Tag Archives: writer

Writing Action Scenes – Part 2

Whether or not you read the last post, I highly suggest you go (re)read it now. It is an important example.

The answer really is to write short sentences. It’s a little more than that though. The habit of Steven King’s use of one word chapters was a little excessive. You. Can’t. Just. Write. Like this. And. Get. Great. Results.

I’d like to take you back to my story for a moment. Let’s return and look at Dragons of Wellsdeep pages 8 and 9.

If you look at page 8, we start off in Moonhunter’s thoughts. The second paragraph has Moonhunter being fired upon. Except for the second-to-last sentence in the paragraph, they are all relatively short sentences or are divided by commas, which gives a feeling of a break.

The third paragraph has the sentences stretching out a bit more. It kind of feels all short and anxious, followed by a bigger span in order to breathe. Then we have Balthier’s and Moonhunter’s action and dialogue sequence. See how it starts off long and starts to get shorter as they go along. I’m increasing the page here with the white space of the page.

Now, in the last post, did you feel the intensity of it? Maybe a bit disappointed that there wasn’t more? I set up the great question, then slammed with the answer.

Bam! I have you.

It’s those short, punchy sentences where action has to take place. It locks you in. But you also have to have those longer sentences where the reader feels the space to breathe. You’re probably starting to feel a bit of the hypnotic spell here with post. At least I hope you are.

Now look at page 9 and see the sentences vary in length depending upon the emotional impact I want for the action scene.

Now, go write great action!

Dragons of Wellsdeep- pages 28 &29

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Page 28 has a lot of things to change. Mostly, I think there’s a lot better ways to show this information rather than telling it. It’s going to expand the material greatly when I get to rewrite it.

Page 29 has less to fix, mostly because it’s dialogue, but there are still some things I can do better.

I also just noticed a spelling error I hadn’t seen before. I misspelled Moonhunter’s name on page 29, paragraph 8, by adding an extra “e” on the end. Does that make it French? “Moon-hun-tier”?  I wonder how many other things I have missed.

Happy writing.

Dragons of Wellsdeep- pages 24 & 25 edit

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Let’s look at my edit notes for these pages:

Page 24 is a lot of telling and prodding for more details. This really is where showing first draft material gets a little hard because I know that this is one of my weaker points. But it’s also very important, so please don’t get too bored. When I get started on the 2nd draft, you’ll start to see how this all rounds out, how it gets deeper because I know where I need to add things.

Do notice that I also point out things I like. That doesn’t mean they won’t be cut or emphasized more, but it’s a mark of something I feel I did right. Sometimes, you do need positive notes in your edit too, even to yourself so that it doesn’t get to feel like, “Oh, I’m such a failure! I can’t write. What am I thinking?” Again, that’s why I’m here showing you what the first draft looks like and illustrating how to fix it. If you’ve got it down, you’ve got a great start on people who only want to write a book but never do the work. So mark the spots you like!

Page 25 – what was this? Was there an explosion? If the ink was red, this page would be bleeding! Look at all the “was” words. There’s a lot of suggestions for improvement, plus a note to go into out-galaxy (OG) missions earlier. Yes, this is the mark of true first draft material. I really am learning the story here. In earlier pages, I had no idea that there was going to be a difference between off-world missions and out-galaxy missions, much like I didn’t know about the abilities of the dragonborn when I first started. I am learning as I go. That’s your proof.

How’s your manuscript coming? Hopefully well.

Until next time, happy writing and editing!

 

Dragons of Wellsdeep- pages 22 & 23 edit

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Let’s look at my edit notes for these pages:

Page 22 is run amok with alliterations (words starting with the same letter: i.e. Peter Piper picked a patch of pickled peppers). I mostly wanted to notice it on the page when I come back to it because I kind of like it — all those “s” words give the illusion of spinning. However, I know that “spinning on her slippered foot” is really something I do with Keteria from my Sacred Knight series. I really need to make Sundancer different. Maybe she pirouettes. Okay, I really need to get some dancing terms for her — and that’s something I’m only realizing now as I’m writing this. So, if you notice while editing that something like this stands out, it might be more than just a note on the page. Dig deeper into your reason for why it stopped you.

There’s also a lot of “was” words. I do like the connection to the Norse mythology — it emphases the fact that this is an Earth-based universe versus a non-Earth based universe (blog coming on that later). It also ties it in to The Loki Adventures.

