Story Structure

For some ungodly reason I decided to make as my writing goal for 2014 completing 4 wips. I Tweeted it for heavens sake. I’ve really set myself up this year.

In a previous post I highlight several author sites where I’ve found a lot of helpful information. (I’d put a link to it here, but I haven’t learned how yet).  But, as great as all this information has been, I’m still struggling to get my next book finished.

What’s the problem you ask?  Well, for one thing, I’m a procrastinator my nature.  It takes me frigging forever to write a book. Why? Because I lack organizational skills. So it seems flying by the seat of my pants isn’t going to cut it if I want to meet my goal.

While perusing my favorite sites for additional inspiration I came across Larry Brooks’ Storyfix.  His four-part story structure really seemed to resonate with me. I like the idea of breaking things down, learning what needs to be in your story and where to put it to make it flow. A place for everything and everything in its place.

But I realized this method was only a piece of the puzzle.  What I really needed to do was take a little bit of everything and put it together.

So I sat down on the floor with all my printouts spread out around me, a big roll of paper, and a handful of colorful markers and proceeded to build my story.  I drew a big circle (ala the hero’s journey & Dan Harmon’s circular story structure with eight steps http://tinyurl.com/yhcgdku), divided into 4 parts (Larry Brooks’ Storyfix http://tinyurl.com/mqcqt2), added scenes, plot points and pinch points.

I probably should have used pencil, because I kept moving to different parts to find just the right spot they needed to be. Still, it was pretty satisfying seeing everything coming together, meshing, flowing.

It’s not quite finished, but it’s getting there.  I just need to add chapter placement and rearrange a few scenes.

If I keep focused and stick to the plan I should be able to reach my goal.

But cross your fingers for me, just in case.

Maryanne

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Title Envy

Title envy

I’m not ashamed to admit I have title envy.

You know how it is when one of your favorite authors comes out with a new book and the title is so awesome, so dead on you think “Oh, yeah”?

Or when you ask your author friend what inspired the title of her newest book and she says, “Oh, the it came to me in a dream and the book practically wrote itself.”

Okay, I realize it’s not really that easy.  I’m sure most of us agonize weeks if not months over what we’re going to name our “babies.” Right?

So how does one choose the right title?

You need to make sure it fits the genre you’re writing in.  A modern-sounding title wouldn’t be appropriate for an historical.

Keeping with the tone of your book is important, too.  A comical title wouldn’t do at all for a dark paranormal.

Is there a phrase in your book that captures the essence of your story?  Maybe a quote from one of the characters?

Or maybe try using a play on words. Take for instance Damsel in This Dress, by Marianne Stillings. There’s our heroine (the damsel), and she’s in distress (this dress).  Get it?

Some of my other favorites:

Charmed and Dangerous, by Toni McGee-Causey,

Nearly Departed in Deadwood, by Ann Charles

Keep Me Ghosted, by Karen Cantwell

Still having trouble?  Check out these articles for more help:

writersrelief.com  (http://tinyurl.com/lh4adxj)

lightmessages.com (http://tinyurl.com/lj6ngvw)

Now it’s time for me to play a round of  “name that book” with my next book, which has a Valentine’s theme. I’m going the self-publishing route, but I’m stumped for a title. There’s a female sports writer, a hot accountant, his three nephews, and they’re stuck together in a snowstorm.

Suggestions are always welcome

Maryanne

 

 

 

 

 

 

My 2013 Reading List-short but sweet

I love books.  There’s something about the smell of them, and the way they feel in my hands.  But I’m not opposed to embracing modern technology.  I received a Nook last Christmas and love it.  It’s easy to down load books on to it.

Waaay to easy.

So easy I have more books to read than time to read them.  Dare I say books are my compulsion? What’s a girl to do?  Keep buying more books, of course.  I’ll get around to reading all of them someday.

Here’s a short list of what I managed to squeeze on to my reading list for 2013.  Hopefully, 2014’s list will be longer.

Agnes and the Hitman and Maybe This Time, Jennifer Crusie.  I LOVE anything by Crusie, and hadn’t realized how behind I was on her backlist until I bought these two.  Definitely need to catch up.

Oxygen, John B Olson & Randy Ingermanson.  I don’t normally read scifi, but co-writer Randy Ingermanson is the “snowflake” method of structuring a novel so I had to give it a go.  Glad I did.  It was very good.  I bought the sequel, The Fifth Man,  but haven’t had a chance to read it yet.

