Wednesday, February 3, 2016

IWSG: First Drafts

Here's my monthly post. Sad that it's always for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Seems a monthly post is all I can handle right now. Ah well, at least I'm writing. Some.

Thanks to Alex Cavanaugh and his co-hosts for putting this on every month. If you're a writer and would like to join, click on the above link.

Here's something I always notice about my WiP: why, oh why, is the first draft always so darn bad? I know, I know. Perfection comes with the editing. I'd never actually claim the perfection part. The final draft is always loads better than the first draft, though.

But you know, back in the day, authors such as Charles Dickens wrote by hand and when you see copies of their manuscripts with some scratching out and words added and such--the original first draft isn't that bad.

How did they do it?

Do your first drafts get better with experience?

Or is it the modern day, quicker process that allows us to zoom on through the first draft only to pick up the pieces in the editing?

Friday, January 1, 2016

IWSG: The Mystery of The Missing Year

The first Insecure Writer's Support Group post of the year (a little early!). Thanks to Alex Cavanaugh and those who help to host this event every month!

I do love a good mystery, but this one is just plain baffling...

What in the world happened to 2015?!

It went missing somewhere around March...

Few traces of its whereabouts are left behind...

It's only trace evidence, but here's what I know for sure: 2015 went on its own merry way and didn't invite me along. Poof! It was gone, just like that.

I should have completed three novellas. Instead, I did a lot of studying on the best way to structure a novel. Here are the brief results:

  • Dan Wells' 7-Point Story Structure ( It's simple and straight forward. Each "point" names the required element: Hook, Plot Turn 1, Pinch 1, Midpoint, Plot Turn 2, Pinch 2, and Resolution. Name what each one is, fill in the blanks, then just keep building on it. What I like about this is that it covers every element you need in the novel and tells you where you need to put it.)
  • James Patterson's masterclass outline (Let me just say that James Patterson is the Master Outliner. When you take the class, you receive a copy of his outline for Honeymoon.  I love how detailed the outline is and how he just keeps building and adding to the outline until he nearly has the novel complete by the time he finishes the outline. His classes are on video, each one short, amusing and well-explained. A deal at $99.)
  • Blake Snyder's beat sheet (Snyder is the king of breaking it all down in detail. He's the father of Structure and how to make sure every detail is placed exactly where it needs to be to make the right impression at the right time. It's meant to be for screenplays, but is more than relevant for novel writing. It is a must-read. Having sung its praises, though, I found it too complicated because I had to keep going back to look at examples and finding it all a bit forced for my likings. You know, the square peg being forced into the round hole. Again, though, lots of good information. It really got me to thinking about the necessities of what goes into the structure of a good novel.)
  • Other modified beat sheets (Self explanatory).

What I did accomplish  this year is writing two shiny new outlines:

  1. For my Brother Bart series, I used Dan Wells' 7-Point Story Structure to start, then used it to write a detailed outline.
  2. For my Saving Marley series, I used Blake Snyder's beat sheet which I turned into a detailed outline.
For me, I know I have to work from an outline. My crappy memory doesn't allow for anything else. I enjoyed using the 7-Point Story Structure more than the Beat Sheet.

The real question is, which one is more successful at helping me to write a novel?

We shall see!

I know this for sure: I'm going to keep a tight rein on 2016 so it doesn't go walkabout like its predecessor!

My 2016 goals? Finish first drafts of both outlines.

What are your goals for the new year?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

IWSG: The Dreaded, No Good, Very Bad Review

It's Insecure Writer's Support Group day, the final one of the year! No worries, though. It's continuous, just like clockwork, and occurs on the first Wednesday of every month, every year, all year long. If you want to join, go HERE. Thanks to Alex Cavanaugh and this month's co-hosts, Sandra Hoover, Mark Koopmans, Doreen McGettigan, Megan Morgan, and Melodie Campbell! 

Do you have your mediation ears on? Okay, here I go!

I got my first 1-star review on Amazon and it was a bit devastating. It made me doubt myself and my writing abilities. I know I'm not the best writer out there. I'm still a work in progress. But the reviewer was a bit unkind. 

First, she made fun of something I didn't write: 

Let me be clear. The writing is trite...please find a different way to say "right before my very eyes." As opposed to what? My NOT very sorta eyes?

She quoted me on "right before my very eyes." I did a search of the final manuscript, even checked every sentence where "eyes" were mentioned, and it wasn't there. Nothing even came close to it

Apparently, here is the crux of the problem:

The story is good. I would have been willing to buy a new story had this one actually had an ending. I just hate being manipulated. This story and all others by the author are hereby banished from my kindle.

Even though the writing is "trite" she thought the story was "good" and would have been "willing to buy a new story". So the story wasn't actually that bad, she was just mad about the ending or what she considered the lack of an ending. 

Here's the dealio: I released the Afterlife series in three separate novellas. I tried to give each novella an ending for that particular story, while at the same time letting the reader know that there was more to the story and they'd have to buy the next book to get the full story. Second Death, the first book and the subject of this review is perma-free (so she didn't buy it). 

I sort of get where she's coming from, but I certainly didn't think in terms of "manipulation" when I set up the marketing strategy, i.e. read the first one for free, buy the other two if you're interested. 

I really do want to be fair, though. I want my readers to be happy and of course I always, always, always want to do the right thing. 

So, here are my questions for you:

Is this a bad marketing strategy?

Should I take books II and III down and only sell the series as a whole so that there is an "ending" readily available?

Thanks so much for your help!

What are your insecurities this month?