I shall begin by stating the obvious. The first chapter is the most important chapter in a book. Think of it like a first date. Ugh, I know. Or, yea, how exciting! First dates can really suck or they can be really great much like first chapters.
Anticipation is high with both. You wear your most flattering clothing (showcase your most polished prose). You take your time with your hair and makeup (lots of pretty words, amazing metaphors, action verbs, etc.). You exhibit good manners and watch your language (nothing crude and rude) and you smile, laugh a lot at his jokes, drop witty comments (introduction of engaging characters and an immediate obstacle) and if you like him, flirt to make sure he KNOWS you’re interested ( you are always interested in the reader wanting to read more). If the first date is a success, then your obvious objective–date number two (chapter two)–should occur shortly thereafter.
In a nutshell, if you are writing chapter one, DON’T be boring, DON’T make it all about back-story, DO introduce an engaging, mysterious, funny, exciting, desperate character who is faced with conflict immediately. Boring people rarely get second dates. Boring first chapters often suffer a similar fate.
March 5, 2013 No Comments
THE TO-DO LIST.
So clever, isn’t it? Here’s the skinny. I craft extensive to-do lists 365 days a year (yep, even when I’m sick or on vacation) and with grim, single-minded focus complete every task on the list including such mundane things as removing a sticky mark off the coffee table (I recommend Goo Be Gone), super gluing (Try Loctite Super Glue Control Gel) a loose piece of stucco on the side of the house, and whitening my teeth (the generic kits work just as well). Plus a hundred of other boring non-fulfilling, who give a rat’s tail, unimportant, unfulfilling tasks.
I do all these stupid things before I allow myself to do what I love (write, in case, you weren’t following along too closely) and of course, by THAT TIME, I’m exhausted and have no energy, no willpower, no vavoom, no nothin’…left in the tank.
Yes, I am my own whipping post. It’s a recipe for failure, sadness, and futility. But, there’s hope because acknowledging you have a problem is the first step! The second step is what will I do to STOP THE MADNESS?
Because it IS madness to deny oneself something oneself loves to do so very, very, much.
State Tune for Part III-Stopping The Maddness of Writer’s Procrastination
December 4, 2012 No Comments
Create Your Next Book Scene in Front of the Mirror
Remember when you were a teenager and EVERYTHING was a drama? Even if something wasn’t, you’d find a way to make it so. Why? Because a dramatic life is much more exciting, more stimulating, than a chill life.
Chill is well, dull. Chill does not make a good story.
Drama makes a good story. Drama evokes emotion and emotion connects us to the characters–their triumphs and their heartaches.
Think back to when you’d rehearse a scene you planned on creating, say with your boyfriend, in front of the mirror. You’d practice your lines. Anticipate answers and reactions. Use different voices. Study your face for expression. Practice the “right” tone in your voice. You’d run through the scene a couple times trying different approaches, looking for those perfect lines to obtain your specific goal whether it be a civilized break-up or an invite to the prom.
Verbally fleshing out a book scene in front of a mirror forces you to hear your characters as they react to obstacles and as they interact with one another. This exercise can reveal inconsistencies in dialogue and plot. It can answer questions like does he or she sound realistic? Are their answers boring? Is the scene complete?
Most importantly, it can answer one of the VIP questions. Does this scene move your story forward?
If you are not asking and answering this question after every scene you write, you should be.
And if you ask the question and the answer is no…
Well I say… yawn.
January 18, 2012 No Comments
I thought about creating a writer’s new year resolution list. I know…you just snickered.
I thought about saying things like, “Stop whining, stop procrastinating, sit down in front of your computer and WRITE!!” Yeah, you want to slap me.
But how many times have we heard this kind of DUH advice? Picture me rolling my eyes like a teenager.
I don’t want to be that person, instead, I’m going be the person who gives you unusual, UNWRITING like advice on how to revitalize your writing in 2012. Picture me winking while giving the thumbs up.
Bathroom Time: Don’t Just Sit There, Write!
