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Random Act of Kindness BLITZ!

A smile. An encouraging word. A thoughtful gesture. Each day people
interact with us, help, and make our day a bit brighter and full. This is especially true in the Writing
Community
.

Take a second to think about writers you know, like the critique partner who works with you
to improve your manuscript. The writing friend who listens, supports and keeps you strong
when times are tough. The author who generously offers council, advice and inspiration when
asked.

So many people take the time to make us feel special, don’t they? They comment on our blogs, re-tweet
our posts, chat with us on forums and wish us Happy Birthday on Facebook.

Kindness ROCKS!

To commemorate the release of their book The Emotion Thesaurus, Becca and Angela at The Bookshelf
Muse are hosting a TITANIC Random Act Of Kindness BLITZ. And because I think KINDNESS is contagious, I’m participating too!

I am randomly picking mjgriffor,
a fellow writer and blogger. For my ROAK gift, I’d like to offer assistance in critiquing your WIP, Voice of Reason, or other work as needed.

I really appreciate mjgriffor, who blogs at Novels From the Ground Up.

Do you know someone special that you’d like to randomly acknowledge?

Don’t be shy–come join us and celebrate! Send them an email, give them a shout out, or show your
appreciation in another way. Kindness makes the world go round. 🙂

Becca and Angela have a special
RAOK gift waiting
for you as well
, so hop on over to The Bookshelf Muse to pick it up.

Have you ever participated in or been the recipient of a Random Act Of Kindness?  Let me
know in the comments!

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Top 5 Most Important Moments of Your Story

Class 92 hauled container-freight train on the...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In life, there are many important moments. Some, such as graduating, getting married, or having a child, are some of what many consider to be the most important.

Like life, our written works contain a few moments that are the most important. In my journey as a writer, I have found the following to be 5 of the most important moments of a story (sorted chronologically):

1. The Beginning

Uh, ya think? Not only does the beginning of your story have the job of getting the narrative train rolling down tens of thousands of words, but it is also host to the all-important hook. This is where you give your reader a reason to keep going. Will they board the story train, or not?

2. The Point of No Return

Believe it or not, this is the point where the reason for your telling the story actually begins. Everything before it has just served to “set-up” the story. It is at this juncture where the world as your protagonist knows it has changed, and he or she has a new need or quest (i.e. solving the story problem). The conductor has jumped off the train as it loses control, and our hero makes the decision to help stop it.

3. The Midpoint Shift

About halfway through your story is another shift. This is a point where it is easy to let your story sag, but you can use it to add a new element or twist to the story. It is also the point in which your protagonist will make a decision, usually to take down the story problem. The train has switched tracks, and the previous plan to stop it is ruined. The hero takes matters into his own hands.

4. Failure is Imminent

This is the lowest point for the protagonist. All of their efforts are in vein, allies have died, and the antagonist is on the brink of winning. Everything the protagonist has worked for since the story problem began is for granted. The hero has made it to the brake switch in the lead car, but it is jammed.

5. The Ending

This one is pretty much a no brainer. If this list was in order of importance, this might be listed first. Here, the protagonist is able to take all they’ve learned as the story’s progressed, and solve the story problem (usually at great risk to themselves). It is usually the icing on the cake for the reader, if you deliver an ending that justifies their spending hours reading your story. The hero climbs below the train and manually activates the train’s brakes, getting injured in the process but saving everyone on board.


For additional resources on story structure, by which this post was inspired, check out Story Engineering by Larry Brooks. For screenwriters (and authors, too), check out Save The Cat! by Blake Snyder.

Making Your Revisions Count

My wife and I have a family friend staying over tomorrow evening and we decided to rearrange some things, put up some new shelves, and just generally tidy up the house. We went as far as switching our office and guest bedrooms, which took up a good chunk of the weekend.When we finished, the house had a fresh, new look. It was still the same familiar house, but was jazzed up a bit with the rearranged rooms and new shelves. And overall, we both agreed that it looked better than when we’d started.

This “revision” of our home is a lot like the revision process in writing. After completing a first draft, there are often one or many revisions that may be needed, whether it be of your own doing or that of your editor or critique group.

You may need to move whole sections of your work (rearrange rooms), add new elements (shelves), or just tidy up a bit. Whatever the revisions may be, your ultimately going for a fresh, improved story.

It may be that you have no issues with your work when you complete the first draft. You may be perfectly fine with how the chapters fit together, and thus don’t see a need for changes. Or, maybe you revise each chapter as you go along (this is why my first drafts always take me forever to write) to lessen the blow for later revisions.

Whatever the case may be, if you want your writing to shine with the fresh coat of wax a revision can offer, you can’t be afraid of change. You should expect change at the onset of your writing, knowing that things will be different at the end of the road.

When I set out to tearing down my desk and prepping our home office for relocation, I wasn’t sure what the end result would be, or how I would like it. I was fine with the status quo. But it turns out that I prefer things the way they are now.

Here are a few things to consider when making revisions:

  • Begin with the end in mind – You are revising because you have the need to improve your last draft. Set goals around the changes you want to make, and stick to them.
  • When in doubt, throw it out – You’re the boss of your writing, so don’t be afraid to “fire” any part of your story that you feel is not a good fit. Even if that particular part is your favorite, be honest with yourself about what your story needs.
  • Say it loud and proud – As you revise, read your writing aloud to yourself. You may find parts that need rewording or don’t fit altogether. This will also help you actually hear your writing voice, which is an important part of what makes your writing unique.

Larry Brooks of Storyfix.com has a great post on the revision process, which he wrote for those completing National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWroMo). Larry’s blog is a great resource for writers, if you’re not already familiar with it.

So let me know…How do you revise? Do you blast through the first draft and make many changes at the end, or do you revise as you go?

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