Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Writing Buddy

I've just been away for a whole weekend with my best friend. It was bliss. We watched movies, talked about all the things our husbands aren't interested in and most importantly we wrote. It was so much fun and it made me realize just how important it is to have one other person that totally gets it.

It was such a joy to be able to blather on about my current manuscript and hash out plot ideas. We are both working our way through a huge pile of books on writing and we spent time sharing what we've learned and incorporating the new lessons into our writing. I managed to finish the planning stage of my latest manuscript while I was away and I'm going to start writing soon. Can't wait!!!

Being able to share this excitement and passion with someone is such a treat.
I hope you all have someone like that in your life too.

As awesome as it is to have a friend to share this with, I think it would be beneficial for us to also belong to a writing group. We find it hard to critique each other. Being objective isn't easy when you're with a friend. Our problem is, we aren't really sure where to start looking.

For those of you who do stumble across this blog - I'd love hear your experiences. How did you find a writing group? What sorts of things do you do? What does belonging to a writing group entail?

Thanks in advance for those of you who do leave a comment.

Hope everyone has a great week.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Contest!!

Hey everyone,

Just to let you know that Megan Rebekah's running a contest on her blog. She's up to 500 followers! Whoop! Whoop!
Prizes are AWESOME.
Definitely check it out :)

http://meganrebekahblogs.blogspot.com/

Happy competing!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

New Software - super fun!!!

I was chatting to my brother a few weeks ago, who also loves to write and is working on a novel. He mentioned doing a search for creative writing software. I had never heard of that kind of thing. He went on to explain that you can get software that helps you organize your work and help you stay on track with your novel.

Sounded good to me!!

As soon as I got home I started a search of my own. Now my brother is a PC man, where as I fell in love with Macs years ago and cannot be swayed. After some hunting I came across a really cool program called Scrivener. It's designed specifically for Macs and has some wicked features. You can split the screen four ways and have pictures and research showing while typing a scene. It stores away all your files and internet links so you don't have to have a gazillion folders, which is the way I have previously been storing all my work. It has a fun cork board feature that helps with scene planning and story structure. Those are just a few of the many features. Do I sound like a commercial yet? Sorry - I'm just excited. It's like getting a new toy!!

There is a free 30 day trial which I am currently using, but I think I'll get the software at the end of it. I know it's not going to make me a better writer, but it will definitely make me a more organized one. It's just something little to help me in my quest.
If you are a Mac person, I encourage you to check it out. My brother says there is some awesome software for PCs too and he actually managed to download his for free - so there you go. His was called ywriter5.

Happy hunting everybody :)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Complex Characters

I've been reading a lot about how to make characters complex and realistic. From what I can tell, you need to give your main characters layers, masks and things that make them relatable. As humans we are all made up of layers and we wear masks we are, more often than not, unaware of.

I have just finished very in depth character profiles for the two main characters of my trilogy and also finished a paragraph or two about all my other characters. I found it a really interesting process. As I delved into who they really were, what they really want and what is conflicting with those desires, I found my characters had more depth than I anticipated.

Knowing the different personality groups helped me in this process. My parents brought me up, teaching me about Florence Littauer's book called Personality Plus. Basically it is divided into four personality groups that each have traits - strengths and weaknesses for that particular personality. Most people in the world are a combination of two, sometimes three. How you were raised impacts as well, but basically every person on the planet is born with a personality that will fit loosely within the four groups.

As I was designing my characters, I found it really useful referring to this book. It gave me insights into how a character may react in a situation. One of my leads is not my personality type, he is more like my brother. I was able to refer to the book and think back on situations with my brother as I was growing up and I was able to think about how my character would react. I think it is going to keep my characters consistent and relatable. I will hopefully avoid that situation where the reader thinks, "That's so out of character. They would never do or say that."

So, if you can get your hands on it... Personality Plus by Florence LIttauer is another great resource to add to your writing collection.

I'm now up to the planning stages or my rewrite and VERY excited. I've learnt so much from these great writing books and now it's time to put all these lessons into action!

Happy writing everyone.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Book Reviews

As promised I am back again to tell you about the two books I have just finished reading.
My friend and I have co-authored a YA fiction. Our pitch obviously had something to it, because we had three requests for more material in relatively quick succession. Unfortunately we also heard back relatively quickly that our writing was not up to scratch. One very kind agent in NZ gave us a list of books that might help us along. So my friend and I have been working our way through them, taking copious notes and learning what we can.

My first book...
The Writer's Journey by Christopher Vogler.
This is a great book looking at the structure of story. The author has studied mythology and drawn from his research that most successful stories follow a general pattern for plot outline and also include certain character types. I found it a really interesting read. It is a great book if you are getting started on a new story idea or if you are stuck in the middle of one and are a little sure where to go next. I am currently planning a rewrite of the first book in my trilogy and am finding this helpful in working out the kinks in my plot.

The second book...
Story by Robert McKee
Awesome, awesome, awesome! It is actually written for screen writers, but so many of the lessons apply to storytellers whether it's for the stage, screen or novel. It is really in depth and highlights so many excellent points about how to make... characters interesting, scenes pacey and filled with conflict, the structure of a story arc appropriately, dialogue realistic and punchy . I took 30 pages of notes. If you're serious about writing I highly recommend this book.

My next book on the shelf is The Art of Fiction by John Gardner. I look forward to getting my teeth into and will let you know how I go.

Before I start that though, my next goal is to thoroughly map out my rewrite of my latest manuscript. I have so many new lessons to apply to my work and I'm REALLY hoping for good results. I think one thing that keeps coming back to me over and over again is that I need to slow down, take my time, plan thoroughly, do my research and get it right. I have the tendency to enthusiastically rush into my writing and it just creates so much more work.

I hope everyone is having a great week and getting all the writing they want done :)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Long overdue

I am ashamed to see that an entire month has gone by since updating this blog. Life has been ballistically busy and I am struggling to find time to write this blog let alone read the blogs I used to follow religiously. Something must be done!

I feel like this is my third or fourth post relating to this same issue, but life just keeps getting in the way. Having a very active two and a half year old who has cut his day sleep isn't helping. However, I cannot use this as an excuse. If I want a career in this industry (which, like so many, I desperately do) I must make the sacrifices necessary. Even if my brain has turned to custard in the evenings, I need to make the time to stay in touch.

SO.... from this day forth, I hereby declare that I WILL start blogging on a weekly basis. Even if it means sitting up until midnight, I will make the time to read my four favorite blogs and write one of my own.

Okay - so after that public announcement, I'll catch you up on where my writing is at...

After a few disheartening rejections, I have decided it's time to step back and make things right. I have been working my way through some EXCELLENT books on writing. I will review them in my next blog. These books have been inspiring and if I can implement some of these lessons my writing should move up a notch. There is a writing conference coming up in August that I'm hoping to attend. I would like to have my rewrite finished for pitching by then. I know that puts me under major time pressure, but it's good to have goals, right :)

I guess I better get on with it.

I hope everyone else is doing great and still finding the pure joy of losing yourself in the letters :)