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Noveling in March

post #1 of 129
Thread Starter 
I just saw the noveling in February thread and wanted to join in, but since it's now March, I figured I'd go ahead and start the March thread. Hope I'm not jumping on anybody's toes.

I have been writing on again off again for a number of years. My biggest problem is I always avoided editing.

Well, I have a great novel (my humble opinion) that I have edited several times over the years. I even found a way to edit it after my son was born. Now my daughter is 6 months and I think I can get time to myself on Saturday afternoons.

The problem I have now is I am blind to what the writing needs. I think the storyline is great. It's just that I want the writing to sing. I used to have a mentor who could have helped me with that, but he's disappeared out of our city.

If anyone has any ideas on how to take my writing from competent to engrossing, I'd love to hear what you have to say.
post #2 of 129
Hi! Thanks for starting the new thread. Sadly, I never remember the bit about moving to a new thread when the new month hits... I was feeling so please with myself yesterday because I actually remembered to flip my calender over to March.

It sounds to me like you could benefit from having your novel read by someone who's got an eye for grammar and wording. Easier said than done if you don't know someone who could do the job, of course. Some of my writer-friends are word nerds and some are not (I am definitely in the NOT category, myself... I am a very intuitive writer).

As for general stuff... how long have you been working on just that one novel? Maybe it's time to set it aside and work on something new. Or to send it out to agents, while working on something new. I find that I learn an awful lot just practicing the art of writing. It's amazing how much my writing has grown over a several-year period.
post #3 of 129
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aufilia View Post
Hi! Thanks for starting the new thread. Sadly, I never remember the bit about moving to a new thread when the new month hits... I was feeling so please with myself yesterday because I actually remembered to flip my calender over to March.

It sounds to me like you could benefit from having your novel read by someone who's got an eye for grammar and wording. Easier said than done if you don't know someone who could do the job, of course. Some of my writer-friends are word nerds and some are not (I am definitely in the NOT category, myself... I am a very intuitive writer).

As for general stuff... how long have you been working on just that one novel? Maybe it's time to set it aside and work on something new. Or to send it out to agents, while working on something new. I find that I learn an awful lot just practicing the art of writing. It's amazing how much my writing has grown over a several-year period.
Grammar's fine in the book. It's all the pretty stuff that makes writing draw you in versus, say, reading the manual for a new TV.

This is the book for me right now. You're right, I need someone to look at it, but don't know who.
post #4 of 129
I'm re-writing right now. I've been doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, nanowrimo.org) for the last two years. It's been great.

My first novel was pretty bad, but I love the story and hope to re-do it this fall.

But right now I'm working on the novel I wrote for last Novembers NaNo contest. I'm totally re-working, and I believe in my story.

I'm a total amature, I haven't a clue if I can even do this well enough to EVER get published, but I enjoy it more that anything, right now.

mybabysmama, I think I see what you are talking about, you need another mentor to help you hone in the writing? I know what you mean about wanting the writing to "sing".

I feel the same way. My writing is pretty dry unless I really really concentrate on making it concise and full of meaning. My DH writes too, and he's always saying "show, don't tell....stop all this boring explanation". (he's not mean about it, we both critique each other)

I have been trying to read novels as much as possible to sort of inspire me and identify with the style of other writers.

Plus, I love the forums at nanowrimo.org, there are some great writers on there.

I've been essentially working and re-working this basic storyline for almost 6 years now.

I think I'm close.

I do set it aside to work on my other stories, though- but right now, I'm pretty focused on it.

I'd love to read excepts of everyones works!
post #5 of 129
Thread Starter 
I've been trying to remember what my mentor used to do to get my writing so good. It was in layers, or steps. After the first write then a clean up or so, then he'd have me go back and add senses--smells, tastes, etc. The stuff I didn't always add. Then he'd have me add metaphors. I came up with some really great ones.

Since I can't find this guy, I think I'll just try these next steps. I really like this story and it's the first time I've worked and worked at something. In the past I had too fragile an ego to re-write. (I used to think I was a failure if I didn't get it right the first time.) Now I just want results.
post #6 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by cdmaze View Post
I'm a total amature, I haven't a clue if I can even do this well enough to EVER get published, but I enjoy it more that anything, right now.
and it's one of the only hobbies out there that doesn't cost $$$ anything. Well, it costs time, but that time you spend writing is time you are investing in YOU and THAT is a huge reward in and of itself

I went to a writer's workshop about how to edit and the entire time people were laughing about this one in particular author's work...I left with NO useful advice on how to edit my novel. So, I continue to read through my 1st draft before chopping it up and working in all the edits that I have in my head. I gave it a good month long rest...now I can't wait to sink my teeth into it!

But what gets me is that I have so many 'things' that I want to put into this book - it's one of those woman empowering, healing from trauma deals - that I feel that no matter how much I work it, it'll always be lacking somewhere since everyone's path to healing is different...but I have to keep that voice quieted and just work with one path...this isn't a guide to healing book, it's a novel, a half true/half fiction novel. I think that's where I need to keep my focus while I try to edit...

