Monthly Archives: November 2014

Sue Harrison’s “Writing the Third Dimension” – Part 22: Flying – By the Seat of Your Pants

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-two:

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“Writing the Third Dimension” – part 22: Flying – By the Seat of Your Pants

My husband and I have major differences when it comes to attacking a project. He’s the plan-and-research guy. I’m the gal who starts right away and screeches to a halt in the middle of the mess to realize that I don’t know where I am or how I got there.

In the world of book-writing, these two approaches are generally labeled as Planner (or Plotter) versus Pantster. Pantster refers to”flying by the seat of your pants.” I’m a Planner with my research, which I define, lay out, and adamantly pursue. I also get to know my characters very well before I write their “stories.” However, when it comes to writing the story, I’m pretty much a Pantster. I love the creativity and freedom writing as a Pantster engenders.

IMG_05431(I AM glad my husband is a Planner, because he is also a pilot, and I DO NOT want my pilot to fly by the seat of his pants!)

If you are a Planner, you’re probably doing just fine with your first draft. You’re following your outline and you’re staying on track.

If you are, like me, a Pantster, you may have followed your creative urges and pushed your novel into an entirely different – or new and improved – plotline. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it may include painting yourself into a corner. I know what I’m talking about. I’ve spent a lot of time in that corner!

Experience has taught me a few tricks about agilely exiting from corners without ruining a great paint job (i.e., your new and improved plot line.)

1. Don’t get discouraged. Writing is hard work, especially first and second draft writing. Everyone needs to reread and edit, even Planners.

2. If you’re stuck, go back to the beginning of your novel and read what you’ve written. As you read, jot down the ideas, main characters, and developments in each chapter. Use only a few sentences per chapter.

3. When a chapter veers off in strange, unproductive directions (It doesn’t advance the plot.), note that, but don’t stop to rewrite at this point.

4. Read until you think your novel has reached the “Great Desert of Hopelessness.”

5. Stop.

6. Contemplate. Where do you want to go? If you don’t have the end of your novel rattling around in your head somewhere, this is the time to formulate your last chapter.

7. Write the last chapter. You will likely change this, but for now, in this painted-into-the-corner moment, it gives you a goal.

8. Again start at the beginning of your novel, and this time jot down any “travel” notes beside your chapter notes. How do you need to change this chapter to eventually arrive at your last chapter?

9. Rewrite. Don’t spend a lot of angst on wording or those bits of minor research you haven’t completed. You’ll have time for that later. Now is when you get the plot back on track. Don’t be afraid to cut bad chapters or rotten paragraphs.

10. When you’ve finished rewriting to your satisfaction, jot down where you’re going with the next series of chapters. I know that sounds like Planning, but it’s really only Reminding.

If you’re like me, you may need to repeat these steps more than once during the first draft, but it’s worth the effort! Keep writing!

Question for you: Are you a Planner or a Pantster? (Not only with writing, but in life, too!)

Strength to your pen!

Sue

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

Sue HarrisonBestselling author, Sue Harrison, has written two Alaska trilogies: The Ivory Carver Trilogy and The Storyteller Trilogy, and 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 December 18, 2014, for part 23. (Note the change in schedule for that month due to Christmas.)

The truth of it is …

 

You may have noticed I am not keeping to my blogging schedule very well of late. I have been trying to dig in and get to it, but it’s just not happening as easily.

The truth of it is …

I am getting more and more pulled down,

feeling as if I’m shutting down,

withdrawing,

while at the same time I am trying to keep going.

So very tired.

I feel joyless .. although my joy comes from – and is – HIM (the Lord), I feel joyless ..

as if the music has left me (I rarely sing and I used to sing or hum aloud or in my head almost all the time)

and the light has turned to shadow.

I feel trapped and closed off and … emptying,

being drained of my spark.

My life is looking gray again … and that hasn’t been for a very long time.

I miss laughter …

real, deep-down, belly-aching laughter …

that comes from delight,

joy,

happiness,

heart songs

and all that is beautiful.

So, the truth of it is, I am depressed. (The fact that I had a birthday Sunday had nothing to do with it, either.)

And yes, I know I mentioned it before, but this is not just going away and has instead been increasing. Even so, I have tried to not let it show and therefore most people likely wouldn’t realize it.

