Slice of [my] Life

a writer's piece of the pie

How to be a Plotter & a Pantser at the same time

I’ve been working on The Blood Within, part of my House of Reinhardt series, for the past few weeks. While I’m having a blast writing it, it’s still being a pain in my bum. See, I’m usually a hardcore plotter. I’m talking outlines, timelines, diagrams, post-its & bulletin boards. And normally, those things work for me. But when I started TBW, I wanted to take things a little differently. I wanted to let the creative process find it’s own way. I have the basic points mapped out in my head, sure, but how am I going to get there? I don’t know! It’s been…interesting. Sometimes, I surprise myself with my spur-of-the-moment-quick-thinking. Other times, I want to bang my head against a very sharp, metal instrument.

The first few chapters were super awesome! I wrote them quickly and with no problems, and they don’t need much editing. But the further in I get, the worse off I am. Some of the chapters took me DAYS to write and they still need a serious round of red-penning.

I thought things couldn’t get much worse. A few days writing a single chapter–no biggie. I can deal.

Boy, was I wrong.

Nothing has been as trying as Chapter 8.

I’ve had some serious bonding issues with Chapter 8 for about 3 days. THREE. He just wouldn’t play nice, and by ‘wouldn’t play nice’ I mean I’d spit out 200 words and Chap 8 would throw them back in my face, laughing! I’m talking I’d write 1000 words only to delete 1500. Yes, he’d actually make me delete words that had NOTHING to do with him! Can you believe that? Chap 8 has a mind of his own! I mean, come on; get with the program!

Despite our domestic problems –after much fighting and hair pulling– Chapter 8 is done (for now) and I’ve moved on to the next part (which I’m calling Chapter 8B since it’s still in 8 but is a different scene).
Now I’m trying really hard to get 8B to play nice but I don’t want to piss him off, so I decided to do a little exercise to get the creative juices flowing. It’s not exactly “pantsing”, but it’s not quite “plotting” either.

Mind Mapping is a great way to get the juices flowing & get a little direction in your writing. The key is to keep both halves of your brain working together. The left side is your analytical side, and the right side is your creative side. Personally, I tend to let my left side take over. I start putting things in organized columns and rows, complete with bullet points. But that ends up stifling your creativity! If you can Mind Map correctly, you’ll be a much happier writer and your story will thank you. You’ll use both logic and creativity. When you Mind Map, don’t let yourself focus on order or neatness. Let the ideas fill up the page. Use bright colors in random places. Make squiggly lines, little doodles, lots of notes jotted here and there. Use lines and bubbles to keep your ideas in order (you’re right brain needs a little action, after all..) but don’t let order override your creativity. Maybe your Mind Map will be a little prettier, but this is what I came up with.

Here’s my Map, just starting off. There are a few key pieces that I already knew were going to happen. ((Sorry about the lighting…))

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And here’s my Map finished. See all the craziness?!

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**Does Mind Mapping seem like something that could work of you? What methods do you use to piece your books together?

March 24, 2011 Posted by | Plotting, Writing | Leave a comment

Unofficial Post a Photo of your Work Space Day!

Hey guys! I’m dropping in at the tale end of February 1st Unofficial “Post a Photo of your Work Space Day“! I absolutely LOVE looking at pictures of people’s writing space so when I dropped by Kristen Yard’s blog today and saw that HOLY COW! it’s Post a Photo of your Work Space Day I was ecstatic!

But come on, who doesn’t like to see where the magic happens?? So I decided to post a few pics myself… are you ready??

And yes– because you asked, the walls are pink. It was a 4 year old’s princess room before I took it over, and I’m far to lazy to paint… Trust me. Pink suits my muse 😉

This is where some writing happens. And Netflix makes an appearance…
And this is where some serious plotting takes place =)
I’m an old fashioned kind of girl– I sit on the floor and use my WIP notebooks to file away the details.
Still…sometimes the best stuff comes when curled up in bed and on the lappy 😎

Anyone else post any pics of their work space??

February 2, 2011 Posted by | About Me, Writing | Leave a comment

I’m baaaaaaack ;-)

Hello all!

I know it’s been a while, but I promise I didn’t forget about any of you. I’ve been swamped with work and such and haven’t had time to drop in since….oh, wow…September. Okay, that’s a bit embarrassing, but completely unavoidable. I promise!

