Sunday, June 20, 2010

Love you Dad, even though you don't like what I write!

(Skip down a bit for the Wannabe Writers part).

My Dad has never thought much of my fiction writing (fantasy? women's fiction? -- he reads mostly biographies about famous and powerful men).

But regardless of what I write, or if I ever get published, my Dad still thinks I'm the greatest person in the world (well, maybe after my mom. I don't have any brothers or sisters, but my kids - his grandkids - might be close to trumping me).

The best thing about my Dad is how he always made me feel like a princess when I was growing up. Little did he know that he was feeding my fantasy worlds! The other cool thing about my Dad was he saved every single card I ever made him (he always asked for home-made Father's day and birthday cards). One day he got out a shoebox and let me see all the cards I'd made for him over the years. Some of them made me grimace, some of them made me perk up my eyebrows and say "hey, not bad for a twelve year old" and some of them made me laugh out loud. But more than the cards themselves, it was the idea that he cared enough to save them all.


An update on writing: The good news is I've been busy writing - the bad news is I've been neglecting this blog. I haven't been able to think of any interesting topics to blog about, and didn't want to take time away from my WIP to really brainstorm for this blog. But ah, isn't that the beauty of memes? So today I am revisiting Sarah's wonderful Wannabe Writers meme.

Where I am in the writing process: Four chapters into at least the fifth re-write (I've actually lost track of the number of revisions) of my first novel which I just can't seem to let go. With a couple of excellent new crit partners, I really feel like I can get this story tightened up by cutting some slow chapters and rewriting with more action, more attitude, and more angst. Well, that's the plan, at any rate.

My current problems: My story is told from the point of view of two main characters, kind of like how Shiver (by Maggie Stiefvater) is written, switching chapters between Grace and Sam. Grace and Sam were both written in first person. One of my characters sounds great in first person. The other MC sounds weird in first person. So I changed her back to third person, but I feel like for a middle grade novel it's going to be too jarring for kids to not only have to switch back and forth between characters, but also between first and third. What do you guys think?

This week's question (from Sarah): Do you carry a writing journal around? Do you believe jotting down the ideas as they come is the best way? I used to be so good about doing this. After reading Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird, I fell in love with her advice to ALWAYS carry an index card or two and a pencil in your back pocket. Just the very act of sticking those cards into my pocket made me remember it was my RESPONSIBILITY as a writer to observe details of settings, dialogue I overhear, idiosyncrasies of people. Not to mention jotting down ideas. I need to get back into the habit.

These days, I have to keep track of so much family business (four kids and a very disorganized husband) that I only notice really odd or funny things. Then I freak because I don't have a notebook to write them in and if I write it on a receipt chances is are I'll forget and throw it away. But I'll NEVER remember if I don't write it down. So I have everything from the play date for my daughter to the grocery list to the key word of a writing idea jotted down on the back of my hands.

Do you carry around a writing journal or are you the kind that scribbles on napkins, receipts, the back of your hand?

Wannabe Writers is a writing group for the un-published and anyone is welcome to join. It's a place where future authors can ask questions, share stories, and get feedback. Click (here) to find more about how it works.


  1. Great photo of your dad!

    I don't think the switch would be too jarring for kids. I teach middle grade kids and they catch on to pretty much everything quickly. It should work. :)

  2. My dad has a hard time reading what I write as well: girly fantasy sci fi romance teen fiction. The funniest thing was when he made me realized that my first book had almost no male characters in it.

    Kudos to our dads for believing in us!

  3. Your dad's picture is so cool and I love that he saved your cards--there is a commercial now on TV from Hallmark where the dad saved all her cards and made me wish I had mine from my daughter.
    I keep a small notebook in my purse but usally scribble stuff down anyplace!

  4. I would stick with 3rd, esp. for MG, but that's just my bias. I think first person works better for YA, who are more internally focused.

