Dramaquill's All Things Writing

March 11, 2015

Writing Prompts: Writer’s Block Beware

Writing prompts are great when you need a kick start to get you writing again.  Don’t concern yourself with whether or not you’ll craft a new full manuscript – just have fun!

Here are a few to get your creative juices flowing”

1.      She burst into the room, surprising…

2.      The last number was about to be drawn.  Robert held his lottery ticket as tightly as he held his breath.

3.      Laughter erupted from behind the office door.

4.      A pair of eyes blinked from behind the crack in the rickety old wooden fence.

5.      A trumpet blared.  Thunderous applause filled the auditorium.  The curtain opened and…

Here are some articles and sites with a wide variety of prompts.  What are you waiting for?  Writer’s Block beware!

http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/7-creative-writing-prompts-to-spark-your-writing

http://www.writersdigest.com/prompts

http://www.dailywritingtips.com/writing-prompts-101/

http://awesomewritingprompts.tumblr.com/

http://heartofwisdom.com/blog/instant-online-writing-prompts/

December 31, 2014

Resolutions or Goals?

According to several online sources, it seems that approximately 40-45% of folks make new year’s resolutions.  Sadly, it’s also reported that approximately 60% fail at keeping them.

As a writer, do you make resolutions?

Several years back, the moderator of my online critique group challenged the members to submit their writing and writing related goals for the coming year.  As a member of the group, at first I struggled a little.  What was the difference between a goal and a resolution?

What I discovered was that my goals were quite specific and focused:

  • Revise the last five chapters of my novel and submit it to my critique group next month.
  • Draft a query letter and send it to (insert name of publisher here) the week my critique group goes over my chapters.
  • By the end of January, finish the second act of the play that my drama group will be performing in the spring.
  • Pick three agents from my list of potential agencies to query.

Everything was quite specific.

Had I made a list of resolutions I fear they would have been very similar to those made by many who fail to see them through:

  • Write more everyday
  • Read more books
  • Start or keep a journal
  • Pick your platform
  • Join a writing group

These are all very respectable but since they aren’t as specific (no deadlines or set amounts) that it’s much easier for them to fail.

So this year, are you going to make a list of resolutions or are you going to set some writing goals?

July 3, 2013

What Distracts You from Writing?

My little Distraction

My little Distraction

Meet Molly, my little distraction!

If Molly had her way, I’d be on call for her amusement 24/7.  Feed me…play with me…walk me…cuddle me!

So how do I resist this little dollie when I have some serious writing work to get done?

I bought a cute little doggie bed that I keep right beside my computer desk and chair, nestled into a little nook at the side of the desk.  Molly curls up and snuggles in her cozy space while I get my work done.  I’m close enough to rub her belly or give her a scratch and she seems to like our new *together* time.

What distracts you from your writing?

June 11, 2013

Sequel nearing completion

Just plotted out the last five chapters of my sequel
The finish line is in sight
Never give up

May 10, 2013

Writing a novel is like running a marathon.

Writing a novel can seem like a daunting task, especially to the first-time newbie.  A novel is long (according to Wikipedia, it’s 40,000 words or more)  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Word_count#In_fiction

A novel needs a plot that can sustain all those chapters and keep the reader interested until the very end.

http://www.writersworkshop.co.uk/Plot.html

http://www.how-to-write-a-book-now.com/plot-outline.html

A novel requires characters that people will care about enough to keep reading.

http://thewritepractice.com/resources/characterization/

http://voices.yahoo.com/unique-tips-creating-memorable-characters-your-315059.html?cat=3

But most of all, you have to sit on your butt and write…and write…and write.  And here’s where I think it’s similar to training for a marathon.

At first, it’s very likely you won’t be able to just sit and write and everything will fall neatly into place.  You’ll need to develop stamina to keep you there for the long run.  Just as an athlete has to work up to the distance of a marathon (http://running.about.com/od/marathontrainingfaqs/f/What-Is-The-Distance-Of-A-Marathon.htm)
a novel will consist of a large number of chapters.  To me, writing each one is somewhat similar to running each mile (or kilometre) of a marathon.  It may sound and look daunting when you think about it as a whole, but tackling it one unit at a time will get you to your ultimate finish line.

Runners train for marathons.

How can a writer train?

* choose your genre
* start with an idea for a story
* build on that idea
* develop your main character(s) and secondary characters
* Start writing the rough draft
* Don’t worry about editing until you reached the end of the story you wish to tell

But whatever you do, keep going!  Push through when it gets hard.  Seek support from fellow writers.  Read blogs and articles to motivate you on days when you want to quit.

Like any big goal, getting started is the hard part.  Break it up into small, attainable goals and you’ll have that novel written before you know it!

February 26, 2013

Composing is writing too

I have been feeling uptight about not working on my second suspense novel lately. We all go through those phases where our projects get shelved due to other things taking up our time.

