Options to work through “problem scenes or chapters”

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve lost focus on my novel. I’ve dabbled a little here and there doing edits and revisions. Then I came to a couple of chapters that I’m having trouble with. I start to revise and get lost in the process.

Take a break and consider your options.

I decided to rethink a few things about Kady’s desire to have a “proper” family. For me there’s too much narrative exploring Kady’s thoughts and I’m not comfortable with that. It’s not what I really want, although the gist of it is about women allowing themselves to be drawn into their men’s lives and focusing on them and not their own goals and needs.

I did read somewhere once that when this happens — when you have a scene or chapter that you get hung up on — you need to rethink them. For some reason, they’re not working for you and you need to figure out why. This is what’s happening to me.

So I’ve been letting the words stew in my mind and I came up with a few options to fix them:

  1. I can delete the chapter completely (which I don’t think I want to do)
  2. I can revise the “boring” sections into perhaps a conversation with Kady’s best friend to get two points of view on the topic.
  3. I can break up the bits and move them into other scenes or chapters.

And so, I haven’t quite made up my mind completely yet, but by the time I get back to work, I’ll have an idea of what I can do. What I’m leaning toward at this point is a combination of options 2 and 3.

Has this ever happened to you? What did you do to fix the situation and get your mind back in focus to continue your revisions?

Any advice or tips you might have to share would be most appreciated, because I’m pretty sure we all encounter this situation at one time or another.

Write your way out of the sh*t pile

It has been said by many writers and would-be writers that someone else already wrote your story. You might be right. Maybe it has. But here’s the kicker: it wasn’t written by you, using your perspective. Your perspective is fresh and unique and it’s yours. Go for it and write it down. Get the story out of your head. 

If you’re afraid to write it, that it won’t be perfect, that what makes you a writer, and that you don’t know where to start. Every writer has these fears. The first word of advice is “just write it.”

Take the leap and write!
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Kady’s Mulligan — Excerpt #1: The attic

All Kady ever wanted was a proper family. Her, and her older brother Aaron’s, parents died in a car accident when she was only six. Their grandparents became their guardians, but grandfather passed away only a year later. After that, Gran withdrew and spent most of her time in her own faraway world, leaving the kids to fend for themselves.

When Gran passed away several months before the story begins, Kady took on the role as executor of her will. Aaron is overseas, so she is responsible for sorting and selling the effects of the old farmhouse. Her first foray into the attic that Gran would never allow her to visit as a child spoke volumes to the task ahead of her.

Cobwebs hide dark family mysteries.
Continue reading “Kady’s Mulligan — Excerpt #1: The attic”

How to keep the inner-critic wolves away

Today I want to talk about the inner critic that keeps us from moving forward.

We have many reasons for critiquing our own work so harshly. The biggest is fear. Fear of what, you might ask? What is it that keeps us lost in the deep dark forest with the wolves baying at our heels and prevents us doing the work we were meant to do? The answers may vary from person to person, but here are some of the top reasons:

The wolves are issues that belong to someone else — not you.
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Morning meditation for your writing

This morning, I sat on my front deck to meditate. Since the spring here is still rather cool, I took my favorite multi-colored striped blanket to wrap around my legs. Refreshing cool air washed across my face. A light rain trickled off the roof, pattered on the lake, and dripped from tree branches.

As I focused my breath, I saw loons, ducks, tree sparrows, and a kingfisher winging their way across the water. When I closed my eyes and listened carefully, I heard robins, sparrows, chickadees, finches, woodpeckers, flickers, blue jays, crows, and even a rooster crowing somewhere across the lake.

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Face it: You have no muse.

Say what?

Inspiration, much to many people’s chagrin, does not come “from out of the blue” at “odd moments.” It is not a lightning flash that appears in the dark of night. It is not the girl (or man) sleeping on the pillow next to you.

Inspiration comes from within… from living your life…

Here’s what I’ve figured out. Inspiration is the process of information exchange between your conscious and your subconscious minds. The information comes from your own experiences, beliefs, traditions, cultures, and anything else that makes you you.

Continue reading “Face it: You have no muse.”

How do you choose your next great read?

I’ve heard some people say that cover art isn’t terribly important. Oh, so wrong… at least in my opinion. My reading preference is historical fiction. I look for covers that convey the past: historical images and a strong sense of what the book is about. That’s the first step.

Next comes the title. Does it sound interesting? If yes, then I click the Look Inside button. For me, and I hadn’t really thought about this before, the title typically isn’t as important as the cover image, although sometimes the two complement each other perfectly. If the image isn’t quite so exciting, the title can still hook me — or vice versa. Maybe I lean toward the image because I’m a visual person, being a writer and an artist.

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Emotional writing

I’m on the third edit of my novel, and I’m not happy with the way I’m conveying character emotions. So, I’m going back to the drawing board and reading this book, which another blogger recommended.

Writing is an ongoing process of learning and practicing, writing and revising. My weakness these days seems to be my ability to write emotion that will draw the reader in and feel empathy or some kind of connection toward my character.

My main character is a smart, stunning, hard-working, fun-loving woman, but is too quick to give her heart away. Trauma from her childhood and a guardian grandmother who basically made her feel like an orphan in her own home, left her with many issues to deal with. How do I draw out her emotions on these things so the reader feels and understands what’s going on with my character?

I need to use emotions to convey how she moves along from the sometimes teenager-like choices and reactions—to anyone who shows any kind of affection—to a grown woman who loves herself and is deserving of love.

Stay tuned for a future article about what I learn from this exercise. What have you learned about writing emotions. If you have tips to share, feel free to share them in the comments. We’d love to hear.

Everything happens for a reason

Everything that happens happens as it should, and if you observe carefully, you will find this to be so.
—Marcus Aurelius

The key is to foreshadow
and create tension

As I worked through the second draft of my novel, I discovered a couple scenes for which I couldn’t answer the following question, “What is the purpose of this scene?”

I almost deleted the passage, but then I asked myself if I could give it a reason for being. As hard as it is to admit, I have difficulty deleting words I’ve taken so much time to create. Sometimes you have to, I know, but….

Continue reading “Everything happens for a reason”