Make Yourself Smile

It’s almost the first Wednesday of the month again.

Welcome to Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Check us out at http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/

This is a safe and wonderful place to air your fears and triumphs as you write your way through life.

I’m making a real effort not to sniffle and whine about the fact that my first-draft has rolled to an abrupt halt at 30,000 words. So, with that in mind, I searched for things to make me smile.

I stumbled across http://www.incidentalcomics.com on my Facebook page and it reminded me of my old cartooning days. (Long ago, in a life far, far away.) Plus, it’s a great commentary on creativity – or lack thereof.

Incidental ComicsThe artist, Grant Snider, pencils creativity in a humorous and light-hearted comic art format. His most recent is The Three Rays wherein the frustrated writer laments his lame attempts at writing, asks the muse for a ray of hope and, voila, Raymond Carver, Raymond Chandler, and Ray Bradbury appear!

Check out Grant’s take on the Muse.

 How do you get a laugh out of writing?

(Now, if I could only take my own advice!)

Renegade-self

R  is for Renegade.

My first novel is finished, queries are emailed. Now what? I have several ideas on the back burner but, honestly, they aren’t what I want to write. Not at this moment.

So, I’m wondering – should I give in and write a contemporary adult fiction novel – a story of life right outside the front door with no paranormal creatures or sexy space guys. Don’t get me wrong. Some of the best books I’ve read are about normal people solving problems, but I have the feeling these stories are not mine to tell. Once you’ve written something you really enjoy, something that makes you laugh, cry, or wish you could be in the story, you can’t ever go back.

I’ve always considered myself a bit of a renegade but when it comes to this, I fall down the predictable rabbit hole. I do want to snag an agent, and I want to be traditionally published. If I create a mainstream novel at least I would have more agents to query. Another novel (possibly a sequel) with an interstellar setting, humor, and sexual content reduces my potential agent base.

So, I’m faced with a dilemma. Creativity verses $.  Write what might sell or write what you love? Slog on with the popular stuff or be a renegade writer, out for a good time, fearless and foolish?

The song Girls Just Want to Have Fun keeps running through my mind. Well, so do writers!

What does your renegade self tell you to write?stars-th

Synopsis Success

Finally, my novel synopsis is complete. After struggling, revising, and obsessing for two weeks, I came up something I can live with. Writer friends helped me tremendously, and blogger friends encouraged me along the way. Thanks, everyone.stars-th I’m still not sure a synopsis, no matter how carefully crafted, ever does justice to a novel. For now, I look at a synopsis as a simple tool for prospective agents. My last barrier to querying is gone, and I’m ready. In fact, I emailed my first query today. I pressed the send button and, like a photon torpedo, the letter was off to cyber-land. Yikes! This takes guts, girls and boys!
mail-message-new-thOh, and I have a post revision reader. She’s an any genre gal, and I figure if she enjoys my novel then I’ve achieved my goal – creating an adventure that appeals to a variety of readers.

Tell me about your novel. Is it for general consumption or for a select audience?

Synopsis Magic Wand

Quick update:

Where is the synopsis fairy when I need her? She must wave her wand and write this thing for me!

Just when I thought I was armed and ready to query this tiny little problem popped up. I researched the list of agents who welcome science-fiction and most of them want your synopsis submitted with your query. And guess who hasn’t written her synopsis? Honestly, kids, the synopsis is a monster challenge that kicks your butt until you kick back. I thought a query letter was difficult, but this synopsis thing is astronomically more daunting. Something happens as you examine your novel from beginning to end in 600 hundred words or less.lilac-pen-orange-writing-th Under this close focus, this paring down to bone, your novel weakens or strengthens. Oh dear.  There’s no escaping the moment when you’ve written your draft and you realize your novel doesn’t come across as the amusing intelligent story you know it is. So, I have to draw the line in the sand, the sell it now or never line.

 Good writing  doesn’t always go hand in hand with good salesmanship  but, in this case, it has to. So, I’m forging ahead, fearlessly. Sort of.

