- I can write through adversity. Half way through the month I had a minor operation on my butt. Unfortunately the pain wasn't minor and I've spent the last two weeks unable to sit down or get up or roll over easily. As a result at least 15k of my words were written while I lay on my stomach or kneeled at the edge of my bed.
- Some days I can't write. Whether it be because there's too much else on - operation day, work day with meeting at night - or because I'm sick or the kids are sick or I'm just plain stuffed, some days writing isn't possible. I've realised, that's okay and I shouldn't beat myself up about it. If I can't write one day, I try to make it up another day!
- 3k+ in one day is NOT impossible if I have kid-free day writing time. I am going to aim for this at least once a week when in the throws of a wip.
- If I set a goal, I'm more likely to achieve it. There were times during the month when I didn't think I'd achieve 30k, but I knew whatever happened, I'd achieve a lot more than I would have IF I hadn't set the goal.
- I LOVE writing!!! Some days I'm not sure I'm good at it at all, but when I have a free moment, I always want to continue my story!
- In the end, it's JUST A BOOK. My CP Becca J Heath told me at the RWAus conf that she'd got a band made for her hubby that said "Just a Band". She got the words from a song that says "The Beatles were just a band." She gave one of these bands to me as well to remind me that writing a book is just that. A book. It's not the be-all-and-end-all of life. Writing is just words on a page and we shouldn't make it out to be more than it is or give it too much importance. That's not saying, don't strive to achieve our dreams, but don't forget to keep them in perspective.
Friday, September 30, 2011
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
I’m so happy to be guest blogging about craft books today. Thanks to the fabulous Rachael Johns for having me!
First of all, I have a confession to make. I am a geek to the core. I love craft books. Unfortunately for my husband, not only am I constantly reading them, I like to talk about them, too. To illustrate how significant this problem is I’ll share a quick story with you.
Last month I was watching The Green Hornet with my husband and son. The movie begins with the main character as a kid, and in the scene his dad is criticizing him in a horribly humiliating way. At the end of this heart-wrenching moment, the father grabs his son’s beloved action-hero figure and breaks off the toy’s head. Without missing a beat, my husband turned to me and said, “Guess we just discovered the main character’s backstory wound, huh?”
Ha! I knew my reading had ruined my ability to watch a movie without analyzing it, but my poor husband is now a victim of my studies as well.
I’ve read several dozen craft books through the years, so picking out my favorite was an impossible task. Instead, I chose the one I often reach for just before I start a round of revisions. It has the rather unwieldy title of Manuscript Makeover: Revision Techniques No Fiction Writer Can Afford to Ignore.
Written by Elizabeth Lyon, the book is broken down into four parts and spans a broad list of topics pertaining to writing fiction. It even includes sections on style, prose, grammar, and punctuation. Boring, you say? But of course! Unfortunately they are necessary elements no writer can ignore. The author’s handling of these subjects is excellent, and her chapter on creating movement and suspense in writing is fascinating. She states:“Everyone knows what movement is; that part is easy. It’s action. In fiction, it is certainly that, but it also encompasses the idea of change. Change of ideas, realities, and emotions. These shifts—action and change—create movement of the plot and character . . . One of your most basic jobs is to keep driving your story forward, through action and change, to its conclusion.”
Throughout the book, including the section on movement and suspense, she uses excellent examples to illustrate her ideas, and these really help to clarify some fairly esoteric ideas in an effective manner.
My favorite section of the book is part three. Its focus on characterization is well worth the price of the book alone. It contains a chapter on character dimension and theme, a chapter on character-driven beginnings, and another on character-driven scenes and suspense. If you struggle with the concept of a character-driven plot, these three chapters pack a wallop of information that can help. Entwining the elements of plot and emotional arc is essential to ensure you are writing character-driven stories.
And finally, the most reassuring aspect of this craft book to me is the idea that getting it right the first time around is far from necessary. After the first draft, the author states we should be sure to ‘layer in’ character development, a process which she describes as such: “follow the ‘bones’ of backstory wound, strength, weakness—and the way those factors impede and propel the plot goal—and make sure you show and tell your character’s personal yearning of one universal need throughout the story.”
I have to admit I was pretty proud of my husband’s astute observation of the backstory wound in The Green Hornet. I guess he’s been paying attention to all my crazy ramblings, eh?Secret History of a Good Girl is out now in the anthology Mills & Boon Loves. You can find out more about my upcoming books at http://www.aimeecarson.com
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Friday, September 23, 2011
I got lucky this weekend - Hubby said a while ago that he wanted to take the three heroes-in-training (lol at that, I pity the women who get them sometimes) to visit his mother who lives three hours away. I offered - once - to go along too but he insisted I stay behind and write. So aside from four hours in the shop tomorrow morning, this weekend is MINE to write guilt-free!!
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Well the Cinderella experience is right, except the glass slipper is actually a muddy Rossi boot and instead of shovelling cinders, I wade through wet sheep yards and get covered in slop, poo and dust, depending on the season. When I come in from the yards and manage to find time to sit at the computer, (after I’ve had a shower of course!) I have the lingering feeling of that mud on my skin or the ache from when the sheep hit me in the raceway.
Maybe that, instead of qualifications, has stood me good stead in writing my stories.
