Thursday, September 12, 2013

How contest entries improve my writing...before I even enter!

In an effort to resume my writing on a more regular basis, I have entered one writing contest and am working on an entry for a second one. In doing so, I've been reminded just how helpful the act of preparing a contest entry can be.

Case in point - the contest I want to enter this month has a word count limit, rather than a page limit. This fact has forced me to edit even more closely than before. After going over and over this manuscript I was certain it was as tight as it could be, yet without too much trouble I managed to cut at least 20 words. Which left me wondering why they were there in the first place. How had they slipped through so many other times?

I realize that most likely I was editing for other reasons - not strictly for word count. Does that make sense? And it's not as though the words I removed were serving as padding, they were just, in the end, superfluous. But I didn't see that before because I wasn't focussed on making my prose tight - I was focussed on story, dialogue etc. 

Do you still enter writing contests? If so, how do you find they help you with your writing?

Monday, April 08, 2013

Some progress...

I had a rough couple of weeks (nothing really serious, but just not fun), however by Friday I was feeling well enough to tackle some writing. I'd booked the day off more than a month previously so had a good chunk of time, especially as Sean was working a double shift. Rather than messing around with plotting etc, I just opened my ms, read through the previous couple of scenes, then picked up where I'd left off (mid-scene) and just forced myself to write. Yep, didn't wait for the muse or hope for inspiration, just started listening to my characters and typing.

Is the scene perfect? Is it even finished? No and no, but it's more than 800 words longer than it was before, so I'm happy. As I've learned to do with other mss, when I ran into words/phrases etc I a) wasn't happy with or b) wasn't sure if they were in period, instead of stopping to mess about, I bracketed them and kept going. The ONLY thing I did do was look for some historical furniture to help set myself in the scene...but even then, I kept writing, rather than allowing myself to get lost in an endless search for the perfect sofa and wall paper for the parlour. I'm determined to keep moving on with this as the not writing is now getting worse than the seemingly awful dreck I think I'm producing.

I keep reminding myself of Nora's words about "fixing everything but a blank page."

How do you motivate yourself?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Plotting...the bane of my existence...

I've had problems lately with my plots. I get so far and the story peters out...so I went looking for help on the internet and found some good advice. A lot of it is stuff I already know, and which, in earlier mss, came naturally to me. Now, however, I'm reading again about Three Act Structure, character goals, theme and resolution and hoping they help jar something free so I can finish at least one of my three unfinished manuscript and, preferably, all three.

Here are some of the sites I bookmarked:

The Single Most Powerful Writing Tool You’ll Ever See That Fits On One Page

Your Plot, Step by Step

PLOT---Part Three: Making Plans and Consulting the Maps

How to Use a Plot Notebook When Writing a Book

I know part of my problem is that I'm so caught up with so many projects that I'm not focussing enough on just my writing. That comes from having sacrificed (willingly) so much while I was in school. I thought at first I'd just lost altogether my ability to write and plot, but discovered in the library at Whistler in January that when the ONLY thing I had to focus on was my story, I accomplished more than I had in a while. Maybe that's my secret - I need to lock myself in the Whistler Library!

How about you - what do you do when your story stalls?

Teresa