Plotting Your Novel by Writing from the Middle

As a writer, I am always learning. I think that’s what I love most about writing — the learning never stops. I am either learning something new about myself and writing as I write, or I stumble across new information as I am looking to learn more about writing. This time it was the latter. Recently on Twitter, I ran across a book recommendation for plotting that I loved so much I had to share it here.

Write Your Novel From The Middle: A New Approach for Plotters, Pantsers and Everyone in Between by James Scott Bell is must read for anyone serious about writing. This book goes into detail about why writers should start from the middle of a story instead of the beginning or end (who would of thought!). And how finding a character’s “mirror moment” is essential to true character development.

I definitely believe character development is a key element in a story. The more a reader can relate with a character and feel for a character’s journey, the better the book becomes. And this method certainly will help with that!

This book also helped me realize that I’m a Tweener (I always thought myself a straight up Pantser). I do love writing by the seat of my pants. That’s how I get some of my best ideas, but I also know where I’m writing too as well. I have a loose idea of events I need to reach and about where I need those events to happen. Also, I find already knowing my ending is a necessity to writing, even if I don’t know specifics. Just having a good idea of where I need to stop gives me a clear goal to reach for. But after reading Bell’s book I have an even better way to approach my writing. Start in the middle and Pants my way to the beginning and end. I’ll still have those events and goal posts to reach, but I think it will be far easier to get there knowing exactly what the character’s journey should entail.

And you know this book couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I’ve become somewhat stalled on writing the first draft of my second novel. I think this technique will get things churning quite nicely. Thanks Bell. 🙂

 

Taking the Plunge to Self-Publish

It has been a long road since I started writing my novel Blood Feud. The journey began in April of 2012. I remember it well — a month of straight writing where the ideas just flowed like water. They pooled onto the page with little effort as months of thinking about my story and characters finally found a permanent place on the page. My story flourished but my poor family suffered from neglect. So at the end of the month and about 50,000 words later, I took a break. A few weeks later I came back to my marvelous work of art to realize everything I had written was total crap. And that pretty much sums up the next four years. Awesome spurts of writing where words flowed and family suffered just to end up with… yep you guessed it, more crap.

That my friends is the way of the writer as I am sure some of you are quite familiar with.

But something happened in my fifth year of writing. During my sixtieth (and really that’s not much of an exaggeration) rewrite of Blood Feud, the crap fell away and a good story finally started to form. At least to the point where I felt confident enough to send my work to a professional author, editor, and friend (Michael Knost) so he could tell me it was crap too. And to my surprise, he said it was a pretty awesome story.

Crap, what do I do now?

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When Your Own Bad Writing Makes You Sick

Ever look back and read work you’ve done in the past to realize it sucks so bad you almost feel physically ill?

Yep, that happened to me in a big way Sunday. The previous week my son started school on Wednesday, so I started working on my new novel with gusto (I’d been waiting all summer to start!), but realized I had some background information and research that needed to be done first. Then I got the bright idea to read the half completed first draft of my second novel (Dark Territories) over the weekend. God, what a horrible, awful, terrible disappointment that turned out to be.

I couldn’t even get all the way through two chapters before I decided I’d had enough, because I was real close to vomiting. Yeah, it was that bad. And I can’t even pinpoint one specific thing that was terrible. There was a well balanced amount of terribleness from stiff and completely out of character dialogue to plot leaps that would make a mountain goat proud. There were tie-ins from one story arc to another that left me wondering exactly how much I had to drink that day. And please don’t even get me started on my long windedness. I could probably make a schooner set sail with all that blustering air moving about in each scene.

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Writing Groups: Not for All Writers All of the Time

One of the first pieces advice I received as a young writer (about eight or nine years ago now) from multiple sources (mostly from writing books and sage advice from published authors) was that to be successful at writing one must join a writing group. I was told writing groups would make me a better writer by giving me a place to talk and learn about writing as well as put me around other like-minded individuals for the support I needed to keep writing.

I took that advice to heart and joined a writers group two years after I began my cool hobby of writing, because I wanted to take my cool hobby to the next level.

It was the best decision of my life.

Until that defining moment of joining my first writing group, writing was a fancy. Something I did in my spare time. I had big ideas of being published, but it was a pie in the sky kind of thing. Joining a writing group made me realize that writing isn’t as romantic as I first thought. It’s lot of hard work (and a building of strict discipline and great effort), but work that had a hell of a pay off in the end (and I’m not talking about being published).

Through the help of my new writing friends, I learned that writing was not just something to do or some passing fancy for me, it was a way of life… my new way of life. And for two years, I went to every single writing meeting religiously (every other Saturday afternoon). And no sickness or excuse would keep me from going (okay, so if I was running a fever I wouldn’t go, but you get the idea).

Then I started getting restless. Something was wrong, very wrong and I didn’t know what it was. The meetings weren’t as fulfilling anymore and more times than not I would come home from a meeting totally frustrated, wondering why I’d wasted hours talking about writing and other things that had nothing to do with writing (because my writing group did love to get off topic a lot).

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Hello There, Stranger!

Wow! I just checked the date on my last post. March 30th. I knew it had been awhile, but I didn’t know it’d been that long. So sorry to you and myself. I really had not intended to stay away from my blog that long. What can I say? Life got in the way.

Two major things really.

One, in the last few months, I have been going through some incredible changes in my personal life (and in extension in my overall health as well). Some of it’s been easy (no not really), some of it’s been hard like really freaking awful hard, but all of it has been very much needed and long over due. In doing all that soul searching and reflection, it’s left little time to do well… a lot (and not just blogging either).

In all my reflection, it’s also put things in perspective for me and made me see what was really important. And while I do like to work on my blog, in the grand scheme of things, blogging is down near the bottom of stuff I really should be doing (so sorry, the truth hurts I know).

That being said, I do want to start working on my blog more regularly. And since I will be taking a break from major writing over the summer, I just might have the time to get back into the swing of things.

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A Writer’s Worst Enemy

I’ll give you two guesses to see if you know the answer to this question… what is a writer’s worst enemy?

Hmmm…

Well, I suppose it could be all sorts of things like not having enough time to write, a writing muse who decides to take an extended vacation, or here’s a goodie… the computer is broken and every pencil, pen, and blank piece of paper has mysteriously disappeared. Lol… okay so maybe that last one was a bit of a stretch (or maybe not — but I’m pleading the fifth on that one).

But no, it’s none of those things.

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I Suck at Writing…

Ever say this to yourself? Damn if I do. In fact, I had a rather nasty episode with this kind of thinking not too long ago that left me quite depressed and I was a hair-breath away from just trashing my entire novel. And I mean deleting it off my hard drive and making the four drafts and two years of hard work just disappear. Gone… just like that. Yeah, it was not a good day.

Thankfully, I resisted the urge and closed my computer and walked away instead. I would have really hated myself later if I’d actually gone through with it. And it’s a sad thing to admit… that wasn’t the first day I felt like that.

It comes and goes. There are times where I’m writing and I feel like I’m Steven King or J.K. Rowling and my stuff is super awesome! And then there are days where I feel like a fifth grader can do better than the crap I put out. Writing is nothing, if not an emotional roller coaster. Somedays I even wonder why I do it, but most days I’m smart enough to realize that without my writing — whether it be good, bad, or somewhere in between — I wouldn’t have nearly as a fulfilling life.

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