Recently I even had to skip my turn at subbing to my critique group (and I hate missing my turn).

Today, as I sat at my keyboard working on lyrics to the final original song for my murder/mystery, I realized that I was still writing. I was just writing words to a song instead of words in a chapter. Creating is creating – writing is writing

What are you writing today?

December 31, 2012

Top Ten Distractions that keep me from Writing

I love the internet!  I love all the information that is so easily accessible.  I love that it no longer matters where a writer is located in order to find a publisher or agent.  And I especially love making new connections and discovering new writers/new books.  Yes, I love social media, too.

But it seems that there are more and more distractions that can steal my precious writing time.  Here’s my list of the top ten things that distract me from writing:

  1. Facebook (not the writing-related pages but the updates…the games…you know what I mean)
  2. Email (why do I feel the urge to check it so often?)
  3. Surfing (one Google search leads to another and soon an hour has gone by)
  4. Phone calls (working at home definitely means screening calls)
  5. Having a full-time job (obviously making a living has to take priority over writing)
  6. TV (do I really need to watch most of the dumb stuff on the tube?)
  7. Researching (from markets to freelance jobs to info. for my next book, this can really eat up a lot of time)
  8. Cooking/cleaning/laundry (if only I could afford a maid LOL)
  9. Reading (but I do feel that this distraction is necessary for all writers)
  10. Too many projects at once (I get a lot more done if I focus on one thing at a time)

What’s your biggest distraction that keeps you from writing?

July 17, 2012

Will Anybody Want to Read my Sequel?

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As I continue to struggle with creating any form of decent writing, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the projects I’m currently avoiding.  My biggest avoidance at the moment is the sequel to my first suspense novel.  This is a book that I’m very passionate about finishing.  My characters need me to let them tell the rest of their story.

And yet, as each day goes by, I do not write anything.

The other night I sat down to watch Bunheads, a new Amy Sherman-Palladino series on ABC Spark.  I was drawn to the show for several reasons.  Amy created The Gilmore Girls, one of my  all-time favorite shows.  Amy’s dialogue is snappy and her characters embrace uniqueness.  One of the leads in the series is Fanny, played by Kelly Bishop, formerly Emily Gilmore of Gilmore Girls fame.  The studio that I co-own teaches ballet and pointe and a variety of other dance classes.

I knew I’d love this show.

As of last night, I’ve now seen five episodes of Bunheads.  Much to my surprise, I’m not really loving it.  Although it contains the same type of quirky characters and quippy dialogue, it somehow plays like a poor second cousin to Palladino’s Gilmore Girls.  I’m hoping, with time, that it will find its way into my heart, but it’s going to take work.  I don’t know how much longer I’ll hang in.

That got me to thinking about my sequel.

My first suspense novel, “When Love Won’t Die”, has been very well received.  I’ve had lots of great reviews and just as many inquiries as to the status of the sequel.  Most of my followers can’t wait to get their hands on the next book.

But what if it’s a poor second cousin to the first book?

What if people don’t really like it?

I know what you’re probably thinking.  Bunheads and “When Love Won’t Die” are completely different.  Obviously one’s a TV show and one’s a book.  But they do have something in common.  They are both another product of their creator.  They are both going to be compared to other works by the same author.

So do I quit writing the sequel for fear it won’t be as good as the first book?  Will anybody want to read my sequel?

Yes, I really do believe they will.

Why?

Because I’m going to make sure that the writing is even better than the first book.  I’m using many of the same characters, but for those who have read “When Love Won’t Die”, they will see more complex, interweaving sub-plots and lots of character development.

Bunheads isn’t a sequel to the Gilmore Girls.  Unfortunately, many viewers will compare Kelly’s Fanny character to Emily Gilmore and the new young lead, Michelle, to Lorelei.  I know I have. But they shouldn’t.  This is a new series.  It’s not a sequel to anything.  Maybe I don’t really like it because it doesn’t revisit Stars Hollow and all the quirky characters I grew to love during the Gilmore’s seven year run.

So what has all of this taught me?

Once your stuff is out there, you develop a following.  Your readers will be inclined to compare your books to each other.  I don’t want to disappoint them.  Maybe that’s why I haven’t been able to work on my sequel. 

Or maybe, I just have to stop thinking so much and get my butt in the chair and write something…anything.  Finish the darn book! 

Amy Sherman-Palladino isn’t sitting around wondering whether or not she should create another series.  When The Wyoming Project didn’t make it into the 2010-2011 TV schedule, Palladino went on and created Bunheads.

Will anybody want to read my sequel?

I’ll never know if I don’t finish it. 

Do you have a project that you’re avoiding?  Join me and let’s finish them together.