But now that I’m back, I’m working on getting out of my little funk (and by little funk, I mean start writing again). It’s been a while. Too flipping long and while yes, I do miss it, I almost feel as though I don’t know where to begin. No, that’s a lie. I don’t almost feel as though I don’t know where to begin—I totally feel as though I don’t know where to begin. Add to that the brand spanking new character that popped into my head and is demanding her own book be plotted out n-o-w just to shut her up. I’m trying to ignore her, I really am. The last thing I need is a new story on my plate. I already have so many on the backburner, but this new kid—Claire, she says her name is—refuses to leave me alone. It’s distracting and if only she could wait her damn turn, I may be good to figure out my new Plan of Action for the rest of 2010 and into 2011. I have to get a move on. My poor Nightlings series is about ready to give up on me. I’m so ashamed! Still, I’m determined to have Kate and Caleb’s book finished in 2011, the sooner the better.

But it’s been a while since I was last in the writersphere, and I suppose there was a change of venue for the awesome #amwritingparty’s that I was so fond of—you know, back in the day. Then again, it is Thanksgiving week and I know as well as anyone that this is a week of craziness. But that’s probably why I’m so ready to get back into the swing of things. IT’S NOVEMBER! Where did the year go?! Oh my God! I’m so behind on my WIPgoals that it isn’t even funny! Actually it is, in a neurotic, straight-jacked-meets-padded-room kind of way.

So today I’ll be figuring out who’s still around on #amwritingparty, blogs, and wherever else we writers used to lurk when hiding from our word processors. If you do Twitter, I’m @courtneyreese86. If not, drop me a line on the comments section of this post!

See ya around,
Courtney

PS> Oh yeah, I’m changing my blog layout for a while since my old but awesome grey butterfly template was slowly falling apart. This one is a temp while I work on tweaking the code for a new one I want. Hope you like 😉

November 22, 2010 Posted by | Writing | | Leave a comment

This is how I write…this is how I write

I’ve been a bad blogger–and writer–lately. I admit it, I’ve been a real disappointment. But I”m trying to turn all that around by getting back into the groove of things.

First, I’ve been working on Nightlings, moving some chapters around and getting it all beautiful for my new critique group members at CritiqueThisWIP.

Secondly, I’ve been trying to get some good blog posts going. Okay, so I haven’t been so successful at that second part, but, like I said, I’m trying. I blog over at CritiqueThisWIP once a week (which, for a while, was more than enough). But this week, I’m branching out even further and wrote guest blog post for Kayleigh’s Kaleidoscope! What’s it about, you ask? How I Write (do you see the irony?). What have I realized? That I really love blogging–not to mention writing–so I’m going to make it a point to get my butt back in “the zone”.

It hasn’t all been easy. I’ve been feeling down about my writing for a few months now. Nothing comes out right, my grammar skills are annoying me to no end, and my “voice” has been hiding out in a very dark, very quiet place. How are you supposed to write when the cursor just sits there, blinking that irritating I on an otherwise blank screen?! Don’t tell me just do it, because I’ve been tryin’ and it just ain’t workin’. But that will all be coming to an end. No more putting it off. You may be reading a bunch of crap, but at least I’ll be posting again, right?

Don’t forget to swing by Kayleigh’s Kaleidoscope to see just how crazy a writer I am!

July 20, 2010 Posted by | "Bitten" Series, blogs, Guest Blog, UGGGHHH!, Writing | 2 Comments

In Which I Issue A Challenge

As many of you know, I’ve been slacking on writing new material for the past few months and only writing up a scene (or blog post) when a blogfest rolls around…sometimes. But no more! As of Sunday, April 11th, I have officially reopened Nightlings (AKA The Immortal Series) to do more than the occasional edit. Oh yes, it was a wonderful day and I finally after much downtime have finished a very intense, action packed chapter involving my two MCs, Kate & Caleb.

So, to mark my success and my journey back into the merry land of writing, I have decided to take “InkyGirl” Debbie Ohi up on her Words a Day Challenge. I’ve thought about doing this before, but life gets in the way, blah blah blah. So, just as a lets-see-how-this-goes kind of start, I’m going hit the ground running with the 500 Words A Day Challenge.

500words-200w

See! I even get a pretty badge to add to my blog to remind me each and every day to write at least 500 words in my WIP.

*Note: 500 words in my WIP means just that—500 words in my WIP. Blog posts, Tweets and IMs DO NOT COUNT.*

**2nd Note: That was more for my benefit than yours. What can I say? I like to bend the rules…**

So, because I like a good challenge, I’m extending this this one to each and every one of you, my lovely writer friends who should be writing and NOT blog surfing. So, run your butts on over to InkyGirl’s Words a Day Challenge and pick your challenge (grab your badge)! You can choose from 250wpd, 500wpd, or 1000wpd.

Once you’ve picked your poison, you can compete with me—because every good challenge involves a friendly competition. Tweet your progress on Twitter with #wpdchallenge.

What are you waiting for?! Challenge yourself to write!

