Posted in Writing Blog

Plot Kills.

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In James Scott Bell’s ‘Plot & Structure‘, chapter one asks,

“What is plot, anyway?”

1. A small piece of ground, generally used for burying dead people, including writers.

Get it? Because, plot kills…right? *crickets* Ba-dum-tssss!

Pun aside, if you’re a writer, I would–as well as many other authors–recommend this book.

Plot and Structure

Remember when I told all of you about writing my second book? How in the last few weeks I’ve been struggling, holding back due to feelings of adultery against my first book? Yesterday, I went over all my notes and was trying to figure out all the details. I felt stuck but not in a way I was familiar with. After reviewing my notes, I noticed something. I had ALL this back story, worldbuilding, character profiles. It looked like I had A LOT of information to build my story. Page and pages. Compared to my first book, this new story has more back story on my world and characters. So why was I stuck? Why couldn’t I beat sheet these scenes?

Then an epiphany.

Crap! I have no story. I have no PLOT! Without it, my story was dead.

I had heard authors vent about not having Plot and it being the killer of their current story. I got it in theory but didn’t fully understand what they meant. Why? Well, in my first book, I had the Plot. What I needed was to fill in the rest around it.

Last year, I went to a Lauren Oliver (author of the Delirium series, Panic and recently released, Rooms) Writer’s Workshop. It was fantastic! She was a great teacher. I still have her notes with me every time I’m writing. I glanced over and a line caught my attention.

PUT CONFLICT IN CONCEPT (PLOT)

Dystopians put concept in main conflict. Realistic fiction can have conflict in landscape of concept. i.e. “To Kill a Mockingbird”

Light. Bulb.

My first story is dystopian. Makes sense that within dystopian tales, the first thing that comes to mind is the conflict in society where a governing system manipulates a people group into a forced way of false paradise living. The hard part then is to fill in the rest. Build your characters, their world, the concept around the main conflict – plot.

This time around, I had the concept of characters and the world but no conflict. I had NO idea who their enemy was. What was their central struggle? What was the POINT of the story?

I had been mulling over this idea for weeks and though yes, new ideas about my characters and their world came here and there, inspiring, I still had no story. I had stuff, but no story. Once I finally came to this realization, I was able to move forward. I put everything down and asked myself the questions.

One, I asked myself again, what does my MC want? Interesting enough, that ‘want’ changed or evolved since I first jotted one down. Thank you back story. See? It wasn’t for nothing. Then I dissected that more. Once that was done, I started brainstorming about the overall themes and the personal themes in this new story. Eureka hit and I had PLOT! *shoots confetti canons* I had a story!

Taking all I had, I constructed a beat sheet. The “beat sheet” is a way to sequence your story, using bullets instead of whole sentences or paragraphs. When those bullet points become sentences and paragraphs, you’ve got an “outline” on your hands. Once I had my general Plot, I began to bullet point scenes from beginning to end . This helps you see holes in your story. It’s been a wonderful and different approach to building my story before the drafting process this time around.

Here’s a great article on “The Beat Sheet”

http://storyfix.com/beat-sheet-basics-101-plus

So if during your writing process, you find yourself stuck, take a moment to pause. The culprit might just be that dreaded and equally brilliant, PLOT. Go back to the beginning.

“What does my protagonist want?” “Why does he/she want that?” Then analyze your world. Compare the themes of your world with the personal themes of your characters. “What is your character’s main goal? Then what would be their main conflict?”

The creative juices will begin to flow and next thing you know, “Boom Baby!” You’re one step closer to drafting your book.

Till next time, folks! Happy writing and reading!

 

Posted in Writing Blog

Am I Cheating On My First Book While Writing A Second?

Hello friends, new and old alike.

The weeks leading up to this weekend have been exciting and busy. My wonderful and brilliant Momma surprised me with a 6-day vacation to Missouri to visit my best friend! We hadn’t seen each other in over a year and a half and I myself have not traveled since returning from Kansas City almost 4 years ago.

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Currently, I am sitting across my best friend at Starbucks and having a writing session. We’re both updating our blogs, and I’m here today, taking a moment to discuss the other thing that’s been taking up my time these past couple of weeks.

After finishing the draft to the dystopian book I’ve been working on, I had it sent off to the freelance editor I’ve told you all about. She still has my manuscript and is tearing it apart I’m sure with tons of red marks and notes. *gulp* When asking for any feedback on my story’s potential, she emailed me back expressing her honest opinion of the industry’s hesitation on dystopian stories at the moment. Between the ‘Hunger Games’, ‘Divergents’, and ‘Maze Runners’ of the world, the publishing market is taking a break from enthusiastically accepting more from the genre. She suggested that during the Revision process with my Dystopian Manuscript, I may want to work on another manuscript of a different genre so that when the query process begins, I have another options to present.

