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Novel buddies group!

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
As mentioned in another thread, there are a number of us working on novels who wish we had a group. So here it is.

I think we should each work toward having a piece ready to post once a week...the newest chapter, a piece of dialogue we need help with, a scene that doesn't work, etc. (I don't think we should post everything we write here, just what we need comments on or help with. )

I have plenty of room on my site to put long chapters, and could make them simple to access.

Shorter pieces are fine here...that's what BelovedK is always telling me! I think chapters are ok too, but she might want to let us know....Kelly???

I haven't got anything this week so far, I'm polishing the short story on another thread and sending it in to a contest. But I will have more within a few days.

So, what have you written? What have I said that you disagree with? How do YOU think we should run the group?

And POST something, already!
post #2 of 26

Okay, honest, honest: I find it very unwieldy. The names are mostly outlandish, and the style is too verbose. The first posting was OTT and it discouraged me from reading more.

That said, I like where you're exploring with Leila and the lucid memory even from before conception. That section is more engaging. I think it needs more work, but I think it would be more inviting as an opener.

post #3 of 26
Okay, this was not the novel I had originally intended to pursue with this group, but for some reason, I'm reluctant to put my baby out there just yet. Here is an outline of another idea that I have. What do you think? Would this be an engaging novel?

The Tower of Babel

Woman, linguist, anthropologist, mother,

Discovers that the language of “monogenesis” is actually the “babble” spoken universally by babies

Begins to decipher and unravel, just as baby learns first words and loses ability to speak “babble”.

Continues to develop hypothesis, also trying to have another baby to further decipher the language.

She unlocks enough of it to keep 2nd baby speaking “babble” and teaching her more.

Takes children on pilgrimage to Babylon to study ancient texts. Finds that children’s so-called babble shares many words with ancient pre-Hebrew dialect spoken in Persia by reclusive philosophers, keeper of some sacred text. She and children are able to converse with scholars about the text.

Discover truth of origin of man and scattering around the planet, and meaning of life.

Catholic Church, Christian Right in U.S., Jews, Muslim clerics unite in effort to hush discovery, afraid that it disproves the existence of singular deity as creator, gives power to achieve happiness and spiritual oneness directly to people. People discover how the simplicity of these truths were known by religious clerics, but kept from them in order to maintain control over them. Anti-organized religion riots spark in several countries around the world... as people struggle to re-learn the universal language.

Matriarchal society returns.
post #4 of 26
Thread Starter 
Kelly, I remember the first part, so I was interested in reading what happened next.

Personally, the names are fine with me. I have a hard time with names and like ahving something unusual. (I love that we never all agree!)

It's alot of narative to wade through though. Hard to keep the readers interest with no action. I mean, stuff happens, but we hear about it, son't participate in it. If Malcolm feels grief, or Browyn BURNS, shouldn't we know some of the agony?

I thought this was really good,

“Chandi” it was a deep, male voice, “where is Bronwyn?”
“Go and see for yourself, she’s in the back bedchamber. We lost one of the babies, she’s on my bed awaiting the fire”
I heard him leave the room, my eyes were still closed.
My senses grew sharper. When my eyes opened I looked up to see her face clearly. She was an ample and squishy woman with a round face and eyes as squinty as a rat’s. I could hear mother’s sobs clearly, though she was at least two rooms over."

But still, I'd change it to: "

“Chandi, where is Bronwyn?" asked Malcolm.

“Go and see for yourself, she’s in the back bedchamber. We lost one of the babies.”
I heard him leave the room, my eyes were still closed.
My senses grew sharper. When I opened my eyes I looked up to see her face clearly. She was an ample and squishy woman with a round face and eyes as squinty as a rat’s. I could hear mother’s sobs clearly, though she was at least two rooms over."

And that's the babys POV, right? Then there's the narrator and Brownwyn, or am I missing something? I got confused, not knowing who's head I was in.

Lastly, I'd describe each thing once and only once. Mother's breasts, malcolms grief, sweet milk and nursing. I'd give less description, but that's where you and I usually disagree!

