Category Archives: Writing

Sue Harrison’s “Writing the Third Dimension”, part 27: One More Time – Third Draft

Welcome back! For the rest of this year 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 and learn from all the fabulous segments from 2013-2015 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-seven:

*****

“Writing the Third Dimension” – part 27: One More Time – Third Draft

I love writing Third Drafts! Third Drafts don’t involve the hard mental work necessary in writing a First Draft, and Third Drafts rise above the disillusionment of the Second Draft. By the time I’m writing a Third Draft, I’ve accepted the fact that my novel is not, and never will be, perfect. Acceptance escorts me into that place of hope where happy novelists live. Perhaps, just perhaps, my book will touch someone’s heart.

During the Second Draft of a novel, I dissect the book – scene by scene and chapter by chapter. I rewrite it the same way. With the Third Draft, I read the novel in one big gulp.  Here’s the process:

1. I read the novel, usually the version that “resides” on my computer.

2. As I read, I leave myself notes where changes are necessary. Sometimes I need to cut or expand descriptive passages. Sometimes, I need to delete a repetitive scene or an “already-been-said” dialog. If I find that I should add a chapter or two or even three, I write myself a short paragraph, within the text, that tells me what action needs to occur, which characters are involved, and what motivates those characters.

3. After I’ve read the entire novel, I go back and make the noted changes.

4. If I’ve added any new chapters, I read them through several times to smooth the edges and make sure they meld into the rest of the novel.

5. I print out the whole thing, three-hole punch the pages, and place them into a binder.

6. That’s it. Third Draft done!

This is another celebration time for me. My husband and I will have a dinner “out” or maybe go to a movie, or I might just stop at our local shoe store…. *grin*

shoes

 

Question for you: How do you celebrate the small victories in your life?

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 May 28, 2015, for part 28.

 

Book Review: Writing Fiction: A Guide for Pre-Teens – by Heather Wright

Writing Fiction - A Guide for Pre-TeensBook: Writing Fiction: A Guide for 
Pre-Teens
Author: Heather Wright
Publisher: Saugeen Publications
Date: July 24, 2014
Genre: Writers' Guide-book
Pages: 68
Price: under $7.00
My Rating: A helpful, easy-to-follow guide designed for 
young writers and useful to anyone

When I learned that Heather Wright had put together a writing guide for pre-teens, I asked for a review copy. Hoping there would be tips even I could pick up, I wasn’t disappointed.

When I was a pre-teen or teenager I could have benefited from this book, as will any young writers now. Writing Fiction: A Guide for Pre-Teens is well-planned, covering everything a young writer needs to know to give them a sound foundation. It is easy to follow, enjoyable to read, informative, helpful, educational and challenging in a fun and encouraging way.

Each section is divided into sub-sections as follows:

Getting Started

  • Joywriting

What do I need to be a writer?

Habits and Goals

  • Choosing Your Goal
  • Writing Every Day
  • Don’t Miss a Word
  • Write with a Friend or Two

Pantser or Plotter: Which are You?

  • The Pantser
  • The Plotter

Where do I get ideas for stories?

  • What if?
  • Write What You Know
  • Pick 4 Words

Writing Prompts

Plotting Tips

  • Basic Rule of Plotting
  • Story Planning

Plotting with the Hero’s Journey

How do I start my story?

Who should tell the story?

  • Point of View: First Person
  • Point of View: Second Person
  • Point of View: Third Person

How do I describe my characters?

  • Show Don’t Tell
  • Change is Good
  • Character List

How do I describe the setting?

  • Think about how much you really have to describe
  • Use Comparisons
  • Get the Senses Involved
  • Draw a Map or Use Photos

How do I write dialogue?

How do I end my story?

How do I make my writing better?

  • Revising and Editing
  • Words
  • Sentences
  • Combining Sentences
  • Paragraphs

What do I do when a story gets stuck?

  1. Outline
  2. Forget about making the first draft perfect
  3. Write more than one story at a time
  4. Put the story away
  5. Brainstorm
  6. Ask “What if?”
  7. Don’t worry

The author ends with a section called Last Words in which she invites readers to visit her website and ask any questions they may have, or share with her a paragraph or two of their stories.

Writing Fiction: A Guide for Pre-Teens by Heather Wright is an excellent teaching aid for young writers. I suspect that if you are a writer – no matter your age – reading the headings above you found something that caught your interest. Why not add this helpful writing guide to your collection of writing books?

