I don't sell this this book? It is a possibility in the post-Twilight daze (though my novel is adult and nothing like that series) where publishers and agents don't seem too interested in anything with vampires.

If I follow that dark road, it's easy to think of all the time "wasted" through writing, revisions, researching agents, etc.

Then I give my head a shake.

I didn't sit down and say, "I want to have a book published." When the idea first came to me, I said, "Hey, that would be a great story to write."

And that's what I did. I started writing.

I write because I have always loved to write and create. Ever since I was little I have wanted to be a writer. I didn't start my first blog to have a career as a blogger, I started it because I love to write and thought other people could benefit from reading about my parenting (mis)adventures.

I wrote a book because that's what I wanted to do. Then when I finished, I realized that I had something I wanted to share, something that people would probably want to read.

Was the time wasted? No. I loved becoming lost in the story and characters as I wrote. So much so that I'm working on a sequel. Actually, the characters wouldn't quit whispering to me so I didn't think I had much of a choice in carrying on their story. It looks like the whole series will be four books.

What if I don't sell the first manuscript?

I'm confident that there is an agent out there who will champion my story, and if I'm wrong, then when I start the other story idea I have, maybe that one will sell. Two things I have going for me: I'm extremely stubborn and not afraid of a challenge.

In the meantime, I will continue to write and query every agent in North America that accepts fantasy, paranormal, urban fantasy and possibly even suspense.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

One Lucky Vampire - Book Review

I’m still making my way through some of the paranormal (romance) books a customer brought into my store. I have at least three books on the go right now from various genres. Too many books to read and not enough time unfortunately.

Lynsay Sands’s One Lucky Vampire was one of the books in the pile my customer brought in. I read the back and cringed, another romance. When I started the book, I was surprised to find it set in Ottawa. I looked up Sands and was pleasantly surprised to find she is Canadian! I like to support Canadian authors and musicians when I can, so that was a big mark in her favour.

One Lucky Vampire is part of the Argeneau series, which follows a family of vampires, though according to the main character in this novel, they aren`t really vampires, they just have vampire tendencies. It’s the bio-engineered nanos developed in the lost city of Atlantis that gives them their abilities and they need blood because the nanos use more blood to work...more about that in a moment.

In the book, Jake Colson is still adjusting to his life as a vampire, which he didn`t want. He ran away to Ottawa to get away from his vampire family and is working as a bodyguard. Matriarch, Margaritte Argeneau, finds him and asks for a favour; he needs to pose as a cook/housekeeper to keep an eye on mortal Nicole Phillips until her divorce is final because it seems someone, likely her husband, is trying to kill her.

Naturally, Nicole expects a woman to fill the position and is surprised when Margaritte brings her nephew Jake. The attraction is instant but after the horrible way her husband treated her, Nicole isn’t ready for a relationship, let alone with her now employee.

When I first started the book, I was a little reluctant because I’m not a fan of romance novels. I like a good love story but not the writing style most romances tend to have. It took me a while to get into the book but, when I did, I didn’t want to put it down.

I loved the humour and laughed out loud at several of the awkward situations Sands incorporated, especially the scene when Jake has to reveal that he’s a vampire to Nicole and the part about “eating out” – if you read the book, you’ll get it. The writing flowed well, making it a light, easy read, which was nice for a book I was only reading while I ate and didn’t need anything too deep.

Nicole is a fun, sexy character. I liked her strength and honesty, as well as the fact that she’s independent and doesn’t rely on a man to support her. I also liked that she wasn’t sexually timid and would take control in bed at times. Jake is your typical yummy vampire with the sensitive side yet could kick ass when needed. I liked him, though found there were some lines of dialogue that seemed a little uncharacteristic for him. The heat and attraction between them definitely came across well.

The story lagged a bit in the first part and I kept waiting for an action scene, but everything picked up further in. I was more than half way through the book on a Friday and left it at work for the weekend since it was my lunch time read, but found myself anxious to finish it.

Because I enjoyed the characters and wit so much, I was able to get past some of the hokey romance writing and that everyone did things “wryly” (hey, all writers have their go to words). The plot was good given the audience it’s geared towards, for me it was a little weak and I wasn’t keen on the outcome as far as the attempts on Nicole’s life (no spoilers).

