Monday, July 22, 2013

Riding the Big Wave

Go with the Flow!

Isn't it great when a novel sinks into your blood and you find yourself eager to keep writing? Even when you're not writing it, you are thinking about it, dreaming of the next scene and bits of great dialogue?

I am there right now. Loving the novel I'm writing and even plotting the next two novels in what I hope will be a series. It has been a long, long time since I was this excited about a novel project. I dream about it at night. I wake up thinking about it. I look forward to sitting down and writing 10 or 20 pages a night after I have worked all day at the computer writing non-fiction for my real job! Oh, yes. I am writing in a fever!

I love my characters. I love the plot. I'm doing something I haven't done EVER as a novelist. I am writing this book without a synopsis. I decided to just keep writing after I had enough for a partial because I didn't want to stop. I wanted to keep writing it because it's so much fun. It's going well, I think, because I have been thinking about this series for at least two years. Maybe longer.

It is a contemporary and it is in a genre that I have never written in before. Everything is new and risky and deliciously scary!

I have sent chapters to my friend, who helps edit my books. She is not too thrilled with it -- or so it seems at this stage -- and you know what? I don't care! I am loving writing on it so much that, if no one likes it and my agent passes on it, that's cool with me. Writing it is such a joy that it's enough for me.

Of course, I hope it's published. I want others to love it, too. However, if it isn't, it has been such a lovely ride that I surely won't regret the time I have spent on it.

This is such a different feeling for me! To write with joy and simply enjoy riding the crest of this sweeping, all-consuming wave of creativity.


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Attack Soggy Middles

The middle of a novel is where the quicksand dwells!

Plotting a novel usually begins and ends rather well. It's that middle part that is challenging. Most of the time, you know how the book will begin and how it will end. You might also know or have a good idea of some key scenes. However, as you plot and you reach mid-point in your book, invariably your pace slows and you are faced with every writer's dilemma: Now what?!

When you don't do an outline or synopsis, this juncture can be daunting. You've been flying along and now you're stuck in quicksand. Have you read books where all of a sudden a secondary character shows up along with a subplot? This new development is introduced and dealt with in the space of, say, four or five chapters. How convenient! Well, that's one way to shore up  a saggy middle, but it can also be disconcerting to the reader and play hell with your pacing.

However, the surprise subplot is better than chunks of introspection where the hero and/or heroine review what has happened in the book so far, reflect on it, share memories of their childhoods, and wonder what the future holds for them. This "soggy middle" rescue operation is always a poor choice. You will put your reader to sleep or the reader will skim over these chapters, and the charm of your book is lost. You will also probably receive less than enthusiastic reviews.

Outlining allows you to address saggy middles efficiently and effectively. Since you aren't in the throes of writing the book, you can stop and reflect on what scenes of interest  you can add that will further the main plot, keep up the pace, and add to your characterization. The middle of the book can be -- and should be -- a build up of what's to come in the novel's final revelations, black moment when all seems lost, and wrapping up scenes. These important middle  scenes should engage the readers, not put them to sleep. They should include surprises, insights, and carry your "red thread" throughout. Think of the Harry Potter novels. Did everything exciting grind to a halt in the middle part of those? No! Things heated up!

So, the next time you read a book where a Stop sign pops up in the middle and everything slows to a grinding halt, you can smile knowingly and think, Ah-ha! The writer didn't plot this one out well enough and found himself/herself in quicksand!

Writers can dig themselves out, but it does take planning and good plotting! And it is much, much easier to do at the outline stage than at the actual writing stage.

Good Luck! And keep a shovel handy at all times.