Tag Archives: #Writingtips

#RWA17…the reason I go every year

So, of course, the one thing I haven’t mentioned yet, are the Workshops I took at RWA 17. Between coloring, fangirling, attending the book giveaway signings, I did – actually – sit in on a f ew lectures and learn some things.

IF you have never had the opportunity to hear Damon Suede speak, I pity you. First, his voice is like a warm blanket thrown over your body on a cold day. Warm, rich, soothing. Second, he is a wealth of amazeballs information about character development, what makes people-characters tick, and what their motivations/conflicts/individual characteristics should be. Damon comes from a theater ( and life!) background and really helps you get into your character’s mind set, feelings, and persona just as if you were portraying them on a stage. I’ve already listened to his 2 hour workshop twice since I’ve been home because I purchased the flash drive of the conference classes. Each time I’ve heard something new and fresh I will be using in my next books!

Three uber talented and mega published romance authors, RaeAnne Thayne, Jill Shalvis, and Sarah Morgan gave a workshop on Contemporary romance in today’s marketplace.

They each have very different writing styles and ways of telling a story, but they also know their market. Thier stories are character and situational driven, and they bring into each one a perfect little snapshot of the contemporary age, without isolating themselves to this moment in time. Case in point: you can read one of their books from five years ago and even though things have changed in the tech world and the world in general, the stories told are still relevant and topical to today. That was my takeaway from this talk. Write the here and now, since I write contemp/romance, but make it relevant for the future as well. It’s all in the characters and how they are motivated towards their HEA. Love these three authors!

 

Another workshop with a trio of amazeballs and prolific writers, was one titled Fifty Shade of Funny with writes Jennifer Probst, Lauren Layne and Rachel Van Dyken. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture while I was in this workshop because I was fangirling like a two year old over Jennifer and Lauren and forgot!!!! I di remember their takes on what constitutes “funny” in a romance novel was very insightful, though, so that’s something ( heehee).

My absolute favorite workshop was the last one of the conference: The Neuroscience of high-impact Love scenes, presented by the amazingly brilliant, funny, and speedy-talker, Emily Foster. I wasn’t able to hear her speak when I was at the NECRW conference earlier this year because she was presenting at the same time I was, so when I saw her name listed on the RWA17 conference sheet for presenters, I knew I just had to attend her lecture. And, yowza, am I glad I did.

  

As a nurse I figure I have a pretty good idea of how the human body and the mind work. Yeah…not so much in reality. Emily gave me a completely different spin – a neuroscientific one – about how the body responds to desire and arousal, and how the mind is the major player in the difference, not the body’s reactions. Blew. My. Mind!!! Again, I played this lecture back once so far – but plan on listening to it, again and again, to make sure I get the character’s reactions to all things sex, correct!

These weren’t the only lectures I attended, but they were the highlights. There was sososososo much to do, sear, and hear at the conference I had to pick and choose wisely. Another reason I am so glad I purchased the conference recordings. I missed a bunch of really fabulous workshops and presentations because I needed to be elsewhere at the same time. Best $$$$ I’ve spent in a while, too.

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Filed under Author, Author Branding, Contemporary Romance, Foodie, Kensington Publishers, Life challenges, Literary characters, love, Lyrical Author, NHRWA, Romance, Romance Books, RWA, Strong Women, The Wild Rose Press

The Declutter Challenge…

Recently on Facebook, I saw a post that was shared hundreds of times called THE DECLUTTER CHALLENGE,  a 30-day challenge to get rid of clutter and stuff in your life. A random sampling of the days’ tasks includes: purging 2 kitchen cabinets (day 7); cleaning out your wallet (day 9) and your purse ( day 10); cleaning out the freezer ( day 18); donating unused toys ( day 25). The challenge ends on day thirty with the simple task of CLEAN. I guess what you clean is up to you, but I took it to mean, clean your house.

This challenge, naturally, got me to thinking about how I could declutter my writing.  All writers have catch words or phrases they like to use, especially when writing dialogue. If we actually wrote how we spoke, the readers would be bored out of their gourds. For instance, would you seriously want to spend money on a book where every dialogue started like this:

#1. Hey, Bill. How are you?

#2. Fine, Jim. How are you?

#3. Can’t complain. How’s the family?

#4. Doing well. Yours?