I like the idea of the story, the concept. Honestly, I think you should just WRITE the whole thing out, start to finish and then worry about the details, making it all run together. Then you could decide which chapter would contain which description of what. And you'd have some presective to decide about pacing the story, and where it would NEED dialogue, where it would need narrative.

twilight girl, maybe. I mean, it COULD be an interesting book, but just from a description, it's nearly impossible to tell. It would depend on style, ability, plot twists, etc. Why not write a chapter, work on it and then try for an opinion. Thoreau could write about a day at teh lake doing nothing, and it was fascinating. I surely couldn't.

I can't figure how mother could 'teach' more babble, etc. I'm getting tied up in the possibilities! Probably a good sign!
post #5 of 26
Can I be in the club?? Please???? : I am not actually currently working on a novel, but I have a screenplay that I wrote several years ago that I would like to turn into a novel, and another synopsis that I'm not sure if I would like to turn into a screenplay or novel. This may be the push I need to get writing again.

Alright, I just wanted to join, now I'll go back and read everyone's posts. Hee-hee.
post #6 of 26
I feel that the way I posted made things confusing. It is not in order and can not possibly be understood. I will now have to retype the whole prologue bc I lost it in my documents : I may or may not post it here. It needs way too much work at this point, sooo...just ignore my pp
post #7 of 26

Mother doesn't teach the babble. I mean that baby teaches her more of what she had started to learn from the 1st baby.

post #8 of 26
Well, where is everybody? The thread seems to have petered out
post #9 of 26
Thread Starter 
I'm getting somethign ready to post Wedensday!
post #10 of 26
Cool! Gosh, I'd better get clacking then. Unfortunately, I'm single momming it this week while DH is on travel in Trinidad & Tobago. Plus, I have a translation to do, and a meeting that will take up my pre-school free time on Monday. Maybe I can work something up for Wednesday, but it'll be tough!
post #11 of 26
Thread Starter 
Just take something you're already working on, put a half hour into proof reading it and PUT IT out there.
post #12 of 26
You've got a point, Red. It's my baby, though, the hardest one to put out there and have it scrutinized, possibly rejected, possibly torn to bits. No sense keeping it locked up in a closet, though.
post #13 of 26
Wowie zowie! Just checked in on the novel buddies thread I started, to find you guys had started a group...woo hoo!

I've been way too busy, too little time for novelling - however, I'm hoping to work on it this week. I'll check back in soon for a fuller read of your goodies and a synopsis of what I'm working on.
post #14 of 26
I'm new here, been writting my novel since DS was 9mo and he's now almost 3, and I have a new baby almost 4mo...my charachters are constantly talking it out in my head, trying to figure out the climax of my story, but I've got all the prewriting done and the first 3 chapters. I'd like to join in if I can. I had a writing buddy, but she just started on her grad degree and so I have no one to critique or push me I write in spirts too, but I can do it on scheduel if I had one. How to you do this? I'm also writing a children's book series, but that is on the back burner until I get this done, or I'll never finish it

where do we post our stuff and when?

post #15 of 26
Thread Starter 
MommyHawk, I'm shooting for having something ready every Wednesday. Do what works for you. Kelly (BelovedK) suggested starting a new thread every week, so this one doens't get crazy long. Since it's still short, I'm putting mine here. (Just stick yours here when you're ready!)

So, all you novel buddies, stop stalling, trust yourself to have done something GOOD.

Oh, a quick reminder for critiquing....Use the sandwich technique, say something nice FIRST and last, put your suggestions for improving in the middle. Be kind, remmeber there are lots of writing styles. You might not care for a story, but you can still offer good advice on making it flow better, or on the dialogue, etc.

If you're a BIG chicken just post and ask for NO critiquing! You won't learn much, but it's a good way to get used to seeing your work up for everyone to read, without having a heart attack.

