Friday, June 26, 2009

the novel that ought to be???

It's pretty rough when I find the best parts of my novel are the excerpts from my heroine's novel. There's more energy and conflict in those brief paragraphs than in pages and pages of the rest of my book, mostly because fo the brevity required. But I need to light a fire under my girl so she gets irked. (There's another great word, Steph.) I just had the first kiss of my heroine's two main characters and, believe me, it's a lot hotter than Anna and Tip (my heroine and her sweetie). Maybe because the heroine I've created for Anna's book is a pretty prickly sort of creature, so the guy she's getting involved with is equally irascible. My book is getting to be more fun as I go along, and I'm about to kick Anna and Tip into a faceoff over his true identity. Sister Yvonne will be giving her two cents worth, you can bet, but Daddy will still be in the dark. Oh, what a tangled web we weave--all of us--when we write a novel.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

and then she said...

I love writing dialog. I like hearing my characters' voices in my head and putting them down on paper, along with action. I see the scene happening as I write. I find I rarely use "he said" or "she said"--I tend to use an action. For example:
“Why don’t you just kill her off?” Yvonne grimaced and slurped her tea at my kitchen table. “She’s such a burden.” My precious older sister fingered the flowered saucer rim as if it were in Braille and might give her some further insight. The light in my kitchen flamed her short, auburn hair.
I like using the dialog and tags to reveal something about the character, instead of just "she said." I want my readers to see Yvonne with her short auburn hair, making a face and running her finger around the saucer rim. I want them to see action, not just hear her voice--which is pretty matter-of-fact. Yvonne sees life very simply. What works, works. What doesn't ought to get dumped. And she feels that having an alter-ego author of best-selling books (Claire) is making her sister Anna (the heroine) crazy. Or maybe just crazier.

Of course, there's more dialog to this picture of Yvonne, which reveals Anna's confusion and insecurities. I mean, that's what the whole book is about: insecurities, overcoming, giving up hiding, finding Anna's own identity. I'm finding that almost everything I write these days has something to do with identity. I've probably said that before.

Rats. Now I'm distracted by the fact that I can's figure out how to get this back to single space. I'll never cut and paste into this again. :)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

There will be peace at the keyboard

Just back from a trip back east to see the family--my husband's side. Some planned adventures fell through because I was staggering through the visit with a cold and sinus infection. Nothing like a clear brain--nope, I was foggy throughout.

But the change did give me a different focus. I encountered some interesting people both on the planes and on the ground. If I get a chance to actually talk to those sitting near us, I consider that a great blessing. Some interesting insights can come of it, and did this trip. I know I'll eventually find a place to use them.

My heroine, harried as she is, has a focused core. Deep down, she knows what she wants, but is sort of slogging her way to it at this moment in the story. Knowing that and communicating that is important because I want my readers to know that, tossed by many winds as she is, she will continue on toward the goal. I need to know that's true of me, too. And I do.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Just finish the book!

"I don't think my stepfather much minded dying. That he almost took me with him wasn't really his fault." So starts Dick Francis's "To The Hilt," and clearly shows you why once you open one of his books, it's awfully hard to put it down. I picked this one up recently and planned to use it during a trip that starts in a couple of days, but I made the mistake of actually opening it up. Oops. Now I need to find another book to take on the trip. Maybe I'll grab one of my Rett MacPherson mysteries--she's always fun. 

I tend to collect great openings and descriptions. Maybe I hope I'll pick up good style by osmosis. But certainly reading good stuff helps improve our writing. I still remember a description by Ngaio Marsh of a lawyer's musty office. So good you could smell the place and practically taste the dusty air. 

I'm trying not to go back and rewrite my opening (again) until I finish the whole book. Charlotte Cook of Komenar Publishing says that the ending of a book  "informs" the beginning--it tells you what pieces need to be in the beginning of the book. So I really do need to finish the piece before I start poking around it again, and again. I am prone to do that, and everyone advises against it--at least everyone I've ever heard talk about writing a novel.  I once had about 5 minutes with a famous agent who, when I asked a question about whether a book I had in mind was adult or young adult fiction, asked me,  "Why are you asking that question? Just finish the book!"

Monday, June 1, 2009

life intervenes

Just when I begin to pick up some more momentum in my writing, a family emergency arises, a health scare pops up...well, you've been there. We are wrapping up the homeschooling year, sort of. Since we homeschool year round, we only wrap up the regular school-year schedule of field trips and co-op classes in science, etc.  Math, history and writing continue for both my daughter and me. I don't know how long I can stay ahead of her in math. The history and writing I think I've got sorted. 

In a couple of weeks we drop everything and head for the Philadelphia area to see family and take a little historical tour of the city. I plan to take a lot of notes, in case I ever want to send a heroine there. Never waste a good city. 

Meanwhile, back in fictional Baxter, Oregon my characters are happily bumping into one another, yielding romance, humor, and some chagrin, if I can get it right. My critique group awaits the next chapter. 

When life interrupts art, I think it's time to see what art can make of it. So I'm evaluating all the emergencies and pitfalls of my month and wondering what Anna Branson would do. One hopes the daily bruising yields something for the page.