Sunday, June 27, 2010

Scene construction

How do you write your scenes?
Are you the type of person that concocts it all in your head first? Or do you take bullet point notes then turn it into a scene? Or are you the type who just sits down and lets your brain create as you type?
What works best for you?

Me?

Let's see..

The scenes that seem to come out best are ones I construct in my head first. Having done my planning, I know where I want the scene to go, but getting there in a unique and interesting way is the challenge.
I usually act out the scene where no one can see me :) and go over the dialogue until it runs smoothly. I then jot down the dialogue and any significant actions. I let that mull for a few days and come back to it. This is when I write my first draft. It is usually total crap and the only part I'm happy with is the dialogue. I then need to walk away again. I often find if I try and solve all the problems then and there I just get frustrated.
After stewing over what I've written (this can take as little as an hour and up to a few days), I head back to the keyboard and re-read the scene, adding, changing, taking away until draft 2 is complete.
I often have do this again to make draft three and then I'll move on.

I find it really hard to move on to my next chapter or scene until I'm happy with the one I've just completed. By happy, I mean that it's passable - not yet brilliant, but enough for me to put it out of my head and move forward.

I'd be really interested to read how others work.

I hope everyone has a great writing week :)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Short Story update

I'm having one of those days where I have no idea what to blog about. Does anyone out there ever have that problem?
But I've committed to blogging every Monday and so I shall.

Firstly, I want to say a big thank you to Roland D. Yeoman who left some great advice in the comments section of my last post.

I agree that my story needs to start with a decent hook. I have completed my first draft and am happy with my initial workings, although I'm not sure about the intro. It intrigued my friend, but will it be enough to hook the judges?

In an effort to make this story the best it can be, I am going to post my first paragraph and see what you guys think.
Any feedback is most welcome.

At this stage, I'm wondering if the hook is strong enough or whether I need to reorder my story, start with the end and circle back around. My only hesitation with doing that, is it might spoil the twist at the end.

Anyway - enough chat from me.
Here's the first paragraph. Is it enough to make you want more?

(At this stage the story is called Dear Eric, but I'm not sold on the title yet)


DEAR ERIC

Dear Eric,

Mrs Kemp wants us to keep diaries for the rest of the term, something about writing freestyle. We don’t have to hand them in, it’s just practice. I think diaries are a dumb idea. I’d rather direct my thoughts to a person.

I’ve chosen you.

Truth is, I really like you, but I’ll never have the courage to tell you. If school were a movie set, you would be Robert Pattinson and I would be an uncredited extra.

To you I’m invisible, which is why you will never read these letters, because if you knew how I felt about you, I’d die of shame.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

How to write a winning entry

Don't get me wrong here. The title of this post is in no way saying that I actually know how to write a winning entry, I'm just writing a blog and hoping someone out there might be able to tell ME :)

July 23rd is the cut off date for a big NZ Short Story competition. The prize is $10,000 and significant recognition, but I'm competing with published authors and brilliant writers with years of experience. I have to enter though. How can I not?

So, the short story. I find this form of writing challenging. Stories always come big to me. My ideas always grow to novel length and I find it really hard to take one snapshot and turn into a compelling short story.

I've been doing a little research in preparation for the competition. I've read advice from previous judges and I've analyzed the previous winners, but sometimes I find their writing really weird. I don't enjoy the stories at all and I don't know why they win. I'm obviously not looking closely enough. From what I can gather, I need to keep my writing simple and precise. I need to leave the reader guessing or pondering, and I need to involve real emotion, make a connection with the audience.
That's what I should be doing in all my writing, but the short form is just so much harder.

I feel like this blog is waffly and disjointed. I guess I'm just getting my thoughts out there, trying to work through the process and come up with an excellent manuscript. My chances of winning are not high, but I do want to submit my absolute best. I want the judges to enjoy my story, be intrigued by it.

I've finished the first draft. I'm hoping to edit that today then set it aside for a 2 weeks before editing again.

Hopefully later this year you will see an ecstatic blog post telling you I won or at least received a highly recommended.

In the meantime, if any of you have short story advice for me, I am all ears.

Hope you all have a great week.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

I'm going to a conference! I'm going to a conference!

It's my first one! Can you tell how excited I am?!!!!!

It's the NZ Romance Writers Conference, being held in Auckland at the end of August.
Unfortunately my manuscript won't be ready for pitching, BUT there are so many cool workshops and seminars to attend. Christopher Vogler, whose book I've just finished reading, is going to be one of the main speakers - super cool.

I always read other people's blogs and see what amazing experiences they've had at conferences and now I'm getting a chance. My hope is to learn as much as I can and make a few connections along the way. There will be agents and editors there from the States, which is where I'm hoping to one day be published.

I'll write a review in August after I've been :)

SIDEBAR...

I was lucky enough to win one of Megan's prizes. I am so stoked. It's a full manuscript critique!! Buzzing! Now I just need to hurry up and get my manuscript done.
Once again - time is becoming an issue. Work can be such a pain! Earning money is so overrated :)
In saying that, without I couldn't go to this conference - so YAY for substitute teaching!

Hope everyone has a fab week.