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Posts Tagged ‘Apprentice Cat’

Welcome to Toolbox Saturday where you’ll find tools for various things from writing to whatever.

I just finished another scene of Apprentice Cat. Wahoo!! Each day I get just a little closer to finishing the entire book. That makes me feel great.

There are days when I wondered if I was doing what I’m supposed to be doing in my life. Have I chosen the right career for me? Those are the days when the words just don’t come or the days when it seems the Universe itself is trying to keep me from working.

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This blog, The Road to Writing, will be discontinued Dec. 31, 2011. If you would like to continue receiving great tips and inspirational posts please remember to subscribe to my new blog by RSS or email for LOL Mondays, Spirit Wednesdays and Toolbox Saturdays.

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As I continue wrestling with my WIP, Apprentice Cat, using Larry BrooksStory Engineering strategies, I’ve suddenly realized it’s not just the writing I’ll need to edit.

Pantsers know (or should know) that they’ll be writing draft after draft in order to get the story just right. Plotters, on the other hand, use different methods to plan out what they’ll write before setting fingers to keyboard. For me, it’s several excel worksheets that include characterization, concepts and, of course, the actual plot.

What plotters may not realize…

As I’ve developed my scenes and placed them in their slots on the plotting worksheet, I’ve done my best to make things move smoothly from one idea to the next. I’m over 2/3rds finished and it just dawned on me: once I’ve filled in every slot, I’ll need to go over it again to make sure it all makes sense.

You would think I could do that as I go along, but sometimes I come up with brilliant scenes and slot them in without considering all the scenes that came before. Therefore, sometimes there are missing pieces. If I want readers to enjoy the story without being jarred out of it, I have to include the information they need when they need it. I can’t just throw a surprise into the work without foreshadowing it.

Enter the pre-writing, post-plotting editing phase…

Now that I know I’m going to have to go back over my plotting worksheet looking for missing details, it makes coming up with good scenes both easier and more difficult.

I’m a perfectionist, so I want to get it right the first time. This makes plotting difficult because, as Roz Morris reminds us in her book Nail Your Novel, the initial phase of plotting is to use broad strokes. These are just the basic ideas and shouldn’t be too detailed.

However, knowing I’ll be going back to put those details in before I write another word, also makes plotting easier. If I don’t get those details in right away, I know I’ll be able to do it before I get half-way through writing the book (unlike what I’ve done thus far :P).

I know I’m not the only one who has gone through multiple stages to develop a good book, so I’m very curious what you do? How do you plan your story?

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On another note…

If you’ve been following The Road to Writing long, you probably know I have another blog called One Servant’s Heart on my web site. After giving it a lot of thought, I’ve decided to begin merging the two blogs. I’ll be posting snippets to TRTW with a link to the full post on my web site for a while longer (probably the rest of 2011) before letting this blog go entirely. If you’ve subscribed to this feed, please go ahead and subscribe to One Servant’s Heart so you won’t miss anything.

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When you want to be a career author you can’t just write when the muse is singing. Sometimes you do need a little butt glue to keep you from wandering around doing everything but writing. That’s true… except when it isn’t.

Is butt glue always necessary?

Today I learned a very interesting thing about my writing needs. I’ve recently begun putting Larry Brooks‘ instructions on Story Engineering to good use re-plotting my novel Apprentice Cat, which has been floundering for some time now.

I’ve done everything from conceptualizing to character worksheets. Today was the first full day I’ve been able to spend creating the story structure and it was a revelation in how I develop plot.

According to Larry, there are only 60 to 90 scenes in any given novel, which are broken into four parts. I decided to put together an excel worksheet with the four major plot points and divide the rest of the necessary scenes between them. That worked fine until I began having problems coming up with scene ideas.

I tried applying butt glue, but it only made me itch.

My poor brain seemed to freeze. Every character had something he or she needed me to write at that very moment. It was like being in a room full of screaming pre-schoolers all wanting my attention at once. All I could think of was how I knew I needed to be creating these scenes, but they weren’t materializing.

That’s when I realized I needed to do something un-writerly, something physical like cleaning up the mess my toddler had made of my living room or doing dishes or anything. Butt glue was the last thing I needed.

I followed my instincts to a better story.

As soon as I stopped thinking about how much I needed to write and the self-imposed deadline I was on for finishing my plot outline, the scenes started appearing. I was hearing snippets of conversation and seeing my characters doing things I hadn’t even considered.