At first, the thought of starting from scratch, beginning the research process, plotting, outlining, etc, all over again sounded daunting. I just spent the last year going through an emotional rollercoaster. My characters and I have been through one hell of a journey and now, I’m considering doing that all over again? I haven’t even properly recovered from the last experience. I’m still reeling from it all. I can’t even fathom the new emotional wave that will tsunami over me when I get her edits from my current story.

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I know it will be difficult reading through her suggestions and criticism. It’s all for the benefit of my story but it’s hard to separate your ‘hurt’ feelings from the bigger picture. Let’s face it, there will be ‘hurt’ feelings. I may pout, cry, and have a ridiculous moment of wanting to give up this crazy venture called, ‘writing a book’. It’s never easy hearing/reading suggestions/criticisms though 9 out of 10 times, they will benefit the overall outcome of your story, making you a better writer. Discouragement attacks and the negative voices start whispering in your ear again.

This will be my first Revision process with a book. Just like writing this draft unto completion was a year long learning experience, I know I will be going through a new level of learning experiences during Revision. I read her email about working on a new project after midnight. I was in bed about to close my eyes when I reached over ‘one last time’ to check my phone for any last call messages of the night. After reading her email, I was wide awake, staring at my ceiling thinking,

“What the hell am I going to write now?”

The idea seemed unfathomable. I couldn’t even think of a new concept I’d want to work on. I searched through the ‘NOTES’ app I have on my phone. There, I jot down any random ideas that come to me throughout the day, then I shelf them for later. I scrolled through all the random ideas I had written in the last year. It’s interesting how I don’t remember most of them. I read a few that night thinking, “I wrote that? Well, what happens next!?” I’d only write ideas/concepts and leave the rest hanging. I’m sure at the moment of the IDEA, I had more figured out.

Long story short, I had an idea. It actually involved combining three random story concepts. The next few days, I spent going back and forth on the ‘What If’ thoughts, slowly building the concept, and seeing all the possibilities. Then, I took a break for a few days. I needed to let my brain breathe. I came back to it the following week and the skeleton started filling out more. Then, it happened. I felt like I was cheating.

I admire authors who work on multiple books at the same time. Most probably don’t have a choice because they’re on a deadline and are required to provide a new best-seller in less than a year’s time. I mean, guys, I have spent the last year falling in love with my characters. I have spent the last year getting invested in their world and problems. I laughed when they laughed. I cried when they cried. I gasped when their antagonist showed up when even I wasn’t expecting it, to ruin my MC’s plans. How dare they? *I wave my fist at them*

Though I’ve finished writing this first draft, I am in no means finished with their story. I have another book to write concluding their journey. Now, I am awkward dating, barely being introduced to these new set of characters. I’m walking in the dark, my hands spread out before me, feeling my way around. Every so often, a small twinkle of light will illuminate a path, unveiling a little bit more of the story.

It feels weird, y’all. I miss my first MC’s who I am not finished with. I feel like I’m sneaking behind their backs, getting to know a new set of people. Granted, once I get my editor’s notes back from the first manuscript, there will be A LOT of work to be done. It’s not like I won’t still be working on my peoples.

The first manuscript writing process taught me A LOT. When I began writing that book, I had NO idea what I was doing. I had an concept but no idea that there were rules. You’re not just jumping in and putting words on a paper that somehow display a story. The publishing world expects certain things anywhere from how you format it on a document to the breakdown of your story from beginning to end.

Going into this new concept and draft, I feel more confident in preparing and putting together the concept. Where I am having trouble is with filling out the IDEA skeleton and I think I know why. I’m holding back, not giving it my all because one, I’m intimidated by the process of starting over again and two…because I feel like I’m cheating on my first MC’s and their story.

I’m not ‘supposed’ to fall in love with new people and their world or story. That’s what my nonsensical mind keeps saying but that’s ridiculous, I know. This story deserves a chance. These characters deserve to be heard. They have a story to tell.

I should take advantage of this time since I can’t move forward with my first story until I get those editing notes back. This is a prime time to delve into a new concept. I need to open my heart to fall for these new characters. I need to breathe life into them.

Today, I will be doing just that. I will keep my first story on the shelf and open this new one. In the end, what makes for a better writer? Writing and writing and writing some more. I believe, by working on this new concept, which is stretching my comfort zones, I am improving my skills and expanding on my creativity. By doing so, this can only help my other stories to come. Even the first concept. When it comes back from edits, stepping away from it for a time and then coming back to it, will only benefit it.

So that’s where I’m at.

Currently, I’m on vacation and it has been a blast. Sad that the days are dwindling but it’s been great catching up with my best friend and this town I once lived in for three years.

KC bridge

But even on vacation, writing is a part of my life. Reading and Writing do not cease because I’m on vacation. They are a part of who I am.