You can find Writing Fiction: A Guide for Pre-Teens on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

As a bonus for you I am including a link to Laura Best’s blog so you can read the very interesting guest post by Heather Wright.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The Shy Writer – by C. Hope Clark

The Shy WriterBook: The Shy Writer (second edition)
An Introvert’s Guide to Writing Success
Author: C. Hope Clark
Publisher: Booklocker.com, Inc
Date: 2nd edition 2007; 1st printing September 22, 2004
Genre: writers’ self-help
Pages: 174
Price:  $14.95$16.75
My rating: A very good help to shy writers – or any writer!

 

This is one of those purchases as a writer I am very glad I made. The title immediately appealed to me, and I discovered that – in The Shy Writer: An Introvert’s Guide to Writing Success – author Hope Clark, addresses so many things that I can relate to and that describe me – I admit.

There are fourteen chapters, each divided into sections. The chapter titles are:

  1. Understanding Shyness
  2. Defining the Shyness
  3. Reaching Out Reaches In
  4. Controlling the Fear
  5. One-On-One
  6. The Big Bad Throngs
  7. Honing the Skills and Confidence
  8. Shy But Sharp
  9. Gimmick the Name of the Game
  10. The Press and Media
  11. World Wide Web Power
  12. Other People Power
  13. Controversy – When Shy Doesn’t Work
  14. Safe Havens and Natural Feelings

In all these chapters I don’t think Hope Clark missed a thing. Being a shy writer herself, Hope understands it all. She was able to cover all areas of one’s inner struggle with what comes after the writing – the marketing and publicity in any form, including how to cope with the often dreaded book signings. She addresses many scenarios and gives examples pertaining to her own life or of other writers she has met.

Author Hope Clark gives such sound advice and includes links to many sites where helpful information can be found. For the shy writer this book is comforting and reassuring, well worth having.

You can find The Shy Writer on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

 

 

 

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.

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!  :)

Sue Harrison’s “Writing the Third Dimension” – part 24: Way up High in the Sky

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-four:

********

“Writing the Third Dimension” – part 24: Way up High in the Sky

When my husband graduated from college, we decided to celebrate with a trip to the Rocky Mountains. As we drove west across the plains, we scanned the edge of the horizon for those fabled peaks, but mile after mile, no matter how carefully we looked, we couldn’t see any mountains. We did notice a hazy jagged band of white clouds, but we ignored them, until we finally realized that they weren’t clouds at all. They were the snow-capped peaks of the Rockies, not at the horizon as we had envisioned, but way up high in the sky. We were amazed!

800px-Mount_Massive (Photo by Rick Kimpel Jr., Common Domain)

As you know, mountain peaks and valleys are often used as a metaphor for the plot line of a story. When your readers approach the high climax of your novel, you want them to catch that same feeling of awe that Neil and I experienced when we first saw the Rocky Mountains. From chapter one, page one, you have guided your readers toward a moment of emotional intensity: joy or heartache or amazement or happiness or fulfillment. Carrying your readers to that high level requires a bit of magic beyond my ability to explain, but I hope the following tips help as you work to achieve that goal.

1. Your reader will not be lifted to a climactic level of emotion unless the character they love most or hate most is experiencing a similar emotional high or emotional release.

2. You need to ramp up the intensity of your novel through the rhythm of your words and the length of your sentences and paragraphs. (You might want to review Writing the Third Dimension #18, Tension.)

3. For the primary climax of  your novel, you should narrow your focus to the main plot line and the main characters.

4. The climax is not something tacked on or patched in, it’s the natural fulfillment of the plot line.

5.  And of course, you show, don’t tell. Nothing breaks the rise of emotion like a short, pat sentence as a substitute for action. “He released his anger.” “She would love him forever.” “The butler did it.”  ARGH! NO! Don’t tell me. Give me an action scene. Please…

I’ve had two very separate experiences when writing the climax of a novel. Usually, the words just flow, and the first draft, although not perfect, is better than I had hoped. But sometimes I have to write the climax again and again and again. How do I know when it’s right? It makes me smile, and it makes me cry. What better place for a writer to be than way up high in the sky, standing on top of the world, ready to give his or her readers the gift of tears, the gift of a smile?

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 February 26, 2015, for part 25.