Friday, January 28, 2011

Another useful book: The Novel Writer's Toolkit

Just a quick note this morning about Bob Mayer's The Novel Writer's Toolkit.

Ever since I participated in Bob' Warrior Writer workshop a year or so ago, I've been following his comments on writing and publishing. I bought the Warrior Writer book too, but must admit became completely distracted by the fact that it's not properly formatted, could do with a massive tidy-up and be presented professionally. If you can get past that, there are many really interesting things to think about, particularly about you and what you want out of being a writer.

The NWT also covers much of the same ground, but that's okay, as I needed to think seriously about what I want out of being a writer on this road to publication. (It's also professionally edited, formatted and laid out, which is nice!)

When I did the WW workshop, I, like many others, was writing goals such as wanting to be a New York Times bestselling author within 5 years and the like. Okay, it's got the first part of the SMART goal concept right - it's specific and measurable - but is it achieveable? Well, maybe, but there are many, many things outside my control when it comes to making it onto the NYT bestseller list!

So, it's proving valuable to relook at ME as a writer. As Bob says: It all begins with you, the creator of your novel.

In this first chapter about you as a writer, Bob also says that the more you write, the more you will become a fan of outlining and doing a lot of work before you write the first sentence. Naturally, this resonates with me given what I've been doing with First Draft in 30 Days.

Bob talks about patience and self-discipline (not my strongest characteristics), the ability to organise (sometimes), an active imagination (sure!), the mind (well, I do have one), contentment and desire where he talks about money vs the desire to write and that balance we're always working on (yes, that's a balancing act for me too), setting objectives (I'm very good at setting them; sadly, I'm not a proven completer), writer's block (where I agreed with Bob's assessment that much of the time writer's block is another name for procrastination and I am a Master Procrastinator!), open-mindedness or willingness to change (yep, I'm willing to change), the writing routine (sometimes good, mostly not), and passion for your story (and that's what I keep losing).

It's all good stuff! Currently I'm working through the section of turning an idea into a story. This may be where I find my ideas haven't been strong enough which could be why I lose passion and stop working on them. Or, hopefully, as I think FDi30D is showing me, that the hard work developing plot and characters needs to come first for me.

All I know is whenever I think about giving up the idea of writing, I get really, really sad. The natural optimist in me says "you CAN do this, you're a smart woman, come on!"

So onwards and upwards on this fascinating learning process.
Happy writing all
Cate

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A very useful book: First Draft in 30 Days

It's a well-known fact - writers' groups are frequently the source of an incredible amount of useful information. I thank Bronwen Evans, of my writers' organisation RWNZ, for mentioning in a recent Heart 2 Heart newsletter that she had found the book First Draft in 30 Days a useful resource. Bron credits a chat with award-winning, prolific author Stephanie Laurens as sparking her own successful use of this book.

With FDi30D duly purchased, I'm now part way through the intensive plotting process for a romantic suspense I've been dabbling around with for...hhmmm...about three years.  It's described as 'a novel writer's system for building a complete and cohesive manuscript'. I have to admit to initially thinking it would guide me to write an actual first draft, but Karen's right when she says her detailed plot outlines are virtually a complete first draft. I can see that it's possible to write a very clean, well-structured manuscript from this detailed outline knowing that all the hard work on vitial plot twists, multi-layered characters, settings, black moments and much, much more has all been done.

As I started working through this indepth process, I had a real lightbulb moment. I'm not a 'pantser', I'm a plotter who simply didn't know how to plot!

I know many writers who would be horrified to know exactly what's going to happen in their stories before they've written them. The thing is we all have to find our own ways to achieve that wonderful feeling of writing The End and so far, it's looking promising that this method is something I can learn from and develop my writing skills around.

Best I keep at it...
Talk soon
Cate

Just get on with it...

Hello,
I've made an important decision.

After several years - 5, 6, maybe 7 years - I am now serious about writing a complete novel.

I've been phaffing around at this novel writing business for TOO LONG! Life is too short to keep saying I'm going to do something without actually doing it. So the phrase of the day is: Just get on with it!

So here I am. A published writer, sure, with numerous articles, newsletters and magazines to my credit. Literally thousands of words written over the past ten years I've had my own business as a freelance writer and PR consultant.

But have I finished writing a whole book??? No... I've got chapters and plots and notes and character interviews and that's all very well, but all that does not make a completed, readable, potentially-saleable novel. And that makes me seeth with annoyance at myself. All I'm doing is letting myself down and this will stop. Now, today, this very minute...

As a member of Romance Writers of New Zealand, Romance Writers of America and RWA Mystery Suspense Chapter, I've been tapping into some serious veins of excellent knowledge for some time.

Now is the time to put that knowledge to good use -- for me -- and if you're working on writing your first novel too, perhaps some of these ideas, comments, facts and references will be of use to you too.

So let's get started.

Let's take this fantastic, magical, challenging, heart-stopping journey towards writing THE END...with about 80,000 finely-crafted words before that wonderful phrase, of course!

Happy writing
Cate