The Damsel in this Dress, Marianne Stillings.  I love a good romantic comedy and this one definitely fit the bill.  This just may be a repeater.

Bloodstained, C. J. Lyons. This is the second in Lyons’ Lucy Guardino FBI Thrillers. Fast paced, smartly written, I can’t wait to read the third one.

Keep Me Ghosted, Karen Cantwell. Another entertaining romantic comedy and the first in the Sophie Rhodes Ghostly series.

What did you read this year?

Holiday Music

I like a sappy Christmas tune as much as the next would-be Santa, but not while the pumpkins are still out.  Call me Scrooge if you must, but I’m a firm believer the holiday season should begin with Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

Period.  End of story.

So since it IS the holiday season, and I posted a few of my favorite movies last week, I thought I’d share some festive music from my iTunes playlist.

Warning, some of these are not your Granny’s Christmas songs.  But I bet she’d be tapping her foot along with them, anyway.

Silent Night, Elvis Presley.  This is by far my favorite rendition of this classic Christmas Song.

Mrs. Santa Claus Ain’t Got Nothing on Me, Little Jackie.  With a little bit of soul, a little bit of R&B, and a little bit of pop, our girl lets her “inner elf hustle on out” and does “twelve days of Christmas in twelve hours”.  Granny knows what I’m talkin’ ‘bout.

Milk and Cookies (‘Til Santa’s Gone), Clint Black.  This five-year-old knows Santa’s favorite snack, but is worried the man in red won’t be able to fit everything he asked for under the tree.  Especially the horse.

Merry Christmas, Baby, The Ramsay Lewis Trio.  This is one sexy tune that.  One can almost picture a couple slow dancing in front of a roaring fire, a silky red dress falling softly to the ground, and …  Ahem.

Baby It’s Cold Outside, Dean Martin.  This may be more of a winter song than a Christmas song, but hey, it’s Dean Martin, whom I’ve always thought the best of all the “crooners”.  Yes, even better than Frank Sinatra.

Get Down for the Holidays, Jennie O., This is from the Target commercials a few years back.  Not sure what it is about this song I like.  Maybe it’s the Simon & Garfunkel-esque sound they’ve got going for them.  Yep, that’s it.

I’ve left out a bunch, I know, but these are my current faves.   The list changes every year.

What gets your bells a jingling’ while you’re trimming, wrapping & shopping for the holidays?

(Fun fact:  Jingle Bells was originally written to celebrate the American Thanksgiving and was titled One Horse Open Sleigh.  And it was the first song broadcast from Space.)

Holiday Movies

Ready or not, folks, the holiday season is once again upon us.  It’s  not as if were shouldn’t have been prepared, what with Christmas music on the radio since November 1 and tinsel and garland next to the Halloween costumes.   Kinda takes some of the specialness out of the season, doesn’t it?

What better way to put some oomph back into your Christmas spirit than by sitting down with a cup of hot chocolate (spiked or not, your choice), a bowl of popcorn and a holiday-themed movie?  Here are a few of my favorites, in no particular order.

It’s a Wonderful Life – George Bailey struggles with the path his life has taken and gets an eye opening look at how things could have been from his guardian angel, Clarence.

The Santa Clause – If you were Tim Allen and you found Santa flat on his back on your lawn and reindeer on your roof wouldn’t you “put on the suit”? I love the way this film give an old tale a fresh look.

White Christmas – Not only does this classic movie have a great score and top notch cast, it has Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye rolling up their pant legs, grabbing feather fans and singing “Sisters” to help out a pair of pretty sisters.  And they get to put on a show and save the day for their old WWII commander.

Rudolph – Do I really need to explain why this one is on the list?

The Town Santa Forgot – I doubt anyone remembers this one.   The movie’s message was about spoiled brat Jeremy Lake, being greedy and giving rather than receiving.  But for my son, who had been particularly obnoxious that day, it was an eye opening reminder that Santa didn’t bring toys to kids who were bad.

I could go on and on:

Christmas in Connecticut (1945 version) – Food writer Barbara Stanwyck has lied about being the perfect homemaker and now finds herself hosting her boss and a soldier for the holidays.

