Closer to the Edge

Happy first Wednesday, everyone…

After a lengthy absence, I’m back to IWSG, Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for his wonderful forum and outlet for writers from the timid to the confident. You’ve provided us a safe place to vent, to question and to celebrate. Click on the badge to the right to join us.

Be forewarned, this blog is not about a happy subject. danger

If you write mystery, romance, or adventure you may have reached the point where a specific scene is hard to write because of its unpleasant nature. As a no-gratuitous-violence writer, I avoid scenes like the one looming ahead of me but, the simple fact is, this is a pivotal scene. The POV’s feelings of guilt and self-doubt flood from this terrible mistake. Her actions at this moment change everything, providing tension and conflict. Without it she is two-dimensional. Through the novel she searches for redemption and when she finally finds it she’s faced with more questions than answers.

But, unfortunately, her creator was not brave:) Bumping up against the fictional rough stuff made me uneasy. It felt personal. As writers we sometimes set limits for ourselves, lines we hesitate to cross. Other writers are fearless and over the top, but I found myself dancing around this scene as if it was a cornered rat in my kitchen.

However, that said, I’ve had time to think about this since first draft. Now, in revision, I’ve decided to forge on ahead, fine-tuning the action and honoring its importance in the story.

Are you willing to get closer to the edge? If so, any advice for me?


Linear Plotting into Infinity

2014-08-06 17.58.08Update: I’m still here, blogging friends. Life washed me up on its shores, battered but happy and alive. One tremendous hurdle is receding in the distance; yet another one looms. But…it’s all extremely good and, since I feel like writing for the first time in weeks, I’m blogging instead of creating my revision outline:)

Linear thinking is my thing. Point A to Point Z, straight ahead, no wandering around, no getting lost. TripAdvisor, Google Earth, or a good old map are my guideposts. When I’m plotting, I draw lines. Straight lines. Rigid as it seems, I don’t vary much once I get my ideas down on paper. But, tonight, I have to admit, I’m stalling a bit. Right now, drawing seems more fun. I just may have to buy a real whiteboard!11970909911651569759jcartier_Pencil_svg_thumb

Do you create your plot in 2D or 3D? Tell me how you do it – maybe I’ll try something new.

Tangent Tales

T – Tanget – a sudden digression or change of course.1197121887834365039Chrisdesign_Flying_Stars_svg_med

Ok. Admit it. It’s happened to you. You’re chatting with friends, laughing and blabbering away when suddenly another idea seizes control of your tongue and, several moments later, you’ve backed yourself in a verbal corner. How did I get here? you wonder. What the heck just happened? Instead of following a neat thought-thread from point a to z, you find yourself rattling around in point r. Granted point r is something you feel passionate about, but it led you astray. Maybe point r is a favorite cause, a fond like or a profound dislike. But, there you are. Off the track.

This happens to writers. When I write without an outline, I often end up in cave of cobwebby words and concepts, fighting toward the light, side tracked and frustrated. Usually, something interesting appears, something I can’t possibly use in the current story. It falls under the category of it’s fantastic but it doesn’t work here. Some of my best scenes turned out to be tangents and, I’m embarrassed to say, I didn’t realize it until I did a huge revision on the novel.

I’m fairly tangent free now, but I always wanted to harness them. They are so full of potential and spontaneity.

stars-thSo tell me how you hog tie your tangents, or do you capture them and make them work for you?

(BTW, don’t delete those wandering thoughts. They could be the next big thing in your writing.)


I love to write. Honest. But, there is an actual life out there beyond our scratching pens and clattering keyboards.

Life is happening in spite of email, cellphones, iPods, Facebook, writer’s forums, revisions, revolutions and the precarious state of our world.

So, here’s my other things to do list:

*Take a day trip to a beautiful mountain home, visit a dear friend, drink sweet tea.

*Garden. The outside world ends at your fingertips when you get your hands dirty.

*Read someone else’s novel.

*Watch HBO.

*Visit your local independent bookstore.

*Grill and chill with your family.

*If possible, go to the beach.



*Listen to music.


Let your mind and body rest. A rested body revitalizes the mind, and a revitalized mind incubates ideas.

How will you reboot your brain?

Revision means REVISION

I like Chapter Four. It has an exciting fight scene, a tense medical situation, mystery and mayhem. However, I’ve struggled with the first page, the first two paragraphs, for a couple of nights. Last night, when I read through my third attempt, I decided a break was in order.

So, what is matter with this first page?

It’s boooooring.

Maybe I don’t understand the meaning of revision after all.

Maybe I don’t want to admit that, after all the struggle of two drafts, there are still parts of the novel that, for lack of a better word, stink.  Part of me wants to keep what I’ve written, add a few choice words, a juicy sentence here and there and call it done. But, revision can be and, I’m finding, usually is much more than just a quick brush with the pen.

The English as a Second Language Dictionary defines revision as: to prepare a new version, to reconsider and change or modify.


could completely rewrite those paragraphs. As long as I stick with the scene’s objective, I’m free to tear apart anything I’ve created and reassemble it in a new and unique way. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Maybe.

Apparently, some authors rewrite 50% + of their first draft. I sure as hell don’t want to do that.  But, I have a self-imposed deadline of May 1st, 2012 for sending out my first query letters on the novel. So, I’ll do what it takes even if it means rewriting.

Why I haven’t thought of revision as freedom to leave the old draft behind until now, I don’t know. Some sort of misplaced writer’s arrogance, fear, or laziness? Whatever. Time to shake if off.

I‘ve come too far now to flounder  and, if I need a reminder of my goal, I have my trusty dictionary by my side.

Stay tuned.

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