This tip is for writers who are short on time. Imagine your characters talking and walking and interacting while you are sitting on the pot. That’s right, create the next scene in your book AND take care of business. What else do you have to do but stare at the hard water deposits on your shower door?
I got this brilliant idea from my youngest child who never goes in empty-handed. Her accomplishments include: memorizing song lyrics, changing doll outfits, and the reading of hundreds of books. Heck, she bought a lap version of the BOP IT game with her own money so she could practice in the bathroom. She did this even though she already owned a regular sized one! This child hates to waste time.
I believe bathroom time is the most under-utilized opportunity for adding precious writing time to your crazed life. Say you’re not the lingering type, you keep things to a minimum–20 minutes tops.
Think of how 20 minutes every single day (hopefully) will add up! That’s as much as 140 minutes a week! With bathroom time, you can create the scene in your head or you can bring in paper and pen or even a tablet to capture your scene.
Bathroom Time could be the answer to the ”where will I find the time to write” prayer.
January 12, 2012 No Comments
Let’s say you’ve composed something funny.
Your concept, your witty dialogue is cracking you up so much you can barely type the sentences.
You finish stroking the keys, wipe the tears of hilarity from your cheeks and sigh, “Oh man that’s good…”
“How can I tell?”
Unless you do these three things.
1. Let your incredibly amusing work sit a day or two.
2. Read your words out loud. Did you still laugh?
3. Send the words to a couple people (not your mother, spouse, uninterested teenager, or BFF). Better yet, read the section out loud to those chosen few who don’t care about hurting your feelings. I recommend East coasters.
Did anyone crack a smile? Chuckle? Snort?
If yes, good for you.
If no, maybe they didn’t get your humor.
Now at least you know.
September 28, 2010 No Comments
Five Ways to Make ‘Em Laugh
Want a write a funny story? Liven up a boring holiday party? Auditioning for Last Comic Standing? These humor tips have multiple applications.
Outright mocking of stereotypical habits. Men, women, sex …the opportunities are endless. Make it funny but not malicious.
The over-the-top situation commonly referred to as a farce. Create the ridiculous then crank things up even further. Restraint has no place here.
Tongue-in-cheek. Subtle humor requires finesse and perfect timing. Ask this VIP question. Will your audience get it?
Crude and rude can equal funny. But don’t go for broke. Gross and nasty are generally turn-offs.
Unlikely pairings. An eighty year-old grandma wearing a thong, a push-up bra, and stilettos. Kinda scary and funny.
Remember a bold delivery is crucial and for goodness sake, have fun! I love cracking myself up!
September 22, 2010 No Comments
Spice up your fiction with a quirky character or two. They’re unpredictable, memorable, and a whole lot of fun to write.
Let’s examine my quirky character, Miss Sallie Baker. I’ve listed some of her major traits and inserted helpful commentary in italics.
- Miss Sallie fancies a wardrobe of flouncy square-dancing skirts and turtlenecks. Hmm, that’s an odd combo.
- Miss Sallie is a petite woman with delicate features and limbs. Unfortunately, she possesses an exceedingly prominent Adam’s apple. Yikes! Could that be why she favors turtlenecks?
- Miss Sallie has a husky voice; she sounds like a sex talk operator. Oops, gave away her occupation!
- Miss Sallie is dyslectic; she dropped out of high school because of it. Gosh, could that be why she’s a sex talk operator?
- Miss Sallie attends church every morning. Really? Does her occupation make her feel guilty?
- Miss Sallie has never had relations with a man. Holy Toledo! But she’s a sex talk operator!
Yep, that’s right. A sex talk operator who’s never done it. Miss Sallie is full of strange contradictions and inconsistencies, many of which relate to one another. Therefore, her story lines should be interesting because she’s not going to act in a predicable manner. Plus, she’s got that turtleneck/square dancing skirt look going on. Plenty of visual opportunity there.
Try your hand at a quirky character today.
I guarantee you’ll love it!
September 8, 2010 2 Comments