Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Halfway through the Year

We've reached the last day of June, which means we're officially at the halfway point of 2010. So the big question is: how many books have I read so far?

Granted, there are much bigger questions a person might wish to ponder at this point in the year. Questions that would help realign goals with those beginning-of-the-year resolutions. Questions about where you want to be at the end of the year. Both are good things to ponder, but not nearly as much fun as checking over my Excel "Books Read in 2010" spreadsheet.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Killing with Confusion

There's nothing that kills a story—whether it's a novel, a TV show, or a movie—faster than confusing the audience. Stories hinge upon the connection the audience makes with the characters. The moment this connection is broken by a confusing event or action on the part of the characters, or even a poorly transitioned time jump, the audience will start to lose interest.

I've had the opportunity to study this phenomenon up close and personally the last few days, due to some questionable reading and watching choices.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Succulent Success

It's took a few days to gather the supplies, but my birthday succulents are now happily planted in well-draining soil and ensconced in a planter holder outside my office window. Shockingly (to me) this pot is the only of my 15 potted plants that has more than one species of plant in it! I really need to branch out with my planting strategies. Unfortunately, I've run out of surface area near windows on which to set more potted plants, so I'm stuck with the current arrangement for the time being. (Eventually I will live somewhere that has windows on more than one side of the building. And, while I'm wishing, more than one door so the place isn't a total fire trap.)

I think that my arrangement, while simple, turned out rather cute.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Nonstop Research and Loving It

I have dedicated a fair amount of time recently to studying the craft of writing. I haven't been looking at nonfiction novels filled with guidance about how to create the perfect fill-in-the-blank (character, plot, marketing strategy). I haven't been attending any lectures or going to any classes. I haven't even been reading anything on authors' websites to learn the tips straight from the masters.

I've been studying the old-fashioned way: by reading.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things

So despite yesterday's post about how much I was working the last few weeks, I did manage to squeeze in a good deal of fun. I saw my friends several times. I participated in a city-organized treasure hunt (so much fun!). I visited with my mom. And I celebrated my birthday!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Guilt Assuaged

It's been two very busy work weeks for me. My best work days are usually only six or so hours long, leaving time at the beginning and end for the very important tasks of writing and blogging and finding new NON authors and exercising. These last two weeks, I worked every single day but one. I didn't write. I didn't blog. I only did minimal upkeep on NON. On days when I had prior engagements, I squeezed in working around it. On days when I didn't, I worked at least nine hours—longer if I could still see the computer screen and thought I was still able to perform my job with some sense of quality.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Repetitive Motion

Today, for some unknown reason, the TV in my apartment complex workout room had only one channel that worked instead of the usual 73. On that one channel: a fishing show. So instead of watching Ellen, which I normally do while I exercise, I turned off the TV and ran on the elliptical machine in silence.

To distract myself from being annoyed at the new apartment managers, I decided to contemplate a story idea that's been brewing in the back of my mind. I'm so glad I did. I'd honestly forgotten how well repetitive motion helps me think!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Hero's Journey: Leap Year

When I posted the Hero's Journey Template, I really wanted to provide a real-life example to explain the whole concept, not just provide the template. However, I drew a complete blank of any story's hero's journey, flipped through The Writer's Journey a dozen or so times, and hit "Publish Post" when my stomach told me I was simply wasting time on lackluster brain cells that obviously needed fuel.

Today, I'd like to finish that post with this one, a true breakdown of a hero's journey, using the movie Leap Year as the example (since that's the most recent movie I've seen). As bonus credit (for me), this little exercise is the first of many to help me study my craft and improve my own work. If anyone wants to submit their own hero's journey breakdown (or link to one), I'd love to see it. I've determined that it's time for me to focus a little more on my own writing education...but that's a different post.

Warning: this post is going to be a huge spoiler if you've not seen Leap Year yet.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Musing on Muses

I didn't used to understand when authors would talk about their muse as if it were a secondary person. About how their muse gave them ideas, presented them with a new character, stepped in and killed off a character unexpectedly, etc. I figure, if you're the person writing the story, you're the one creating the characters and doing the killing. There's no second person there. There's no attractive woman, maybe with a harp and long flowing red curls, who whispers new ideas in your ear when you're thinking of someone else.

As you can see, I had a very Hollywood-version idea of a muse.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Hero's Journey Template

I talk a lot about the hero's journey on my blog and leave Christopher Vogler's very educational The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers on my Shelfari widget because I'm almost constantly referencing or thinking about Vogler's advice. Having just finished my first read through of Madison book 2, the hero's journey has been on my mind a lot as I try to determine whether or not the book has all the necessary elements.

In an attempt to obtain a clear picture of the whole novel, I'm getting ready to sit down with my pages and plot it out, scene by scene in an Excel doc. It sounds like a tedious process, but in doing so, I find a lot of the plot flaws along the way, and when I have a finished scene-tracker Excel doc, it makes a great reference for all future edits.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Critiquing Christy Reece's Website

This three-day weekend (which was a four-day weekend for my hubby and me), I jumped the gun on my website. I know I don't have a lot of information to put up, but I get so excited by looking at all these authors' sites and then I look at my current website, and I feel the compulsion to DO SOMETHING. So Cody and I hashed out a few things—new (tentative) template, new text, new siders and headers and tabs. We almost bought Dreamweaver, but couldn't quite justify the expense. Nothing's up yet. Nothing's close to going up yet, either, but we made a start.

Of course, it inspired me to hop around a bunch of authors' sites while we were looking for further inspiration. I have a list of authors for future critiques, now. Christy Reece isn't on that list. However, last night, when I was unsuccessfully trying to fall asleep after realizing that my birthday is only 14 days away, I had this wonderful thought: What if I sold Madison in a three-book deal, with three books coming out back to back over the span of three months. Then the next year, another three, so that in two years, I could have six books sitting on the shelves of bookstores everywhere!