Friday, September 30, 2011

Finding the Perfect Writing Notebook--and How to Use It to Finish Your Book

A good friend just recommended, and another just purchased, the most beautiful writer's notebook, so I am posting this article from two years ago about how to use them to the fullest as you create and craft your book.  If you'd like to salivate along with me, check out the Leuchtturm writing notebooks.  I'm off to order mine right now.

Writers produce writing. And if you're a writing geek like me, you love to write longhand in notebooks, not just on the super-fast computer. 
Writing notebooks let the right brain ramble slowly, and the writing I do longhand is often pensive, full of imagery. I notice things I'd breeze over.  It has a certain

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Change of Seasons--Visioning Time for Your Book?

Today it is wet outside, the start of our fall rains.  Everything looks saturated with September sun and now the moisture of this gentle rain, and it's a good day for sitting still. Something I don't do very often, but which my books crave at this time of year, as the heat of summer downshifts into colder weather.

Today I'm giving myself the gift of visioning.  Simply listening, and waiting.  Visioning brings

Saturday, September 17, 2011

What Makes a Chapter? What Makes a Scene?

A common question in my book-writing classes is the difference between chapters and scenes.  Both are pathways, bridges between one moment and the next.  But what makes a chapter work?  What makes a collection of scenes warrant it

Saturday, September 10, 2011

My Love (Hate) Affair with Storyboards

Storyboards, the visual map that filmmakers use, save my books. They are my primary pathway through my piles of material.  They are my best tool for organizing and structuring my novels, nonfiction books, and memoirs so that a reader can make sense of the story.

I love them. I couldn't make publishable books without them.

I also hate storyboards. They are like bossy mother-in-laws, telling me what I'm doing wrong. They point out exactly what I don't want to look at about my book-in-progress: where I have too much blah-blah-blah, where I've skipped a juicy opportunity for conflict, where I've stayed on track or gone on a tangent.

Essentially, it becomes clear as day where my book isn't yet working.

I teach storyboards, I have several hanging on my office walls, and I barely tolerate their linear know-it-all attitude. But I think they're gold.

The Golden Opportunity of Storyboards
A big question as you begin your book is this:  How are you going to know if your story flows when it's outside of your own inner worlds?

You can craft a draft, of course.  Get it typed out and printed, read through it.  But it's still hard to see if the idea you presented on page 31 will thread through to page 231 in a way your reader will track.

Some writers make long lists.  I do this too.  Facts to check, threads to follow.  The lists on my desk are as numerous as my printed drafts, after a while, and I start to go crazy under all that paper.  Here's where storyboards present a golden opportunity, like a good map out of a swamp.

A writer needs to know the structure of her story flow, the placement in time and space of each idea or plot point.  It's not just enough to churn out the words. The sequence matters, a sequence that readers can follow, and you need some method to clearly see sequence. Filmmakers use storyboards to provide this.

What's a storyboard look like?  Check out  this video where I demonstrate a storyboard.  

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Making Time for Your Writing--How Many Plates Are You Spinning?

Each choice we make, each change we bring into our lives, requires a certain level of attention.  Normal activities that are in a groove require a different kind of attention, because they are on a maintenance level.

But if we're tackling something new, like health or family changes, a shift in job responsibilities, a new exercise plan, new financial goals, it becomes like

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Vote for My New Book--NH Literary Award Finalist!

My new book, Your Book Starts Here, is now a finalist for the New Hampshire Literary Awards in the nonfiction category.  Pretty thrilling!
It's also up for a People's Choice award.  If you'd like to help me out by voting for Your Book Starts Here, please feel free to click here