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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

False Starts

I ran cross-country in high school. At the Wendy's Regional senior year the girls 5K began with 3 painful false starts. The first because of a fall in the first 20 feet, and then 2 more for someone anticipating the starter's pistol. Lining up that fourth time, I was frustrated and winded from sprinting out fast so as to not get stuck behind the back. Tensions were high-this course was known for the fastest times-and I wasn't the only one hoping for a PR. I jostled for position among the hundreds of girls stretching across the wide (recently mowed) field, doubled checked my shoe laces, and waited again for the starter's pistol.

On you mark,
Get set!

I took off, but not as fast as the times before, and this time the pistol didn't sound again. This time it was for real. I pushed through the thick crowds, finding my pace, glad that this start was the right one.

Revising my NaNo feels so much like this experience. Timing is everything in a race. A novel is no different. Pacing, and especially beginning at the "Right" beginning, is hard. No matter how good the middle may be, or how powerful the ending is, if I can't start at the right place and hook my readers from page one, they're never going to get to page 2, much less 178.

At WIFYR last year Louise Plummer's assingment to the majority of the students was to rerwite the first pages.  We typically fell into 2 catagories
1-Almost always too slow, with info dumps *but we're world building, they need to know this*
2-With so little information that the readers were lost *but the mystery is what's exciting*

I've started my NaNo both ways. Now I'm on my nineth start. I'm trying to listen to the race starter, to feel the moment when the sound of the shot fills my ears, and write that.

Helpful posts on starts. I know there's a million out there, but I learned a lot from PK Hzero and Janette really made me laugh. Enjoy!
PK Hzero
An Author Incognito-Janette Rallison

How do you find the right start?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Lucky 7

Tag.I'm usually good at tag.
I have strong legs and a good explosive kick.
But. . .this time I didn't see it coming.
Ilima reached through the blogsphere and grabbed me by my MS.
(You should check her out this week-she's having her first blog giveaway-$25 on Amazon)

What I have to do:
1. Go to page 77 of your current MS
2. Go to line 7
3. Copy down the next 7 lines and post them as they're written. No cheating.
4. Tag 7 authors.
5 Let them know.

Okay, since my WIP is only 22 pages long, this is from Lovesense.

"They picket Disney movies too though."

"They might picket us." Mom says.

"And Jerry's Taco Stand," Marissa pipes in.

"Not helping," I mouth back to her and she sticks out her tongue.

Mom's still talking. "So I want you on best behavior this week. Try not to act any different or let this affect your grades. Or City-County."

"Easy for you to say. I can't plead the fifth with the entire high school."

I'm tagging

Did you see it coming?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

CP Retreat

Eating at the Winery. If you look closely you can see our desserts

Picture rolling hills of green, vinyards and small farms in all directions. Speed humps on the road,wind and rain in the background, and 5 women in the same room not talking, but intent on their MS's. Some of us were busy revising-Emily a new 1st chapter, and Katie, cutting down. Taryn did  a number of impressive things all at the same time-Teen Eyes, revisions for Vickie Motter, a paper for school, and a number of fun activities with a BOY. When JT would let me I wrote the start to my new MG, worked on my query for my NaNo, and found it a title. NaNo is now LOVESENSE (thank you Emily for letting him be your kitchen helper and Ilima for holding him so I could get my eyebrows done).

JT in his St. Patrick's Day glory

It wasn't all business, but I was impressed how much time we were able to devote to writing as a group. Yummy food, beautiful walks, and eating at a Winery where Emily's MAKING STARS takes place were highlights. It was so beautiful, I had trouble remembering I was still in California. Napa Valley is so different from Twentynine Palms.

I didn't learn how to make this star, but Emily's daughter let me take one. This one reminds me of the sun and is what most impressed my family when I came home.
My super cute room

Monday, March 12, 2012

The First Five Pages

After reading Sol Stein's How to Grow a Novel & Stein on Writing, I convinced myself I was  terrible, horrible, no good, very bad writer because I'm not a plotter. I tried to change my ways, but it wasn't me. The writer in me lost confidence, so it was with hesitation that I determined to "sharpen the saw" and read 10 craft books.

The lovely Kathryn Purdie recommended The First Five Pages: AWriter's Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile by Noah Lukeman. 2 words that sold me-short and enjoyable. A non-fiction book that was enjoyable? I had to see for myself. I checked it out from the library and then had to buy my own copy.

Amazon Book Description:
IF YOU'RE TIRED OF REJECTION, THIS IS THE BOOK FOR YOU. Whether you are a novice writer or a veteran who has already had your work published, rejection is often a frustrating reality. Literary agents and editors receive and reject hundreds of manuscripts each month. While it's the job of these publishing professionals to be discriminating, it's the job of the writer to produce a manuscript that immediately stands out among the vast competition. And those outstanding qualities, says New York literary agent Noah Lukeman, have to be apparent from the first five pages.
The First Five Pages reveals the necessary elements of good writing, whether it be fiction, nonfiction, journalism, or poetry, and points out errors to be avoided, such as
* A weak opening hook
* Overuse of adjectives and adverbs
* Flat or forced metaphors or similes
* Melodramatic, commonplace or confusing dialogue
* Undeveloped characterizations and lifeless settings
* Uneven pacing and lack of progression
With exercises at the end of each chapter, this invaluable reference will allow novelists, journalists, poets and screenwriters alike to improve their technique as they learn to eliminate even the most subtle mistakes that are cause for rejection. The First Five Pages will help writers at every stage take their art to a higher -- and more successful -- level.

Lukeman's intentionally bad examples had me laughing so hard I cried.

One quick example-"The squad car went fast down the bumpy, rocky road, quickly swerving to avoid the large, fat bugs smashing squarely against the slimy windshield. The hot, humid, stifling day poured in in waves making the men wipe their sweaty, clammy brows with their diry,greasy rags . . ."

If you want to laugh and learn, this is a great book to do it with. At only 197 pages it's a quick read as well. As per my 2012 goals I've now read 1 craft book. 9 more to go. What books have helped you grow the most as a writer?