I have numerous craft books on my shelf, all of which I’ve tried to read. However, I haven’t got passed the first chapter in most of them. And for a while, that really upset me. I was desperate to improve my writing, understand sentence structures, plot points and how beautifully words can be entwined together. My favourite saying was ‘I need to improve my writing with every book.’
And yes, that’s still the case, but I’ve learnt more than I could have by talking to my publishers and other authors, than I could have by reading a book.
Tony Park (author of eight books, the most recent being African Dawn) is someone who I admire greatly. I had the privilege of meeting him in Perth and I can safely say that the meeting which lasted but an hour, is my ‘craft book’.
When I wrote Red Dust, I had a story to tell and I just sat down and wrote. Now I know that sounds trite (and I was very lucky that A&U could see there were good bones to the story because when I look back at what I submitted, I cringe), but I wrote with the freedom of not knowing I could do something wrong.
I am a panster, just the way I am in life; disorganised, running with ideas, never plan anything and hope for the best. Tony actually told me that was okay. The relief I felt when he said those words was amazing!
After I asked him about planning, research and the writing program Scrivener, Tony said: ‘How can you trick your audience if you know what is going to happen next. Surely, they will work it out. Just write and see where it leads you. As for Scrivener, it would be a fantastic tool if I could use it, but I don’t plan.’
For someone who was beating herself up about not using Scrivener and not planning, it was music to my ears! But in saying all of this, he did tell me that I should read ‘On Writing’ by Stephen King. Apparently it’s the only craft book to say that it’s okay not to plan.
And so, these days, this Cinderella is free to write the way she chooses but I wonder if I’ll remember that when it comes to writing Silver Gums?
Thanks so much Fleur for sharing your time with Tony with us. I must admit I've never read a Tony Parks novel but obviously after all your praise, that is going to change. And he's write, Stephen King's writing book is AWESOME! Can't wait to read your next book either but in the mean time if any of you haven't, do check out Fleur's latest, Blue Skies.
In the tradition of Rachael Treasure and from the bestselling author of Red Dust, Blue Skies tells the inspirational story of a young woman battling to save the family farm no matter what it takes. Armed with an honours degree in Agribusiness, Amanda Greenfield dreams of employing all the skills she's learnt at college to help her father turn the family farm from a debt-ridden, run-down basket case into a thriving enterprise.
Then tragedy strikes with the death of Amanda's mother in a car accident. Wracked by grief and guilt, and wearied by the long struggle to keep Kyleena a going concern, Amanda's father argues that they should sell up and get on with their lives away from the vagaries of drought and fluctuating stock and crop yields.
Having inherited half the farm from her beloved mother, whom she also grieves for, Amanda determines to summon all her strength, grit and know how to save Kyleena. Along the way she faces mixed fortunes in both love and life ...
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Why? It's simple. The woman
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
My one and only craft book – Immediate Fiction by Jerry Cleaver.
He wrote it in such a way I could easily follow and had many ‘light bulb’ moments. I must admit I hate reading books with information in them, anything that gets too technical, I switch off. Many of the times I’ll be reading a page and realise I didn’t take any of it in. But Jerry writes like a novel, he sucks me in and I’m nodding my head agreeing with him. I didn’t find it hard at all once I started.
He gives great examples, which for someone like me is very important. I need to see how it’s done and not just be told about it. (the whole in one ear out the other)
He goes on to say how important conflict is and not to avoid it. The amount of times I’ve glossed over a scene instead of having the characters ask each other the ‘harder’ questions we’ve been dying to hear, is a lot really. And it’s not until it’s pointed out do I see that they are the bits the reader wants to see.
He talks about Want, Obstacle, Action and Resolution. They are the dramatic movement and he goes into detail about each one so you really understand.
Also -It’s the thought that counts! The mind leads the body – When you feel emotions your body doesn’t react alone, your thoughts happen first. He has great pages on this with wonderful examples. Real in depth details on emotion.
Jerry also covers Point of View, rewriting, self editing. And stage/screen and marketing towards the end of the book (which I didn’t get too). But the rest of the book was well worth the read. I have markers and dog ears on all the great pages so I can go back and reinforce what I’d learned from him. I recommend this book to all my friends. J
When strong, handsome Lindsay arrives on the scene as their new shearer, CJ can't help but take notice. They have an undeniable spark, but can she handle the complications and potential heartbreak of falling in love?
With help from her friend and an endearing old farmer, CJ learns that when you stay true to yourself and open your heart, anything is possible.
Set in the colourful world of the shearing sheds, this is a lively and uniquely Australian story of love overcoming adversity.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
I'm re-reading Jodi Picoult's ''Plain Truth'', which I read years ago and loved. It's about a young Amish girl who gets pregnant out of wedlock. The baby is found dead only hours after birth. If you haven't read it, I recommend it as one of Jodi's best books. I've liked many of her other ones but this one tops them all for me.
- THREE WISHES by Liane Moriarty
- I HAVE A BED MADE OF BUTTERMILK PANCAKES by Jaclyn Moriarty.
- MARRYING DAISY BELLAMY by Susan Wiggs.
- MY BEST FRIEND'S GIRL by Dorothy Koomson