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Posts Tagged ‘Writing Tips’

We were supposed to be booked solid last week between me getting back from Cleveland and a variety of engagements throughout the week, but somehow or another, we managed to get two evenings (mostly) free. It was delightful. Last Tuesday we biked to the library. Daniel doesn’t quite understand the concept of just browsing all the beautiful books, so he selected one book, and sat down and read for a couple hours while I took my time perusing all the shelves. Blissfully talking-free, quiet, and rejuvenating. I may have come away with 12 books. I am not sure I will actually get through them all, but it was just lovely to take any book I felt like. Our library seems to have a propensity to murder mysteries – I swear, a majority of the shelves were murder mysteries – and almost no inspirational fiction, but I still managed to find a lot of intriguing covers, including murder mysteries related to baking and disowned gentry.

I came home and pulled out all the books, showing them one by one to Daniel, and then informed him that instead of starting one of them, I was going to start on the book I borrowed from my sister “Princess Academy”. But he just started laughing. He pointed to the book that I was going to start reading and several of the others, many of which related to fairytales in some way, and informed me that I had very specific tastes. I didn’t deny it, but it did get me wondering. Why do I read so many fairytales-based books, yet I don’t write fairy tales at all? I noted this to Daniel, commenting on how I loved being transported into the alternate worlds of fantasy and fairytales, but most of the books and short stories I write areĀ – not necessarily gritty, but underlined with hardship and sorrow. The only fantasy book I’ve ever written has very little lightheartedness in it, and focuses more on him getting through trials than fairytale aspects.

Daniel thought about it for a moment, and then said, quite eloquently, I might add, “The books you write are where you are from and the books you read are where you want to be.”

I think he is a right, to an extent. I am a firm believer that everyone is a maker of their own destiny (with God’s guidance, of course) and that while your past/childhood can inform choices, it should not be used as a crutch, nor is it to blame for choices currently being made. However. I still thought he brought up a good point. I’ve made a lot of hard decisions in the past, grew up pretty fast, and have had a fair share of difficulties. They helped make me into who I am, and I don’t regret any of it, but it still has impacts you don’t even think about. Like the stories I write. Stories of people “growing up”, no matter how old they are, and learning how to deal with difficult things. Learning the world isn’t about them. Learning to grow out of their comfort zone and forge ahead into a better life. They do relate to my past whether I realized it before or not, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just means I am taking lessons I have learned and showing them to the world, hoping to ease someone else’s way.

Someday, though, I will also write fairytales.

strong person

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I’ve been having an issue with my main character in Picture of the Past almost since the beginning. I didn’t like her. I didn’t intend for anyone to like her at first, but to gradually sympathize with her as she changed – but I didn’t like her even when she changed. She seemed so – flat. So single-minded. So one-dimensional. In short, she seemed like a character, not a person. I’ve been reading lots of books and articles about how to improve this because, in my mind, she is multi-dimensional. She has struggles, internal and external, and she is someone who can grow into such an incredible daughter and sister – but I just can’t seem to translate that to the page.

One good thing about implementing these additional scenes, is that they are forcing me to write more about her. More scenes about her, more viewpoints about her – and I think I am slowly beginning to figure her out more. I am still not pleased – but I think I’ll get there. One thing I need to remember is that this is my character – not the character that all the articles tell me I have to write. All the books and articles say your heroine must be sympathetic. But that isn’t true. There are plenty of heroines that are not sympathetic until the last. So if she is selfish and unlikable in the beginning part of the story, that is who she is – trying to add sympathetic elements only makes her seem more fake until she actually begins to change. Besides, she really doesn’t seem to like it when I add in things about her that aren’t true. Believe me, I’ve tried.

Day 5 of the 15 minute challenge involved writing a scene wherein she is angry about doing servants work, the boys don’t pay as much attention to her as she thinks they should, and her mother was just about to give her a lecture on what it actually means to be a lady when the timer went off. I don’t know if it will actually go into the story, but she is doing a good job of reminding me that she is just a spoiled little rich girl at first and I shouldn’t be trying to make her into something else.

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Actually written yesterday, August 30:

I have a lot more free time than usual tonight due to my husband being gone for a guy’s night and having nothing in particular scheduled. I was going to go to the Library of Congress to do some research and writing, but it is a dreary, rainy night, and I decided I really did not want to leave the house. So, instead I made myself a pot of tea, turned on some Jim Brickman and am doing my writing here, with no people around.

I am taking advantage of my extended period of time do go through the book and note everyplace I think needs more scenes or which parts need to be “shown” instead of told. There are a lot! This is really helping remind me of where I left off a few months ago, when I started doing piecemeal research that I just never had enough time to concentrate fully on. I feel like I am beginning to remember what I wanted out of the story. Once I finish marking potential scenes or areas that “tell” too much, my goal is to write at least one of those scenes. But even if I don’t get the scene written, going through the book itself counts as the “15 minutes”, right? I hope so, since I’ve already been at this for half an hour!

I feel like I might get more use out of this editing style than going through the book and changing page by page and feeling like I never make progress. Everyone has different book editing styles, or so I have read, and I suppose you simply don’t know which yours is until you try!

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