Tuesday, December 1, 2009

50,000 words in a month???

Well, I'm here to report that I did not win the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge, although some of my writing buddies did.  Congratulations Jody Casella and SR Cardell, and Connie Hebert.  Your fingers must be throbbing!

I did manage to knock out 26,000 or so, which was enough to get a few first draft chapters of a book that was rattling around in my head for awhile.  I encourage all writers to join this great challenge.  It pushes you to write without worrying about fixing things.

Did I say without worrying?  That's not totally true.  The hardest thing for me to do was to plow through the words, watching my errors and poor dialog fall behind me...waving at me, and calling for me to fix them.

The challenge is to keep writing no matter what, and go back and fix the problems after the first draft is done. Typos? Ignore them.  It's the amount of words that count, not the quality of the work.  The premise is that you should be able to pry a decent novel out of the mess at some point.

In the end, I know I have a lot of stuff that will have to be thrown out, but did write some stuff that made me say...Hey, that's not bad!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Dew on the Kudzu Story

Dew on the Kudzu, an online magazine for Southern Writers, published my short story "Alligator in my Back Yard" on 11-20-09.  Check it out. http://dewonthekudzu.com/

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Character Driven Stories

I lay awake last night wondering what a character in a story I am working on was going to do next. How is it possible for characters to create their own story? Sit back and let them. They may surprise you.

I suppose some writers start off with outlines of what their stories are going to be. I start off with a certain character in mind. But, even if I have an idea of who they are, I don’t really know how they are going to react to certain situations. It’s like getting to know someone you have recently met and discovering all their quirks and behaviors. When new characters are introduced to the main character, they also take off on their own. Sometimes I have to rein them in if they get so unruly they are taking the plot in a direction I don’t want it to go, and sometimes I just let them do their thing. It keeps the story alive.

For instance, in one story, my protagonist meets a character and they start right off the bat fighting—well, more like arguing. It was not my intent--it just happened, so I let them go at it to see where their relationship was going. Well, they bickered throughout the book, but it worked to bring out the snarky side of my main character.

But how do you know when to build suspense and to wrap the story up? For some reason, the characters tell me when they are ready. Somehow, they create their own conflicts, drive the story to climax, and wind down to a conclusion.

Once they are done with their story, I go back and revise a few times, shaping it into something resembling enjoyable reading material. They make me laugh, cry, and continue to amaze me at their ability to tell their own story.