Friday, November 30, 2012

Plot Exposition

Miss Piggy: “Why are you telling me all this?”
Lady Holiday: “It’s plot exposition. It has to go somewhere.”
(The Great Muppet Caper)

I have a tendency to tell dramatic parts of the story: And then there was this battle. The good guys were hard put, but they stuck it out and won.

And then I show all the mundane parts, like completely superfluous birthdays and meaningless events.

This gets me into trouble with plot exposition. I just finished writing a chapter where some important plot elements are included--a little back-story, some character introductions--but it’s so everyday (they’re registering for classes), and it’s right at the beginning of the story. At the end of the chapter, I know important things happened, but will the reader recognize them as important and be intrigued to read on? Is there some better way to do this? How do you write about the everyday things that are important to the plot without losing your reader’s attention? Oh, there they go! Off to eat a cheese sandwich . . .

As I write this, I’m realizing some things. If I make it important, the reader will catch it. If it’s everyday, maybe it doesn’t need to be included. What is out of the ordinary? What makes that day different? Focus on those elements. Everybody else can drop by the wayside. Sorry guys. You’re just not important to this scene.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Throw Away Draft

I finally understand the concept of a throw-away first draft. Every time people talked about writing a rough draft just to get out their ideas and then throwing it away, I was confused. Toward the end of my stint at grad school, I realized the reason I don’t do that is because my rough draft is in my head. I go through several versions of a story mentally before I ever put anything to paper. Therefore, the first draft, while needing much revision, usually has the final outline of plot and character development.

Not so with The Epic Novel! I drafted this story 12 times before entering college, so already, it’s been through the works. The story has changed quite a bit numerous times. However, that 12th version is the one I went with all through college and grad school. I mean, this particular plot has been engrained in my mind for nearly a decade (O_O). So, starting from scratch is next to impossible. I constantly must remind myself that the story does not have to be exactly the way it was in that 12th draft. I have to break the hold that version has and let the characters take the story where they will.

I’m revising the opening chapters right now, and everything is becoming so jumbled. I keep rearranging chapters, changing the focus of the MC’s motivation, cutting characters from scenes, adding them back in. And then, trying to remember which version I’m currently using as I revise the next scene. I’m about ready to toss the whole thing and start over.

Light bulb moment! :::slaps forehead::: The throw away first draft. I get it now.

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Writer’s List of Thankfuls

This year, I’m thankful for many things, but I’ll stick to those things related to writing here.
I’m thankful
  • That I can devote all of my work time to writing. Praise God!
  • That I have begun Book One. Is publishing in the near future? Es posible.
  • That I now live close to one of my writer-friends.
  • That I have the time to get involved in a critique group. Praise God!
  • For the instructors under whom I have been blessed to study
  • For a husband who lets me tell him all about my writing woes at the supper table at night
  • For a dad who shares my love of writing and who faithfully made me a cup of coffee and spent his Saturdays writers-workshopping with me for at least a good year
  • For a brother who grew up with my characters
  • For a sister who reads rough drafts in one sitting
  • For a mom who always encourages me
  • For a best friend who knows my characters (and me) sometimes better than I do
  • For a friend who read the first eight chapters in one night and was so excited she had to call me about it the next morning
  • And for all the friends who have been patiently waiting for a draft. It’s coming!

Wow, I could go on and on. God is so gracious to me. But one of things for which I am most thankful is the fact that God created me to be a writer. :-D

Monday, November 19, 2012

Revision--but I haven’t even finished the rough draft!

(in deep, gravely, movie announcer voice) This November, embark on an epic adventure of war, love, and betrayal.

So, now that I am full-time writer, I have finally been able to start Book One of The Epic Novel! Well, it has more to do with Divine inspiration than with excess time on my hands. I received this inspiration in about the third state on the incredible cross-country move. Anyway, I must say, it’s going much better than I had anticipated. And more succinctly as well. Yay!

I decided to tell the story from two points of view, alternating between the main character and one of his friends. As I wrote the main character’s scenes, I stumbled along, like trying to find my way through a maze in the dark. A maze without walls, just lines on the floor. That I’m supposed to follow. In the dark.

When I finished the second of the chapters from the alternating POV, I thought, “Why is it so much easier to write from his POV than to write from the MC’s POV?” It hit me like a lightning bolt (actually, it was another inspiration from God): the alternating POV was easier because I had that character’s motivation always foremost in my mind. I’ve been writing from the MC’s POV for so long that his story has been muddled by everyone else’s story. I realized I needed to go back and rework the MC’s chapters with his motivation front and center. Oh my goodness, things started to go so much better. Of course, now I’m afraid I’ll have to cut a few more characters. (The author frowns contemplatively.) I love revising, though, and that’s currently where I’m at. So be prepared for an abundance of posts on revisionary type delimmas!

P.S. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 16, 2012


Sheepishly, she sneaks up to her computer and begins to write.

Ahem. So, yes, it’s been awhile. I have good reason though, namely massive upheaval in my personal life, of the most positive kind, but not conducive to regularly updating the blog. I have moved location and am now a full-time housewife, which translates to more time for writing and more flexibility in my schedule. With the holidays coming, I’m not sure how regularly I will post until next year, but I would like to post at least once a week.

I’ve realized that this blog is sort of a writer’s workspace for me, a place to vent my own feelings and to discuss things (in a monologue-ing kind of way). Writing this blog helps me to think. I guess it’s more of my writer’s journal than a blog. I hope, though, that my comments will be helpful to other writers in progress, and as my own development continues, I hope to become more and more useful.

So, here’s to regular updates from beyond the glass!