When a scene popped into my head, I quickly went back to my laptop and slotted it into the worksheet. If nothing else came to mind within a couple of minutes, I went back to doing whatever I was doing before. Worked great and I’m now 2/3 done with the outline. Yeah!

Butt glue is great when we’re just procrastinating, but it can get in the way of the creative process if our creative selves become paralyzed and overwhelmed by the blank page.

I’m curious to know, have any of you had the same thing happen? When do you find you need to apply butt glue? When has it hampered your creative flow?

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I don’t think I ask for much. I just want perfection. Of course, when using speech recognition software for the first time, getting it perfect from the start would be a miracle. This is my third or fourth time using dictation to compose anything. In fact, I’m taking a break from dictating a chapter in one of my WsIP to dictate this blog entry.

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I’ve been diligently working on my book, Apprentice Cat, as anyone who has been reading this blog for awhile knows. Some chapters seem to write themselves, others have to be dragged into existence. Unfortunately, the longer the story is, the more likely the middle will develop premature aging. In other words, it sags, gets bogged down, or generally becomes a bore.

And so it has happened. My little world has suddenly become afflicted with a nasty case of the “beer belly blues.” The middle has become cumbersome and unruly and, to be quite honest, I can’t see the ending like could before I began. What to do?

I’ve been doing some research (imagine that! :)) and have come up with a possible solution. I’m going to try using (gasp!) novel-writing software. Now, before, I’ve always sneered at the concept of using software that supposedly “assists you in structuring your book.” But, let’s face it, when your book has suddenly become that unwanted relative sleeping on your couch, leaving potato chip crumbs between the cushions while channel surfing, you begin to rethink how you do things.

There are plenty of possible novel-writing software programs available. Prices vary from as low as $29 to over $200. Of course, if you’re like me, even spending $29 seems steep for software you’re not convinced will do what you want it to (get the relative off your couch and gainfully employed). So, I did some more digging and found a freeware program called StoryBook that does the same thing and has a 4 out 5 star rating with Softpedia.

Planning how a novel will progress is nothing new. Using software specifically designed to aid in that planning is new (at least to me). With each new resource I uncover, from the most recent addition to my library to the discovery of a new writing tool, I learn that there are any number of ways to pursue my dream on The Road to Writing.

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Update: Rough Drafts Aren’t The Only Things That Need Editing

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For those of you out there who love to write, but suffer from migraines that get in the way, I have a possible solution (provided the headache was stress related to begin with). I’ve just come off a two and 1/2 day headache and discovered that my love of writing (and drinking several Cokes) can ease the pain tremendously!

I’ve been stressing over meeting the deadline I set to finish my book, Apprentice Cat. Needless to say, after spending a busy weekend with family and getting only my regular blog posting done, I’ve felt the pressure. Well, today I managed to spend a lot of time working and — voila! — the headache is almost completely gone!

As April Hamilton in her Publetariat post Writing Can Save Your Life; Let It wrote, “If you’re a writer, count yourself lucky. You have a crisis survival utility belt that rivals anything the caped crusader’s got.” Amen!

Pouring ourselves into our work is just one more way to be a healthier person on The Road to Writing.

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I just finished another chapter of Apprentice Cat. Wahoo!! Each day I get just a little closer to finishing the entire book. That makes me feel great.

There are days when I wondered if I was doing what I’m supposed to be doing in my life. Have I chosen the right career for me? Those are the days when the words just don’t come or the days when it seems the Universe itself is trying to keep me from working. I was pondering that very thought a few days ago when I read an article by Jenna Avery titled “What Are You Doing Instead of Living Your Purpose?” I subscribe to her email list for Highly Sensitive Souls (aka highly sensitive people) and for the last month or so she’s been writing on how to find your life’s purpose.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that, until finishing this last chapter, I wasn’t sure I was living my purpose — at least in part. As I prepared to sit down to work today, it hit me as it hasn’t in a very long time. I was not just happy. I was excited. I couldn’t wait to get started on the next chapter. Writing is my purpose — to entertain and perhaps to teach just a little about life.

Being passionate about my work tells me that it is indeed what I’m meant to do. It hasn’t always been easy. (I have entire notebooks with crossed out passages!) I’m sure it’s not going to be all candy and roses now that I know I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. Yet, it’s enough to know I’m on the right track. I’m very glad Jenna Avery was there to be a signpost on The Road to Writing.

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