Here's part of my novel. Sorry, I know this is starting in the middle. I'm really happy with the beginning at this point and don't want any help with that. I could use some help making htis more true-to-life. And I've been at this a long time. I have LOTS of rejection letters. Lots. My feelings are NOT going to be hurt by your opinion. Feel free, with me, to let it rip, ok?

While making her dinner, she turned the TV on so she could catch the news; the usual litany of horror and terror, war and murder. When they reached the local news, the reporter said, “Tonight, we start a new feature. For the next four Sunday nights, Becky Randolph will take a hard look at our foster care system, it’s triumphs and it’s pitfalls. Tonight, we’ll be looking at the adults involved, the social workers, the foster parents, the judges. Next week we’ll concentrate on the children. Join us for this series on the good and the bad in our system. Becky?”

Becky had started her piece with a dedicated social worker who struggled to keep up with her caseload, then a family who sheltered the states children.

“Of course,” came the voice of Becky from the TV, “there are wonderful parents like the family we just met, and there are parents, even foster parents, who are abusive. Just last month three children were found caged in the basement of their foster home.”

The screen showed the rickety homemade wooden crates the three handicapped children had been kept in up to 20 hours a day. The foster parents claimed to have taken good care of the children, but said they couldn’t watch the kids every minute and the cages had kept them safe.
The phone rang as the piece ended.

“Hey, Lis.”

“Hi, Jules.”

“Tell me you’re not watching the news.”

“I just did. I feel sick.”

“God! What are people thinking! They put handicapped children in cages! One of those kids was four years old!”

“Julie, what the Hell am I going to do? I had a nightmare that I got caught and they took Angie and I went to jail! I woke up, got a drink, went back to bed and had one where Angie was left crying in a crib, in a room full of cribs, like a thousand cribs! No one ever came to her and she was dying of neglect.”

“Someone must be looking for that baby.”

“I know! Like the girls parents, or grandparents. Or Angie’s father! I feel like I’m getting sucked in to a giant spiders’ web, the more I struggle, the worse I get caught. But if I don’t struggle, Angie is the one who suffers.”

“That baby is going to a foster home anyway, when you get arrested.”

“Julie! Give me a break!”

“I’m sorry. I don’t know what to say. I mean, I know you should call the authorities, but I wouldn’t want to do it, either. You haven’t thought of anything else?”

“Like what?”

“I don’t know! Something. Anything!”

“I still only see two options,” Lisa said wearily. “Make the call. Or don’t.”

“Well, whatever you decide to do, I’m with you. If I can help you, I will.”

“I love you, Jules!”

“I know. I love you, too.”


Waking from another night of broken sleep, Lisa called in to work on Monday morning. She was calling early, so Mr. Harker wouldn’t be at his desk yet, and she could leave a message on the answering machine.


Great! Of all the days for Mr. Harker to go in early!

“Uh, hi, Mr. Harker. It’s Lisa. I’m not feeling well today, so I won’t be in,” she told him nervously.

“Today? Lisa, we have a big report due! I need you today. Come in until lunch, then if you still feel sick, you can go home.”

“Oh, I’m really sorry, but I can’t. I think I have the flu. Really. I feel terrible.”

“Are you coming in tomorrow?”

“Oh, yes! Absolutely. I’m sure I’ll feel better by then!”

“Great,” he said, clearly not meaning it. She thanked him for his understanding, though he missed the sarcasm.

Another round of feeding, burping, changing, bathing, changing again, before Lisa managed a quick shower and headed back to the store. This is it, she told herself. If you don’t find her mother, you make a call. Or go to jail!

The store was nearly empty. Few people shopped early on Monday morning. As she was turning to pick up a bag of diapers, a figure caught the corner of her eye. She whirled to see a young woman with greasy hair and worn jeans bending over to look at the display of earrings across the aisle. Heart pounding, she darted away down one aisle and around a corner out of sight.

What am I doing?!

