Friday, December 21, 2012

Editing Flops and Holiday Gift Idea Writers Will Love

I spent way too much time today doing Christmas Cards. I finally decided to save time by printing address labels, but they just wouldn't print right. First they weren't centered right, then the labels kept peeling off the backing while in the printer. What a mess. Writing them by hand would have been easier.

Needless to say, I haven't gotten much editing done today. One question to ponder for now:

How do you know what your main character wants? It's an important question. For me, however, it's one I struggle to answer. Cheryl Klein suggested a different way of looking at this. I'll rephrase it.

What will hurt or help your mc the most? What does s/he have to lose or gain?

I'd better go fine tune the answer to that for my book. Meanwhile,

The world hasn't ended yet, and I have a good feeling we'll still be here in June. So I'm bringing forward the WIFYR information.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Vital Elements for Writing Your First Chapter

One of the hardest, and best, parts of Cheryl Klein's workshop was our homework, which included an outline of our manuscript's scenes.

If you're stuck, could you try outlining your manuscript?

First look at each scene and write down what's important about it.

Then look at all your scenes as a whole.

Ms. Klein gave us lots of questions to think about as we viewed our scene summaries. I'll mention just one for now. When I heard this tip, I knew immediately that I had to revise my first two chapters:

The first and second scenes should set up status quo and the inciting incident. Often the "big change" occurs in the first chapter, but it doesn't have to be that way. If the first scene sets up what the character's life is like now, then the second one must show what's about to change it.

I realized my first scene set up status quo. But while the second set up a conflict, it was a subplot conflict, not the inciting incident for the novel.

I've got a lot scene shifting to do.

Do your first and second scenes set the groundwork to start your plot in motion?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Plotting a Middle Grade or Young Adult Novel

My take on SCBWI's Utah-Idaho Master Plot Workshop:

I've said previously that plot is not my strength. Yet.

Thanks to this Saturday class, I've spent quite a bit of time (22 pages to date) writing down the major plot elements of my book and what I need to change.

Cheryl Klein's workshop provided a huge amount of information, and there's no way I can, or should, duplicate it.

However, I'll mention a couple of major ideas spurring me on now:

Good characters take action, not just whine.  I realized I have two may scenes where bad things are happening to the character, and that's it. I have to insert some action on his part.

According to Ms. Klein, the newest question to ask in plotting is the Experiential Point. Always ask yourself: What do I want my reader to feel while reading my book. Just plain enjoyment (think DORK DIARIES) is fine.

However, she says she's drawn to books that help the reader experience deeper emotions. As the character goes through a series of events and relationship interactions that help her change, the reader should feel and grow and discover as well.

As I continue to work my way through my pages of notes and ideas (now 30+ since I started this post yesterday morning) I will post more of Ms. Klein's suggestions.

Plot Revision when Writing a MG or YA