Category Archives: novels

>10 Reasons to Finish That Lousy WIP!

>We all run into those pesky stories or novels that will not cooperate and go smoothly as ordered! But just when you’ve had it and swear you’re not writing another word, you do. But why? Dead Locked has been the mother of all difficult projects in my book. But I’ve pushed on and will push on until it’s done. And here are 10 reasons why I keep going and why you should too.

  1. You have put far too many hours into it already to give up.
  2. You love the characters and can’t leave them hanging.
  3. The story keeps pulling you back.
  4. Any story worth telling requires work.
  5. If you gave up every time you hit a wall, you’d never finish a single project.
  6. People want to read your story!
  7. Every finished novel is another step toward your goals.
  8. You become a better writer with every story you finish.
  9. You’ll never forgive yourself for giving up.
  10. You’ve made it this far. Keep going!

What reasons do you repeat to yourself when a project makes you want to throw your writing tools in the air and quit?

>Book Title Announcement & Novel Sneak Peek

>Today is my 100th blog post! Woohoo! As such, I decided to celebrate and do something a little different. As I’ve said in previous posts, I’m writing a mystery/adventure novel that’s now in revision stage. So today, I’m posting an excerpt from my novel. It’s still rough but I think it will give you an idea of what’s to come. If you haven’t before, check out this exclusive interview that I did with the main character, Imogen Bell, for the Character Interview Blogfest.

I also have an exciting announcement: my novel has a title! Yay! (Read about my misadventures in titling here.) It is now officially called DEAD LOCKED. Stay tuned for more information about my book in the days/weeks to come. For now, enjoy this short sneak peek!

Excerpt from Dead Locked

Boats gurgled by in a long line heading out of the harbor into the bay. Observers on the fishing docks yelled back and forth with the boaters. Imogen could hear car horns honking on the main street a few blocks away. The only soothing noise came from the breeze rushing across the harbor, jingling the sailboat riggings.

“This is ridiculous,” Imogen said. “We need to do something about all this.”

“The police and Coast Guard have their hands full,” Peter said. “We just need to be patient.”

“Especially now that you’ve told everyone there’s something to find,” Sebastian said. “We’re here to study a shipwreck, not treasure hunt. These idiots,” he waved his hand in the direction of the boats, “will wipe out whatever’s left of The Freelove. You’ve spent years trying to find it. Why did you announce that there is more of a reason for every tourist to go meddling in our work?”

“I couldn’t lie.”

“You’re a scientist.”

“I’ve never asked you to believe the stories,” Peter said. “But I do. And I just couldn’t bring myself to say that I didn’t.”

Sebastian shook his head in disbelief and left. Imogen stood next to Peter, who met her gaze and smiled sadly.

“I don’t mean to disappoint him,” he said.

“You’re not disappointing him,” Imogen said. “He’s just grumpy because he wants to be left alone to work. This is all a hassle to him.”

“He should be left alone to work.” Peter looked off into the bay. “Maybe they are just a bunch of stories.” From the far off look in his eyes, Imogen didn’t believe he bought that. And neither did she.

>How I Write: A Visual Guide

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My WIP in miniature. I write one scene per index card to get the big picture.
My notebooks for my WIP. Once an idea for a novel gets serious, it gets its own notebook. I only used the art pad at the beginning stages of plotting. I found it useful for working out timelines especially. The top notebook is now full so I’ve moved on to the one underneath for rewriting notes.
The art pad also came in handy for working out the order of scenes. I used sticky notes for that. It was an experiment based on something I read about another writer’s methods. Not sure I’ll do it that way again though. Didn’t quite work for me.
My writing tools for this WIP all together like one happy family.
My writing partner-in-crime these days. How did I ever live without you?
My printed manuscript, after the first cuts.

>Choose Your Destiny

>One of the most difficult decisions can be where to take your story next. You can brainstorm and brainstorm, listing the choices for all eternity it seems. But eventually you must make a choice. I think for some writers this is easier than for others. I’m a person who likes to keep options open. I like to have choices, but settling on just one sometimes requires telling myself to just make up my mind and move forward.

Instead of just taking the first idea, I do think it’s good to see if you can do better. But the fact is you can change everything a million times and never finish the story. I found participating in NaNoWriMo was helpful for curing this. You have no time to hem and haw over where to take the story. You have to make up your mind fast.