After only a second she hurried back to the jewelry counter, but, she found a woman much older than the girl she’d expected, missing one front tooth and with a tattoo of a rose on her upper arm. Shaken and appalled, she headed for the check-out. Here she was, driving ‘cross-town every day to look for Angie’s mother, only to hide if she thought she saw her.

It’s time. Time to make the call. Lisa pulled into a fast food parking lot and called 411. Asking for the number of the CPS office, her hands sweating so badly she could barely keep hold of her pen, she scratched the number on a scrap of paper. She tried to think of what her parents would say. Most foster parents were good people, most of them would take excellent care of the babe.

But she didn’t know the Angie’s real name, or her mothers’, or where they lived. Angie would be a “Jane Doe.” They’d have to go to court to free her for adoption and that would take months, maybe even years. Years of Angie living with first one family and then another. Years of having no family to call her own. And possibly years of living with people who’d cage children.

Call. Get it over with! She glanced at her watch. Eleven o’clock. Plenty of time for CPS. Plenty of time for a walk on the beach. “How about it, kiddo,” she asked the babe, “a walk, before we call?” A few more minutes wouldn’t hurt anything.

The beach was much quieter today. Only a few people were scattered along the sand, no one was in the water. With Angie in the sling, and the breeze in her hair, she set off along the waters’ edge, her thoughts tumbling and crashing like the waves. As the ocean gradually worked it’s magic, she felt her head clear. For days she’d made this all seem like a huge thing, worrying over every little detail! The choice before her was simple enough; make a phone call, or don’t. Just a simple phone call.

No, that’s not fair. Be honest. The decision is to turn this baby over, or to keep her. Keep her! Just keep someone else’s child!

The wind was picking up, pulling her hair loose and blowing it across her eyes. She stopped walking and faced out to the ocean, to the horizon, so that her hair blew straight behind her. The tide was coming in, the waves reaching a bit higher with every passing minute.

Of course, none of this was my idea! I was looking for a book. A book I haven’t had much time to read. Too bad I wasn’t reading it last night instead of watching the news, she thought, wryly.

The piece on the foster care system had stayed with her all night, invaded her dreams; Angie in a wooden crate, screaming with colic, desperate for help.

And her mother did ask me to watch her. I could just keep watching her. Her mother could have taken her to CPS if she’d wanted her to go there.

Pros and cons, Lisa, that’s what Dad would say. List the pros and cons. Use logic.

In her mind, Lisa imagined a piece of paper with a line drawn down the middle. If she kept Angie, no, this baby- I should never have named her! I need to try to think about what’s best for her, not how I feel!- then she’d face legal trouble, possibly jail, if she was caught.

If she called CPS now, she would probably be let go, but Ang-, this baby, would go to a foster home. Of course, it might be a great foster home. They did exist. She might have a wonderful family who’d love and care for her, but they’d be temporary, if she was lucky. Lucky children moved quickly through the system. If her parents couldn’t be found, she’d be put in an adoptive home, and if it worked, adopted by that family. Still, it would take a few years to terminate the parents rights, get the legal stuff done. Angie would still be young. She’d never remember all of this.

Or she have Lisa’s own luck. She’d been in a few adoptive homes. One possible mother had gotten sick, another family had decided to move out-of-state before the six month trial period was up. By the time you were two, your chances of ever getting adopted fell off drastically. Being adopted at thirteen by strangers was a miracle.

Then again, she could wind up like Julie. Julie’s mother had popped up from time to time, just often enough to keep her from ever getting adopted. Every few years she’d go to live with her mother for a few months, then her mother would start drinking and shooting heroin again and she’d go to another foster home.

She peered down into the sling, meeting the crystal blue gaze and touched a downy soft cheek, as two tiny fists jammed a soggy and matted stuffed lion into her mouth. Pulling the baby up close to her face, she kissed the downy soft spikes of hair, smelled the soft, clean, sweetness as she rubbed her check against the child’s. The babe reached a hand out to grasp some of her hair, and hung on tight, trapping Lisa’s face close to her own, until she could untangle the tiny fist and free herself.