250words_150w 500words-150w

April 13, 2010 Posted by | Word Count, WPD Challenge, Writing | 9 Comments

Point of View @ Critique_This

 

I’m blogging today over at Critique_This_WIP about Point of View. Come check out my feelings about writing a first person POV murder scene.

April 12, 2010 Posted by | Critique_This, Writing | Leave a comment

Blood, Sweat, & Ink

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Writing is a craft. It is something that requires time and dedication…and more time. You must practice, learn, and eventually, you will grow as a writer.

It isn’t always easy. It will, at times, suck. But practice will make you a better writer and, in the end, you’ll be grateful for all of your hard work.

So, how does one “write better”? There are several ways. Some will have you shell out some cash. Others will leave your wallet intact.

Option 1: Join a local writers group. In the DFW area, we have this nifty little thing called Writer’s Workshop. Now, I haven’t exactly attended a meeting but Tiffany Neal and ChristaCarol Jones have, and they assure me, it’s worth the $100 a year, membership cost.

Option 2: Grab yourself a nice, grammar-wise Critique Partner. This is one of my favorites! Critique Partners, as well as Critique Groups, are invaluable. They provide help with plots, characters, writers block…oh yeah, even grammar. It isn’t always easy to find a compatible CP/CG, though. Sometimes,  it just doesn’t work out. Maybe your writing just doesn’t mesh well enough for your partner to properly critique your baby. Or, maybe you write different genres. Maybe (and this is a big one) your time/dedication differs from your partners. Do they have 5 kids, a full time job, and an weekly PTA meeting to plan? Are you single with nothing but your WIP to keep you busy? Yes and yes? Then you have a potential problem, honey.

When picking your partner, go in knowing that you might not be on equal footing. Remember to be patient and understanding. And remember that opinions are just that—opinions. Maybe your CP thinks you should leave out the part about your MC’s dead grandfather’s tragic demise, but you think it helps to explain why your MC is the way she is. Opinions, opinions.

Option 3: Instead of the tried and true “edit, critique, and revise” method, try a different way to perfect your writing: Writing Exercises. Exercises can help you to improve your skills while keeping your creativity active. Casey McCormick has some great exercises on her blog, Literary Rambles. You can also find more “creative excercises” at PoeWars.com.

That being said, I’ve saved the best for last. Blogfests. Yep, that’s right—blogfests. Here’s how it works: Some awesome writer/blogger puts out the word that they are hosting a blogfest. They tell you what you’re supposed to write about, and you sign up on their blog, then go off and write a scene based on the parameters of the blogfest. On the date of the Blogfest, you post your scene to your blog and *ta da* you’re done. People will see your name on the sign up sheet, then come to your blog to check out what you wrote, and leave comments telling you what they think of your entry. How simple is that? Did I mention it’s TONS of fun? True story.

So get to it, Anne Riley and Tara Fouts are hosting two Blogfests this weekend that are sure to be phenominal!

April 7, 2010 Posted by | Blogfest, Writing | Leave a comment

Check it Out!

vancouver-fireworks My critique group, Critique This, has just started a new blog and guess what?! Today is our very first day of blogging!

…AND…

I’m the one who gets to start it off with a bang! So run on over to our new group blog and check out my post about the pros & cons of pen names!

See you there!

CritiqueThisWIP.blogspot.com

March 30, 2010 Posted by | blogs, Critique_This, Writing | Leave a comment

It’s Okay—not everyone will like it

Sun_Rays_by_Hamrani When I wrote my Middle Grade PG Love Scene Blogfest post, I had an idea in my head. First off, I though, “when have I ever read a love scene in a middle grade book? Oh, that’s right. Never.” Would Judy Blume have her MC fall victim to uncontrollable lust and go bang her best friend’s brother? I should hope not—otherwise, Ms Blume would not be writing for kids 8-12, and I would have a few more of her babies on my bookshelves. So I tweaked the prompt a little—and came out with my entry. Overall, I was pretty happy with it. It was a little-kid-love-scene, and it suited me just fine.

Before I go any further, I’d like to tip my hat to those of you who write MG. In a way, it’s very simple—kids don’t read complex sentences, so when you write it, the simpler, the better. Emotions are raw and character behavior is almost animalistic. But for someone who usually writes for adults…wow. It sure ain’t easy to switch writing styles.

For my entry, I took a fairly common scenario, and put my story to it (in a format fit for ages 8-12, of course).  When I had finished, I asked J to read it over and tell me what he thought.

One paragraph later, J looks up and says “I don’t like it. It’s choppy…simplistic. Elementary. Nothing like your usual stuff.”

And I proceeded to panic. No lie; my first thought was I’m losing it! But then, in a rare moment of clarity, I realized that *ding ding ding* it’s okay. I’m writing a completely different genre than what I usually do. Of course it’s going to be different. And I’m writing for kids, so duh it’s going to be “elementary”.