I did get hung up on the “we aren’t vampires” protest yet, through the book, they are referred to as vampires. Either they are or they aren’t. Jake protested the term so forcefully that it made me feel that they really shouldn’t be called vampires. Maybe it’s different in the other books...I’ll keep you posted.

Overall, yes, I think I would read another Lynsay Sands book if I needed a break from the darker fiction I tend to enjoy. Any author that makes me laugh out loud is good in my book.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Search Continues

Rejections from literary agents are trickling in for my paranormal novel, but that's okay, I was prepared for that. I'll add them to the radio ones I received when I was starting my career in news. Eventually an agent will give me a shot, if not for this novel, then my next (how's that for optimism?).

When I first started reading about the query process, it was very intimidating.  Agents seem like an untouchable entity that sit between you and your goal to get published. They want you to write a letter that gives them a small, yet exciting, glimpse at what your story is about and a bit about yourself. Sounds easy enough...but it's not. Getting that synopsis just right to spark their interest so they ask for more is challenging,  especially knowing they look at dozens of queries a day and only accept a few new clients.

As my rejections arrive there's one thing I have appreciated; most of the agents say thank you for giving them the opportunity to see your project. I expected to receive short emails stating, "No, not what I'm looking for. " The emails I've received so far aren't much longer but at least they sound appreciative, even if they are likely a form letter.

I've started reading blogs for several agents, which are often very interesting. One blog I read that has stuck with me is by a new agent (she was the first to turn me down with a very nice personal email). She posted a piece about writers who lash out at agents that have rejected their work titled Things I Wish Authors Knew. It made me realize the importance of having an agent who loves and is excited about my work. I was lucky to read this before I really started querying. I've come to view finding an agent like finding any partner, not everyone will be right for me so I have to wade through the choices until I do find the right one...of course while constantly reevaluating my query letter.

So I continue to research agents (which seems to border on stalking) and learn as much as I can to improve my chances.  If nothing else I'm discovering lots of great blogs, some of which are listed on the right side of this page.

How is your journey going?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Sequel

I have sent my first round of query letters to literary agents for my novel Shadowed Soul. In the meantime, my characters are still bugging me so I started the second installment.

Writing a sequel is trickier than I thought.

First off, I haven’t written a full novel in five years. I wrote Shadowed Soul and started editing it, but being pregnant and then a new baby shoved my novel aside. Earlier this year I pulled it out again and did some major rewrites and edits, but the whole story was done so all I had to do was improve it.

Like having a second child, I’m all the way back to the beginning and sometimes wonder how I pulled it together the first time. I know I can do it, after all, I did it once.

I find recapping the major points from the first story a challenge. I don’t want to over do it, yet, if someone doesn’t read the first story, they need to be caught up. I don’t want to do an information dump so I’m trying to weave everything in as I go. It really is a balancing act.

Continuity between the two stories hasn’t been much trouble at this point but I understand how it could be a challenge. Since I just finished intensely working over my first manuscript (I swear I’ve read it a hundred times), most events are fresh in my mind, though I have had to peek back at some minor details to ensure everything is consistent.

If you are thinking about writing a series, right off the bat, keep a detailed list of characters and traits while you are working on your first story. This seems like a no-brainer to many but not everyone does it. Keep details for everyone, even minor characters that will be in the story. You never know when a minor character will decide to take a larger role later on.

Keeping descriptions of other things that play a role in your novel is also recommended. In my novel, Shadowed Soul, there is an agreement between the vampires and hunters. I have written out everything in the agreement, even if all the details don’t make it into the novel. That way I have it handy when I need to refer to it and it saves me from contradicting myself.

Have you written a sequel of any of your stories? If so, what challenges or helpful advice would you like to share?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Writer's Block

I seem to be experiencing an uninspired period. Whether it be staring at a blank page or screen, trying to come up with the criminal to fill out the plot for a new book idea, or trying to write a blog, nothing is coming to me right now.

A big part of it likely has to do with the problem I'm having with my youngest imp, who just started junior kindergarten. She's been screaming, with all the gusto of a horror movie victim, when I drop her off in the morning, ruining the rest of my day as I worry about her. Of course, she's fine at school after I leave but that doesn't erase the memory of her little hands clinging desperately to me.

That sort of stress is not conducive to creativity.