:
post #7 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by mybabysmama View Post
It was in layers, or steps. After the first write then a clean up or so, then he'd have me go back and add senses--smells, tastes, etc. The stuff I didn't always add. Then he'd have me add metaphors. I came up with some really great ones.

thanks for these tips! I needed some direction for my editing phase...steps...ok, got it
post #8 of 129
ok, I did come away with one good tip from the writing workshop:


Don't tell...SHOW!!!

* Don't say "he walked down the hall"...SHOW how he walked down the hall...

* Don't say "she put on her dress"...SHOW how she put on her dress...

Describe, don't just say that it happened...SHOW how it happened!


Ok, so I learned something
post #9 of 129
Thats my biggest problem!!! I'm always saying things like "She took off her shoes and left them in the kitchen because she was too tired to put them away like she usually does."

BORING!!!

So, now I'm trying to go back and fix all those lame sentences that don't evoke ANY imagination.

I'd love to go to a seminar or conference. I went to a write-in once, it was cool. But it was more about word-count and sheer volume than actual writing skill.
post #10 of 129
Thread Starter 
I've done a lot of conferences and taken a lot of classes. I have potential. I actually got a handwritten rejection and invite to resubmit from Glamour magazine. Now, I'm not the Glamour type, but I was shooting for the $2,000 payment and I got a handwritten rejection!!! Highlight of my writing "career." Of course, instead of rewriting and resubmitting I went to Europe, fell in love, and got married. Now it's so many years and a couple kids later and I'm wanting to get back into the writing thing. Actually, I've been working on this novel off and on for much of our marriage, but I've been stuck in this spot for a long time.

Anyway, for those of you who haven't been to conferences, beyond "show, don't tell," another one is "kill your darlings." Those sections of the book that you absolutely love but that don't advance the story at all. Gotta get rid of them. I have a one page intro to my book that may fall into that category, but I think it does have a purpose so I'm not getting rid of it, yet. One of the best teachers on the importance of this editing trick is to watch movies on dvd. Afterwards, watch the deleted scenes. Some of them are so stupid or redundant or whatever and I can really get a visual on the type of scenes I need to cut from my stories.

Another thing I learned along the way is to avoid agenda writing. If you're trying to get a message across, it ruins the story. Story should be about characters. If one of them happens to get an epiphany--which they should in most novels--then fine, but don't have the reason you write to be getting on your soap box. That's for demonstrations and pamphlets, not novels. I did that with a really interesting mystery twist and ruined the book. Should have just stuck to the story and left the preaching for the ministers.

One of the best pieces of advice I got on how to advance a story is to ask, "What happens next?" That has helped me a lot. So for my current novel I did that. It really is character driven and those are the best novels. What I did was come up with two colorful characters (based on true people.) I found it boring to retell the story they had experienced, but I thought the sparks between these characters was worth putting into a book. I thought about all kinds of situations to put them into and ultimately ended up adding a third colorful character as a catalyst and asked, "What happens next." WOW!! What a fun story.

I'm trying to think of other basics, but they're escaping me. Really, for those of you who are new to writing, it's all about getting to know the characters and letting them do what they want in the book. Don't try and control the characters, just let them do what they want to do. Put them in an interesting place and ask, "what happens next?" and sit back and enjoy the ride.
post #11 of 129
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cdmaze View Post
"She took off her shoes and left them in the kitchen because she was too tired to put them away like she usually does."
Hey everyone, let's rewrite that idea just for fun? Is that okay? This could be a fun exercise.

***

Rebecca sat at the table her Mama had left her. Mama's eyes had closed to slits the time she found Rebecca's initials in the smooth mahogany. She'd really whipped her that time..and any other time the initials had called out to her. When the lawyer had said the only thing she got in the will was the wretched table, Rebecca had wanted to take an axe to it. Instead, she boffed the delivery man on it the day he brought it to her house.

There was a water stain kitty corner to the initials and Rebecca traced it with her fingertip. Uncle George had left his whiskey glass sitting overnight after the wake. The next day Rebecca had thought she'd vomit when she saw the stain. Uncle George had stiffened up and slurred, "Well who buys a table so cheap that it gets water stains?"

Mama had come into Rebecca's room the night after they'd found the stain. Sometimes Rebecca wondered if Mama would have stayed wherever it was the dead go if it hadn't been for that round discoloration.

Rebecca kicked off her red keds and they came to rest next to the table's heavy pedestal. Normally she would put them in the bag hanging from her closet door, but not tonight. Tonight she just didn't care if Mama visited her or not. If the old bag was going to harass her over shoes, then let her. Rebecca rubbed around the callous on her right foot. She should get some more of those pads that ate away at the warts, but she didn't know when she could get to the drugstore.

***

Okay, that's weird. Don't know where such a dark vignette came from, but I let the character do it.

I must say I had tremendous fun doing this. I haven't written in a very long time. It feels really good and I am excited to start working on my book again this Saturday.