So, is it a good thing that J didn’t like it? Considering he’s not a 10 year old girl, hell yeah it’s a good thing. He likes my adult, paranormal stuff, and this may be a stretch, but I consider it a success that my eleven year old protagonist didn’t resemble my two hundred year old vampire warrior that stars in Nightlings. Hurray! I think I can count the MG/PG Love Scene Blogfest as a successful writing exercise, because that’s what blogfests are—interactive, writing exercises.

It’s easy for us writers to remember that not everyone is going to love our babies like we do. In fact, it’s even harder for us to appreciate that fact. How do you take your criticism? What do you do to keep from letting it get you down?

March 23, 2010 Posted by | Blogfest, Writing | 2 Comments

Let’s Write a Story

I’ve had some people ask me about the different kinds of scenes that can be submitted for Blogfest. Now, this may sound crazy, but—any good old scene where one, or both, of your characters realizes “Wow, I love this person” will do. love

I like to see where my characters take the scene. Initially, I may have some sort of rough draft or outline about what’s going to happen, but the characters are the ones that get the final say. If they end up taking the story somewhere else entirely…so be it. They know what they want more than I do (consciously, anyway).

13 days until the Love at First Sight Blogfest and I’m still shuffling  different ideas around in my head. There are so many potential characters that are battling for my attention, and even more that keep popping up to say “how’d’ya do?”. So how’s a girl to chose one scene to post?

There are ways to form the barebones of a story. The Story Architect by Victoria Lynn Schmidt is a great place to start. In her book, she lists 56 “classic” story themes that are used in every genre of fiction. If you want to take a look inside, you may view a bit of it here. While I love this book (and recommend it to anyone writing fiction), it isn’t exactly cut and dry for a romance scene for the LaFS Blogfest. We don’t want a whole plot do we? Some people may be inspired to create a novel around their LaFS scene, but for now, I just want a scene—a hot and steamy scene. 

So, in lieu of anything better, I’ve decided to write my own list of themes—themes for Blogfest.

Blogfest Architect: Types of Love

  • Opposites Attract: the wrong people with the right feelings. Love against all odds.
  • Holy cow—I love you!: Some personality types fight the whole love-at-first-sight experience. Instead, write the scene where your character(s) realize that they are in love.
  • Head Over Heels: Do your characters steal little glances at each other when no one is looking? Do they blush when the object of their infatuation speaks to them? If so, they may be head over heels .
  • Infuriating Infatuation: ‘The woman drove him nuts! Pompous and bossy—a pigheaded know-it-all. He thought he’d always wanted a nice girl with a pretty face. Now, he wasn’t so sure.’ This is another of the holy-cow-I-love-you themes.
  • Forbidden Love: Romeo & Juliet is a classic for a reason. Who doesn’t love the idea of breaking the rules for love? How can something so wrong feel so right?
  • Unrequited Love: Taylor Swift’s Teardrops On My Guitar says it all. Pining after someone who’s in love with another person is a hell of it’s very own making. No one said love at first sight has to be mutual.
  • Fairy Tale Love: The stars align and falling in love feels so easy. Talk about a fairy tale…
  • Childhood Love: Jack and Jill have been in love since the day they went up the hill. Jack may have broken his crown but Jill stayed by his side while he healed. After all these years, he’s never forgotten her. Now, it’s time to track her down and confess his love. Maybe she feels the same way…
  • Hero Love/Damsel in Distress: Need I explain?

Want to challenge yourself?

  • I’ve read that some people are going to switch point of view Blogfest. If you usually write from the female perspective, try writing your scene from the male POV and vice versa.
  • Try writing a “historical” love story based on characters that already exist—or existed. Take advantage of creative license! There are plenty of time periods to chose from. Try on of these stories or find one of your own.
  • Retell a classic and make it your own.
    • Cinderella
    • Gone With the Wind
    • Ariel the Little Mermaid
    • Aladdin
    • Jack & Jill
  • FanFic. Is there a book, TV show, or movie that messed something up? Fan Fiction lets you fix it…
    • Lost
    • Burn Notice
    • Weeds
    • Desperate Housewives
    • Vampire Diaries
    • Twilight
    • Outlander
    • Werecats Series
    • Avatar
    • Bones

Have I forgotten a good one? Anyone have any other themes to add to the list?

I hope I’ve stuck a creative nerve. If not, there’s always the next blog posting. Don’t forget to sign up for the Love at First Sight Blogfest!

Happy writing!

PS. If anyone needs additional inspiration, I have some terrific poems on my inspirational blog, To Keep it Going.

January 31, 2010 Posted by | Blogfest, Characters, Inspiration, Plotting, Writing | Leave a comment