Don’t lose hope if brainstorming isn’t working, try visiting your old works, like you do when blogging.
Because not all stories are meant to be written the moment they pop up their little heads, I file those beauties—old outlines, writing ideas and abandoned WIPS—away for my future self.
Diving into these files can be an education. I’m always surprised by my work. Before I learned most of the rules, I had freedom that I wouldn’t mind having again.
Remember to be kind to yourself. We learn more about the craft each day and when we do, our outlook changes with it. The root or core of your original story may be awesome, but the execution felt off, couldn’t face the brutally honest critique, or the work of putting it all together was overwhelming.
If you find what you’re looking for, you may have to cut it down the bone. Here’s what I do. First, I rip it into manageable pieces and rearrange the bits. Some chunks land back in the file folder and others make holes I filled in. I’m sure you know the rest.
If revisiting your work doesn’t help, sometimes reading sparks new ideas. Things that help me are: how-to writing manuals, old diaries—mostly my own, checking old letters or emails and finally old family photos.
Have you ever done this? What works best for you?
Rejection is subjective.
Rejection is part of the craft of writing.
I’ve lost two contests and I’m going for my third.
My question is, how do I submit as if I haven’t been rejected? How do I write my best work without being afraid I’ll fail again?
The answer for me was going back to the beginning. To refresh my memory of why I am here and why I am doing such a silly thing like submitting at all.
The first book I read was Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.
Here’s a quote:
“The object of fiction isn’t grammatical correctness but to make the reader welcome and then tell a story … to make him/her forget, whenever possible, that he/she is reading a story at all. The single-sentence paragraph more closely resembles talk than writing, and that’s good. Writing is seduction. Good talk is part of seduction. If not so, why do so many couples who start the evening at dinner wind up in bed?”
I’ve not thought of myself as a seductress for a while now. But I’ve heard it’s like riding a bike. This round I think I’ll use my purple pen to polish my entry.
Wish me luck. I hope you beta readers are ready. I’m days away from sending it out.
Readers: What do you do when you need to find your writing magic?
Last week I wrote about my fear of success and after reading the comments I thought long and hard about what I wanted out of my writing life.
Since I started writing I’ve joined writing groups, critiqued others work, beta read, and even had some pieces published. It’s been social, fun and a huge learning experience. I think I’m doing okay, but I suppose I could always do better.
Then a contest opportunity comes up and my first response was no way. What happens if I win?
Silly me. It’s the first place I go when I face something like this. I bounce between the possibilities.
I’m okay with doing my very best when entering a contest and crossing my fingers until the results are released. I’m okay with not winning because the act of writing makes me better storyteller.
On the other hand, what if I do win. In this case I would be mentored by an author I’ve have fanned over long before I considered offering my work up for publishing. I’ve read his work and love it to bits. This would be a dream come true.
So what’s stopping me?
Last night I decided to go for it. I’m not going to think about the consequences of my actions. No do or do not. No try. I’m just going to put my best work out there and see what happens.
Why am I blogging about it?
I’m calling for beta readers—again. If you have the time and are willing, please let me know. I’ll need you for three piece of work: a hook (max 100 words), an example chapter (max 1000 words), and a detailed outline.
This my friends could be a life changer and to succeed I’ll need your help.
There is that moment in every writer’s life when they need to submit their work. That day is coming up fast for me. It doesn’t seem to matter that I’ve submitted before or that I know what to do. I strive to make my work sparkle and still it might not win the SWiC16 Writing Contest.
The fact is, there are millions of awesome writers in the world today. With that in mind, I put my feet solidly on the ground and acknowledge the seed of doubt tromping around in the back of my mind.
To ease my doubt
Like with all my serious submissions, I lined up a handful beta readers and Yay! they did an awesome job: Pointed out the good, Got me taking a harder look at the areas I needed to improve, Asked all the right questions, And caught all my silly typos.
What most agreed on was my too-blunt ending. It left readers shocked, unsatisfied, and hanging with no place to go. Not good at all.
Act on feedback
I take all my feedback seriously. As the one to bring all these great minds together, I’d better sit up and pay attention when they tell me the truth about my work.
I wouldn’t have shared if I didn’t trust them. I wouldn’t have shared if I thought all they were going to do was rave. I shared for one simple reason to have some honest souls find the weak spots and point them out.
Back to submitting
I’ve done everything I can do to get ready including rewriting my ending. One last read and I’ll be hitting send on this most precious email.
What do you think
Anything specific you ask yourself before hitting send? This writer would love to hear about it before it’s too late. 😉
A few weeks ago I wrote about the simple outline and I received varied reactions. Some said that their plot lines were too complicated to follow a simple outline, and I’d like to respond.
Focus on these points:
- Include only the main characters plot line
- Focus on relevancy and increasing of tension
- Include enough details to make plot holes apparent
You can always add subplots afterwards if you want an exact blueprint. Since subplots are designed to support the main plot, the moments they intersect will also be included. Other details can be classified as need to know.
What I did when I needed to add a clue/red herring was put it in as a highlight or italic comment. Sure they had to be tracked, but the story really focuses on the characters, their motivation and actions.
I rewrote my outline several times to fix what became obvious problems. Things like plot holes, unnecessary scenes, and lack of tension became a tweak instead of pages of rewrites. I also found the twists and surprises were easier to incorporate.
It made finishing my latest first draft easier. Sure, I still need to do several rewrites, but that’s part of my process. I tend to go back and focus on one specific part each round like revising description, clarifying character motivation, and deepening relationships.
I know we all use the tools we like best and this one is perfect for me. I’ so excited because my capturing the essence of my story makes writing a synopsis and pitching it that much easier.
Anything in your toolbox I should know about?