Also, I know absolutely nothing about water stains so I could never publish this (not that I'm going to) because I'd have to research water stains.
post #12 of 129
hi there,

i'm newish to these forums and hope nobody minds me stopping by. i have an MFA in writing. one helpful tip for me when working on any fiction is to know what my characters had for breakfast. know what they have in their closet. which is their beverage of choice, what do they do when no one is looking, what's in the pantry, the cd player, growing in the yard, etc. even if all of this info doesn't make it into the work, your intimacy with the characters makes your story that much more resonant and rich.
post #13 of 129
ps, mybabysmama, i generally prefer dark to sunny. so i liked your vignette. my own writing can get downright morbid and is often disturbing.
post #14 of 129
I'm working on my third?? novel. I tend to finish the story too soon for it to be considered a novel but too long for a short story, a novella I guess. I'm used to writing short stories and poetry so I tend to be very concise in my writing. I'm trying to plan more this time, I've got a general outline, some specific chapter outlines, character bios, ect. It's going really well so far. I'm about a third of the way done and the story still has plenty to go.
post #15 of 129
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by desertdessert View Post
hi there,

i'm newish to these forums and hope nobody minds me stopping by. i have an MFA in writing. one helpful tip for me when working on any fiction is to know what my characters had for breakfast. know what they have in their closet. which is their beverage of choice, what do they do when no one is looking, what's in the pantry, the cd player, growing in the yard, etc. even if all of this info doesn't make it into the work, your intimacy with the characters makes your story that much more resonant and rich.
Those are all really great ideas. I've heard it's the 10% rule. If you only include 10% of what you know (not on purpose, but by shear volume of what you know,) the reader gets the sense that you're an authority. Whereas, someone can write the same number of words and include 90% to even 100% of what they know and the writing comes out thin.
post #16 of 129
I'm an aspiring novelist for so long--but I'm just terrified to begin. I guess I'm just afraid that I'm not good enough after all. Writing is the only thing I want to do, though, really and truly. It's the only thing I'm passionate about where work is concerned. I tend to journal a lot. My husband asked why I don't spend some of that time doing other types of writing. Also, for my novel ideas, I am intimidated by not knowing where to begin. I've heard people say to just jump in. Maybe, too, (this is especially the case with my memoir and poetry) I'm afraid of what will be brought to the surface and afraid I'm not strong enough to handle the material.

Any advice? (Sorry, I feel like such an ameteur.)

Should I just force myself to write *anything* for a certain amount of time or a certain number of pages every day?
post #17 of 129
I will be starting my first novel sometime this month. I have applied for a grant to fund a trip for the research for it as it is roughly historical in nature. I'll see what comes of that soon. I've been writing short stories for forever, and just finished a collection on birth and motherhood in the Appalachian mountains, and am looking for a home for it. I'm excited about a novel though and nervous too.
post #18 of 129
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PoetryLover View Post
I'm an aspiring novelist for so long--but I'm just terrified to begin. I guess I'm just afraid that I'm not good enough after all. Writing is the only thing I want to do, though, really and truly. It's the only thing I'm passionate about where work is concerned. I tend to journal a lot. My husband asked why I don't spend some of that time doing other types of writing. Also, for my novel ideas, I am intimidated by not knowing where to begin. I've heard people say to just jump in. Maybe, too, (this is especially the case with my memoir and poetry) I'm afraid of what will be brought to the surface and afraid I'm not strong enough to handle the material.

Any advice? (Sorry, I feel like such an ameteur.)

Should I just force myself to write *anything* for a certain amount of time or a certain number of pages every day?
You have no idea when you write the first line of your novel if, when you are done, it will be the opening of your book, the end of your book, somewhere in the middle, or if you will totally delete it. So, just start. After you write your first draft, then you will edit and get a better sense of where you may be going with your book.

Y'know, I used to get so emotional about my writing. My ego was tied to my success (or lack thereof.) Now I just don't let my emotions ruin my writing experience. Not that I have much writing experience with a 3 year old and a baby.(LOL) However, when I do write I just don't let my ego ruin it for me. I write, re-write, and have a good time. Someday I will send out my book when it feels closer, but that's awhile into the future.

So, my advice is: just write, have a good time, and don't take it all so seriously.
post #19 of 129
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by eastkygal View Post
I'm excited about a novel though and nervous too.
Good luck, hope it's fun.
post #20 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by mybabysmama View Post
You have no idea when you write the first line of your novel if, when you are done, it will be the opening of your book, the end of your book, somewhere in the middle, or if you will totally delete it. So, just start. After you write your first draft, then you will edit and get a better sense of where you may be going with your book.

Y'know, I used to get so emotional about my writing. My ego was tied to my success (or lack thereof.) Now I just don't let my emotions ruin my writing experience. Not that I have much writing experience with a 3 year old and a baby.(LOL) However, when I do write I just don't let my ego ruin it for me. I write, re-write, and have a good time. Someday I will send out my book when it feels closer, but that's awhile into the future.

So, my advice is: just write, have a good time, and don't take it all so seriously.
Thanks! I'll try to set my ego aside and see what I can accomplish.

Is there a certain number of pages per day that I should strive for or a period of time? I always wonder how most writers organize these things.
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