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. 🙂

 

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.

Continue reading

Goals in 2012

It’s January 1st once again and like the years before I want to reassess my goals and where I would like to go on my writing journey. After a Year in Review, I have come up with some things I want to accomplish in 2012 to better the craft of my writing. 
Read
The best way to get better at any craft is to study those who have gone before in the field you wish to know about. So if you want to learn to write what better way than by reading what others have written? Reading something every day is my goal, even if it’s as simple as a blog post. 
Write
How can a person get better at something when you don’t practice? You can’t, so that’s my next goal to write every day. A good friend of mine once told me that it takes approximately 10,000 hours working at something to really be good at it. Looks like I’ve got a ways to go. My plan is to put a decent sized dent in that 10,000 hour mark.
A New Path to Walk
I have discovered a new way to approach my writing and the writing process through the book How to Be a WriterI plan on making the book’s exercises a regular practice not only in my writing but my life as well. Also my views on deadlines and publishing have made a 180 degree turn. I now realize that to save my sanity, I need to not focus on deadlines or publishing, but writing simply for the sake of writing and that is all.
New Niche to Write In
I have been struggling for some time with a niche to write in, so far I have dabbled in speculative fiction (my favorite), science fiction, supernatural and mainstream fiction. Recently I have discovered that I truly enjoy writing about past memories (mostly from my childhood), so for right now this is what my writing will be focused on, creating a bunch of short stories with the eventual goal of putting them all in one book for my son to enjoy, as well as my family.
More Blogging, but Not Scheduled
In this past year, I have struggled with my writing, but the one area that had the least of that struggle was writing on my blogs, which is interesting. Every time I wrote on my blogs (personal or writing) I didn’t consider it real writing at all and was upset that the blog writing took away from my other writing, and yet when I did get to the “real” writing I never got very far because writer’s block would settle in and not let go. This year I’m going to make blogging more of a priority. At the same time, I will not be pushing myself to create blogs. I had a schedule (on this blog) of posting Tuesday and/or Saturdays, which didn’t always happen every week, so I’m tossing out the schedule and posting when I feel like it and see how that goes. This blog (and personal blog) might end up with four posts a week or one post a month, we’ll just have to see how it goes.

Learning the Craft of Writing

In 2011, my main focus was learning the craft of writing, but for 2012 I think my focus will change to learning the love of writing. I will, however, still focus on the craft when I have a chance and have recently purchased a few writing books to read. I look forward to diving into Michael Knost’s Writer’s Workshop of Horror and Josip Novakovich’s Fiction Writer’s Workshop, and doing the fun looking exercises in Bonnie Neubauer’s The Write-Brain Workbook.
Be More Flexible
I have the personality- or perhaps more correctly- the learned traits of being a bit of an anal person. Yes, I said it, I’m anal. This may have some use in the world- though I’m not sure what that is- but mostly it just gets me worked up about stuff and sends me into supercharged panic attacks, which even spills over to my writing. This year I’m attempting to take a “chill pill” and not get so worked up about things. I’m not sure how well I will accomplish this, but a person has to start somewhere, right?
I think that sums up my goals for now, but I realize that things change. It’s a part of life (see that chill pill seems to be working already). All I can do is my best and make changes when necessary. It will be interesting to see what happens, and what 2012’s Year in Review will look like. Until then, a happy journey to all and I wish you the best in your own writing endeavors.