“If I keep you,” she whispered to the baby, “I could go to jail, or at least have a lot of legal trouble. But I’d love you. I already do.

“If I call? You’re the one who’d suffer. Poor sweetie.”

She remembered the little girl she’d known years ago, in foster care because her mother was dying, raped by her foster father. And that social worker, the one all the foster parents had loved, who’d been molesting the parentless boys he’d been charged with protecting.

What, then, to do about the baby’s mother? CPS would at least look for her. They put those ads in the newspaper, in with the housing foreclosures, and they might go to the local TV stations and have something put on the news about the child abandoned at the department store. It seemed only fair to give the girl a chance to realize her mistake.

But her goal here was the best possible life for Angie, not to protect her mother’s rights. Would the child hate her in the future for not finding her mother? For not trying harder?

Or would it be worse to find her, for Angie to have to go back. She imagined handing her over to her mother and cringed inwardly. She thought about the grubby infant with the sweat and lint caked in the creases of her neck, the stained sleeper, of this sweet baby lying on a receiving blanket in the bottom of the hard, metal shopping cart, her belly cramping, screeching in misery. Her thoughts swirled and tumbled, roiled and churned.

“That’s it!” Lisa spoke in a loud voice, startling Angie, who began to fuss. It was done. “Oh, sorry, sweetie,” she said in a quieter tone. “It’s okay. Everything’s okay now.” Suddenly, seconds after making the most daring decision of her life so far, all her fears disappeared. Her stomach released it’s tightly held knot, her headache began to wash away. She rolled her head on her shoulders, felt the kinks relax.

“We,” she stated with love and some pride, “are going home!”
post #16 of 26

Interesting idea. Reads pretty easily. I think that the exchange between Julie and Lisa could be more heated, more intense. I mean, your best friend is considering keeping a baby she found Seems like the dialogue between them should be a little stronger, more frantic, I don't know.

I do wonder where it's going, so that's a good sign

post #17 of 26

I like it. I am also wondering where it's going (and where it came from). I really feel for Lisa while she's trying to decide. I mean, who wouldn't want to keep a sweet baby? I agree with Judi about the dialogue between Lisa and Julie - it could be stronger. The other thing that stuck out to me was that I felt that all the negative examples of foster care were a bit much - on the news that night, plus all of Lisa's own memories and experiences. I know that her own experience would sway her decision, but it just felt a little soapboxish to me to have all that in there. It just has a "Down with Foster Care" sort of feel, which of course would lead to her deciding to keep the baby. JMO, of course! Overall, I enjoyed reading it and felt really hooked. I liked their little bonding experience on the beach, the baby grabbing hold of her hair. Do we get to read more?

ETA: I dug out my screenplay last night and started reading through it for the first time in over four years.....major HEADACHE. I don't really even know where/how to start. It's going to be awhile before I have anything to post.
post #18 of 26
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the input! I tried to put the first 5 chapters on my site, so you could see where it 'was coming from', but keep losing the formatting, making it very hard to read. I've done it before, just can't remember how!: Anyone know?

FiestaBeth, why not just try the first two pages or so? Post them when you feel like it, and someone's bound to give you some helpful advice.

It's not going to be much of a 'Novel Buddies Group' if I'm the only buddy putting up my novel!!!
post #19 of 26
Alright, *deep breath* here goes. My character is twilight girl. Her name is Peri, and she desperately wants to be creative, but feels that all her attempts are substandard, not good enough. I think I'm going in the direction of magical realism. She tries and tries, only to find her best ideas pop up elsewhere a year later or two, as a book, or a movie or a song.

This novel will be her journey to discovering that she is, in fact, a muse. It is not for her to create her own things, her purpose is to generate ideas and inspire others. So, she will discover that she is infinitely creative, she is the source. But, no one will ever know she is the source. Anyway, my dilemna here is whether this should be told from the first person or the third person. I'm practically cold with sweat from my nerves. I am so hesitant to put this out there. But, Red says that just putting it up here is de facto copywriting it, so, here goes ... I look forward to comments

Chapter One

“Take this pink ribbon off my eyes,
I’m exposed, and it’s no big surprise
Don’t you think I know exactly where I stand,
This world is forcing me to hold your hand.