#5. Same, same. So how, about those Red Sox?…

you get the idea. This is drivel. We may speak like this in real life, but in fiction, it’s a death knoll.

So that’s one way to declutter your work: check the dialogue. Can you get the idea across without all the folderol of “hi, how you doing’s?”

Another way I know I personally clutter up my writing is by using too many extraneous words to convey my thoughts. A quick search of my current work in progress yielded this:

the use of THAT – 89 times

the use of To her/to him/ for her/for him -56 times

the use of adverbs ( the bane of my writing existence) 91 times. EEK!

I really need to work on decluttering these words, don’t I! Hee hee

Other things that writers should declutter are phrases like “seemed to,” “tried to,” “began to.” Writing is much stronger and moves quicker when sentences are declarations and use an active tense.

For example: Her natural, spicy scent seemed to surround her body.

Better example: Her natural, spicy scent of ginger and peach, surrounded her.

Other words that can probably be eliminated a fair amount of time and still allow the sentence to convey what it needs to are:

move, push, reach, bring, pull, went, brought, press and came( to denote going  or coming from somewhere)

It’s a good practice to utilize the SEARCH for options in your word processing program to nit pick and eliminate words you use excessively after your first draft is written. This will make the editing process more about the story line and capturing what you intended to say instead of needing to remove excess words.

Oh, about that 30-day Declutter challenge. yeah, I survived for three days. Then I was exhausted. Maybe I should develop a 12 month declutter challenge. You know…do one thing a month instead of 30 in 30 days? Thoughts? LOL

When I’m not decluttering my life and my writing, you can find me here:

Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triberr

 

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Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, Dialogue, Life challenges, Pet Peeves, Strong Women, Uncategorized

Story inspiration; #MFRWauthors #BlogChallenge Week 14

 

Everywhere I look I find inspiration for stories. It doesn’t take a great deal of action or thought on my part, actually. I’m a naturally nosey person and I tend to eavesdrop on conversations that don’t involve me; watch strangers interact with people when I’m shopping; I even pay attention to how people react with one another when I’m on line in the grocery store. Little snippets of conversation, a careless wave of a hand while someone is speaking, and I’ve got a story jarring to be told shooting forth from the back of mind.

Like I said, I’m nosey. Not in your face ask you a million questions nosey and annoying, but I’m the kind of person people – strangers – talk to. I’ve got “that kind of face” I guess. Really, I could talk to a rock if I needed to. And it would probably answer back. This makes me sound like a harpy or a gossip, but I’m not. I don’t go forward and seek information from people – it is divulged to me willingly and without my asking. And just BTW, I’m that gal who people trust with secrets. So…just saying.

So, my writing process starts with people. I see people ( Now I sound like an M. Night Shamylan movie!), I watch them, and I build stories around them. Character always always always comes first. My husband has commented – frequently, I’ll add- that I tend to stare at people when we’re out in public, like at a restaurant or when we’re traveling. Some of my most influential character descriptions have evolved from watching how people behave when they’re on an airport check-in line. Think about the last time you traveled and were waiting….waiting…..waiting on that check-in — and then the security — line. You will see all kinds of human behavior just chockful of character insights.

So. First I see a person, imagine them as a character, then give them an imaginative ( my imagination) background. From there, a plot will form.

Here’s a quick example – and this really did happen. I was mall shopping one day and decided to have lunch so I hightailed it to the mall Pizzeria Uno. Love their grilled chicken salad. But I digress… As I was waiting for my lunch to arrive my eyes took a tour of the other lunch patrons. I saw this: 3oish man and woman across from me. Their body language said they were involved in some kind of an argument – he kept drumming his fingers on the table, she was looking down at her drink, a scowl on her face. They were dressed in business casual, so I assumed they were on a working lunch break. Here’s the snippet of conversation that drifted my way once my salad came:

Him: you need to deal with this. Today. Don’t waste any more time.

Her: Stop pressuring me. I’ll get it done. Just back off, will ya?

Him: Stop being such a bitch about it and just take care of.

So. What did I learn from this conversation? Nothing, really. But my mind went into hyperspace and overdrive at all the options available. Was she a whistle blower? Was he a corrupt banker? Was she pregnant and he was her baby daddy and her boss? Her married boss? Were they doing something illegal? Immoral? Unethical? Dangerous?
See? This is how my mind works.