Page 23 – still wanting more information from the characters, how they are feeling, showing versus telling items. Then nearing the end of the page I’m getting into a lot of similar sentence structure: he tore, he couldn’t, she was, he wanted, he curled, he felt, etc. That tells me there is a good opportunity to add setting to their actions, and a lot more action and interactions between the characters. This is a very loose lace where I can embroider in more juicy details. That’s why there is the big MORE! at the end.

Are you getting enough in your writing? Maybe a second glance over it wouldn’t hurt.

Happy writing!

Is writing worthy of your life?

I have been wondering if my post last Thursday was too harsh. Maybe a little. Then I remind myself of two things:

1. When I write a blog post, I’m usually writing it for me as much as anyone else. I often find myself giving the very advice I need to hear. So did I need to give myself that advice? Yes. Not just for my writing either, but that’s another story.

2. I’ve had enough people wonder how I find the time to write when I work full-time and raise two boys by myself. I usually just shrug and reply that I have really good children who help me out a lot. But that’s only part of the answer. The full answer includes the explanation that I don’t “find” the time to write. I “make” the time. If you’re looking to find the time to write, you will never find it. You have to decide that writing is important enough for you to do it. If it’s not, then move onto other things that are worthy of your time. 

Last week I heard some great advice. The woman who gave it said that she’d been asked the question and it had helped her put some things in perspective. So now I share her advice with you:

“Today I heard some advice that I know I will use to measure the importance of my goals. The question that was asked was: Which goal is worthy of your life? Which would you trade your life for?”

So, with that being said, is writing worthy of your life? You are going to trade away hours and hours of your life to tell an elaborate lie (which is the essence of all fiction) which you hope other people will read and enjoy. Make sure you are making the best possible choice for yourself. Also realize that over time the answer to this question might change. We all go through seasons.

So, if you still know that writing is your everything, I wish you happy writing! Now go get to work on that manuscript.

Dragons of Wellsdeep – Pages 20 & 21 edit

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When I get to editing this for the rewrite, I need to push the characters more here and how they are reacting off of one another. Especially if you take a look at all the “was” words on page 21. This is an overload for me. That definitely tells me there’s a problem! Yes, it is all telling. Fortunately I have a lot of room to work with, so it’s just a matter of of untying the knot I’ve got here and fixing it. I look forward to it.

Yes, adding those layers and deepening the story is what makes if fun. I promise.

Happy writing!

 

When the writing gets hard

Yes, there are days when the writing gets hard. There are days when the editing gets harder.

Go on, Google all you want on creative blocks. You’ll find lots of answers.

Yes, follow all those leads if you will: read a book, take a walk, write anyway, edit anyway, blah, blah, blah.

The truth is there are just some days when you can’t do it. This blog is as much about my journey in writing as it is yours. It is my legacy. Someday someone will come along and read this and know that I’m sharing everything I know about writing with you in order to help you.

So here it is, the truth about when the writing gets hard:

Suck it up, cupcake. No job or career is fun all the time. There are times when you just have to make yourself have the discipline to step forward into the task you don’t really want to do. If you want to wait on the Muse, put down your pencil or delete all the writing files off your hard drive now. You cannot wait for anything. You only have this moment because one minute, one hour from now and it’s gone. Hard work requires discipline. If you want to have your book done, you have to do it.  Put your butt in the chair and do the work or suffer the regret later. That’s your choice.

Now I’m really going to injure those creative block lists. The thing is, they aren’t all wrong either. Sometimes you do need to step away for a moment. A moment! Half an hour or less, if you think that life won’t suck you into something else. Don’t let drama happen to you in order to procrastinate. If you think that’s going to happen, skip this paragraph and move right to the next one.

Just because you don’t want to write one book, or if you feel it’s too difficult of a scene for you to write from where you’re at in your life right now, switch to something else. Yes, you heard me. Start another project. (gasp!) I’ve found that everything cycles around. I’ve learned to listen to my Muse and what she wants to work on. Sometimes I have a schedule for a book and I have to override the Muse — but hey, who really is in control of this body anyway? When she gets a body, she can do what she wants too. Until then, I ask, “What would you like to work on?”, she answers, then I have to decide if it’s really wise or not. My decision. Then I step into discipline, put my butt in the chair, and get to work.

