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Posts from the ‘writing a novel’ Category

Do You Talk Aloud to Yourself?

All my life, I’ve talked aloud to myself (when I’m alone).  Whenever I realize I’m doing it–usually practicing what I’m going to say when I call someone with a specific reason for the call, or talking to someone specific, saying what I’d LOVE to say, but know I never will.  I’ve always wondered why I feel the need to do this, and now I know why.

It’s dialogue.  And I’m practicing writing dialogue, just as though I were writing it on a piece of paper or my computer screen.  All that jabbering aloud when I’m driving or sitting on the back porch, reading (I often realize I’ve started reading aloud, simply because the writing is so good I want to hear it aloud as well as in my mind), or working in my garden is simply my mind writing dialogue.  Most of it, I’ll never use in a book, of course, but it’s still practice for writing dialogue between two characters.

When I write, I use this same technique, but in a slightly different way.  I see everything I’m writing about in my mind, like a movie, and I write down what I hear and see, layer by layer.  Dialogue is almost always the first layer, with descriptions, action, foreshadowing of future events and such being added in other layers.  But dialogue is the heart of the story because people are the heart of the story.

I once had an idea for a novel where a man witnessed the death of his friend, then had to tell his friend’s wife about his death.  But he couldn’t bring himself to tell her, so he said nothing.  My goal was for him to remain silent for the first 100 pages of the book.  What a challenge that would be!  I would have to convey his thoughts, feelings, and expressions without using dialogue at all.  There would be inner dialogue, of course–his thoughts expressed as he would’ve said them aloud (introspection), but what he needed to tell her could not be said straight out.  But she’d know why he was there and what he couldn’t tell her, just from his expressions, the way his eyes filled with tears whenever she mentioned her husband’s name, and how, she sensed, that he, too loved her.  I’ll definitely have to think about writing that book someday–Miranda’s Tears.

I was sitting outside, reading, when I started talking aloud to the character in the book.  That’s when I realized I was practicing dialogue again.  And it made me very happy.  Because it’s behavior I suspect all writers exhibit from time to time.  🙂

Kiss Me, Chloe for Sale on Amazon!

Hello, everyone!  Mercy but it’s been a busy two weeks!  I put the finishing touches on Kiss Me, Chloe, sent it to my pre-publication readers for proofing and reviewing, entered changes (typos, etc) and PUBLISHED the book on my birthday, April 10, just as I’ve been planning to do for months!  The reviews will be appearing over the course of this next week.  If you’ve read the book and enjoyed it, I’ll appreciate your putting a review on the book’s page on Amazon.  The link to that page is on this website, along with the cover and the description.  And this past week, our six-year-old grandson, Joey, was here during his spring break from Kindergarten in New Mexico.  Talk about a busy week!  In between bike rides and movies and trips to the park, I was working on Kiss Me, Chloe.  No matter what else is happening, writers keep writing.

By Tuesday, I knew it was time to stop writing, though.  It’s something all writers know and something we all incorporate into the writing of our books.  The writer is too close to the book to be completely objective.  And, the writer is too close to catch all the picky errors!  In “Kiss Me, Chloe” I had her putting on tennis shoes, then later that day kicking off her sandals!  Two of my readers noticed and let me know so I could correct that picky little error and get a corrected version of the book on Amazon.

My proofreaders also catch little typos that I haven’t caught, even though I’ve read the book over and over during the writing.  I get caught up in the story and my eyes skim over those typos, time after time.

I write my books in layers.  When I’m writing the first draft, I get the story written without worrying about typos, inconsistencies, description, or anything other than getting the beginning, middle, and end of the story finished.  Then, comes the real writing.  Layer by layer, I go through and insert descriptions, emotional reactions, additional dialogue, and subplots.  By the time I start polishing, and seeing the final draft in my mind, I’ve probably added ten layers to that first draft.  The final book is much richer and more finely written than the first.

That’s what separates a professional writer from a casual writer.  Rewriting.  I might spend an hour on a few paragraphs, or maybe only a few minutes correcting inconsistencies, like the tennis shoes turning into sandals!  Other times, I may decide to revise the plot completely.  I may add a new character, or a new piece of action that will enable my readers to know the characters better and to think of them as real people.