Now, in all reality, they could have been a young married couple who were still waiting to get their cable television system installed and he was getting mad she hadn’t called the cable company to light a fire under their installing asses. Who knows?
My point is, this is how my writing process works: see a person, imagine them as a character, devise a back story and then a plot for them.

Easy peasy, right?
Yeah…not so much. But it is fun people watching!

 

Since this is a BLOG HOP, click on the titles/names of the authors below to find out what their writing process if like. You put 1,000 writers in the same room and you’ll get 1,000 different responses!

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Filed under #Mfrwauthors, Author, Characters, Contemporary Romance, Life challenges, Romance, Strong Women

Why I need to see my characters before I write, part 2

So yesterday I showed you how my mind works. Get your own minds out of the gutter! I meant visually, that’s how!

I see things way before I ever type a single word of my manuscripts. My characters, my settings, the clothes people wear, the weather, everything, really, must be visual to me first.  I have stacks of current magazines in my office that I comb through frequently. Fashion mags, exercise, mags, home improvement ones, even travel issues. I’ll flip through the pages, see an interesting face, or place, or image, and rip it out, storing it in a big box on one of my library shelves.

I troll through Pinterest periodically as well, typing in search words for images I want, such as brown eyed and blonde hair women, or green eyed men.

When I see images that gel with what I’ve been seeing in my mind, I pin them to storyboards in my Pinterest site and sometimes even print them out for inclusion on my visualization board. You may think a great deal of this is redundant, but just having them loaded in a computer file isn’t enough for me. I need to actually see them every day while I’m writing my story.

As I’ve gotten older, I tend to forget little details that are important for my characters and stories. It’s not because I’ve got any kind of creeping dementia or cognitive memory loss. It’s more that there is so much going on in my life in one single day, that remembering what color eyes I gave my hero six weeks ago in chapter one, tends to be difficult if I don’t have the actual picture of the guy close by. A few months ago I was writing my soon-to-be-released 5th book in my Wild Rose Press series of the MacQuire Women, PASSION’S PALETTE,  and one of the characters had  chin length snow-blond hair initially, and the next time we meet her, it’s turned strawberry blonde and is down the middle of her back – three days later! I wasn’t paying attention to my vision board very well during those days, but luckily I caught a glimpse of it one day before submitting the story and fixed the mistake! So that’s all the proof I need to tell me making my vision boards is a worthwhile way to spend some of my creative time.

I’m just gonna throw this out there and say story boarding and plot visualization are as old as civilization. Didn’t primitive cave-people and early societies leave cave and cliff drawings, depicting their ways of life? Their history? Sounds to me an awful lot like storyboarding. Just saying….

So. Hope this helps you understand the way this writer’s brain and creative process works. I don’t think I’m alone in my storyboarding, either. I tend to think since the advent of Pinterest, more writers work this way, simply because it’s so easy to.

When I’m not storyboarding, you can find me here: Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triberr

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Filed under Author, Characters, Contemporary Romance, Life challenges, love, research, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women

My Writing process; #MfrwAuthors; week 11

So this week, we are talking about our own writing processes, namely, PLOTTING.

I am a plotter. ( When I say that I feel like I’m in a self-help group; “Hi, my name is Peggy and I plot.” 

But, as always, I digress.

So. Plotting. I am a dyed-in-the-wool plotter for several reasons none of which counts more than the other, but just goes to explain why I am the way I am.

  1. I am a Nurse so, therefore have a scientific background. I need to now if I do A, then B or C will happen ahead of time.
  2. I hate to be surprised. I have impulse control issues, so when someone surprises me I never EVER say the right thing or act the appropriate way. I have ruined enough birthday parties and drop-in visits from people to fill a lifetime.
  3. I am a linear thinker. I like going from A to Z in a straight line. It’s logical for me and alleviates anxiety.
  4. I like knowing what will happen to my characters before it happens to them. I have never been the type of writer who says, “My characters just insisted I have them say this or act this way. NO. Not gonna happen to me.
  5. I like, no actually LOVE, being in control. The one thing I have absolute dictator control over in my life is my writing, my characters, and what happens to them.

If I didn’t know where my story was going. what was going to befall my characters, what their storyline was, I think I would write a pretty horrible book.But that’s me…just saying.

When I’m not plotting out my next novel, you can find me here:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triberr

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Filed under Author, Author Branding, Contemporary Romance, love, research, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, WIld Rose Press AUthor