Inspiring writing reminder

“I wonder how old we are when we stop thinking like kids?”  – This Kid Reviews Books  (Quote used with permission. Thanks, Erik!)

Sue Harrison’s “Writing the Third Dimension” – Part 26: One More Time – Second Draft

Welcome back! Over the next several more months we invite you to return here, specifically on the fourth Thursday of each month for the newest installment of Sue Harrison’s teaching: Writing The Third Dimension. You can read all the segments by clicking on the page title WRITING THE THIRD DIMENSION, found under Writers’ Helps & Workshops on the drop-down menu. Please feel free to ask questions and leave comments for Sue. Now for the topic for month twenty-six:

*****

“Writing the Third Dimension” – part 26: One More Time – Second Draft

You’ve just accomplished something that few people ever do. You’ve finished the First Draft of your novel. You’ve written it down on paper, or it’s on your computer, or floating around on The Cloud somewhere. I hope you treated yourself to a wonderful celebration.

I also hope you’ve completed that celebration, because the Second Draft looms large.

In my experience, the Second Draft is always easier than the First Draft; however, I’ve also found that each Second Draft turns out to be more difficult than I thought it would be.

Here’s why. When I complete the First Draft, I envision my novel as an amazing work of literature. I’m at the top of my form. I can hear the critics’ applause. Then I begin the Second Draft. The first chapter usually goes very well. Second, not quite so well. By the end of the third chapter, I’m winded. In the fourth, I’m horrified. This novel is NOT amazing. It’s not even CLOSE to amazing. Oh, rats, oh rubbish. The critics will boo and hiss. Oh my poor, poor readers — I’ve let them down eternally. *Sigh* *Whimper*

You get the picture. It’s not the rewriting that’s so tough. It’s the discouragement. I’m not perfect, and, far worse, neither is my novel.

I wallow in self-pity for an hour or two. Then I raid the cupboards for something fattening, and I eat it.

candies

 

 

 

Then I decide that none of that has helped my ego or the novel, so I do the brave thing. I go back and attack the Second Draft not as the wimp that I am, but as the warrior I intend to become, which means I don’t do the easy stuff. I don’t worry about typos, spelling, or even research. Second Draft is all about “major repairs.” I concentrate on two  areas — point-of-view-character development and plotline. I work chapter by chapter, and, within each chapter, I work scene by scene.

I ask myself these two questions:

1. Does this chapter or scene advance my plot onward and upward toward that far off eventual climax? If not, I chart out a quick outline of what I need to do to make the plot work.

2. Do my characters’ actions illustrate what the reader will eventually discover about those characters regarding their motivations,  emotional baggage, needs, and abilities?

Then I rewrite the scene or the chapter.

Over the years, I’ve adopted a “Second Draft coping mechanism.” During Second Draft, I seldom skip backwards within the novel to make minor changes in earlier chapters simply because in Chapter Forty-Seven or Chapter Sixty-Two I decided to add some odd little quirk. I leave myself a note within the manuscript. For example, [“Sue, go back and give Jorn unusually large hands.”] I do the same thing with areas that need more research. [“Sue, look up Eastern European elm trees — shape of leaves.”]

I’ve found that if I go backwards in the manuscript during the Second Draft to make minor changes, I tend to get caught in a loop, and I keep rewriting the same few chapters over and over again, because it’s easier than going on with the remainder of the novel to address plotline failures and weak characterization.

Yes, as I write the Second Draft, I’ll rearrange my words, shorten or lengthen descriptive passages, and sometimes throw in new scenes or new minor characters. Sometimes even a whole new chapter. Nonetheless, in my novels, Second Draft is all about admitting and correcting imperfections on the “big screen” of plot and characterization.

Question for you: Do you write your first draft by hand, record it as an “audible,” or do you work on a typewriter or  a computer? (There’s no wrong answer on this. Every writer should do what is comfortable for him or her. I’m just curious.)

Strength to your pen!

Sue

*Writing the Third Dimension, copyright, 2010 Sue Harrison*

Sue HarrisonBestselling author, Sue Harrison, has written two bestselling Alaska trilogies: The Ivory Carver Trilogy and The Storyteller Trilogy – all of which went digital in May 2013. She also wrote a middle readers’ book SISU. Prior to the publication of her novels, Harrison was employed at Lake Superior State University as a writer and acting director of the Public Relations Department and as an adjunct instructor in creative writing and advanced creative writing. For more information, click here. To inquire about booking Sue for workshops or speaking engagements this year, click here.

Thanks for joining us! Please feel free to leave your questions and comments. We invite you to come back April 23, 2015, for part 27.

Book Review: Eva and Sadie and the Worst Haircut EVER! by Jeff Cohen

Lynn:

I’m sure you all know of someone having this experience … either you were personally involved in some way, or you discovered your child’s attempts. Please tell us about it!