I would be interested to hear how others deal with their own writer's block in the comments below.

I went back and read some uncompleted short stories to see if that would inspire me to add a little to them. Unfortunately, not this time.

I brainstormed some ideas for that new book I mentioned, but am still stuck in filling out the ending. Being a mystery type, I need to know who did it before I start the book.

I looked to my blog. Maybe coming up with a new topic and posting would spark my creativity. Obviously not if I'm writing about my writer's block.

As I was editing the book I just finished writing, I kept coming up with plans for the next installment. The characters were impatiently screaming at me to continue their story. Of course, I wrote the ideas down so I went back and reviewed them. I know where I want to go with that story, so I started the sequel to the book I just finished. I'm still stumped on a few parts but I figure as long as I get something started then I have a base and can add or delete later.

My creative energy is just in a down cycle right now and will bounce back soon.

I just hate waiting.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Lost Night - A Review

A woman brought in several paranormal fiction books to my store (I sell used books as part of my retail business) and I asked her about them. I told her that I love the paranormal genre but don’t like romance. She insisted that they weren’t really romance that there was just a love story as part of it. I’m a sucker for a good love story, just not romance books. I figured I would give the books a try.

I read the back of several, trying to find one that seemed interesting. I was skeptical because they all seemed like romance. I settled on The Lost Night by Jayne Ann Krentz, writing as Jayne Castle.

The story is about a woman, Rachel Blake, who reads and works with people’s auras. After losing her job on the mainland, she goes back to Rainshadow Island to run the bookstore her aunts left her. She meets and is attracted to Harry Sebastian, whose family owns a large chunk of the island called the Preserve.

The Preserve is a dangerous area because of the alien energy it contains that makes it hard to escape. Harry is investigating strange, violent energy emanating from the Preserve that is affecting the whole island and wants Rachel’s help.

At first Rachel’s a suspect because, before she went to the mainland, she spent a night in the Preserve and found her way out, but can’t remember what happened. Once Harry gets to know her, she’s off the suspect list.

Together they discover what happened to Rachel on her lost night and find men involved in a scheme to smuggle alien weapons off the island.

Harry also finds one of the three stones his ancestor buried on the island, which were all stolen. It turns out the stones were causing the energy disturbance and finding one helped calm the energy somewhat, keeping people safe for now and setting up another book.

Within in the first twelve pages I was ready to put it down. The writing style screamed romance. It wasn’t great but it was decent. I can see why people whip through these books with the short sentences and simple story lines.

Despite this, I kept going.

I must admit the book was entertaining, though likely not the way the author intended. It was a paranormal romance. The cliché romance writing made me laugh out loud several times. There were lots of passages I read to my husband who looked at me like I was out of my mind.

The characters were decently written and I was intrigued by Harry Sebastian, once I got over his name. Krentz (Castle) had come up with a nice little world and some pleasant characters. I like the different talents (powers) some of the characters have.

I was able to overcome the romance idea but didn’t find the story overly exciting. There was a fire, some okay sex, a kidnapping, some more sex in a cave despite the danger they could be in, and then they find the bad guys, the pace picked up a bit then, but it didn’t last long.

Overall the book was boring with hardly any action and I didn’t really feel the connection between Rachel and Harry. The ending was a little too happy for my taste.

For those looking for a quick, easy read or those who like paranormal romance this is a book for you. I’m sure this woman isn’t a New York Times bestseller for nothing.

For anyone seeking something darker with lots of excitement and deeper characters, don’t bother.

Is anyone else having trouble finding good paranormal reads that aren’t romance...guess I’ll just have to wait until Anne Rice’s Prince Lestat comes out on October 28 and in the meantime, delve further into my own dark paranormal book.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Disillusioned Crushes

When I was a teenager I had crushes on several rock musicians. Who didn’t have a crush on a musician, actor, or other celebrity when they were young? You imagined how great life would be. He was everything you were looking for in a man – romantic, attentive, caring.

I had a great reality check several years ago about my teenage celebrity crushes – they definitely weren’t as great as I once thought.

I was reading Slash’s biography (guitarist for Guns N’ Roses for those of you who didn’t already know that) and in a passage he was talking about the early days of the band when a few of them were living in a freight container. They were having a party and there was a girl they were taking turns with. GROSS!!!!!!

