Saturday, January 23, 2010

Speed Writing - Large goals with short deadlines

Let's talk about writing deadlines that are short but involve a large amount of writing.

The most known form of this is probably that of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). In that month, November, writers attempt to write 50,000 words. This equates to a short novel. While the seasoned writer might see the daily word count goal as an easy task, for many of us it isn't so easy to write over 1,500 words every single day in one month.

Another type of this is Book in a Week. This is where there isn't a set goal that everyone must follow. Instead, the participants can choose their own goals. They can range from 5,000 words, 10 pages, to even novella length works and all are written in the time frame of one week.

The even shorter version of this is the sprint. During nanowrimo in the forums people hold sprints, which involve 10 min, 15, 30 or even hour long time frames. The goal in those is to write as many words on the current work in progress.

Starting tonight after the clock strikes midnight on is a Mad Dash. This is a take on the 'book in a week' concept. The event is found on and each person has set their goals for how many words they want to write on their WIP. My goal for this week is to write 25,000 words. I decided to go big because to me the idea was to write close to novella length and to really challenge myself in my writing.

Sure it is a lot of words. Yes, there will be errors. But at the end of the week my novel will be 1/3 the way finished, if not more. It's one way to get those words down. Afterall, one main rule for writing is: Just Write!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Rewrite v. Edit

Both are important to the writing process but it seems some people don't know the difference between the two and in my opinion there is a big difference. A writer needs to do both during their path of trying to finish books/stories and try for publication.

I will use one writing book as an example in this blog and while I disagree with much of it, and may talk a bit of smack, it's a great book for the general romance fiction writer. The book is called "On Romance Writing" and it talks about many different aspects of writing. However, the qualm I have with the book is its discussion on this topic and that's the reason for doing this blog post.

Before I talk about the difference between the two, I want to quote one of the things from the book that I actually agree with as it's part of what I believe when writing a first draft.
"Just write the story. Don't fret about finding exactly the right comparison, and don't worry
about making every single line of dialogue sparkle. That's what second drafts are for."
This is from the Revising Your Manuscript chapter of the book. And it's true.

Now to the main topic of this blog post: What's the difference between an edit and a rewrite?

Edit is more of the smaller changes (not always small but in their type). Grammar, sentence structure, and sometimes the order of things is what I would consider an edit. There's a reason the person who checks the newspaper articles for errors before they get posted is called a copy Editor. This is also where a person can look for inconsistencies in character descriptions (eye color, hair, etc), how names are spelled (that includes names of objects and locations) and other similar errors. Edits are very important because you don't want to send out a manuscript that is full of errors.

Rewrite is a big change. It is taking what has already been written and doing it again in a different way, with the idea more developed and having more direction than the first draft. It doesn't focus on grammar as much though there is still the search for the best sentences and chapters. They can either increase a word count or decrease, depending on what the first draft needs fixed on that level. The tense can change in a rewrite as well as the POV. Even the main character can change with it comes to a rewrite when the author realizes they have been telling the wrong character's story. There is so much change and improvement that goes on with the rewrite process and almost every book should get at least one rewrite, but not twenty, lol.

Those are the differences and both are important to the writing process. But also, don't forget to stop at some point. There will always be a way to fix or change. Have to follow my art professor's advice here. He used to tell us "A painting is never finished, it is only abandoned." The same applies to a novel. At some point you have to abandon the story, say goodbye and send it out.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Fight Scene Blogfest

After the nokiss blogfest, a friend of mine on here decided it would be fun to do a fight scene blogfest. The rules are similar. There is a specific date (Feb. 1-2) to post either a fight scene from your own writing or from somewhere else and post them on a blog. This is also linked to twitter and has it's own hashtag "FSblogfest".

Linky -

Now, I don't know much about fighting scenese. The closest thing to a fight scene I have right now is in a elven story where the two elves are in a class practicing a fight. There are only a few moves shown in the scene as one has already been whooping the other and the last one attempt is the more important one to the story. So, I've never done an actual fight scene. This will be a different experience and maybe I'll post some tips from research at the end of january on how to write fight scenes. For now check out the podcast "Writing Excuses". They have at least one on fight/battle scenes.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Books on Writing

While this feels some what ironic, there are a fair number of books available on writing. They range in topics from general to genre specific to focusing on one element of writing. Each has it's useful side and a negative one.

Why buy books on writing? While, writing books will never replace the actual act of writing when it comes to a writer's improvement and style, there is a use for the books. The books that focus on one single element of writing are ones that can be useful. There are areas where a writer has strength and an area where they have a weakness. The books can help the areas of weakness and give some items to consider while attempting the techniques. Genre books are useful for getting to know the set factors that are expected in that genre. Most of the genres have some similarities but they also have differences to consider.

Here are a few books on writing to consider.

General fiction writing: Your First Novel by Ann Rittenberg and Laura Whitcomb

This book is divided into two sections, Writing Your Novel and Publishing Your Novel. Both focus on the general aspects of first getting a novel written and then published. While it is a useful book for general information, there aren't enough pages to go into details on the different aspects of writing, along with genres, etc. There is still a ton of information distilled into one book.