Thanks, Erik, for this great review. :)

You can find Eva and Sadie and the Worst Haircut EVER! on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! :)

Originally posted on This Kid Reviews Books:

evaEva and Sadie and the Worst Haircut EVER!
By Jeff Cohen
Illustrated by Elanna Allen
32 pages – ages 5+
Published by HarperCollins on June 3, 2014

Eva and Sadie are sisters. Eva’s hair is long and curly. Sadie thinks that it is too long, too curly, and too much of a bother. It is practically impossible to tame! Then, Sadie had an idea – why not give Eva a haircut? Awesome idea, right? Maybe not so much…

An NPR radio reporter, Jeff Cohen has 2 little girls, Sadie, 5, and Eva, 3. He interviewed his kids after a disastrous hair cutting incident. Click HERE to go to the original interview (it’s hilarious). Apparently the interview went viral and Mr. Cohen turned the story into a very cute picture book. The story is very well-written, and has a great message. The message that Sadie learns is “It’s okay to…

View original 83 more words

A Beginner’s Guide to On-line Security by Wendi Finn

Lynn:

This is a book I think we should look into, even though it’s written for young readers age 10+.
Thanks Erik, and your mom, for your review of this book. 

PS:  I also discovered there is now a workbook to go with this book.

You can find A Beginner’s Guide to On-line Security listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Originally posted on This Kid Reviews Books:

onlinesecurityA Beginner’s Guide to On-line Security: A workbook for all ages (Staying Safe In Today’s World of Technology) (Volume 1)

By Wendi Finn

Illustrated by Kari Shakely

Paperback: 26 pages – ages 10+

Published by CreateSpace on August 6, 2013

Taken from Amazon’s description –

“In May of 2013 the Huffington Post reported teens send and receive over one hundred text messages per day. It is said 94% of teenagers are using social media. Finally a tool has been developed to educate our young users of technology in appropriate on-line habits and security best practice. “

This book is a guide to Internet safety for kids and adults. It covers a variety of topics from emails to Facebook to video chats. It explains a topic and then has a “Do It Yourself” section that kids fill out and parents and teachers can use to talk about it with kids.

When…

View original 266 more words

Let’s think SPRING, shall we?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had about enough of Winter. It’s time for disappearing snow, no ice, warm days, gentle breezes, birds pairing off and building nests, buds swelling on trees and flowering hedges, early flowers pushing through … oh my … yes! I want all that! How about you?

Let’s think SPRING, shall we? 

Usually Winter doesn’t get to me anymore, although I don’t like being cold; I can tolerate the season and enjoy its unique intense beauty, but this year it’s been pulling me down and sitting on me. And it’s been so constantly cold, way too snowy and icy, that I am just plain ready for Spring! Depression has weighed on me for many months; not so much that I can’t function at all, but enough that I have been low on energy and finding it hard to get and stay interested in anything. I would like to crawl into bed and stay there for … I don’t care how long. Apparently, I have a real thing … a low-grade depression that is enough to keep me in this lacklustre state of mental weariness where I’m wanting to do but lack motivation and energy to accomplish much at all. It’s exasperating, disappointing, and exhausting. I’ve lost my joie de vivre and I’m tired of being tired!

As a result of all that, just one thing that has suffered is my blog — for which I have felt twinges of guilt — and my reading and writing have been making next-to-no progress. I do apologize to you again, my dear reader, for not keeping up with posting here. I hope you will forgive my lack of enthusiasm and commitment and not quit on me.

We had a break in our weather for a few days, but now we are in the beginnings of the receiving end of a few more centimeters of snow. Do we need more? I THINK NOT! 

snow buntings on top of our hedge

This is a flurry of snow buntings, the whitest of winter birds. Do you know what they are sitting on? MY HEDGE! Yes, my hedge is under all that snow. I really am not pleased to see more snow coming down, even though it is pretty. Enough is enough, thank you.

To look ahead a little, today I have this link to share with you that I think will remind us all of the season we long to celebrate. (Or I do, anyway.) Maybe it will give you some new ideas for your gardens. Click on the red words here to see a list of flower names from A to Z. There are no images with the flower names, so we have to “Google” them to see what they look like or search in gardening books. I hope you enjoy the list, anyway.

How have you been surviving Winter? Do you have favourite flowers you can hardly wait to enjoy?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

 

 

 

Sue Harrison’s “Writing the Third Dimension” – part 25: The End

Welcome back! Over the next several more months we invite you to return here, specifically on the fourth Thursday of each month for the newest installment of Sue Harrison’s teaching: Writing The Third Dimension. You can read all the segments by clicking on the page title WRITING THE THIRD DIMENSION, found under Writers’ Helps & Workshops on the drop-down menu. Please feel free to ask questions and leave comments for Sue. Now for the topic for month twenty-five:

*****

“Writing the Third Dimension” – part 25: The End

You’ve worked so hard writing the first draft of your novel, and finally, finally, there you are — one last chapter left to go. After a marathon that has required every ounce of your strength and endurance, you can see the finish line.

