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Posts Tagged ‘writing groups’

norton-public-libraryNorton Public Library… on Tuesday evening, October 18 at 6 pm, I’ll be sharing my journey as I wrote my debut mystery ‘The Uninvited Guest’.

From inspiration to research through writing groups and publication, you’ll learn what is involved in creating a work of fiction. I’ll also share several amusing anecdotes that happened along the way.

After a short reading, I’ll answer all your questions, and gladly autograph copies of my book.

I’ll watch for your smiling face!

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TUG Front Cover OnlyOn Tuesday, July 12, at 6:30 pm, come join me in the clubhouse ballroom at the Oak Point Active Adult Community in Middleboro, MA.

The evening’s event is my author talk titled ‘The Ins and Outs of Writing My Debut Mystery’. I will share my writing adventure, from research to writing groups to publication.

I hope to make you laugh at the funny things that happened along the way.

After a short reading from my story ‘The Uninvited Guest’, I’ll answer questions from the audience, and gladly autograph copies of my book.

If you or any of your relatives live in this complex, please stop by, say hello, and stay a while!

 

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ah-ha momentFor the past few years, I’ve listened to well-meaning comments from two writing groups, manuscript evaluators and uninterested agents. After a particularly brutal critique session this past weekend, my brain finally kicked and I experienced an “ah-ha moment”.

I had lost my title character.

A comment made several months ago at a mystery writers conference to “start with the body” sent me off on a major rewrite to move my chapter thirteen to page one. This forced me to re-introduce my potential suspects after the body dropped. What I sacrificed was providing my future readers with a sense of my characters as they responded to each other. Without real-time dialogue, the victim morphed into dreaded and story-slowing back story.

And so, last Saturday, as I drove home with my ego bruised and my head spinning, it occurred to me that all along I’ve been categorizing my story in the wrong genre. Since the first word was put to the page…or more accurately, onto the screen… I’ve considered it a mystery, but it doesn’t start out that way. It’s more accurately defined as perhaps ‘women’s fiction” that becomes a mystery with a dash of romance along the way. I’ve just found a blog called “Women Fiction Writers” and subscribed.

I’m no longer writing for some unknown agent or publisher with an unknown laundry list of what sort of story they are seeking at the moment. I am writing for myself. The story that has been in my head since the beginning has resurfaced and set me free. Will I self-publish? Most likely.

Are my instincts right? Who cares! All I know is that I’m reinvigorated about bringing my original concept to life on the page!

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imagesWell, today was the deadline to submit 15 pages for a manuscript evaluation at the upcoming Crime Bake Conference, sponsored by Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America.

After several revisions, I managed to condense the first 13 pages of my story to end with Chapter 2 where the initial hook hopefully sinks in. The first page was a cover sheet, and the second a one-page synopsis. How difficult was that to write??? All the broad strokes on one page!

My submission will be assigned to an agent, an editor, or a published mystery writer for evaluation. I’ll find out who when I register on November 8.

The two of us will find a quiet corner in the Hilton Hotel and spend fifteen minutes together. She will tell me what she thinks of my story and my writing. It will be a nerve-wracking experience, but a necessary evil. After sending my story through two separate writing groups, eliminating my original opening chapters and many unnecessary scenes, plus rewriting the first page a gazillion times, I can only hope that my evaluator thinks my story is in pretty good shape.

During this conference, I will also pitch my book to the attending agents. Maybe I’ll finally get a bite!

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sketch of question personOK… so I’ve been wrestling with my opening chapter for what seems like forever. I’ve read many writing craft books. One craft book says the author can’t mess with normal until your reader knows what normal is.

And so I’ve arrived at a quandary… how do I hook my reader [and my first reader is an agent] with the inciting incident and show my main character’s normal life at the same time?

A while ago, I attended an event at a local library called Author Idol, where the 25 authors sitting in the audience had each submitted their anonymous first three pages. The four agents up on stage raised one hand when the reader came to a place where the agent would reject the manuscript. Two agents’ hands in the air signaled the reader to stop. Would it surprise you to hear that most of us didn’t get past the first two paragraphs???

How scary is that???

How perfect does that opening have to be???

What happened to editors???

If an agent is not willing to read at least the first three pages, what hope do I have of ever getting published?

So it’s back to the drawing board. On Saturday, I’ll submit to my writing group yet another attempt at my opening. My fingers are crossed that I’m at least getting closer.

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emotion

Traveling this long and interesting road since I decided to try my hand at writing a novel has been a real eye opener. Who knew there was so much involved in putting my story on paper? I respect authors who have written an engrossing story, then managed to find an agent and a publisher. On the other hand, I’m sometimes disappointed with the quality of writing, wondering how a book managed to get published at all.

This brings me to my fear of putting my story out there if it’s not as perfect as I can make it. Fascinating characterization, interesting setting, thoughtful plot line, and control of back story.  I’ve become a great lover of books written to educate a new writer. Most recently, I bought one called “The Emotion Thesaurus”. It  provides a laundry list of examples to write the emotions of your characters without falling into the trap of cliche. As my writing group points out on a regular basis, I sometimes forget to include my protagonist’s emotions, assuming that the reader understands what’s going on in my characters’ heads. Wrongo!

As I’ve been reading through this new how-to book, I’m inspired to go back into my story and find places where the emotional impact of a scene can be more accurately shown…never told!…to make my protagonist more human.

If you have a favorite book about the craft of writing, I’d love to hear about it. Always looking for new volumes to add to my ever-expanding library.

 

 

 

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There’s a dramatic scene toward the end of my novel that begins to resolve the mystery. But I had the hardest time getting this chapter through one of my two writing groups.

The intention was to show frenetic activity as each character stumbled over the others. At first, I had each character’s actions shown in full. Then I tried alternating paragraphs of each characters’ actions to show everything happening at once.

Yesterday, as I went back and forth between the group comments and my subconscious muse, I finally figured out what was sending this scene off on the wrong track.

Too many characters too soon!

And so, I’m busy re-sequencing the timing to bring them into the scene one at a time instead of having all of them there at the beginning. One character finishes before another one enters to interact and move the story along. It seems to be flowing much better. Such a relief.

But wait! I shouldn’t get too excited yet… what if the group still doesn’t think it works???

 

 

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