Thursday, August 6, 2020

Novel Approach (#1)

When I started on this "writing a novel" journey several years ago, I never dreamed it would take me this long. To be fair to myself, at the time I was working full time, very involved with a couple of nonprofits, and doing some side work as a grant writer.  So I didn't focus on the WIP so much. 

Last year, I finally retired from full-time work and decided to spend my "spare time" working on my novel. Well, I wrote a little over 33,000 words before I was stuck in the mud with no idea how to move forward.  After going through my story, I realized I had forgotten a few things. I had the beginning and the end, but no middle! I had not fleshed out my plot lines, so they were disjointed and made no sense. The issue was, nothing was coming. What could I do to fix this?

When I get stuck and I realize I just don't know what to do, I start to research. I am beginning to  understand just how much work goes into writing a novel. It's not just about sitting down to write -- although thats a really important part -- but writing all the supporting information before you get down to the story. As I outline all the work I still need to do, in no particular order, I am in awe that anyone actually finishes a novel! 

1. Character Sketches

Writing a personality entails several details. What are their occupations? What are their likes and dislikes? How did the character grow up? In what kind of environment? Siblings? Schools? Ticks and traits? Speech? All of these relate directly to a full-fledged, albeit fictional, human being. 

Sketches for your important characters do change as each one develops, but the sketches help define how the they approach the story, keeps them consistent, and informs their growth (if they are destined to grow) and helps the writer to get to know them as people in the story.  

My thought is to write the more detailed sketches for the main protagonist and antagonists and lesser sketches for the supporting characters. We'll see how that works out. 

2. Setting(s)

The settings of the story most certainly contribute to the plot and set the stage for the events (scenes). Thinking about some of the books I love most, the places described in them always spoke to the scenes that unfolded there. Of course, most books will have several settings, so it is important to find a happy balance between discussing the place and the scenes taking place there. 

When describing scene settings, it can be a good idea to flesh them out as well. We all know what we see in our minds, but putting those visuals on the page is another story. Again, stressing balance is key to making the scene shine in the in its setting. I once read a book that took two and a half pages to describe a room that housed a brief conversation between two minor characters and was never used again.  So while setting is important, wasted words on unimportant places and scenes that do not move the story forward are a big no-no! 
   
I really dropped the ball in this area. I am a technical writer by trade, so I tend toward brevity. Sometimes too much brevity. I found descriptions of settings in my story sorely lacking, so that will need a lot of work. 

For now...

I have begun working on character sketches and will spend a great amount of time working on my setting sketches. As I continue to research the necessary pieces that go into building a coherent and satisfying novel, I will write about it here. 

Join me on the journey! 

-NC

Monday, July 27, 2020

#amwriting

Writer’s write, right? So I have been faithfully working on my short story, trying to finish the epilogue. I finally finished it, so I wanted to upload it Scriggler, to the writers’ platform I used for my last story. However, when I tried to log on to Scriggler, I found it was no longer there. Bummer! I went on a search for another writers’ platform and found WritersCafe.org. It seems to be a good platform, so I am posting my writings there for now. 

I’ve uploaded two pieces so far: a poem I wrote today and the short story I finished a few days ago.  


I’ve also been working on my novel. Creating more scenes that will flesh out the story and the characters. Writing again feels good and I feel productive. There’s a certain satisfaction in getting words down on a page; a small sense of accomplishment.  Now to keep the momentum going.

N C Overton
July 27, 2020

Monday, June 15, 2020

Is Your Character Acting Up?

I’ve been stymied on my novel for a while, so I’ve taken the time to work on a short story — which is coming along nicely. Part of the reason I’ve been stymied is that my main villain is evolving into a more likable character and I’m not sure if I like that. Such changes to characters can change your plot line as well, and not always for the better! 

In this crazy time of viruses and anarchy in the streets my husband and I became overwhelmed by all the negativity on the news and the hateful things people were saying and doing to each other and we decided to make a change. We decided to stop watching this crap that just flows negative energy into our home and return to ourselves. While this initially sounds out-of-place, it is the very reason for this post. 

Being a writer and having a couple of projects going, I decided to start my morning reading about writing. I came across this post on Nathan Bransford’s blog. He was writing about runaway characters. Well, of course, I had to read it because one of my characters was acting up. I’m so glad I did! The thoughts in his post helped me work through my character’s antics and how they might affect the plot if I let him go on that way. Big breakthrough for me and for my character! Thank you, Nathan!

I am sharing his post in the hope that it may help you as well. 

Always remember to #BeKind

Aloha,
NC