Friday, November 30, 2012

Endings and Beginnings--Finding the Reader-Satisfying "Loops" in Your Story

Recently I finished a pretty good story.  It is making the rounds of my friends who love literary fiction, and I'd gotten at least three recommendations, which made me reserve it at our library.

It's a debut novel by M.L.Stedman, called The Light between Oceans.

Gorgeous title and very interesting premise--a lighthouse keeper and his wife who live on a remote island off the coast of Australia find a baby in a boat that washes up on shore. The wife, desperately childless after three miscarriages, argues to keep the baby.  The husband wants to contact the mainland and let them know, thinking that some mother there will be equally desperate.  But the wife wins, they keep the child, and their world cracks in unexpected ways.

Although I love reading just for reading's sake, I have a writer's high expectations.  I found the writing lovely, with generous use of images and tense character interaction.  The setting of the rocky island and its isolation, the keen details about the lighthouse, were amazingly crafted. 

The thing that really bothered me was Act 3--the way the writer wrapped up the ending of this marvelous story. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Making a Soundtrack for Your Book: How Music and Images Help Free the Nonverbal Creative Brain

Over Thanksgiving week I decided to take a creative retreat.  The plan was to make a soundtrack for my novel-in-revision, which could use more sound and image.

Most writers know about freewriting.  It can literally "free" the random word associations inside your linear brain.

In the same way, exploration of sound and images can free the right brain--an important player in creation of theme, voice, and pacing during revision.

My daily writing brought completion of Acts 1 and 2 revision in early November.  Woo-hoo!  Then I hit Act 3.  And it's acting tough.  Thousands of threads to tie up.  Themes to recognize and build. 

It's making me tense.

I tried my usual writing exercises, but even the best freewriting and word play wasn't cutting it.

I needed to make a soundtrack for my book.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

From Fake Memoirs to True-Life Novels--The New Trends in Publishing Genres

Camilla is a writer in New York who has attended many of my classes.  She's celebrating the completion of her manuscript, a memoir about her family in Italy during World War II--a rich and interesting tale, full of great descriptions and intriguing characters. 

I always enjoyed reading Camilla's story, and I loved watching it evolve.  Now that she is officially done, she's beginning the search for agents and possible publishers, and she's running into a dilemma. 

Quite a common dilemma these days, as the publishing world is changing by the minute and new forms of books are emerging.

Camilla wrote me about it:

Friday, November 9, 2012

How to Write Every Day--The Benefits of Even Fifteen Minutes a Day on Your Writing and Why Nanowrimo Is So Popular

A writing colleague once said:  "If I'm away from my book more than three days, it's like starting over again." 

Have you experienced this?  I have.  It's no fun.

Nanowrimo, or National Novel Writers Month, is happening throughout November.  I've published one novel written during Nanowrimo and am currently working on its sequel.  
Writers who sign up for Nanowrimo enjoy the community but even more the discipline and accountability of hundreds of thousands of people writing every day. 

We get to experience the unique lift of this discipline, the creativity it brings. 

One of my biggest challenges as a writing teacher is to get writers to try this.  To write a little on their books every single day, even if it's fifteen minutes.  Every day writing creates momentum, turns on the inner faucet to more ideas.  You can use Nanowrimo or an accountability calendar like Jerry Seinfeld used to--he liked to put a big red X on every day he wrote.  After a while, the accumulation of big red X's makes it hard to skip a day,

What keeps you going on your writing?  We all know it's much more work not to write.