This situation definitely goes on my list of mistakes I won’t make on my second novel. Don’t wait until the novel’s completed to write the synopsis. Write it first.

How will you handle the synopsis when the time comes?

Do you have any secrets you want to share? Any pats on the head as I continue to whine my way through this process?

Writing Event Horizon

In general relativity an event horizon is a boundary in spacetime beyond which events cannot affect an outside observer. In layman’s terms it is “the point of no return” i.e. the point at which the gravitational pull becomes so great as to make escape impossible.1257596738438424553ywuwth-md

I’m approaching the event horizon of this project. My novel is almost done. Now, I’m being pulled by the gravity of completion toward the black hole of writing my query letter – the letter in which you write more brilliantly than you ever have in your life.

In the time it took me to write this novel I have figured out some important things:

1 – Finally, I can describe my novel in thirty words or less.

2 – After countless battles, I made Word 2007 my friend, sort of. I know how to replace words using edit, I have every chapter typed to the best of my ability, and I understand how to compile the entire novel into a continuous flow of numbered pages.

3 – At this moment, I have an outline of my query letter and a draft of the synopsis.

4 – And, most important of all – I am not, nor will I ever be, a proficient typist.

So, the big question is: who in hell is going to type this manuscript for me?  This is not a favor you can ask of your friend the office assistant at work. Not if you want to keep that friend.
So tell me. What are the going prices for manuscript typing? I know this is an expensive proposition, but will I have to mortgage the house?

How will you handle the typing issue when the time comes?

Chapter-20-to-end

Wonderful World of Recovery

Greetings from the wonderful world of recovery.

I’ve reached a tough chapter, and so I’m taking a break for an update. I’m over halfway through Lessons 18 and 19.

For those of you who unfamiliar with HTRYN, this means query letters will be shooting out by email mid-February.

This is a big deal and I’m excited. At the same time, I’m tired of revision. Anyone who’s done it will tell you, while it has its enjoyable parts, it’s mostly hard work. So, to amuse myself, I’ve started thinking about possibilities for my next project.

The first idea is a murder mystery that takes place in the mountains of Colorado. The hero, a local sheriff, pursues the killer through the northern front range of our beautiful state and into the contemporary wilderness of Wyoming-and back again. The second idea on the cooker is science-fiction, using two of my current characters. These characters are both soldiers of different ages and backgrounds who, when they meet, teach each other a lot about survival, honor, and love. However, neither one of the characters is human. I’m not sure if this is a plus or a minus to readers who don’t know these folks like I do.

So, now it’s your turn. What new projects are lurking in your future?

Spit Out by the Wormhole

I made it through the wormhole and, if my sassy muse did appear, I can’t remember. spiral galaxy

Three weeks later, gallons of anesthesia seep slowly from my brain. My almost revised novel slumbers safely on my external hard drive. As I realize I can’t hurry this healing process, my muse begins to tease me with back stories, plot ideas, and flirtatious phrases. In a way, I’m enjoying the flush of ideas secure in the knowledge I don’t have to do anything (even if I could). I’m free to just enjoy this time with my characters deep in their dangerous and fantastic world.

Flexible goals are key now. Today is the first day I’ve been able to work at my desk. Tomorrow will be the first day I begin writing a daily page. The day after that – who knows?

What are your immediate goals?

How to read science fiction or other genre fiction even if you don’t want to.

It’s happened-the moment you’ve been dreading.

 

 

 

 

 

Your wife, husband, son, cousin, or co-worker asked you to read a chapter of their science fiction, high fantasy, romance, or vampire novel. Now what do you do? You’re a decent person, and you don’t want to or can’t afford to hurt their feelings. But, genre fiction stories are weird.  You’ve never read any because you really don’t want to. Sure, you read fiction: murder mysteries, adventures, generic bestsellers. Normal stuff.