Side Note:

I apologize for the lack of consistency on the blog. I hope to get back to posting more when I return home from this vaca. I have some Book Talks lined up and I’m sure much will come about during this new writing process. I will share all the the ‘specialness’ with you all soon. Happy reading, and writing!

Posted in Uncategorized

The Liebster Award Tag and Q and A

Today, (Pfft…by the time I FINALLY finished this post, ‘today’ turned into, ‘last week’) I was informed that I was tagged. My newbie to the blog-o-world bestie, Heather from Little Darling Diaries was tagged in The Liebster Award which welcomes and encourages “new bloggers” (with under 200 followers) to the blogging world.

The Liebster Award rules are: 

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1) Link and thank the person who nominated you.
2) Answer the 11 questions your nominator gives you
3) Tag 11 bloggers who have 200 or less followers
4) Ask the 11 bloggers 11 questions, and let them know you nominated them!

Since I know how much you all LOVE to get tagged, I’m not gonna pass this on. But, I will answer her uniquely awesome eleven questions.  So, here are her questions and my answers!

1. If your house was on fire, what is the one item you would take with you?

Funny, I have thought about this many times and my answer changes every time. This is hard when you think of EVERYTHING in your house, frivolous and necessary alike. What in the world would be the one thing I have to take with me? Do I go the practical route? Do I take the ridiculous to others but cherished by me item?  Now, the question says ‘item’, so we can safely assume that I would obviously grab my loved ones first.

Sadly, I am not the Hulk. If I were, I’d lift with my bare hands my entire bookshelf and run out with all my babies, I mean, books. I might still frantically open my window before grabbing my ‘one’ item and toss out all my babies–BOOKS, to keep them safe from the big, bad fire.

Can you tell, I’m not clear on my one item yet? I’m rambling. Typical Des. I guess, I’d grab my laptop bag (with laptop and charger inside). Why? Because my manuscript is in there–my other baby. My book research, images, plotting, outline notes are all in there and to me, that is extremely valuable.

2. If you could travel through time, past or future, what time would you take a pit stop in?

Since it is only a pit stop and not a permanent habitation, I’d visit the Regency era in all it’s actual glory. I am a passionate Janeite. I love all things Jane Austen and period drama eras. A dream I’ve always had since I was a little girl was to have the opportunity to visit a city that would live out these eras in the clothing, manners, activities, speech, etc. Once I learned of the yearly Jane Austen festival in England that does just that, it has been a determined bucket list item of mine. To live for a day or a small period of time where men like Captain Wentworth (Jane Austen’s Persuasion) grace the streets in their gallant, gentlemen-like manner, and women are ladies and I could parade around in those gorgeous dresses…I mean, yes. Beam me up, Scotty!

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3. Who is the one fictional character you would want to go on a date with?

Oof…this is almost an easy question. I have a top three in regards to book boyfriends. Heather’s question differed and asked if she could marry one fictional character who would it be, and I have to agree with her answer. Listen, I love Darcy. He’s absolutely wonderful but, I am first and foremost, a Captain Wentworth girl, through and through.

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He, of all Jane Austen’s leading men, has my heart. But, I’m not marrying someone in this question. I am simply being asked who I would go on a date with. My other book boyfriends are:

Number One:

Perry (Peregrine) from ‘Under the Never Sky’ by Veronica Rossi. I heart Perry so hard! He…he is just perfection for me. I struggle between him and my number two spot for book boyfriend. For a long time, number two was my number one. What I love about Perry is that he has all the qualities of number two that I love but is more attentive to someone’s emotions. He’s more loving and affectionate, not needing to be tough all the time.

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Number Two:

Tobias ‘Four ‘ Eaton of ‘Divergent’ by Veronica Roth. He and Tris worked so well together because of both of their hard, closed off natures. He didn’t comfort her or coddle her during her weepy moments and she was okay with that. She liked that. I couldn’t handle that, personally. I can be strong but when I’m having a moment, I need you to let me have it and hold me through it. Now, then again, when they were alone, he did show her those moments, so really, I’m torn.

I can not choose between Perry and Four…once again. So, my answer is….whoever says ‘Yes’ first. There. Done.

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Oh, and if you’re curious…

Number Three:

This Book Boyfriend spot is the Wild Card. Depending on what new series or book I’ve read, the newest swoon of my life usually gets placed in this spot. At the moment, this spot belongs to, Daemon Black of the LUX series by Jennifer L. Armentrout. He’s hot. He’s hilarious. He’s insufferable and you just want to kiss his face off!

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4. What is one issue of injustice you struggle with?

*ponders* Nope. Skipping this one…NEXT!

