Friday, January 28, 2011

The Creation of Conflict

A good conflict is a crucial part of any hook, but it doesn't stop there. There are a hundred different kinds of conflict and a scene without any is inevitably boring. You can see conflict in everyone around you. People would have little motivation without it, and understanding the conflicts of those around us helps us understand why they do the things they do.

My favorite kind of conflict to write is internal conflict. Putting my MC at odds with themselves is one of my favorite pastimes. I also like battle conflicts. Big fighting scenes with loads of conflict, those are fun.

What are your favorite kinds of conflicts to write? Is there any particular type of conflict that you can't imagine writing a book without?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Do You Ever Feel Buried?

Lately, I've been feeling a little overwhelmed. I'm querying, submitting, writing, outlining, planning, blogging, tweeting, updating, and revising--and that's just my writing life. I'm starting to heal from my surgery in December and realizing that while my husband has done a great job of taking care of me and the kids, my house is a disaster and my Christmas tree is still up.

Yes, really.

So, as I'm able to start walking around and getting things accomplished, I just don't know where to start. It doesn't help that I'm also signed up to help with some school fair stuff and don't get me started on my son's boy scout projects...

So, I know all of my blogging friends feel my pain. How do you deal? Where would you start? Your advice may keep me from hiding under my covers with leftover Christmas chocolate... Use it wisely.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Find Your Inner Winner

I've spent the last couple of months watching my favorite NFL team, the Green Bay Packers. For those of you who don't follow the NFL; yesterday, Green Bay beat Chicago at Soldier Field to clinch their trip to the Super Bowl.

No one expected them to get this far.

They were #6 in the NFC and this is the first time in history that the #6 NFC team has gone to play in the Super Bowl. Their QB, Aaron Rodgers, is only now getting the attention he deserves. And their defensive line is--forget about it. Clay Matthews is just the bomb.

Here is my point (don't worry, I do have one). All of these players have been on this team all year, and they weren't doing anything remotely like what they've been doing in the playoffs. It wasn't until all the pieces clicked into place that they started blowing everyone out of the water.

This reminds me of writing. (Yes, I'm going there--don't judge a girl for being a football fan & a writer.) You can have all the right pieces, but until they fall into the right places, no one can see your book for all it can really be.

For example: you can have amazing characters and great character development, a cool story, a superbly constructed villian, and a romance to make Romeo and Juliet hang their heads in shame---but it won't matter until you have the writing skills to pull it all together.

So anyway, my point is. Keep writing. When you're happy, sad, discouraged or devastated by your latest round of rejections--just keep writing. This is a skill that will continue to develop the more you use it. And if you keep working at it, someday you'll get that call and find out you're going to the Super Bowl.

Until then, don't give up...


Friday, January 21, 2011

Writing Excuses

I just wanted to do a quick plug today for the Writing Excuses podcasts by Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler, and Dan Wells. If you've never listened to one of these, you need to. They've been podcasting for a few years and you can find a podcast on most writing topics. Each episode is 15 minutes long (because you're in a hurry, and we're not that smart) <--their tagline. I love it.

Anyway, you can find them at and I very much recommend it. Some of my favorites are this episode on horror,
this one on pacing (for those of you who've read the Maze Runner series, it features James Dashner), and this one on suspense. Go check it out. They're hilarious and remarkably insightful.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Book Titles

Since I'm starting a new project, I've been thinking a lot about what to call it. Titles are very important once a book is published. Look at the book above. First of all, the cover is fabulous. I love the feel it gives you, but the title was what drew me in. It sounds interesting and fun. Now, I've never read this book...but now I want to.

I find that I pick the coolest title I can think of, and then move on. I tend to do this because I'm of the opinion that I shouldn't be too attached to a title because the publisher will have final say on the title anyway. But I wonder if I'm being too flippant about it. Maybe it is a bigger deal in landing an agent and a publisher than I give it credit for. Don't get me wrong. I'd never submit a book and call it Project 1 or something. My books always have decent titles, but they're never what I'd consider really amazing or anything. I put much more time into the writing, revising, and polishing--not a lot into the picking of the title.

What do you think? Do you invest a lot of time into picking a title?

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Starting Line

I'm starting a new project this week and I'm really enjoying it. Because of this, I've been thinking a lot about the way people write. This new project isn't outlined. I have a cool concept for the book. I have an general idea of what's going to happen in the first few chapters--beyond that I have no clue. It occurs to me that this would terrify some people, particularly outliners.

For me, there is something that happens about 1/3 into the book that I can't describe as anything but divine. It's this miracle of creation that is beyond just me. Suddenly, I know what happens next and where the rest of the book is heading--without a doubt. I never expect it and it usually surprises me. I love it. This is why discovery writing is so organic. It flows and grows in a way that is unexpected, even to the writer. also means I usually have to go back and rewrite the beginning to include all the foreshadowing that I didn't expect I would need. But it's worth it and I really enjoy the whole process.

How does writing work for you? How does your story evolve?

Friday, January 14, 2011

10 Things I've Learned About Perseverance

As an aspiring author, there are so many things beyond our control. I dedicate this post to everyone who keeps trying anyway.

10 Things I've Learned About Perseverance

1. Nothing about this job is easy.

2. The rejections always come before the requests.

3. Each book will be better than the last.

4. Dreams are worth reaching for, even if you pull a few muscles along the way.

5. Sometimes the perfect agent is the 7th query, the 20th query, or the 80th query... but it is almost never the 1st.

6. It's always too early to quit.

7. Taking a break is not the same as quitting.

8. Everyone has a different timeline for their success. Judging your timeline against that of others helps no one.

9. Ability to learn is worth more than natural talent every day of the week.

10. It only takes one yes.

Have a wonderful weekend, and keep trying.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Top 10 Things I've Learned About Ideas

Top 10 Things I've Learned About Ideas

1. There is always a better idea.

2. The best idea in the world will only get your foot in the door.

3. Truly unique ideas are rare to nonexistent, but good ideas are plentiful.

4. Execution can turn a fairly mundane idea into a great story, but it doesn't work the other way around.

5. There is no idea that everyone will love.

6. Ten people can have the same idea and come up with radically different stories.

7. The wrong character can ruin a great idea. Make your characters and your ideas fit together.

8. Brainstorming is a necessary part of the creative process.

9. The first twist to an idea is usually the most obvious one.

10. Taking an idea and pushing it farther than other writers might can turn a good idea into a great one.

That's it for today. There will be one more Top 10 list on Friday. Until then, how do you come up with your best ideas?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Santa Brought Me A Boot For Christmas

Hello 2011! I've been somewhat out of commission for the last couple of weeks due to ankle surgery and the beautiful red boot I got from Santa. I get it off on the 18th, but at least now I'm allowed to walk on it.

Me on crutches = not so cute/happy.

So, what else is up? I'm starting a new project tentatively titled SWEPT. It rocks my socks off. I'm going to be finishing up the last two Top Ten lists this week, and I'm starting querying for INSOMNIA which makes me want to jump up and down and curl up in a ball at the same time. (Surprisingly hard to do, especially in a big red cast and on crutches)

What are you all doing in January? Anything exciting happening for you?