You gulp in a deep breath, and, on a huge burst of adrenalin, you tie up remaining threads of the plot and proudly type those two words you have been striving toward throughout the whole, long process:

THE END

TaDa!! Celebrate!!

InflatableBalloons

I hate to burst your balloons, but, before you celebrate, you need to answer a few questions. If you answer “yes,” then you really have finished your first draft. If you answer “no,” you need to go back and work on those last few chapters. Groan!

Don’t get discouraged. Even if you need to rewrite, you can handle it. After all, you’ve already written hundreds of pages. This will be easy-peasy. Well, almost easy-peasy.

Let’s dive into those Before-You-Celebrate questions:

1. Last month we talked about the climax of your novel. Does your final page take place only a chapter or two after the climax?  Yes? Then hooray! If not,  you may need to shorten this after-climax portion. You risk losing your readers’ attention if you prolong the unwinding that occurs after the novel’s emotional high.

2. In your excitement at nearing the end of your novel, have you continued to show your scenes rather than tell them to the reader? It’s so tempting to rush through that last chapter.

3. Did you avoid the classic error of allowing one of your characters to indulge in a long-winded monologue to tie up any loose ends? Good! Then celebrate. If not, rewrite so that some of the information is doled out in a short scene or two, and any necessary monologue is brief!

4. And by the way, did you tie up all those loose ends? If you are planning a sequel, then a few loose ends are fine! If not, you need to weave them into the natural progression and outcome of your storyline.

5. Did you refuse to end your novel with a “Deus ex machina” scene? In ancient Greek plays, the endings were often based around a Greek god coming down in a “machine” (a basket hooked to a pulley system) to “magic” away all the problems. Don’t allow a contrived ending to spoil your previous hard work.

All right. Now, are all your answers YES? Hooray!! Then Celebrate! (And next month, we’ll talk about second drafts. Mwahahaha….)

Tell me about your first draft experience. Do you enjoy writing first drafts or is that the most difficult part of the process for you?

Strength to your pen!

Sue

*Writing the Third Dimension, copyright, 2010 Sue Harrison*

Sue HarrisonBestselling author, Sue Harrison, has written two bestselling Alaska trilogies: The Ivory Carver Trilogy and The Storyteller Trilogy – all of which went digital in May 2013. She also wrote a middle readers’ book SISU. Prior to the publication of her novels, Harrison was employed at Lake Superior State University as a writer and acting director of the Public Relations Department and as an adjunct instructor in creative writing and advanced creative writing. For more information, click here. To inquire about booking Sue for workshops or speaking engagements this year, click here.

Thanks for joining us! Please feel free to leave your questions and comments. We invite you to come back March 26, 2015 for part 26.

Self-promotional help, Word counter & other tools for writers

Today I was checking my links for word count helps and discovered that one I had on my Writers’ Helps page no longer takes us to the page we need. That’s disappointing, especially as it was a link to more than one ‘help’. That sent me on a search. Now in its place I’ve posted four great tools I found, plus a promotional help, that should be wonderful for your use.

  1.  Rapid Word Counter not only counts your words, it counts the number of characters, including punctuation, you use in your story or paragraph.
  2. dCode changes uppercase to lowercase – and vice versa – for you.
  3. Worth a mention is something you might find will come in handy sometime – writing in reverse. How fun is that to work into a story! :)  It’s on DCode’s page where you can also see a list of other fun tools to use!
  4. I found an online typing test that rates your typing speed in a one minute test. After you type the words shown you are given a detailed report of your efforts. Very interesting.

Promotional help: Thanks to funtimesthree for this tip! An online business that looks to be a really good way to promote your book, skills, passion for writing and/or reading – or whatever – is Zazzle International. This link takes you to Zazzle.ca but you can select Zazzle.com or one of ten other sites for other countries. (Scroll to the bottom of their front page for the list.) It’s a site where you can order products that make a statement, or you can design products the way you want them – such as business cards, mugs, t-shirts and much more. I plan to use this site; it’s very similar to Café Press which I have tried. :)

You can find all the above-mentioned tools on my Writers’ Helps page. Please check them out and the many other helps listed there. I hope there is something of use to you.

Have you found anything that helps your writing, or aids in your promotional goals, that you wouldn’t want to be without?

Thank for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

Happy Valentine’s Day!

“Keep love in your heart. a life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead.” – Oscar Wilde

cats love

“We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.” – Dr. Seuss

Aren’t those fabulous quotes? And, on that note, I would like to wish you all a Happy Mutual Weirdness Day!  And much love to you.  :)

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)