5. If you died tomorrow, what would your top 3 regrets be?

Wow. This is a raw question. This feels very personal but let’s see. Tomorrow’s my last breath. My top three regrets, I guess would be,

1. Not having experienced being madly in love and loved in that same manner in return.

For me, this is my number one desire to experience in this life. I remember during the promotional time of John Green’s best-selling adaptation, ‘The Fault in Our Stars’, a question went out through the social sites that made me think. “What would you choose? Only getting to live a year with love or live a lifetime without it.” For me, after a slight pause, there was no doubt in my mind. I’d rather live only one more year on this earth but get to have Love than living a full ’80’years on earth without it.

2. Not fulfilling any of my dreams, i.e. becoming a published author. Life threw me in a direction that looking back, if I could choose differently, I would’ve. I would have done my 20’s all over again, completely different. So, even more so, I’m living for myself. I’m pursuing a passion and hoping it’s not too late.

3. Not having the opportunity to witness my loved ones (especially my Mom and big Bro) finally happy and not struggling in life. I won’t get into the details of that but I hope one day to find good fortune in life and career somehow to which I could help my family. I also want them both to find love. I would be sad not to be assured that they got that and will be more than okay in life.

If I really had time to think about it, perhaps my answers would be different but this is what comes to mind right now.

6. If there were no such thing as consequences, what is one thing you would want to do? (Keep it fairly PG-13)

Man. No consequences? I can’t even think of anything I’d be willing to do because my mind thinks automatically about the consequences. ha. Even robbing a bank, I’m thinking, “Sure, I won’t ever have to worry about the consequences, personally but other people will be affected by the money I took from them…”

(three days later, returns to finish this post…something came to mind-ha!)

oO! Oo! I got it! I got it!

I would kidnap a celebrity (Max Irons, or Theo James, or Chris Hemsworth–but he’s married so that feels wrong, or Jeremy Irvine) and make them (For the record, I’d only pick ONE guys-sheesh!) make them my love slave on a vacation spot away for a month! Done. Next question! haha.

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7. What is one thing you would want to change about the world? (It could be an event that happened in the past that set off a chain reaction of events)

There’s too many things, past, present and future. I think of events from the past that clearly, most people would be happy to wipe from our history but when you think of that good ol’ phrase, “Everything happens for a reason,” one must take into account how it has molded our present. How injustices from our past that were overcome, gave a certain frame of mind to many in society today who hold strongly to certain ideals and values because of these past events. Unfortunately, I believe human nature with or without these events would still make other selfish mistakes that would effect us now and our future generations. History also teaches us to learn from our mistakes. I have a couple cases in mind I would change but I don’t want to ensue a debate on the blog. Gosh, just thinking of examples…

I want there to be no foreign tensions.

I want there to be no hunger for anyone, especially children.

I want cures for diseases.

I want human trafficking not to exist. I want every participant who has taken, manipulated, abused and forced little girls and boys to become sexual objects, to get their privates slowly burned off and for them to rot in the least accommodating jail for all their days.

I want many things to change about our world. I couldn’t possibly pick one…Hmm…I want…world peace?

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8. What is your favorite form of entertainment? i.e. music, movies, etc…

First, BOOKS!

Second, Movies!

Third, Music!

9. What animal best expresses your personality?

A baby sloth?

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I mean…yeah. Makes sense. Moving on.

10. If you could be anything in this life, what would that be?

Oh man…really? That’s a HARD question…*scoffs* how many times have I said that in this post? Too many, I’m sure.

In a ‘perfect’ world, I would be a Broadway Music Theatre artist AND an author on the side. I’ve always wanted to pursue Musical Theatre. In it, I get to explore and enjoy three loves of my life–Acting, Singing and Dancing. And of course, I’ve always written. I’ve written plays, screenplays, and music for years. That would always be a part of me–storytelling.

11. If you had one more sentence to utter before leaving this world, what would it be?

“I left an inheritance of millions in the…” And I die. No, I kid. I promised the bestie I wouldn’t use that one. I had seen a meme that said something like that and I thought it was cruel and hilarious.

Man, Heather. What’s with all the thought-provoking questions, dang it?

One sentence. I’m not that deep. LOL. Okay. I’m gonna go for the cheese factor. If the love of my life were by my bedside or on the corner of some damaged, paved road during the apocalypse (assuming, I got shot or a zombie bit me)…I’d look them in the eye when I felt myself going, raise a hand to their cheek and say,

“I’ll always love you.”

Done.

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Holy Crapola! This post took me over a week to freaking write! Who knew, eleven silly (in Heather’s case, not so silly) questions would be so hard to answer. I think the case also lies with the fact that I’d be sharing these ‘thought-provoking’ answers with all of you. Extra pressure, ya know?

Well, there you have it! The Liebster Award Q & A. Hope you enjoy the ridiculousness that is me!

Till next time.