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Library Writers Group

4 Jul

The amazing Maria led our writers’ group this past month and concentrated on Tense and Point of View in writing. Let’s start with POV.

There are a lot of advantages and disadvantages to certain POVs. In some cases, the genre dictates what is normally used. I write YA and I know first person is most common and I know that my 3rd person book might have to be completely rewritten at some point (I hope it never comes to that) because it’s YA. We talked about times books are written in two points of view and how that works. Sometimes, the writer will combine first and third person POV. Some chapters are written in first from a certain character’s perspective and others from 3rd, following one or more characters. Most commonly, this is done with two 3rd person POVs.

There are some major disadvantages of 1st person. You are limited to what the character sees so you can’t write about anything outside his or her vision. This can result in a lot of ‘telling’ and not enough ‘showing’ which makes a book drag.

Second person is not as common. Maria found an example in How the Mistakes Were Made. The character Laura is represented in sections of the book written in 2nd person but this isn’t the whole book. Second person creates some distance from the reader so a whole book in this format might be tedious. I’m always reminded of the Choose Your Own Adventure series that I read in elementary school. Those were so fun.

Third person unlimited can head-jump too much if the writer isn’t careful. This can be confusing to follow. The suggestion is that you write like the piece is a play. Too many soliloquies can be annoying! This style is common in romantic intimate scenes. It can be tricky because it can confuse who knows what information and what each character can act on.

Third person limited is more common. It can feel distant and narrative distance from the action becomes possible. To limit this, a writer can use words that match a character’s personality. Maybe a character scowls but he thinks it’s just a frown. Maybe someone with anxiety is panicking not fidgeting. The tone of the writing can match the character as well to limit narrative distance.

There are four people involved in any third person narration: The protagonist, the viewpoint character (if different), the narrator, and the author. Think of The Great Gatsby. Gatsby is the protagonist, Nick is the main character, there is a narrator, and Fitzgerald is the author. How the narrator describes something and how Fitzgerald might describe it could be different from how the narrator describes it, thus creating the different people.

The most important thing to do is stick with the POV you’ve chosen. Even if it’s an unreliable narrator, the key is to be consistent. Maria recommended the website http://www.novel-writing-help.com for more information on POV.

The second part of our discussion was tense. Past and present tense can give writing a very different feel. Present tense can be restrictive. It’s good for action books and jokes but it can be hard to reflect on past events leading to the present action. Switching from past to present tense is more than changing ‘was’ to ‘is’ and so forth. There’s adding more thoughts and description that’s being noticed at the moment.

We did an exercise where we chose a piece of our writing (or a sample from the book) and changed the POV and tense. It’s fun to try if you want!

We’ll be meeting again next month. Until then, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Library Writers Group: Scrivner and Software

25 Apr

After missing my writing group last month, I was glad to jump back in and meet the group. We had a few new members this month so there was only one other writer I knew well. Because of the new audience, we went over writing software again, particularly Scrivner. I apologize for any reader here who might already know some of this from a past post.

There are some features of Scrivner that I didn’t know about (I don’t have Scrivner so take this with a grain of salt). I did know about the corkboard feature which seems to be a favorite of the users. With each chapter/scene on a notecard, you can move them around the corkboard and rearrange your story to see if there’s a better order. There are templates that Scrivner provides for character sketches and setting descriptions. You can change the templates to fit what you need and you can also create other templates, whatever will help you write better. You can drag and drop sections between files of Scrivner. If you have character sketches done and you want to start the sequel, just drag and drop to the next story. You can take a snapshot, which is a freeze of the story at a given moment. Then, if you change something and if you don’t like it, you can go back to the snapshot and try again.

There’s an option for inline annotations, comments that won’t show up in the final version. This is good for noting something you may have to revisit later or comments from a Beta reader. There’s a word frequency tool which will show words you use far too often. I’m an ‘Awesome’ person myself and I bet the tool would show that! If you have a file in Word that you want to put into Scrivner, there’s a ‘split’ option which can be used to split a long file into scenes or chapters as needed.

In addition to Scrivner, there are several free softwares that writers can use, though they don’t have the number of features Scrivner does. yWriter is one.

Sorry that this isn’t too new for those who have been here a while. For those who haven’t read this before, Scrivner is a wonderful tool and those who use it seem to love it. I have no desire and I’m fine with Word. 🙂 To each his own.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Library Writers Group: Writing Concisely

24 Jan

My writers’ group (four strong at the moment!) met last week and one of our members discussed writing concisely. At first, I was wondering where she would go with this topic but we talked about wanting to write concisely to get to our points faster and be as succinct as possible while still being comprehensive. With these ideas below, I took a piece at 500 words and cut down another 80!