There’s also a reality that all writers are familiar with.  The book is never really finished.  No matter how many times I reread what I’ve written, I’ll find changes to make.  When I realize that the changes I’m making are putting the words back to where they were two changes ago, it’s time to stop tinkering and declare the book finished.  For the time being, anyway.  Then, my pre-publication readers take over the proofing process.  I make the changes those readers find–but I try not to reread the whole book, or I’ll start tinkering again.

Yes, it takes months to write a 60,000-word book.  But it’s worth every minute I spend to know that the story I’ve told seems like a slice of real life to my readers.

I hope you’ll check out the Amazon page for Kiss Me, Chloe.  If it sounds like a book you’d like, I hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Click here to order Kiss Me, Chloe.  http://www.amazon.com/Kiss-Me-Chloe-ebook/dp/B00CB7NHC8

 

Plotting My Novel – Kiss Me, Chloe

Kiss Me, Chloe, by Linda George

While going through this book to polish and make the last tweakings, I realized I wasn’t happy with the ending.  It just didn’t have the punch I wanted–the punch that I try to put into all my romances.  It didn’t have enough PLOT.

The answer to this dilemma, of course, was to test the plot using the method I described in my book  Fill-in-the-Blank Plotting, published by Crickhollow Books, which is available on Amazon: Fill-in-the-Blank Plotting

Fill-in-the-Blank Plotting, by Linda George

I pulled out my plotting boards,  with the 12 steps of the Hero’s Journey on one board, and chapter numbers divided into the Three-Act Structure on the other. I went through the novel and wrote the key scenes on cards and placed them into the steps of the Hero’s Journey.  Then, I moved all those cards to the Three-Act Structure board.

It was easy to see, once the cards were in the Three-Act Structure, that the plot had big holes in it!  There simply wasn’t enough plot in the last quarter of the book–where the climax of the story occurs.  I had to rewrite the last fourth of the book, inserting a subplot that would put Chloe into a position of having to choose between “the lesser of two evils.”  This decision hits the reader as hard as it hits Chloe, and it casts doubt on what Chloe will have to do to make it all work out for the best.

This book uses a tried-and-true romance novel premise–one woman, two men.  Chloe has to choose between Greg and Kyle.  In the original version,  Chloe–no matter who she chose–would’ve felt bad about rejecting the other man.  That simply won’t work in a romance.  And yet, there have to be good qualities in each man to create doubt in the reader’s mind about who she’s going to choose.  By inserting a harrowing decision, which puts Chloe into the position of having to make her choice based entirely on love, I knew the reader would agonize along with her–wondering the whole time how it would work out, and hoping for the happy ending all romances are required to have.

That’s the magic of the Hero’s Journey combined with the Three-Act Structure, with the elements of the plot displayed on a board where it’s easy to see the gaps in the story–and how to fill those gaps.

I’m exceptionally pleased now with the ending of this book.

I think you’ll be pleased, too.

Filling in the Plotting Blanks

Thanks to everyone who contributed to past posts!

I want to talk about what is involved in “filling in the blanks” when plotting a story.  Having been an elementary teacher for so many years, and knowing how much my students liked “filling in the blanks” instead of writing essay answers, I longed for a way to do that when plotting a story or a novel.  When I learned about the three-act structure, it helped tremendously, but I still had to rely on my mind to tell me, “What happens next?”

Then, I heard about the Hero’s Journey, but the question remained.  Then, Ridley Pearson talked about writing scene descriptions on index cards for his best-sellers, and I realized he was, in essence, filling in blanks in his plot.  By combining all three methods on plotting boards, I created blanks I could fill–first the 12 steps of the Journey.  Then, after moving those filled blanks to the three-act structure, I filled in the blanks around them in the structure.  Once all the blanks had been filled, the plot was done–along with the first draft of the synopsis!

Can a novel actually be planned by “filling in blanks?”  YES!!!  And the Hero’s Journey tells us what goes in the blanks.

Writers who have heard me talk about this combination of methods have said the new method was “revolutionary!”  A revolution is simply a new way of circling the same facts.  And that’s what FILL-IN-THE-BLANK PLOTTING is.  A new way of looking at an old challenge.

If you have another way of plotting that works for you, please share it here!  Perhaps, as happened in my experience, a new way of circling the task of planning a story may be born!

Fiction Plotting Workshop for Your Writers’ Group

I am available to speak for clubs or conference! 

My most requested topics are plotting, synopsis, and strong writing. 

Contact me through this site by leaving a comment and your contact information and I will get back to you ASAP.