‘Cause, I’m just a girl, oh little old me,
Well don’t let me out of your sight,
Oh, I’m just a girl, all pretty and petite,
So don’t let me have any rights.

Oh, I’ve had it up to here!”

I sat up abruptly, shocked out of what would otherwise have been a deep, dreaming sleep. Although the radio was turned down enough so that the music wouldn’t really be enough to wake me up when it switched on, the song rang and burned in my ears. Hearing the lyrics, I heaved myself out of bed. Heavy with sleep, my legs were unprepared for the weight of my body being thrust upon them at such an appalling hour. I dragged myself across the cool floor in a tangle of sheets and legs and arms to the shoebox hidden deep with the bags of shoes for donation and dirty clothes waiting for laundry day to roll around again. I flung the lid from the box and began to dig in the papers concealed inside, searching for .... Shit! Which one was it? Not awake yet, and without benefit of a cup of caffeine, I waited for the memory to solidify in my fuzzy soft thoughts.

I curled my fingers around the yellow legal pad page just as the DJ called out from the radio that I was hearing the new song from No Doubt.

“No Doubt, my ass!” I shouted to my empty apartment. “More like my song, you mean”

Well, that really was a ridiculous thought, wasn’t it? How would No Doubt have stolen a song that had never made it anywhere but from the legal pad to the shoebox? “Still,” I thought, “weird.” As I read the lines I had written a year or two before, I pulled my quilt around me and remembered the evening I had sat in a bar, and pulled out a legal pad and pencil and started writing the words. The same words that No Doubt had just now sang to me from the beat up, yard-sale radio, not quite verbatim, but close. In fact, I had never really imagined mine as a song so much as a ranting poem. Or maybe really red, angry graffiti sprayed on a wall somewhere.

Strange. Strange way to start the day. Even though it was hours before I would normally be out of bed, I decided to go for it anyway. Morning was not really my thing, but what the hell. Couldn’t hurt to shake things up a little once in awhile. Besides, I thought I would call Neil and see what he thought. He would probably still be up from the night before. Caffeine in hand, sleep shade pushed up on my forehead and black hair poking out from it at undignified angles, I pulled the creased yellow page with penciled words in front of me and picked up the phone to dial.

“Hello?” asked a voice from the other end. “Helloooooooo? Peri?”

“Neil?” I asked the phone.

“Hey! Did you just hear that? No Doubt on the radio?” His thick Scottish accent made it difficult for almost anyone who spoke English to understand him. But I had known him so long now, I could make out about every second or third word.

“Hey. Did you... I was just calling you. What do you mean did I hear it?” I demanded. I really didn’t expect that he would remember a poem I had scrawled out in pencil in a bar one night, and sheepishly handed to him the next day. “Well, what do you think?” I flinched at the anticipation of the answer. Neil took great care, it seemed, to conceal anything that might belie his St. Andrews degree in Classics. He painstakingly maintained a thoroughly disheveled dress, and his hair was wont to be blue or purple or sometimes just absent. Neil, I knew, would be brutally honest. But more than that, he had the education to back it up.

“Certainly not classical,” he began. “Raw emotion, makes a point. This would rock as a song, you know?”
************************************************** *******
That's as far as I've gone so far. Really hung up on the first vs. third person.
post #20 of 26
Thread Starter 
I like it! (and good for you being so brave!) Lots of the 5 senses, (which I can never get)

The last line confused me...it WAS a song, right? So Neil wouldn't say it would rock as a song.

1st or 3rd? Hmm, you seem to have a good handle on 1st. It reads well and I felt I had a good picture of the people involved, so I'd stick with that.

I'd move the song to just after the second line, let Peri hear it, then give us the words. But that's strictly my opinion.

So, lets have more???
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