Miracle on 34th Street – Edmund Gwen is Santa Clause.  That’s all I gotta say

Elmo Saves Christmas – Elmo loves the holiday so much he wishes it could be Christmas everyday.  He soon learns it would take the specialness out of the holiday and keep people from doing their everyday jobs, everyone would also miss out on all the other great holidays.

What are some of your favorites?

Keep in mind what my husband always says: If you believe, you shall receive.

Friday Faves

Welcome to Friday Faves!  In the grand scheme of things, I plan to use this space to showcase different websites and/or blogs I’ve come across surfin’ the web for stuff.  I’ll feature a different subject each week.  For example, writing tips; gluten free eating/cooking; my favorite heroes; music; etc.

Today I’d like to start with a few author websites I’ve visited for tips on organizing my writing process.  Because I’m always looking for better ways to improve my writing process, which is pretty much non-existent.

First up is Alexandra Sokoloff. (www.screenwritingtricks.com). In her blog, Ms. Sokoloff completely breaks down the 3 Act structure, explains how to use the index card method of plotting your novel, and lists info on agents.  Everything is presented in a light, easy to follow voice.  I’m currently reading her book Writing Love, which is an expanded version of her first book with added romance examples.

Also like to check out Chuck Wendig’s blog (www.terribleminds.com). Be forewarned, he is fond of using certain NSFW and NSFL words, but in a folksy, guy next door kind of way, though.   Yes, I had to look up what those acronyms meant; “not suitable for work”, and “not suitable for life”.  If you can take it upon yourself to overlook the colorful language (and you most definitely should give it a try), you’ll find many insights and tips on writing, including his popular lists of “25”, such as 25 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT WORLDBUILDING.

Therese Walsh and Kathleen Bolton started Writer Unboxed (www.writerunboxed.com) as a place to discuss dissecting books and movies to find out what makes them work. The site has grown and now features author interviews and guests blogging on subjects such as NaNoWriMo and “9 Ways To Undermine Your Characters’ Best Laid Plans”.

And here’s one I just found while tooling around on Writer Unboxed:  Janice Hardy (http://blog.janicehardy.com). In addition to the 500 or so articles on writing, she explains and compares four different structure formats for plotting a novel: The Three-Act Structure, The Hero’s Journey, Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat Beat Sheet, and Michael Hagues’ Six Stage Plot Structure.

Yes, all this information can be confusing and overwhelming.  There’s just so much out of it to sort through.  It may take a bit, but I’m sure you’ll find what works best for you.  Me?  I’m still surfin’.

Maryanne

The Great Procrastinator

Yep, that’s me: The Great Procrastinator.  I’ve been that way most of my life.  Look in my basement and you’ll find  several unfinished projects, including a file cabinet drawer full of partial stories/books.  Some of them are pretty dang good if I do say so myself.  So why haven’t I finished them?

Because I don’t suffer from procrastination. it’s fear that’s my biggest nemesis.  Yep, fear of rejection, fear of failure, and yes, fear of success.

Like, oh my god, what happens if I submit and it gets rejected?  Or like, my family and friends finds out and, like, sees what I’ve written? OMG! I could die of embarrassment.

Several years ago I hit a certain age marker and realized I was letting my fears get the best of me.  So what if “people” found out I liked to write?  What’s the worst that could happen?  It might not be their “cup of tea” and tell me so?  Oh horrors.  Or that they liked it and want to know what else I’ve got in the works?  Ack!

I decided enough was enough and got off my rear and finished a book.  And I even submitted it.

It got rejected and I didn’t spontaneously combust.

Huh.

So I tried again.

And lo and Behold that book was purchased.  And wonder of wonders I actually got paid.  Ok, so I only made $15 before that epub closed its doors.  But hey, 15 bucks is 15 bucks.

And I told my family and friends and got a lot of great feed back from them. No horrible death from humiliation or embarassment.

Well waddayaknow.

So I rolled up my sleeves and finished another book and sent it out and it was purchased, too.  A fluke?  God, I hope not.

The rights to the first book have reverted back to me, and I have opted to try my hand and self publishing.  I mean, look at all the other writer folk who’ve done it.  How difficult could it be?  I’ve even got some great how-to info from a writer’s loop I’m on.

So why am I procrastinating on getting it up and running?

It’s that damn fear thing again.

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