Though Slash was not one of my crushes, I did have a crush on another GN’R member. Upon reading that, not only did my stomach turn, but it dawned on me how dirty many of these rock stars are. They have had women upon women throwing themselves at them for years. I wonder if they can even guess the number of women they have been with. Nope, a history like that is definitely not for me.

Then I started watching the Bret Michaels (lead singer of Poison) reality show, Life As I Know It. I will admit having a huge crush on Bret Michaels as a teenager. I’m watching that show thinking that his partner has all the same problems as I do with my husband, plus some. Reality check #2: they are still men and do all those men things – probably with additional ones thrown in because they have the money to do crazy things.

My final reality check was thanks to Facebook.

Nuno Bettencourt (guitarist extraordinaire from Extreme). I’m going to admit to still crushing on him...don’t tell my husband. I follow him via Facebook, which would have blown me away when I was a teenager. He’s a fan of the selfie, which is okay, who doesn’t want to look at pictures of him.

Sorry, getting off topic...

Musicians are a little self-appreciating. Okay, let’s call it like it is, many are divas to some degree. I’m sorry, there’s only room for one diva in my world, which was me until my daughters were born. Sorry Nuno, I will still follow you though.

The moral of my story, they may be nice to look at, but guess what – they aren’t as great as we imagine them to be.

It reminds me of a quote from High Fidelity (great book and movie):
“The other girl, or other women, whatever. I mean, I was thinking that, they are just fantasies, you know? And they always seem really great, because there are never any problems. And if there are, they are the cute problems, like we bought each other the same Christmas present, or she wants to see a movie I’ve already seen, you know. Then I come home...and you and I have real problems, you don’t want to see a movie I want to see, period.”

That said, I would take my husband over my teenage celebrity crushes any day.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Using Astrology To Build Characters

When I first started my novel, one of the characters gave me a hard time. He wasn’t talking to me like the others. To help me get a little deeper into his head I did some basic Astrology on him. As soon as I did that, I understood him and his motivations much better.

I was able to do this because I have studied Astrology for over 20 years (wow, has it really been that long? I’m getting old). I can even draw a natal chart using the time and place someone was born, doing all the calculations and interpretations by hand. That background really helped me shape my characters.

You don’t have to be well versed in Astrology to make it work for you.

Choosing signs for your characters can help you keep their personality on track. When you review the signs it gives you both good and not-so-good aspects of the personality so you can integrate them through out the story. Sometimes it helps give your characters some quirks.

Everyone knows their sun sign, it’s the easiest to determine because the sun stays in each astrological sign for about a month. But what is a sun sign? Your sun sign is your basic character, who you really are. It could also be defined as your true self.

There are lots of websites that will give characteristics associated with each sign so you can look them up and choose one that seems to represent your character. Remember, this is your character’s core.

Of course, your sun sign is not totally who you are. The moon also plays a huge roll in your personality, but since it moves through each sign faster than the sun not everyone knows what their moon sign is. For our purposes, we don’t have to worry about getting out an ephemeris (fancy name for charts laying out the planets), we can just choose what would fit our character.

Your moon sign rules your emotions. It’s how you react to things on an emotional level. This is your private inner self that you don’t always show people. Everyone has secrets, that’s what your moon sign is about. If you’re character is very sensitive, he/she could be a Cancer. Leo’s are very proud and would never let anyone see his/her emotional weaknesses. Play with it a bit and see what you come up with.

The other most important sign is your ascendant or rising sign, this is the sign that was on the horizon when you were born. It’s your public face, the part of you that you allow the world to see. It also indicates how you approach and interact with the world. An Aries would rush in aggressively, head first, while a Virgo rising would take his/her time in social situations and is a little harder to get to know.

Those are the three most important parts of a natal chart. If you can work with them they will help you get a good feel on your character. Then again, you can also just stick with picking a sun sign and following its characteristics.

Here’s an example of how you can make this work for you:

Sun: Leo
Moon: Aquarius
Ascendant: Scorpio

She is outgoing, friendly and a bit of a drama-queen at times (Leo) but has always felt different, since Aquarians aren’t made to “fit in”. This leads her to be shy at times, and maybe she is about some things, but with the confidence of Leo she can be very expressive about other things like in her clothing or art. Aquarian moons also have a strong need for independence, which is likely heightened because Leo’s are also very independent.
When you first meet her though, she comes across as determined and is the type of person you either like or hate immediately. She also likes her privacy (Scorpio) but when you get to know her she’s very willing to share more about herself (Leo).

