Doors

Doors

Doors to open | Guy L. PaceWhen one door opens …

We’ve all heard some version of that. Whether it is the doors closing or the doors opening, we see it as new opportunity or opportunity lost. From an observer’s perspective, though, the door is just a door and it is either open or closed. To the character it is a portal. The character can watch the door open or watch the door close. That can make a story pretty boring.

Or, the character can take control of their own destiny (especially in a story) and open or close the door. That’s what can bring a reader into the story. The reader can identify with the character and follow him or her into the portal to discover what is on the other side.

Waiting for a door to open or a door to close tends to make a story boring. Give the character the motivation and desire to open the door and pass through the portal.

You might want to make sure the character closes the door behind them. Or, maybe not. It depends on the kind of story you are writing.

The character opens a door and enters. He or she continues through and leaves the door open. What could possibly go wrong in that scenario?

Just a little food for thought this week.

Keep writing.

 

Motivation

journey of a single stepIt’s tough to get motivated sometimes.

But, where do you find motivation when there is so much work in front of you?

During NaNoWriMo, I sat down daily and wrote. I hit my goal number of words or more each day. Every day was different. Some were easy. Some were hard, desperately hard. But, at the end of 30 days I had a complete first draft. NaNoWriMo provided the motivation. A deadline loomed and I had to get the work done.

I lived by deadlines for many years as a journalist working small newspapers. The work had to get done. If you missed the deadline, the story didn’t run, or was incomplete. If you couldn’t make the deadlines, you risked your job, your paycheck. A lot of motivation there. That’s one reason I’ve done well with NaNoWriMo. The deadline kept me focused.

But, now I have the rewrite, edit, revision, and rewrite leg of the job in front of me. This is hard work and a lot of it. There is so much to do it seems overwhelming. It’s hard to get the motivation to sit down and get to work. Where do I start?

First, break it down. Set a schedule and work on one chapter at a time. Or, one scene at a time. Start at the beginning.

Breaking down a job to smaller, bite-sized chunks makes it look less daunting. Get this chapter rewritten. Take a break. Come back and work on the next one. Pretty soon, you’re on the last chapter.

But, that’s just the first pass. Now you print it all out and hand it to your first reader. You can take a break for a while until the suggestions, corrections, and revisions come back from the first reader.

Then it starts all over again.

Revise, revise, revise

As with the first pass, break it down again and start working through it. Chapter by chapter. Scene by scene. This should go more quickly since you now have a second person’s marks and revisions to work against.

When you get to the end this time, you think you’re done. Right? Wrong.

Now you package up the work and get it to an editor. Since I use Scrivener, this means compiling the work to a format an editor can accept. For this, I compile to a manuscript format and export to a Word document (.doc or .docx). This phase gets you ready to submit to a publisher or agent, or self-publish. In the past, my editor would mark up the work and send me two or three chapters at a time. I’d make the corrections, revisions and rewrites as required and send the updated material back.

This process worked well because we took a part of the work and dug in, then moved on to the next part. We didn’t try to tackle the whole thing at once. We still worked through the book more than once.

This can all take several months. Yeah, the first draft took 30 days. But, that was a solid, directed effort, with my internal editor turned off. The rest takes a lot more time.

And, guess what? If you submit to a traditional publisher and get accepted, you’ll work with another editor and revise, revise, revise. Even if you self-publish, you may go through a few more revisions before putting the book up for sale.

Get motivated.

Keep writing.

 

 

Character Motivation

I use Twitter as a resource. If you follow me or check my Twitter profile, you’ll see I follow less than 200 people, and followed by just a bit over 200 folks. The folks I follow are one of three types: old friends, information security folks, writing folks. I say folks, because Twitter profiles are not always¬†people, but include companies or organizations.

Anyway, the way I use Twitter is to focus on specific information. This garners real gems sometimes. Here’s one I’ll share. One Paul Fenwick posted a blog entry discussing how to undermine learning in children.

Paul Fenwick

While the focus of the article is on how we encourage or discourage learning and the studies done in 1998 and 1999, we as writers can take this information further.

How we speak (authors) to our characters in our fiction, and how our characters speak to each other, can affect their progress and motivation. The language we use can move the character forward, or have the character ring hollow. How do you describe a character who faces tough challenges, and fails. If the character values effort and learning (among other things), the character comes back and tries again and again until successful. The character who values “looking good” and fails, usually will give up after one or two failures. Any attempt to portray the character differently will seem wrong.

You may apply this concept to both the protagonist and antagonist characters. I’m thinking that young adult fiction should show these distinctions clearly in characters. Not just for character honesty, but to demonstrate the difference between valuing effort and learning over just looking good.

I could be wrong, of course. You are welcome to correct me.

Keep Writing.