To find out more about Amy Sherman-Palladino, read this article:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amy_Sherman-Palladino

To find out more about her new series, Bunheads,follow this link: http://abcfamily.go.com/shows/bunheads/

To purchase “When Love Won’t Die”, check out the following sites:
http://www.amazon.com/When-Love-Wont-Die-ebook/dp/B004AYD6YE

http://redrosepublishing.com/books/product_info.php?products_id=649
http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/When-Love-Wont-Die/book-p2VHGKHWAE6biZdRsFV_tA/page1.html

April 22, 2012

Don’t be a Loner: My cure for Writer’s Block

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There have been times when I’ve been working on one of my manuscripts and I just can’t seem to produce ten coherent words.  Yep – that dreaded writer’s block!

Writer’s block used to panic me.  What if I never get any more ideas?  What if my writing ability has dried up?  I’m sure you’ve all been there at some time or other.

For the most part, writing is a solitary activity, unless you happen to be collaborating with another writer on a project.  But let’s face it, most of a writer’s working time is spent alone.

All that alone time is great when your creative juices are flowing but it can become pretty debilitating when the words stop coming.  Yes, you can get up and move around.  You can check your email, make a snack, phone a friend or do a million other things to get you back on track.  None of these have ever worked for me.  All it does it take me further away from figuring out how to get back to writing.

But, if I talk to another writer, whether in an email from my online critique group, or in person with another local writer, it doesn’t take long before I’m excited to get back to one of my projects. 

Just the other day, I opened up the file for my second suspense novel and realized that I’ve hit a brick wall.  I haven’t been able to spend as much time working on it these past few months and the entire story has just stalled.  I really need to finish it and submit it to my publisher by summer. 

Then, yesterday, I had a great conversation with an author I know who is on her fifth revision of her first novel.  A ten minute conversation and I could hardly wait to get home and get writing.  Just ten minutes and my writer’s battery recharged.

This isn’t the first time that connecting with another writer has inspired me.  I cherish my online critique group.  Every time I feel sidetracked or wonder if I’ll ever write another intelligent word, I just need to interact with these writers for a bit and wham – writer’s block gone!

And it usually isn’t a conversation about me, my writing or even writer’s block that gets me going again.  It could be an email that one of the group just got picked up by an agent.  Perhaps it’s a fabulous chapter, written by someone in the group, that I have to critique.  It could even be the mention of a new contest or opportunity that might be of interest to someone in the group.

All I know is that the quickest way for me to get out of my own writer’s block is to connect with another writer.

How do you handle your periods of writer’s block?

April 3, 2012

Writing and Competitive Sports

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The other morning, reading through several popular writing ezines, I got somewhat caught up in  the guidelines for many upcoming writing contests, which got me to thinking about writing in a new way.

As writers, we are constantly competing for our chance to be published – our “win”, so to speak.  Winning a contest is somewhat like winning a sporting championship, isn’t it? 

Sports team coaches drill their players on skills and techniques that will ultimately make them stronger, better players and therefore, a more successful team.  Writers hone their skills and techniques in order to become better wordsmiths who can produce stronger, more saleable manuscripts.

For both, the ultimate prize is the win!

Writers have to compete with one another all the time for everything from pieces in magazines and newspapers to contracts with agents and publishers.  To me, winning an acceptance for publication is akin to winning a sports championship.  Exhilarating and satisfying.

To succeed, both the team sport player and the writer do several things:

1.      Make their activity a priority
2.      Constantly work on improving their skills and techniques
3.      Seek out opportunities for learning new things
4.      Enter competitions
5.      Look to mentors for coaching and critiquing
6.      Expect nothing less than their best

I was never very good at competitive sports.  I think I’m doing much better as a writer.

Do you treat your writing like a competitive sport? 

Are you doing everything you can to be the best you can be?

March 1, 2012

Writer’s Digest article on Creating Suspense in Fiction

Writer’s Digest offers great advice on all aspects of being a writer and their website has lots of free information.  I just found this excellent article on Creating Suspense in Fiction and wanted to share it with all my readers.  I especially enjoyed the section about withholding information.  I enjoyed using that technique to some degree in my first suspense nove, “When Love Won’t Die”  http://www.amazon.com/When-Love-Wont-Die-ebook/dp/B004AYD6YE

Check out this excellent article:  http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/5-simple-steps-on-creating-suspense-in-fiction?et_mid=540060&rid=2995854

 

February 15, 2012

Heroines and Villains in suspense novels

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One of the things I love most about suspense novels is the interaction between the heroine and the villain.  I love feeling the goosebumps appear when I know the villain is hiding and the heroine charges madly into the situation.  I cringe at the villain’s inner thoughts and wish I could warn the heroine somehow.

What do you think makes a good villain?

What makes a great heroine?