Play with it a bit and see what you come up with. Sometimes the signs can conflict with each other, which can lead to inner conflicts.

The website breaks down each sign under sun, moon and ascendant/rising sign.

Have fun!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Dreaded Word Count

I’ve been attempting to bring the word count of my novel as close to 100,000 words as possible. Given the books I like to read that seems short. So far I’ve been successful in eliminating over 20,000 words.

I read an article on Writers Digest ( that explained why it’s easier to market a first-time novelist’s book if it’s between 80,000 and 100,000 words. Of course, there’s always exceptions, but why chance my book being rejected because it’s too long?

I don’t worry about word count when I write my initial draft. I need to get the story out, then wordsmith. I find that it takes two different mind sets to write and to edit.

In radio you only have a certain amount of time to read a news story, so it’s important to do so in as few words as possible without missing any important information. I guess over 10 years writing news was good practice for cutting words out of my novel.

Before sacrificing a chunk of story that you think is important to your plot (of course if it doesn’t contribute, dump it), try looking for places to tighten up your phrasing.

Check for words that don’t contribute to your sentences. Eliminating one or two words from several sentences adds up. Of course, it depends on the context and feel you’re striving for.

     She wasn’t going to hang around any longer than she had to.
     She wasn’t staying longer than she had to.

Avoid using several words when one will do. Sometimes it’s necessary to create a certain feel for the scene, but watch for places where it’s not.

     She wasn’t staying longer than she had to.
     She wasn’t staying longer than necessary.

Check for redundant modifiers.

     He was bare naked when he emerged from the room.
     He was naked when he emerged from the room.

     She was completely finished with him.
     She was finished with him.

Sometimes when I’m in the throws of writing, I state a similar idea several times within a few pages. Too much repetition will annoy the reader and doesn’t usually contribute to the story. When I go back to edit, I find and delete the repetition, unless it’s needed – sometimes you have to drive a point home.

These were a few examples of simple ways to cut some words before chopping scenes. Sometimes just rewording a sentence will help you lose some words, other times you need to get rid of that sentence.

Here are some sites that may help in your editing (I’m not promoting any of the services the sites may be selling because I haven’t used any of them). – has several good articles.

I’m sure there are lots of articles out there. If anyone knows any good ones, feel free to post them along with any editing tips you have.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Taking Time to Write

One of the largest challenges is finding time to write. Between working, children, household duties and life, it can be hard to find time for our passion. I recently met up with another aspiring writer who said that she had the same problem.

I read somewhere that you should try to write for at least 15 minutes a day. I’m not sure if the theory is that when you sit down for 15 minutes you will soon find it has been an hour or more. I find it takes me at least half an hour to get into the groove so I can’t limit myself.

When my girls go to bed, that’s when I write. Ever try writing with two young children around? It’s very frustrating. My husband has sacrificed his quality time with me in the evening and, for that, I’m grateful. This didn’t work when my children were infants because neither slept (literally) so I would go to bed early in an effort to get even an hour sleep before the night waking started.

I also don’t watch television. Thankfully, summer shows aren’t that great so I’m not missing anything. I have successfully avoided getting hooked on Big Brother for the last three years. In the fall I will likely PVR my shows (I don’t want to miss The Originals or Supernatural!) and pick one night to watch them all. Hopefully, before our PVR is full.

The challenge in writing in the evening is that eventually I have to go to bed. I don’t do well on less than seven hours of sleep. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in a story and want to finish “just one more thing”. Before you realize it, it’s later than you wanted it to be. Grudging, I tear myself away and head upstairs to read a little bit before going to sleep. If I don’t read something else before bed, my characters plague me all night.

Keeping a notebook handy during the day and night can help. I often replay scenes in my head or listen to my characters’ dialogues and I get new insights. Keeping track of them helps me focus on things I want to add when I make time to write so I’m not wasting time trying to remember things.

It’s important to make time for the things you enjoy, not matter what it is, though it’s not always easy. Life frequently gets in the way.

I’d be interested to hear how others find time for their writing.