Signposts from Odyssey

June 14, 2013

Hey there! I know I haven’t blogged since before I left for Odyssey. It’s been a crazy week. But I said soon after I got here that I was going to tell my blog followers some of what I’ve learned about the weaknesses in my writing, and how I plan to work on those weaknesses. Since the first weekend is starting, and I’m starting a new story to be critiqued next week, this seems like a good place to start.

I’ve learned that I have room to improve in: conveying the emotion of my characters.

How I plan to improve:

  • Before writing each scene, note each character involved in the scene, where they start emotionally before the scene, and where they are emotionally after the scene is over.
  • Review after writing the scene to check that I’ve conveyed those as strongly as I could, as well as any other transitory emotions they passed through along the way.
  • Review that all of these emotional arcs seem consistent when the first draft is done.

I’ve learned that I have room to improve in: showing the important stuff to readers (not telling.)

How I plan to improve:

  • Make a list of important things to show before writing every scene.
  • Review after writing, that I’ve shown and not told those things, and if there was anything else important that I’ve told instead of showing.

I’ve got lots more room to improve, but this seems good for a start. Have a great weekend!

Nanowrimo Spotlight #9: J. Rose Allister-Fiction With a Passion

October 31, 2012

Hello there! It’s the night before Nano, and all through the house – well, among other things, I’m pleased to share this spotlight with you. With no further ado – J. Rose Allister!

What’s the most unusual part of your writing process?
The most unusual part is probably that I accidentally programmed my subconscious so that I can write while working or even sleeping.

One of the mental “show vs tell” exercises I learned in the early days of studying craft was to describe everyday objects without mentioning their name, shape, or color. A bouquet of flowers became “a brilliant burst of floral fireworks,” for instance. I was so passionate about writing that I started doing this everywhere I went–“showing” salt shakers in a restaurant, stoplights on the way to work, etc. Somewhere along the way, my brain took this over automatically in the background, whether I wanted it to or not. Soon, it began whispering more complex ideas, characters, and even scenes. Without knowing it, I had launched the committee meeting of voices a writer hears when pounding away at a story, but this meeting stays in session no matter what I’m doing. With a little tweaking, I found the sessions will continue while I sleep, working out plot points and such so I’m often “programmed” with the next scene when I wake up. I used to joke that if I could just give up sleeping, I could get my writing done. As it turns out, that wasn’t too far from wrong!

Where are your backup files?
I have found out the painful, highly aggravating way that backups are a must! I have my WIPs backed up to two locations, a flash drive and on Google Drive (formerly Docs). I do two because I have also found out the hard way that a backup drive can fail. I also used to switch between writing on my primary laptop and a much smaller netbook, so some backups found their way there as well. (Although my writer husband seems to have planted his flag on the netbook lately–it’s so darned handy to take poolside or wherever, maybe not as light as a tablet, but I like the keyboard much better.)

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