Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Competitions Aspirations and Weaknessess

February is competition month.

I have just emailed my entry of to Chicago For the Fire and Ice contest. There seem to be  a lot of entries from RWNZ writers so the best of luck everyone.

I am doing the last minute editing on my entry for The Clendon award. It has to be in by 25th February.
On the SSE loop I made the rash promise to send off a synopsis and query letter every week in the hopes that one will land on fertile ground.

So after my entry for the Clendon is safely away I'm going to brush up on my skills for query letters. It is one area where I know I am weakest. And I read recently that the biggest hurdle to overcoming weakness is to first be willing to acknowledge a weakness exists.

Utilising that theory I should be able to over come my reservations about query letters and synopsis writing.
I'll keep my blog updated with my successes and failures in this endeavour.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Finished and Pesky Repeats Dealt To

I never fail to get a real buzz when I can actually write the end to a novel.

And last night I did just that. In the process I found a wonderful website where you can copy a sample of your text and it tells you how many repeated phrases there are.

After working through the manuscript I used it and was amazed at how many pet phrases I use. In one section the phrase  "moved over" was used 47 times!

With a little judicial sentence structure changes these over used phrases were reduced to an acceptable level. (I think).   I have always been aware of this idiosyncrasy as I can pick writers blind fold by pet phrases or words. One writer I love to read uses the words:
obviously  :
and her characters are ....types  
Often all three are used  together.
So  frequently does this happen I now have  fun picking out how many times she uses these three words in a chapter.
It's a flaw every writer needs to be very aware of. And I was very grateful for Peter Clendon for posting this useful little website on our Romance Writers Loop.
It made me look out for words and phrase I wasn't even consciously aware  of over using. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Finish Line in Sight and character finds.

At last I'm down to the final chapter.

Two months and counting.

And what  a lot of things I've discovered about my characters.
The heroine can slay people with a look. She has courage dignity warmth and yet at times she can be icily aloof. But most seriously of all one throw away comment in the first chapter has shaped her progression throughout the book.

And this was a suprise twist for me... but what do I know I'm only the author.

My bad boy hero has a propensity for putting a foot in his mouth. He's protective sexy and wicked by turns. And I just about drool over him myself. I know he makes my heartbeat race a little.

He can put his boots under my bed any night he likes. (My DH doesn't do computers. Am I lucky or what?)

But onwards the finish line beckons and I have one dragon to slay. And he wasn't who I thought was the bad guy earlier either...

So many surprising twists.

I do love writing. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Deadline, Time lines and Back story


Deadlines have a way of forcing a writer to focus.

Working to a finite date clears the mind of all the petty distractions and makes you focus on what's important.
In an author's case: The finished article.

And the finished article is a 70,000 word romance novel. And I'm happy to report the book is now on the home straight and the finish line is in sight.

I've had a lot of fun with this WIP and the day that writing becomes a deadly chore or ceases to be fun is when I'll figuratively speaking hang up my quill.
It is so easy while bogged down in editing to forget the true joy of creating.

And its the joy of creating that keeps me coming back and back to my keyboard.

The technical aspects of writing is something I've learned by trial, error and practise. And the only sure way to finish a book is to actually sit down and write the damn thing.
Writing is hard work. It's equally as tiring a hard physical workout.
I've found the best way to combat mental fatigue is to make sure I take regular breaks in the fresh air. Potter in the garden, pull a weed  or two, feed my birds and generally as the young ones would say: chill out.

And this brings me to the other problem area in writing. 

Time lines.

I've found a very useful tool when I begin to plot out a novel is to work out the timeline over which the action in a novel takes place.   And keep a hard copy for reference close to my computer.

This ensures events occur in an orderly fashion.
Only in time travel epics will a reader accept chronological happenings being blurred as characters change worlds. And yet in each different world a character occupies there must be a good sense of time to make it work.
In every work of fiction there must be a sound sense of chronology. I know as a  reader I very quickly become disenchanted  with any work where a timeline is obviously out of sinc. Or where a character has to fit an impossible amount into their own personal time line.
A recent example of a time line gone awry was a romance novel I was reading where the heroine had a 19 year old son, she was 37 and claimed she was pregnant and being forced into a shotgun wedding at 17. Hey you do the math! It doesn't fit. 
When events pull a reader out of the story to such a degree where they reach for a calculator, you've lost your reader.
I've found it useful when doing the background of main characters to write out a timeline for the major events that occurred in their life, especially any event that has a major impact on the back story.

Back Story.

I never forget the importance of back story. It impacts on the current events and hangups each character brings forward into the current story. Back story lies at the heart of every character's motivation.
The more angst in the back story the harder your character has to strive to overcome and to grow.

My father used to say no one comes into the world hosed and shod. (An olde worlde term for wearing shoes and socks)

And a writer forgets at their peril that no character arrives on a page without a personal history. And a personal history equates to backstory.