26 February 2012

Off into the Sunset

In a few short hours, my husband and I will be boarding a plane which, after nearly 30 hours of exhausting travel, will deliver us into a winter wonderland in Europe. This holiday is the result of nearly 9 months of intensive planning, so suffice to say I'm very excited! Even just having 4 weeks off work is spectacular... the last time I had more than 2 weeks holiday was my last trip to Europe, 11 years ago. Time for a decent break!

So the blog will be somewhat dormat while I'm gone. I thought about scheduling posts in advance, but... I didn't. There might be a few cobwebs around when I get back.
The frantic planning has also meant writing has taken a back seat, pretty much since my last post about it. I now have just over 62,000 words, and I'm looking forward to the final push (towards about 80) when I return. I think I could write 5,000 words based on outlined scenes and ideas, and then I need some more inspiration to see me through to the end (metaphorically speaking - I wrote the actual end a long time ago). As some of my lovely commenters said, the time away will probably do me good.

Time to finish packing... Arrivederci!

14 February 2012

Mark All As Read

I love catching up on my favourite blogs and news articles, usually with Google Reader. Whether I'm reading about someone's writing journey, craft tips, or a whole lot of stuff unrelated to writing, I like catching up on the world outside my own.

Confession time: I'm a little bit obsessive about reading every single post, even by people I don't know anything about (but their blog sounded interesting). As I read I like to see the "unread" number decrease until their blog name is completely cleared away. Sometimes I don't get time to keep up to date... well let's be honest, nearly every day I have a back-log. I keep finding interesting blogs to subscribe to. And sometimes, if it really gets too much, it need to "mark all as read".

But I really don't want to. I want to at least see the subject line of each and every post. I think I might be missing out on something great if I don't at least look. Perhaps I'll want to comment, or I might learn something new, or I might laugh.

Is it just me?

At the end of the month (the 26th, to be precise), I'm going on holiday for 4 weeks. There is no way I'll be able to catch up, so I will have to mark unread items as read. The very thought of it makes me uncomfortable, but it's inevitable. And I know once you click that button, it's an incredibly cleansing feeling. As if I've just taken a little weight off my shoulders. I don't have to read everything, even if I like to.

It'll be the same for all the actual mail that piles up while we're away... I need to prioritise what I'll read and throw out the crap. There's no point in putting magazines on my coffee table that I know I'll never read. And I've been progressively unsubscribing from email newsletters that I usually delete without much thought.

It makes me think of other things in life that we hold on to for no good reason. Perhaps we horde certain objects, which we think have sentimental or educational value but are just cluttering up our lives. What about the clothes you'll never fit again, that could have a useful purpose for someone who's actually that size and can't afford to buy them? Do you ever buy way too much healthy or perishable food with the best of intentions, but it ends up expiring before you eat it? Maybe we hold onto relationships with people who poison our thoughts, holding us back, because we'd rather be negative in a party than be alone. Or we hold a grudge because the person hasn't made it up to us yet, and they have no idea of the power they are holding over us. Even our dreams for the future can hold us captive if they're seriously not achievable. We have to let go of them, focussing on something more realistic rather than sacrificing our present lives by being miserable.

I think from time to time we need to admit we've fallen behind, and we've allowed things to get on top of us. Sometimes we just need to "mark all as read" (or even stop receiving/buying so much stuff in the first place) to clear out our lives. We'll feel so might lighter and in control. The opportunities lost will be gained in other future avenues. We just need to let go.

Have you ever reached a point where you had to cut something out of your life? Are you addicting to reading everything like me?

07 February 2012


The last time I wrote about my WIP, I was stuck in the quagmire of writer's block. I just couldn't see where to go next: how to add complexity and higher stakes. It was a frustrating, scary place to be.

Now, I'm pleased to report I have pushed through, but not in the way I expected. I thought my quirky minor characters would fuel the sub-plots I needed to add layers to my main characters' journeys. I thought and thought and got nowhere.
The key is the villain
Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Then, I was reading this article about mirroring your plot points, and a lightbulb went off. The section entitled "the bad guys close in" could be taken as a metaphor, but it got me thinking. I have some shady characters, and there is one in particular that causes trouble. His main action had impacted on a minor character (albeit a quite important one), and this action then ricocheted into the main characters' worlds. But then I thought - what if? What if this guy is actually a proper villain, who seeks to disrupt my hero's path whenever possible, and to use my heroine as an unwilling accomplice? What could he do, what would be the worst he could do, to destroy my hero's hopes?

Image: renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The answer popped into my head, and then I was off, adding quite a few scenes to the second half of the novel, as well as a few pointers to lay the foundation in the first half. It sounds quite simple, to increase the antagonist's role, but I had thought that the book would be almost solely driven by the characters' internal journeys, with the external happenings just driving home their development. Instead, I can push them into increasingly desperate situations using intentional evil.

Plus, it's fun to write a villain... and doubly fun to see him get his just deserts.

So now, my novel has blossomed from 46,000 words to just over 60,000 words. I still have about 20,000 to go, but it feels good to be 3/4 of the way through. I know it still needs plot development, with tidbits that are yet to drop into my brain. But I feel like I will get there; no longer lost in the "what if I never finish" doldrums.

Here's what my structure looks like now (see the first version here). I've increased from 43 to 75 scenes. Act 3 is still looking a little bereft, but some of those scenes will be long.

My scenes, 3/4 way through
Have you experienced such a breakthrough, and how did you achieve it? Perhaps by studying the craft as I did?

01 February 2012

It's My Bloggiversary!

Image: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
My blog is one year old. And what a year it's been. As well as quite a bit happening in my personal and work life (most of which I have not shared), I feel as if I have grown immensely as a writer.

When I started off of course no-one was reading my posts, but as I reached out to others I've started to form some rewarding writer friendships. It's lovely to get comments on my thoughts; to know that others share the same struggles and triumphs. A recent highlight for me is having actual authors comments on my posts.

I started the blog when I'd finished a draft. Since then that MS was edited, critiqued, edited again, queried, submitted and now put out to pasture. Along the way I've continued to study the craft and I've had some real "a-ha" moments. Now as I work to complete the next draft of a very different book, I'm more confident in my abilities and even more excited about the future ahead.

Thanks everyone for reading :-)