But first, the second round of Round of Words in 80 days (ROW80) is getting started and I'm joining (it runs from April 4 to June 23).
I accomplished my writing goals in January and February by coercing people into keeping me accountable (e.g. giveaways!) In March, I slacked off (though I did get a lot of planning/plot tightening done). So ROW80 is perfect timing to get motivated again. The link above gives the deets, but the gist is you set your own goals and then check in with your fellow ROW80 goal-setters.
My Jan/Feb goal was to get to 75k on my WIP. I've since realized, my WIP being YA historical fantasy (thank you more-knowledgeable-commenters and sharers-of-awesome links) that because of the world-building it's okay to go higher on the word count so I'm aiming for 90k.
So my goal for the 80 days:
1. Write another 15k or whatever I need to get the dang thing FINISHED! (by end of April)
2. AND AND AND AND!!! - the first revision (by June 23th, the 80th day)
You know what really motivates me? Hearing other writer's goals. I mean, I'm not competitive (except during word wars or when I have a bet going with my hubs). I just really love to read goals 'cause they get me going with my own.
So, what goals do you have? As a writer? Or maybe as a reader? Or life in general (so yeah, how is that new year's rez going for you after the first quarter?) (insert evil laugh)
And now. If you are a writer - why you MUST read the Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass.
My favorite writing book is Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott, but now Birdy will have to share the #1 spot. Bird by Bird and the Fire in Fiction are both about writing but cover completely different things. Bird is about the writing life, getting your first draft down, how to keep your butt in the chair, why you should aways keep paper and pen in your back pocket.
Fire is about specifics. You've got your first draft done. Even your second or third draft. But it's still not getting interest. The Fire in Fiction skips the basics, such as hook and point of view. It goes much deeper. It teaches you how to keep your readers reading after the hook.
Want to make your protagonist more memorable? Even harder, want to make your secondary characters more memorable? "Special-ness comes not from a character but from their impact on the protagonist. What are the details that measure their impact? How specific can you make them?"
The books that cover the basics teach you that your book is built on scenes and all scenes worth their weight need conflict and must move the plot forward. This book digs deeper and talks about inner and outer turning points in each scene. Maass uses the analogy about how action scenes in movies are planned and shot in detailed frames. He shows you how to rewind and fast-forward through the scenes and how to use oblique angles to heighten effect (and we are talking writing here, not just camera work).
Oh and the tornado effect - that's a powerful device. Sorry you'll have to read the book to find out what it is. Or bribe me with chocolate. I like Dove Bars. Or Reeses. Or, well, any chocolate will work.
The book provides excellent exercises, broken down step-by-step, for how to accomplish things like:
- Strip down dialogue to heighten conflict.
- Make setting become its own character.
- How to link details and emotions.
- Develop a character's voice. Experiment with narrative voice.
- The extra steps you can take (you MUST take) to make a real antagonist.
- Three different techniques to help your reader suspend disbelief (if you are writing fantasy, SF or thrillers).
- There's even a chapter on developing humor and satire
What you won't find: plot structure - the excellent three act structure or hero's journey structure. Save the Cat by Blake Snyder is next on my list for that. (I also recommend the Writer's Journey by Christopher Vogler for this).
Here's an example of a step in an exercise that I just picked at random:
"Create three hints in this scene that your protagonist or point-of-view character will get what he wants. Build three reasons to believe that he won't get what he wants."
The last two chapters are the very best of all. What's the secret to unstoppable page turning? It's NOT action. What? No really. It's micro-tension. Don't know what that is exactly? Maybe you can guess what it is, and are curious about how to implement it? This is a MUST READ.
And the last chapter, simply titled "The fire in fiction". All the chapters give you fuel for a good hot fire, but this last chapter is the fire itself. This one blew me away. I'd love to tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.
It's that good.
Now tell me your goal(s)! (or why you'd like to kill ME after this way-too-long post. Will I never learn good blogging etiquette?)
Jennifer Honeybourn, author of WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU DEMONS, on needing the roadmap of an outline - We're delighted to have Jennifer Honeybourn with us to chat about her latest novel, WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU DEMONS. *Jennifer, what was your inspiration for wr...
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