How can you settle on an idea when you have several good options? There is no right answer and many ideas can qualify as the “best.” I choose the ideas that I love and make me excited to dig in. When I start to lose passion for a story, I look at the decisions I’ve made. If you’re not excited about a direction the story is taking, maybe you should go back to brainstorming and choose an alternate path. Writing should be exciting, even when it’s hard. Never lose sight of that.

That’s my Monday rant. On a different note, check back here tomorrow for an exclusive interview with my novel’s heroine, Imogen Bell. It’s part of the character interview blogfest hosted by Echoes of a Wayward Mind. It’s not too late to sign up if you haven’t already. See you then!

>When to Start Research & How to Organize It

>Yesterday, I talked a bit about how research can enhance your story. That got me thinking about when it’s a good idea to start researching and how to keep track of what you find out. Depending on the type of novel or short story you’re writing, this can be a relatively easy or tricky proposition.

I prefer to start as soon as I know what I need to research. With my current novel I made the mistake of waiting to research underwater archaeology until after I started working out my story. Not smart. My research not only made plot changes necessary but enticing. Based on your characters, setting, and plot, you should know from the beginning some of what you need to look up. I make a research list toward the beginning of the project and check off items as I go. It includes major and minor research points so I don’t forget.

Organizing all that research can be difficult. Part of the point of research is to have something to refer to while you’re writing. That means it needs to be easy to access. What do you use for research primarily? I use the Internet and library or bookstore. But research can also encompass visiting locations and interviewing experts, depending on your topics.

For Internet research, I label folders in my favorites with my research topics. I save any and all websites that will help me (you may never find them again otherwise) into those folders. You may want to nest all research topics under your book title. Some topics I know I will use across different projects so I don’t do that. For easy reference, I also take “notes” by copying and pasting information from the website into a file that’s saved as a specific topic. I make different documents for different subjects and save those in a folder nested within my book’s general folder.

Books are a different matter. I highlight as I read if I own it and/or take notes and keep them together either in the same notebook or file folder. I make sure I note where the information came from so I can find it again. I use photos for research a lot, whether my own or photos I’ve found online. I save them in a specific folder and label it according to the subject.

These methods have worked great for me, but you have to find your own rhythm with research and organization. Work with your preferences and tendencies, not against them. Experiment with different ways of handling research and see what works best. Once you find your groove, you’ll be in a great place to get writing.

Photo by pathlost

>Why It Pays to Research

>Research can be one of the less fun aspects of writing. But it can also be one of the more rewarding. A little research can add detail to your story that’s believable, rich, and engrossing. Whether it’s as specific as police rankings or as general as underwater archaeology (a foundation for my current novel), buckling down to do research gives me confidence later when I start to write.

The prime benefit of research in my opinion is all the raw detail you have at your fingertips. You will doubtfully use it all, but just knowing it yourself affects your writing. Readers will get a sense that you know what you’re talking about, upping the believability factor. And knowing the truth can help you bend it as needed or desired.

Research can also give you ideas you never would have had otherwise. While reading about marine archaeology, I learned some things that led to developing a whole new aspect of my novel. It may take some effort to find what you need, but the benefits can be surprising.

When should you start researching? How can you keep it all organized? I’ll delve into those topics tomorrow. For now, what are your thoughts on the benefits of research and fiction?

>Culling Fluff from Your Story

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Every scene that you write doesn’t necessarily belong in the finished draft. A lot of things you may have written just to keep writing, or they were scenes you needed to know about but your readers don’t. Part of writing a first draft is learning about your characters and figuring out the story. So some of your initial writing may be you playing around, testing the waters. So how can you recognize the fluff from the important scenes?
An awesome trick I learned several years ago comes from screenwriting. Get a pack of index cards. Go through your novel or short story and write down a scene per index card. Number the scene, and in a sentence say who is in the scene and what they’re doing. Once you’re done, lay out the index cards and read your novel in summary. You will immediately recognize the cotton candy from the steak because the one-sentence summary will read something like “Rex and Sir Edmund chat” (from an actual scene card of an old story of mine). Laugh if you want, but I promise somewhere in your novel or short story is a scene like that and this method will smoke it out.

How do you cull out the filler from your stories?