The positive thing is I am getting help from my naturopath and reflexologist. I am not going under, and they will help see to it that I don’t. If I find it too hard to manage until my next scheduled appointment I am to let them know. And I will. There is no way I am going back into the dark, tormented depths of despair I experienced several years ago. It’s been an uphill struggle sometimes to not fall back there, but I have come through and I will again. 

Why am I telling you this? Because I want you to know I am trying. I am reading when I can get myself to do so, and right now I actually have two books on the go. I’m also still plodding along with PiBoIdMo, coming up with ideas for stories for picture books. Our challenge is to think up 30 ideas, one a day for all of November, but today (day 17) I added idea #24 to my list. So, you see, I am trying to keep my brain working through the sometimes foggy days, and the low mental energy, the fatigue, the sadness, the feelings of wanting to retreat into my hidey-hole/safe place.

It’s discouraging to not be able to do all I want to do, all I have committed to do, all I feel I should be doing. Add that into the struggle and it becomes even more difficult to pull out of it, so I’m having to remind myself to not listen to every negative thought.

This won’t last forever, thankfully.

In the meantime, I thank you for your patience and understanding.

With what do you struggle in your daily life? What do you tell yourself to keep positive?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! 🙂

Lest We Forget

Remembrance Day, November 11.

LEST WE FORGET

 

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Book Review: Meet Franklin Bean (Franklin Bean Superhero series, book 1) – by Emmy Swain

Meet Franklin BeanBook: Meet Franklin Bean
Author/Publisher: Emmy Swain
Illustrator: Levi Whitworth
Date: 2011
Genre: children’s
Pages: 34
Price: Kindle $2.88; paperback $8.85
My Rating: An interesting, fun mystery for the young readers; addresses bullying and other life issues
 

This is a short chapter book with great illustrations by Levi Whitworth and is book one of a series by Emmy Swain.

Chapter titles are:

  1. Our New Home
  2. Franklin Meets Mom
  3. New Friends
  4. Restless Night
  5. Fisherman Saved
  6. Day Before School
  7. Where Are You?

Meet Franklin Bean is a story about a young boy, John, who has to relocate with his mother after she lost her job. He is nervous about moving to a smaller house in a different neighbourhood and having to change schools. Unfortunately, John meets up with bullies soon after moving and his misery increases until he finds a stray dog, Franklin Bean. But there’s something amazing about Franklin Bean – he can talk! John’s life begins to look and feel much better.

Franklin Bean has another amazing secret that – in this book – John hasn’t figured out yet.

Meet Franklin Bean has some applicable life lessons in it, but Emmy Swain presents them in a way that is fun without seeming as if it is teaching. This is a good story for very young readers and pre-readers.

You can find Meet Franklin Bean on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

 

Book Review: The Princess Within for Teens: discovering your royal inheritance – by Serita Ann Jakes

The Princess Within - for teensBook: The Princess Within – for Teens: Discovering Your Royal Inheritance
Author: Serita Ann Jakes
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Date: July 1, 2014
Genre: young adult (teen girls), christian help
Pages: 183
Price: $10.79 paperback
My Rating: not a completely satisfying read, but helpful in ways

 

I received the ARC of this book from Library Thing in exchange for my honest review.

Usually books of this size I can eat up in no time; not so with this one. It took me far too long to read the whole book, and not because I am far beyond my teen years. I enjoy YA and MG and Picture books; my own writing centers around those genres, so that wasn’t the problem.

Serita Ann Jakes created a modern day Cinderella and used that as a jump off point for each chapter. That in itself was okay, but sometimes there was not much connection to the idea throughout the rest of the chapter.

The book begins with glowing letters of praise about the author from her two daughters. From there she sets up a hopeful scenario for the reader, beginning with a quiz of self-discovery and giving results to help the reader see herself as one of Disney’s princesses. Unfortunately, she didn’t follow through the same way with all the quizzes she created. In the same vein, she included short testimonies but it was puzzling to see where they were placed when a few didn’t have anything to do with the chapter they accompany.

