Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Free Flow vs Outline

How do you write? Is the question a bit too general? I agree.

If you are currently writing, or have ever written a book, what does the process look like for you? More specifically, do you just write or do you use an outline?

On my first manuscript I just wrote as the story unfolded in my head. I had a rough, simple outline, but nothing more than a long paragraph written about the plot. While I was finishing that first manuscript, I ran across a well known author's website where she'd said she always used outlines when writing. So, from what I gathered, she'd create a chapter by chapter outline and then write the book. That sounded very intriguing and I decided to try that in a future manuscript.

I started writing my second manuscript without an outline, and about 10,000 words into it, I am beginning to entertain the whole outline idea again.

So Here's the Question:
Do you, or have you used an outline? And if so, what does it look like? How in depth do you go?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Summer Writing Schedule?

Summer brings new schedules. Most include laying by the pool, sleeping in, and vacations. If you write though, summer brings with it the necessity of figuring out a new 'writing schedule'.

During the school year I write while my kids are in school. Now, I am working on a new time to write. And I don't mean writing with interruptions between each sentence from sweet little ones who want food, permission to watch TV, etc.

No, I am looking for some good, condensed, deep story time. I've told myself I'll wake up early to write in a quiet house with coffee cup in hand. However, since making that decision I've had a sinus infection which demands as much sleep as possible. Good times.

These thoughts got me thinking; how are your writing schedules changing over the summer? Or are you taking the summer off? I'm interested in knowing how others do this. Thanks for your input!

Friday, June 11, 2010

What is Edgy Christian Fiction?

Ask me what an edgy hair cut is, and I'll tell you it's something with lots of color and spikes. A style that would cause most people on the street to do a double take because it is so very unique.

Ask me what an edgy dog is, and I'll explain it's a very nervous canine that either licks compulsively, barks a ton, or jumps on you. Or all three.

Now ask me what an edgy Christian fiction book is and I'll give you a blank stare. Not sure. I have my guesses, but I can't be certain. Is it a book that the author would classify as Christian but with subject matter that pushes the envelope? Because I've read Christian fiction with pretty heavy subject matter and I don't know that Francine Rivers would call her books 'edgy'. She doesn't use strong cuss words, or vulgar explanations when writing about abortion, prostitution, etc. So, is she not 'edgy' because she chooses to respect her readers by not graphically explaining sinful actions in great detail? Or is she considered 'edgy' and I just don't know?

Tell me, what is 'edgy' to you when it concerns Christian fiction? I have my pre-concieved ideas, but nothing in cement. Is it that a book discusses the more difficult subjects that aren't all love and sunshine? Or is it when a book closely resembles secular fiction in the language used, with a Christian over-all theme?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Book Exam

The first book that I want to examine is Leota's Garden by Francine Rivers. Ms. Rivers is a well respected and wonderful writer. She's also incredible popular within the Christian fiction category which makes this the perfect book to examine. Although I will enjoy reading debut author's books this summer, I will not examine them on my blog.

So, lets get started shall we? Again, this is not a review at all. Only an avenue of learning the craft of writing a little better. I don't know about you, but I can ALWAYS learn!

Leota's Garden is 448 pages, or 163,091 words long.

I loved how most of the book is from Grandma Leota's (84 yr old woman) point of view. What an unusual main character! By writing one of her main character's to be at such a mature age, she was able to mix history and contemporary in one book. What could have been a dry back-story is now tales of days gone by, the brighter days of her youth. As the reader I was able to not only learn a little history but see life through an elderly persons point of view which added to the story, made it believable and I felt invested. Isn't that what we want our readers to feel?

The beginning of the book automatically pulls you into the story with a conflict and a necessary decision that one of the main characters is forced to make. However, once that choice is made, the body of the book falls flat with lots of introspective thinking and not any real action. You see the main characters mature and grow as individuals, but there is no action until the very end.
I suppose you can make the arguments between characters as pieces of action, but they result in nothing more than continued anger.

The last few chapters of the book are packed with emotions, decisions and arguments that result in changed hearts and changed lives. The ending was very clean and packaged beautifully. As the reader, I felt like all the loose strings were tied up and the bow was securely in place. Each main character is not only changed, but Francine Rivers shows how they changed by their new decisions and lifestyle rather than just saying they've changed their thinking and leaving it at that.

One of the main points I learned from reading this book is ACTION. It's necessary if you want to keep your reader from putting the book down. And not just action, but action that boasts results of some kind.

Also, too much introspective thinking can muddle up the story rather than make it clearer. On the other hand, some is needed in learning how the character thinks so that when you want to show change, the amount of change is better understood because you know how the character 'used' to think.

Lastly, I learned to take the time to package the ending securely and completely. Tie up any loose strings by showing the change in the characters, not telling about it. To allow some space for this when watching my word count. She didn't save the last two pages to tell how they've changed. She used the last few chapters to explain their metamorphose in character which made me as the reader feel like I got the full story and wasn't 'jipped' at the end.

Here's the Question:
If you've read this book, what have you learned from it?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Go Ahead And Pick It Apart, It's Okay

I started this blog to explain step-by-step the process of writing and (hopefully) publication. Currently I am in the 'waiting' stage and am completely okay with this stage truth be told. I'm working on a second book and reading great novels. It's the life! :)

Although I'm enjoying a little down time, I'd like to keep the posts coming on this blog. What to write, what to write?

While driving today, I was thinking about a book I'm almost done reading. I picked it apart, but not in a bad way. I tore it piece by piece: how was the character development? Why? Was there enough action or any? Which character did I relate with the most? Who did I root for and why? Was it predictable? Was there a climax in the story? Questions like these. Then it hit me, I should share these thoughts on the books I read. Not as a review. In fact I don't know that I plan on stating whether I liked the book or not, but it's fun to look at a book and see what we can learn from it and apply to our own writing.

I would love for you to chime in on each book I write about if you've also read it. The next book I write about will be Leota's Garden by Francine Rivers.

Here's the Question:
What are some of the things you look for when reading a book?