The first is to obviously try to cut words. There are many lists available of words different writers recommend cutting. These can include look, feel, so, just, even, really, finally, only, and many others. Words like see, feel, think, and know usually can’t be cut themselves, but are an indication that there’s a way to cut words around these words. There are phrases known as redundant pairs that can always be cut such as sit down (sit) and stood up (stood).

Rephrasing is another way to cut words. Passive voice is usually wordier than its active alternative. Phrases can be shortened altogether, taking ‘the chair with brown legs’ to ‘the brown legged chair’ (5->4). Clauses starting with that, who, and which, can be turned to phrases. ‘My teacher, who I respect very much, likes hiking’ becomes ‘my well-respected teacher likes hiking’ (9->7). Sentences that start with There/It are/is can usually be shortened as well. ‘There are three bookshelves in my living room’ becomes ‘I have three bookshelves in my living room’ (8->7). The final thing we covered was a new term for all of us. Nominalization refers to turning a verb into a noun and makes sentences a lot longer. ‘The reconciling of monthly statements is Mary’s job’ becomes ‘Mary’s job is to reconcile monthly statements’ (8->7).

Many times, sentences become redundant. We were given the example ‘Some ideas can be incorporated into another sentence. This will make the writing simpler.’ I got this 14-word idea into 5: Combining ideas makes writing simpler. Combining can be done at both a sentence and paragraph level. I find myself repeating things within a paragraph from time to time.

There’s more cutting to be done. Taking out weak words and adding strong ones can make something shorter by avoiding repetitive description, adjectives, or adverbs. Prepositional phrases can often be cut. We read an article that recommended outlining after finishing the first draft. It can show pacing to show the author where to cut and any subplots that weren’t finished and can be taken out. Another suggestion was to look at each scene and break down the elements of a scene within it. This can also show pacing and show which elements might be over-done and could use some cutting.

We covered some ways to practice concise writing. My favorite is tweeting. When you’re limited to 140 characters, you have to make each one count. A fun exercise we did was taking the first part of a Wikipedia article and cutting the word count in half. This was really fun to do and I highly recommend it.

We’ll be back next month with more. I’m excited I won’t have to miss this group while my class is in session. Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

NaNoWriMo 2016 In Review

5 Dec

Well, I made it! I hit my goal and here I am on the other side. I didn’t write every day though I rarely do during NaNo. I’ll admit I’m a rebel and maybe my rebel goal is easier than the traditional 50K. I didn’t start until after my final exam on the 9th, which is the biggest cheat I allow myself. I realized when I did NaNo the traditional way that I could write the minimum 1667 words in about half an hour. Hate me if you will, but that’s what it took. So I held myself to 30 minutes of editing each day. To add some pressure, I made myself meet that goal each week. If I missed getting the 210 weekly amount by Saturday night, I would consider the whole thing a fail.

And I made it! You can look at my daily posts if you like for details, but I’ll say I made my goal by more than two hours. I finished going through the book from the mid-point I was at and went through it one more time. I added scenes for consistency and made some character changes. A lot of my writing was a write-ins at my local library. There’s a Detroit ML that came to all of them because he lives close by so I still felt connected to the region despite not attending any of their events. They did a stamp system to encourage participating and unfortunately, I ended with a total of four stamps.

I was going to start doing a go-through for dialogue consistency, but I think I’m going to change directions. I started reading Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass and even three chapters in, I’m coming up with ways to make my story better. I need to change the pacing. I need to strengthen a subplot. I need to make my female lead character’s motivation stronger. In short, I need to make a better story before I worry about better dialogue. What I have so far is valuable. I got to page 13 or so and a lot of the changes I’ll make are much later in the book so I do plan to come back to this later.

I’m rejuvenated. I want to work on my novel again and to be honest, I’m kicking myself for typing this when I could be working on it! I’ll take the time to write the reviews I’ve missed and catch up, but I’m considering cutting back another post per week to spend more time writing. Maybe making one post per week a writing update instead of what I normally post. I want to work on it more, especially before school starts up again in February.

Congratulations to all the other winners out there. We survived! Happy writing.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

NaNoWriMo: My Day 20 2016- DONE!

29 Nov

I’m calling it quits for this year. Goals met!

Today’s writing time (30 goal): 80
This Week’s writing time (120 goal): 180
Total time for the month (630 goal): 765

 

Daily, weekly, and monthly goals all met. I got through the full read through today and I did a Grammarly check. Apparently I put too many commas in sentences. If you don’t use Grammarly, I highly suggest it (mostly because it’s free). I started a new round of editing that I’m looking forward to. I’m putting the dialogue my characters say into Excel, using a different sheet for each character. This way, I can see if my characters have consistent speaking patterns and I’ll notice when they say something out of character. So far, I’m learning a lot about my side characters!

