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. ūüôā

 

Writing, a Never Ending Journey of Exploration and Learning

“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.” — E.L. Doctorow

If someone told me as I first started writing about nine years ago that my writing would be a never ending journey, I’m not sure I would have set out on that particular path. Granted, most people start writing for a reason, which usually includes the buzzing of character voices and ideas that won’t shut up. That was my case, and even with that warning I probably wouldn’t have had a choice in the matter. I find writing to be the only way to get the voices to shut the hell up (yeah, that makes me sound pretty certifiable huh?). But it’s the idea of the never ending that might make most people bulk, though I have learned since then that never ending can be a good thing.

When I started writing, I didn’t even know how to put a decent sentence together. Of course back then, I thought I could do at least that much, but I was young, delusional, and a little stupid. I don’t even dare look back at my writing from the very beginning because I’d cringe way too much. It was embarrassing. Really it was.

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Finding the Time to Write

This year I decided not to do NaNoWriMo despite my success at doing the challenge the last four years. Mostly because my time schedule just wouldn’t allow for it. I resigned myself to “hopefully” completing rewrites/edits for two¬†chapters of my current novel in progress, and I figured that would be a stretch.

Guess what?

I got four chapters done.

Freaking awesome. I know. Sure it may not be much, but I doubled my best case scenario¬†expectations. And it feels good. It feels real good. How did I do it? How was I able to go from my recent writing norm of completing maybe one chapter a month to four? And still not skimp on my other “paying” work¬†that needed to be done. Well, I changed things up a bit.

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Fight Scenes Part 2: Physical Differences

Here is the second¬†installment of my Fight Scene series based off notes from Jonathan Maberry’s fabulous class. If you haven’t already, check out Fight Scenes Part 1: An Introduction.¬†So lets’ get started. This post will be dedicated to how physical differences in all parties involved can make a big difference in how a fight plays out.

Physical differences are a BIG deal…

  • Small against large
  • Speed
  • Longer reach
  • Muscle density matters
  • Length of hair matters
  • Abilities matters, better trained more chance of win
  • Location is big
  • Clothing
  • Tools

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Fight Scenes Part 1: An Introduction

I finally managed to get through my notes from Jonathan Maberrry’s¬†(the author of the popular¬†Rot and Ruin series) workshop at Context 27 and man did I have a lot. So much that it looks like I’ll have to break this down into a five part series (sorry). But I think it will work better that way because it will allow me to break it down into specific sections. I will¬†start with this introduction, then part 2 on physical¬†differences, part 3 on hand to hand combat, part 4 on weapons, and lastly part 5 on psychological warfare. Oh and make sure to look for the¬†Fun Facts at the end of each¬†post in this series!

So¬†let’s get started as we look at some very basics of fight scenes and fighting information in general. The very first thing to remember with ALL¬†fight scenes is…

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Writing for Me

I ventured onto my blog today to answer a comment a reader left and realized it’s been nearly a month since I’ve updated. I seem to have fallen into a pattern of ignoring my blog and pouring all my time into my my novel and the several short stories I’ve been working on. So today I’ve decided to do a update about my writing and why I’ve been ignoring my blog.

Since I began the journey of writing with the goal of writing for myself instead of trying to be a published author (late last year), writing has become much more fun and exciting! The ideas flow much easier and I’m just a happier person all around. It doesn’t mean I won’t pursue publication, but I’m no longer writing to fit a certain niche or what I think people want to read. I write what I want to read, and it makes a big different.

I have so many story ideas now I couldn’t possibly write them all out (at least not with the time restraints I have now). And yet, I still continue to have spontaneous ideas popping up at the strangest times. In fact, I was trying to relax in a bath the other day and a whole story just developed in one whole lump from start to finish in a matter of half an hour. After that I got out, got dressed, and sat down to the keyboard. Two hours later I had a full rough draft of a 3,700 words story finished. Yet another example of something happening because I didn’t force it. I wrote because I wanted to and it felt good. Real good.

The novel I’ve been working on since this past spring (Blood Feud) has gone much the same way. It’s a story that I wish I could read, but no one has written it yet, so I am taking it on myself to do the task. It’s been a fun ride so far. Don’t get me wrong, writing is hard work- very hard, but the joy of writing the novel far exceeds the grueling hours and dedication I put into it. Crazy I know, but it’s something I look forward to doing every single morning that I wake up. I might not be able get a chance to write on my novel everyday like I want, but I think about it and hope that I can find the time.

That is what writing should be. Something to look forward to with eagerness. Not something to dread or push until it hurts. I write for me. Sure no one may care to read what I write, but that’s okay. My work may not be what publishers are looking for. I don’t care, I write for me. And yes I’ve been ignoring my blog, because I have been too busy writing for… well, do I really have to say it again??? As long as I write for me, I will enjoy writing. So how about you guys, do you write for you?

Advice from Slush Readers

What makes a good story? What are people looking to read about? How can I get people to care about my story and characters? And what does it take to get published? These questions have been on my mind recently and I ran across a few great articles I wanted to share and they come in the form of slush reader’s blog posts.

Slush readers, the bottom of the stack in the publishing world. They are often unpaid and work behind the scenes. They put a lot of time and effort into their work and get little recognition or monetary compensation for what they do. So why do it? Because of the incredible learning experience you really can’t get anywhere else. Or so I’ve heard, and it’s one reason why I’ve seriously been considering becoming a slush reader myself.

That’s an entirely different post. Right now I want to share a few blogs I recently visited and the incredible information I found. Some of the information overlaps a bit, but read for yourself and see what you can can glean for your own writing toolbox.

Sarah E. Olsen’s blog post Slush Readers’ Advice for Writers offers general and quite specific advice on what slush readers look for and pet peeves to try and stay away from. This reader works for Apex Magazine and some of her advice is related directly to speculative fiction, but a lot is for all writing in general. She also has some advice for those looking to do slush reading themselves.

Confessions of a Slush Reader: Why I Should Care?  is a post done by Farrett Steinmetz . It’s a humorous, but realistic look at the publishing world. Why should a slush reader care about your story? Give the slush reader a reason to say… yes. The graphics are hilarious in this post, but the advice solid. Why should writers care about what a slush reader has to say? Read this post and find out.