Plots: 20 Master Plots and how to build them by Ronald B. Tobias

This book is about exactly what the title says. There are 20 plots presented in the book and it discusses how those plots are built to create different stories. What I like is that the book provides 20 instead of the 6 or so that most claim exist. It does go into enough detail on each plot. However, for those of us that get plenty of book ideas there isn't as much of a need to read on what counts as a plot.

Characters and Viewpoint: Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint by Nancy Kress

As the title suggests, this book focuses on the characters of the novel, how to develop the right main character, what viewpoint to use and how to invoke emotion for said characters. One thing this book does, like many writing books, is that it provides exercises for the writer to attempt. The exercises are nice because it gives the writer a way to develop the skill beyond reading the words on the pages.

Children's Books: The Everything Guide To Writing Children's Books by Lesley Bolton

This is a general books version of a genre topic as the book covers everything from picture books to early readers and beyond. Part of the book is on the writing of the books but the other part is for the publishing/business side. It focuses on making the writing into a career but while it's a big book it has the same problems the generalized fiction writing books have.

Romance: On Writing Romance by Leigh Michaels

I got this book for Christmas. It's interesting but has its flaws. The first section talks about the overall genre and how different publishers have come to be big names like that of Harlequin. Then it goes on to talk about the different elements expected from those writing in the genre. The information works for general romance but it has limited information for those who write on the outskirts of the genre.

Problem of books on writing is that they can get repetitive. You don't want to buy too many because many of them will say the same thing, just in a different way. This is the same for all writing books, however. At some point there isn't anything new to learn on the particular topic.

The tone of the book is important and some will reach to you more than others. Also, the examples presented are based upon what the writer of the book knows, and may often be books you've never read or even heard of. That can be okay but doesn't make the understanding of the topic any easier.

Remember to take what is said in all writing books with a grain of salt. You don't have to do everything the books say to do because there aren't many hard rules in writing. If you find the book says something you don't agree with, that's okay. It's just one book. And you can always break the rules. That is part of the fun in writing.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Almost Kiss

This is from a story line that I started a long time ago. Was going to use it for writing a movie script during script frenzy but never got around to that. In the story, the two main characters are pretending to date, and be gay, in hopes of winning back or just winning in the first place the girls they like. This is a rough draft, so not really looking to fix any errors.

Here is the scene:

The moment Jason was waiting for had almost occurred. He watched Marc in the corner of his eye while pretending to focus on the movie. They had been watching any gay movie they could sneak into his parents' house in order to learn how to act in order to fool people. It would have been an impossible task to pretend being a couple if they had just decided to wing it. The movies were helping, so far, but they hadn't come across any kissing or sex scenes yet. But one was coming.

"Did we decide to have popcorn, or no?" Marc searched the floor before returning his attention to the television.

Then it happened. Music filled the air as the to male characters in the movie pushed together in a long, tongue filled kiss. It didn't end there as they moved to the bed, taking the scene from hot to steaming in a matter of seconds. As Jason suspected, Marc looked away and didn't watch the makeout session that the movie displayed. His face turned bright red from embarrassment.

"We might have a problem," Jason admitted, once the scene had changed.

"What?" Marc turned to look at him. He didn't look too concerned.

Taking a deep breath, he explained. "Tricking my ex will be easy. All I have to do is tell her and she'll believe me. But it's going to be hard to convince the gay group that we're a couple."

"That makes sense, I guess." Marc nibbled on his thumb, as he often did when thinking. "What are we going to do?"

"We might have to..." Jason stammered at the end, "kiss."

The comment received an immediate response. "No way!"

He decided to take a different approach. Pulling his knee up to his chest, he wrapped his arms around it before focusing on Marc. "Have you ever kissed a girl? Or anyone for that matter?"

"Of course!" Marc sounded offended, but also seemed to overdue it as his voice pitched up in his hurry to speak. "I've kissed a couple of girls, in fact."

"Okay." He didn't believe him but wasn't going to question it. "How about we look at this in a different way. Actors kiss all the time and it means nothing."

"I'm not an actor."

Sighing, Jason wasn't ready to give up. He'd put too much into their lie to back down now. "I bet a kiss would convince Tracy. And she seems like the type who enjoys watching two guys kiss."

"What makes you say that?" Marc's attention was caught and he sounded interested in the idea at last.

"She is the president of the club."

"Fine," Marc gave in. "How do we get through this?"

Getting ready for an uncomfortable kiss, Jason stood up. He pulled Marc up from his sitting position on the floor. They stood, facing each other. Jason tried to step in closer but Marc moved backwards away from him.

"Marc, this isn't easy for me either." He grabbed Marc by the wrist and pulled him closer again. "Okay. How about we just close our eyes and go for it. No tongue or anything."

Marc nodded in agreement. "Okay. Let's get this over with."

Closing his eyes, Jason leaned in. He had a good several inches on Marc in height, so he tried to aim down a little. It seemed to take forever, but at last he felt something with his lips but it wasn't what he expected. An almost moist sensation occurred as he felt part of Marc pressing against his jaw line. He backed up and opened his eyes.

Wiping his eyelid, Marc was the first to react. "What the hell?"

"I had my eyes closed." He tried to defend himself.

"So did I."

They both burst out laughing.