I generally have 2 or 3 projects going at once. My main writing projects right now are, of course, Sacred Knight and The Loki Adventures. After that, I know that I have Dragons of Wellsdeep to write for this blog. If I really don’t want to work on any of those projects, I also have the script for my Weblinks comic (which I’m also lining out at a novel when I have time and inclination), and another young adult story. I like having lots of ideas. I might not feel like working on one story at the moment, but surely there is another which I can easily lean into and work on.

If I don’t, I write anyway. Unless I really can’t. But that’s usually because I’ve gone into a cycle to draw or paint and that’s a whole other can of worms.

So write. Be disciplined, even if you don’t feel like. The Muse will sit down with you when she realizes you are serious. She usually just wants to see you get to work first.

Get to it. Happy writing.

Dragons of Wellsdeep – Pages 18 &19 edit

 

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Remember my post from last Thursday about balancing your posts. Yeah, these pages show my definite weakness for setting. Fortunately, that’s why we edit our manuscript!

Once again we’re in the “white room” and there’s a lot of talking. It’s not all talking, so that’s good, but wouldn’t you like to know what Sundancer looks like. I do, but right now it’s in my head. I have so got to get it out.

Another thing I’ve alluded to, but never really said is that they have speed healing. This would be a great scene to put it in. I started thinking about his mouth and gums, how he had steam coming out of his mouth. It’s not possible for him to be unhurt. When was the last time you drank scalding coffee or tea and wished you hadn’t?

Also, notice how with the names, Serchk and Sundancer, we start to have a lot of alliteration going on in the middle of page 19. I’ve underlined all the S’s just so I remember to change something.

Well, I have a lot of work ahead of me to get this part whipped into shape. Bring it on!

Happy writing.

Have you found your writing flow?

In last Sunday’s post, I mentioned how my first drafts are heavy on the action and dialogue and include minimal setting details. I didn’t figure this out overnight. In fact, I didn’t even figure it out myself. My critique partners mentioned it when they asked why I didn’t write screenplays. Both of them were very aware that I saw my stories in a cinematic fashion and I do; I see everything as if I’m watching a movie. They told me that I should stick with my strengths and let a set designer and costumer do the rest of the work.

The fact is that screenwriting is a difficult industry to get into. I certainly don’t have the connections to make it happen, not without more work than I want to put in. I’d rather do a couple more subsequent drafts of adding the detail.

Here’s a colorful tip for getting a visual on your strengths:

Take some highlighters, none that will cover up your text or make it difficult to see what you’ve written and start going through your manuscript. Color dialogue in yellow (or the color of your choosing), setting and other detail words in blue, thoughts, internalization, or point of view indicators in pink, and everything that is left will be narrative.

Let’s have an example (since I can’t highlight, I will change the font color):

Caitlyn looked out the window at the darkening sky while she parted the heavy, velvet drapes with her hands. With the sun fading behind the clouds, she could dare to open up her world some. She reached down to put on her sunglasses, which hung from a chain around her neck. Her grandmother had always kept a pair of reading glasses on this chain, but Caitlyn didn’t need cheaters like that. Dark lens were another thing.

“Ow!” complained Lucky behind her as she drew the curtain across the rod. She glanced back at him, sitting at the mahogany table with his usual pile of papers before him. He capped his hand over his eyes, shielding them from the light of the overcast day. “Did you have to go and do that?”

“If it doesn’t hurt my eyes, it shouldn’t hurt yours,” Caitlyn responded as she opened the other curtain. If only for a moment, she enjoyed feeling human again.

So I have narrative in blue, dialogue in pink, details in reddish-brown, and thoughts/internalization in green.

Now, this isn’t an exact science. Sometimes things could fall into two categories — for example, I thought “chain around her neck” could be a detail or just part of the narrative. I gave myself the benefit of the detail here.

I did write this with the intent of it being a fairly balanced piece. If you have done this exercise for several pages of your manuscript, you should find that narrative is the most common, followed by details, then dialogue, then thoughts/internalization. You’ll see here that the blue (narrative) is the most used, followed by details (6 instances), then dialogue (3 instances), and thoughts (2 instances). If you have a scene which is heavy on the dialogue, make sure you don’t have a “talking heads” scene where the participants are just talking back and forth with no action or setting details. If you are still having narrative and details, but there’s a lot of dialogue, make sure it is balanced and flowing just so it’s not all speech; break the rhythm every now and then. Again, it’s not an exact science, just an experiment to show you how you work. Once you know your own writing flow, you know what you need to work on in the next draft.

Happy writing!