    Good for you for focusing on the WIP! :)

  5. I think you should choose between the two POVs. My own personal opinion. If first person sounds wrong for one of your characters it is possible that you haven't connected well enough with that character yet. Maybe do some serious character building exercises. Even acting ones and really get in his/her head then try it again. Honest, all this hard work will pay off. I keep believing it anyhow!

  6. I LOVE his fedora. And great tribute to him. What a cool dad. I wrote a lot of notes and things for my dad and he didn't keep any of them. (In fact I put notes in his lunch every day in high school.)

    I love keeping a notebook on my person always. Because like you say, it reminds me to be thinking and looking for ideas everyday.

    And as far as first to third, it might turn out to be too hard but that shouldn't stop you from writing it the way you feel it should go. At least at first. Good luck!

  7. I think you have to write the story with way it wants to be written.....

    And yes, I carry a notebook wherever I go...mostly because I never know when I might have an odd moment to jot something down.


  8. I love that picture! I haven't yet told my dad about my writing, but I'm sure he'd be supportive. He just wouldn't really be interested in reading the types of stories I write :)

    As for your POV question - I'm actually going through this myself. To be honest, I had a hard time figuring out in Shiver which POV I was i some times. My current WIP has 2 MC's - 1 will be done in first person, the 2nd, a more historical voice, will most likely be in close third. We'll see how it works! I think you can write however you like - kids are always smarter than we give them credit for!

  9. What a nice tribute to your Dad! I like the picture, too. I have a small notebook and pen in my purse, and at various points around the house. I never know when an idea will strike me!

  10. Not a surprise - getting some conflicting advice about my 1st/3rd POV dilemma! Will just have to run it by a bunch of readers and see if it "works" or not! But thank you for your input - it's so great to have feedback.

  11. I was one of *those* kids that read all the time, and I loved books that switched things up a little. I can't speak for most MG readers, but my preteen self would've loved a mix between 1st and 3rd person.

  12. @Margo - there's really only one rule: Write a great book! I'm all for breaking rules if it "works." :)

  13. to answer your question on my blog, i thumbed thru it and realized it was very similar to his book on Plot and Structure, so i don't see a reason to have 2 books that are pretty much the same. i kind of wish now that i'd taken his class, but we wouldn't have gotten as much 1 on 1 as we did in Kathy's and i wouldn't have gotten to know you and the other ladies, so it was a good trade off.

  14. Margo, I can't wait for more of your story. Not that I'm impatient or anything. ;)

    You do a wonderful job writing in first and third person. But definitely see what your target audience thinks. You might be pleasantly suprised.

    I have something for you on my blog today. :D

  15. I've heard Bird By Bird is a great book but somehow have never gotten to read it!

  16.!!!!!! *confetti rains down* Congratulations!

    That support from your dad is priceless, even if he doesn't like what you write. As for journals, I carry small spiral notebooks in my car and in my purse. That way I can jot down notes when I'm not at home.

  17. Margo, thanks for stopping by my blog. I have twin boys, 10 years old. Plus we have a 13 year old boy. Lots of guys in my house! I remember 3 year old twins, they're so sweet!

    I loved your dad memory too. That's precious.

  18. I've always written in first person. But I don't mind reader either. So I guess its just a preferance thing.

  19. Great picture of your dad.

    I don't think you'll have trouble with your POV. Readers will catch on.

    I carry around a small journal, and I also use the notepad in my phone to jot down notes.

  20. At first I thought the switch in point of views would be jarring, but the more I think about it, I wonder if maybe it will add interest? If not, maybe you could switch the other MC to third--or would you lose voice? I hope you find the rhythm!

  21. Switching back and forth isn't a problem. It just has to be done right. Work on the voices--make sure they stay distinct. Also a friend who's a very successful writer once told me that with multiple povs you should do the first chapter in one voice, the next two chapters in the second--it will help ground the reader.

    BTW, if you need me to help "hold your feet to the fire" with self-imposed revisions, just let me know. :)



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