Here’s my list…

GREAT VILLAINS
1.    Some form of weakness that hinders them in some way
2.    A strong motivation for what they are about to do
3.    More dimension as a character than just being a villain
4.    Some small tidbit of backstory that perhaps asks for just a teensy bit of empathy

GREAT HEROINES
1.    The ability to be strong when/if necessary
2.    Not a damsel-in-distress
3.    A character who reads like someone the reader could have as a friend
4.    Someone who sets a good example as a woman
5.    A soft side

Who are your favorite heroine/villain pairs?  Two of mine are:
1.    Annie and Paul (Misery)
2.    Clarice and Hannibal (Silence of the Lambs)

Please feel free to comment.  As a writer, I’d love to know what makes readers like certain heroines and also which villains creep them out the most.

January 30, 2012

Visiting the classroom as a Guest Author

I was invited to speak to two classes of children (included 4th, 5th and 6th grade students) for literacy week.  The principal invited local published authors to speak to the kids about what it’s like to be a writer.

I’ve never enjoyed giving a speech.  The thought of being up there alone, and as myself, doesn’t paint a very interesting picture in my mind.  Let me recite a monologue as a fabulous literary character from a great work of fiction, and that excites me.

So how was I going to interest these young minds in two areas that many admitted they didn’t really enjoy doing:  reading and writing.

Instead of giving a speech and trying to figure out how to make them listen to me ramble on about my thoughts on being a writer, I turned the tables to them and started my presentation by asking them some questions:

1.    What makes a book interesting enough for you to want to read it?

2.    What types of characters do you enjoy?

3.    What kinds of stories interest you?

4.    What turns you off in a book?

The enthusiastic hand waving instantly got us talking.  Even those kids who said they really didn’t like to read much had comments on what types of stories they would prefer if they did have to read a book.

Next, I presented them with this question:

Have you ever read a story and wished you could have changed it?

This engaged even more enthusiasm as student after student offered their imaginative ways to improve upon stories they’d read.  They got excited when I told them that being a writer meant that they could make the story be whatever they wanted.  The characters would be designed by their imaginations.  Eager hands raised and creative ideas flowed as students, guest writer and teacher all engaged in the excitement of the writing process.

Finally, I offered a way to prompt them on starting a story.  I asked them all to close their eyes and ask themselves this question…What if? 

What if when I went to sleep tonight…
What if my lunch box was filled with…
What if the teacher could…
What if the stairs at school turned into jello…
What if I could draw something and it would come to life and…

Now the students were really excited and wanted to write their own *what if* story.

I also showed them some of the magazines, anthologies and market books I’ve had work published in and talked to them a little about what it takes to write an entire book and the process required to get it published.  They seemed most impressed with the fact that something that they could create could actually earn them some money as a career someday.

I hope that my visit helped convince many of them to enter the writing contest being held in our city next month.  I do know that I definitely helped them get a jump-start on tapping into their own creative ideas.

But the best part of the visit was watching them get excited about reading and writing. 

As a writer, what do you do to inspire those around you?

Free Ezines for Writers

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One of the things I most enjoy about checking my email every day is finding a copy of one of the many *free* ezines that I subscribe to in my inbox.  It’s amazing how much free info. is there for the taking, offered up by some of today’s most respected individuals in the business. 

I’d like to share some of my favorites with my readers.  Most simply require a sign-up with your email address and that’s it.  No spamming…just access to great information.  Enjoy!  

http://www.fundsforwriters.com/FFWnewsletters.htm

http://www.writersweekly.com

http://www.writersdigest.com/subscribe/free-weekly-newsletter

http://www.writersmarket.com   (fill in sign-up box for FREE newsletter)

http://www.write4kids.com   (ezine link at very bottom of webpage)

http://www.writing-world.com/newsletter/index.shtml

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/freebiesforwriters/

I would have to say that the first four links are my all-time favorites, but any of the above ezines can provide excellent insight into this biz we call writing.

January 10, 2012

Sometimes you need to Step Away to Recharge

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December can be a tricky month for anyone who celebrates the holidays.  There are gifts to buy, baking to do, cleaning for company and extra social events to attend.  When’s a writer supposed to find time to write?

I’ve been beating myself up about not getting any writing done since Nano ended on November 30th.  But as it turns out, it really wasn’t a bad thing after all.  I only wish I hadn’t allowed myself to stress out about it so much!

Now that the Christmas tree and decorations are all back in storage in the basement and the last remnants of holiday treats have been eaten, I find myself experiencing a new-found energy and creativity.  I’m reading writing blogs, ezines and books.  I’m plotting and planning.  But most of all – I’m writing again.

As it turns out, sometimes you need to step away to Recharge.

How did you fare as a writer celebrating the holidays?  Did you stay on track, or let things fall a bit by the wayside like I did?

January 10, 2012 – recharged and ready for writing!

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