Here are the chapter titles:

  1. Princess, why are you hiding?
  2. But everyone is invited!
  3. Parents just don’t understand?
  4. The power to choose
  5. Is that any way for a princess to act?
  6. We are family
  7. A word of truth
  8. Wash off those cinders!
  9. Dress the part
  10. Face those fears
  11. You fit right in
  12. In the powder room
  13. Where the boys are
  14. Where did the time go?
  15. Kick off your shoes
  16. Sweet dreams really do come true
  17. A prince is waiting for you

Reading those titles makes one think this is going to be such a great read! It is and it isn’t. Although the message is there it didn’t carry through smoothly with the idea presented at the beginning, as if the writing of this book was a little rushed. It felt as if the connection with God is interrupted time and again.

Although there are as a few other statements made that were amiss, there is one suggestion I was appalled to read, where the author presented a scenario about God and asked the teen reader to give her opinion. First of all it is a moot point which cannot possibly have an answer. It’s as if the author didn’t understand the holiness of God in even suggesting such a scenario could exist. It had no place in this book at all and didn’t add to it in any positive way to affirm the reader.

After reading The Princess Within for Teens, perhaps a young reader will come away with hope of her place in God and will not even notice the gaps in the presentation. Serita Jakes’ intent is to encourage her, to help her stand in the midst of the stresses and problems that each day may bring to her. If this is what the young reader is looking for, although it could use a little work, she will probably find The Princess Within for Teens to be a good beginning. The drawback is the subtitle of this book is Discovering Your Royal Inheritance and there was not much connection and teaching or encouragement in that aspect.

Serita Ann JakesThe Princess Within for Teens follows her adult edition of The Princess Within.

You can find The Princess Within for Teens on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Do you expect rewards? Watch this moving video.

The video I am sharing with you today actually brought tears to my eyes.  How often do we expect recognition for the things we do for others when the better thing is to simply be kind and thoughtful with no expectation of reward? Just knowing someone has been blessed through us should be its own reward.

Perhaps this video is food for thought.

Do you have anything to share about something good that came from your kindness? Perhaps you like to do kind things anonymously?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Picture Book Idea Month (aka PiBoIdMo) began today!

Today is a great day for picture book authors and illustrators.

Today is the first day of Picture Book Idea Month 2014, also known as PiBoIdMo. (Learn more HERE.) Thanks to Tara Lazar who is the creator of this inspiring challenge, November 1-30 is brainstorming month for those of us who appreciate the push, nudge, encouragement to capture our ideas. (Read my interview with Tara HERE.) This morning before I was out of bed I was thinking about this being Day One of PiBoIdMo and how I just didn’t want to get out of my bed yet … and an idea came to me for a picture book! Yay! I still haven’t written it down but that’s next on my to-do list. Maybe in the next couple of brainstorming days I can add to that story by coming up with my character’s name and a great title for the book. Or maybe I will settle on those today – now the imagination wheels have begun to turn again. Either way, I will try to keep track on my blog as I progress with this year’s PiBoIdMo challenge.

piboidmo2014wordpressbannerIt is not too late if you are interested take part in Picture Book Idea Month; you have until midnight of November 7 to read about it and register HERE.

Each November since 2010 I have worked on a YA fiction novel, last year being the least I added to it. With a little regret, this year I decided to not participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). This means I may not even finish my novel, but I surely want to! My problems are tiredness, trying to beat back depression, too much going on in my brain as it is – including all I feel I have to do or should be doing but not wanting to overextend myself further. I care about my own health, and if I get sick I am of little help to anyone else. My dad needs me, my sister needs my contributed half in caring for Dad, my husband and daughters even need me sometimes. And, of course, little Meyya needs me.  Okay, there. Does that sound convincing enough?

Even though this month I’m not officially adding to my novel through NaNoWriMo, my fiction story stays on the back burner of my mind. I’m not sure how to bring it to its natural end yet, but the characters won’t go away. It seems they’re telling me this is a novel that needs to be completed, which I plan to do. In fact, I’m kind of excited to see how it turns out!

What it comes down to is I believe my biggest problem may be lack of adequate organization of my time. Well, that and I get distracted easily. And I’m tired. And I have so many ideas and things I want to do.  hmm  Yeah, I’ll go back to the first point – lack of adequate organization of my time.  (Can anybody relate to this?)

Share with me your thoughts on this.

What do you find to be the main thing that prevents you from moving forward, and how do you conquer it? Any tips for me on how to better divide and manage my time?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