I’m really excited about how this month’s gone. It’s gotten me really excited about my story again and I hope it gets me working on it a bit more in the next few months before school starts up again. I know it can be hard around the holidays, but it might also be a welcome break! I hope it will at least.

I’ll do a full review post in the next few weeks.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

NaNoWriMo: My Day 18 2016

27 Nov

WRITE IN FOR THE WIN!

Today’s writing time (30 goal): 100
This Week’s writing time (120 goal): 100
Total time for the month (630 goal): 685

Done! I went to a write-in at my library and got a lot of solid time in. I have one page (just one page!) left to edit, much like earlier this month when I stopped at this same point to keep my momentum going. WOO! I have one more write-in to hit up on Tuesday and I’ll be able to start working on editing with my book guide. I’m so excited!

I had less to change in the later sections, but I did continue to add some bits to make characterization more consistent and emotional transitions more believable. I think I rushed through when I wrote the first time because I was so excited to get to the end. The only problem is I love my ending so much I’m continuing to do it when I edit!

I’m ecstatic with my progress this month! I think it’s almost time for some more beta readers.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

NaNoWriMo: My Day 17 2016

26 Nov

There’s nothing like a last-minute catch-up to round out the week, huh?

Today’s writing time (30 goal): 90
This Week’s writing time (210 goal): 210
Total time for the month (630 goal): 585

 

I was spending time with my family out-of-town for the holiday so I didn’t get anything written Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday. My husband is driving us home now and I utilized the time to write for 90 minutes! I’m hot-spotting my phone to put this post up. Yay technology.

I’m getting really close to finishing my second time through the story. I’m fairly certain I’ll finish doing it before the end of November. That leaves me until my class starts again in February to do some work on editing with an editing workbook I have at home. It will be fun to work through it. But for the rest of the day, it’s more family time with his side. Tomorrow, I’m thinking a write-in? We’ll see

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

NaNoWriMo: My Day 13 2016

22 Nov

Write in for the win!

Today’s writing time (30 goal): 90
This Week’s writing time (210 goal): 120
Total time for the month (630 goal): 495

As expected, I got nothing written yesterday but I went to a really fun event for the Detroit Red Wings. See Instagram for details!

Today,  however, I went to a write-in and it was very productive. I added a scene to my story and built on a few more. I’m adding another one now as I stop so I can start with some momentum when I pick up again, which will probably be Friday. It was a ton of fun and I added over 1000 words!

I might not get to say this again but HAPPY THANKSGIVING to my American friends! Enjoy time with your loved ones.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

NaNoWriMo: My Day 11 2016

20 Nov

Just enough today.

Today’s writing time (30 goal): 30
This Week’s writing time (210 goal): 30
Total time for the month (630 goal): 405

 

And so the next week begins! I’m going to be cutting this close again this week. A write-in Tuesday will help a lot. I got in just the needed 30 minutes today. Between a 10K race this morning and Friendsgiving tonight (best tradition ever), I don’t have a lot of time, but I got in my 30 minutes.  Good enough!

I added a bit of the character I’m flushing out. It’s hard to write a ‘bad guy’ who’s funny and light-hearted! I think I’ll have to add him in more in the second half of the book. I’m almost at the half-way mark now. My big focuses are consistency and character development, especially of my secondary characters. I’m going to be confident and say I’ve got my primary characters more or less figured out.

Tomorrow will probably be very minimal writing, I’m going to a big local hockey event. Exciting for me, not my editing time. Tuesday should make all the difference.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

NaNoWriMo: My Day 10 2016

19 Nov

I’m going to just squeak by this whole thing, I think.

Today’s writing time (30 goal): 30
This Week’s writing time (210 goal): 270
Total time for the month (630 goal): 375

Finishing out the week with about an hour over goal! I’m pretty happy with that. The write-ins I’ve been able to go to were a big help this past week. I’m not sure I’ll be able to make any this week but I’ll try for one on Tuesday. The week of Thanksgiving is always rough with NaNo so I’ll see what time I can carve out as my family travels to Ohio to visit my brother.

Not much added today, really. I took out a good amount of ‘saying’ and was able to give one of my pseudo-villains a bit more of an edge. I think he needed it, he was kind of bland. I tried giving my silent character a bit more to say as well. I’ll probably have to add a scene for him to be really fleshed out. I’m not sure where I’ll do that. Hm.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!