I understand. Well-meaning people come to me all the time with suggestions.  When they say, “You really should read this best seller, this YA novel, this non-fiction autobiography,” I always smile and nod. Inside I cringe. No WAY I’m ever going to read that book. I am a very discriminating reader, I tell myself. My time is limited, and I simply don’t want to invest the effort in something that sounds boring or ridiculous.

However, even I, a self-confessed reading snob, occasionally step out of my comfort zone. Some of the recommended books are still not my cup of tea, but some are fascinating and beautifully written, and I fall in love with a new author.  My friends are happy I took their advice, and I’ve stretched my limits. Everybody wins.

Here’s my advice on reading genre fiction.

Suspend your disbelief.

Science fiction has many faces. Hard science fiction follows natural laws. Relativity rules. Character driven space opera laughs at relativity.

Fantasy trumps all natural laws.

Vampires suck the life out of natural laws.

Romance novels usually have happy ending. Girl gets boy-if she wants him.

Go ahead. Read something different. You know you want to. OK, maybe not. But, you never know, you might be pleasantly surprised.

When was the last time you read outside of your comfort zone?

 

photo  http://www.freeimages.co.uk

COSMIC AHA!

 

I don’t know about your muse, but mine arrives at the damnedest times.

Sometimes, he gives me brain-bursting ideas while I’m hurtling down I-25. I have been known to pull over to record these ideas on my iPod as people blaze past me at 90 miles per hour. What I do for love.

Or, he visits me as I’m falling asleep. He teases me with a lyrical idea guaranteed to make my novel a best seller. I frantically memorize it before I fall asleep but, in the morning, I only remember it if I’m lucky. Most times, I wake knowing there is a great concept in my brain-somewhere.

And, he interrupts me during important projects at work. At least, at work I usually have a paper and pencil nearby.

Signaling my muse is a last resort, because he likes to toy with me. Like my cat, he refuses to appear just because I called. When he does show up he always looks slightly annoyed. Oh, come on, stop whining, he tells me. I have a billion stops to make today, so use what I’m giving you and write it like you love it.

I visualize my muse clearly, as easily as I see the folks in my novel. Arrogant and articulate, my muse is an ageless smart-ass.  (OK, he is one of my characters.) He fills my head with exit strategies from the tangled word messes I make. When he leaves, it’s ok. I never have to worry because, the next time I need him, he’ll have my back. I can count on my muse, as long as I’m patient.

Is your muse a whisper in your mind’s ear or a brush of inspiration from a well-loved outside source? Does your muse take a recognizable form? What does the cosmic aha feel like for you?

WRITE IT IN 95,000 WORDS

 

 

 

 

 

 

I decided to take a quick break from chapter 24 final revision to sneak up on my word count problem. OMG, what a problem.  As I said in Pitched Battle with Revision, my novel isn’t filled with ramblings or flowery descriptions, I just have active characters who can’t stay out of trouble. Their lives filled the pages so quickly that before I knew it I had 120,000 words.

How did I get into this mess? First, I underestimated myself. Who knew my people and my world would have so much to say? Second, my time frame of six months is tooooo long. In most of the light novels I read the action takes place in a week or two. Short time frames keep the writer and the reader focused.

So, now what? Where do I cut to make this story read as if it happened last week?

Let’s face it, traveling across two galaxies should be covered half a page, not four chapters. I want to show my characters at their best and worst in close quarters, but I just can’t spare the words. (I seem to remember worrying about how to keep it interesting as they traveled. I probably should have listened to my little voice.)  So, all the chapters between Earth and their destination have to go.

That leaves another 5,000 words to chop. I don’t want to cut politics or action or sex or romance-oh dear. But, I really want to complete this project sooner than later. Time for ruthless editing. Time to decide what the reader needs to know, what she doesn’t need to know, and what she can imagine on her own.

How does your word count work? Do you use complex planning ahead of time or just keep an eye on the numbers as you write?

Google 6 techniques for Cutting a Novel’s Length-fiction notes for ideas if you’re struggling with just too many of the little buggers.

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