Friday, February 26, 2016

Plotting and Pantsing--When to Plan and When to Write, and Why Both Are Useful as You Build Your Book

Erin, a blog reader who has taken my online book-writing classes, wrote with a great question:  "I'm struggling a bit of time management in terms of planning vs writing. Case in point, I get about 30-45 minutes of writing a day. I feel like this should be used towards actually writing my book. The planning exercises are helpful but they don't feel like real, actual writing. So on days where I'm planning and world building and working on character profiles, etc., I feel like I'm not writing or progressing in terms of my novel."
Erin wondered about the balance between what she called "actual writing" and all the planning and plotting that goes into building a book's structure.
"Right now I feel guilty planning but stuck writing," she said.  "It's a terrible place to be!"

Welcome to the world of structure versus writing, or plotting versus pantsing, as it's known in many writing circles.  Some writers love to know where they're going ahead of time--the plotters or planners.  Others love the discovery process of just writing and seeing what emerges.

Friday, February 19, 2016

False Agreements and Your Narrator's Epiphany

A blog reader from New England sent a great question, which ties into a discussion happening in one of my online classes right now, about the growth of a character in memoir and fiction.  How that character always starts their story with a false agreement.  How that agreement changes until the character realizes what's true.

The false agreement also happens in nonfiction.  We pick up a book to get new insights, to move from limited knowledge into wider understanding. 

So, imagine what false agreement your story starts with.  What is the status quo?  What does everybody put up with, to get along? 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Planting Sensory Details--What to Use, When to Use It--for Emotional Impact in Your Writing

Skilled writers use sensory details to bring emotion to the reader.  Oddly enough, emotion doesn't come from fast-paced action.  Our hearts may race, we may read fast, but all we feel is tension and speed.  Characters' thoughts and feelings don't bring emotion to the reader either.  We may relate, but it doesn't hit that part of the brain where memories reside, where our emotions slide past the logical mind.

Friday, February 5, 2016

How Long Can My Timeline Be? Story Arc Questions and Answers

Many first-time novelists and memoirists struggle with timelines, asking excellent questions in my classes.  Two favorite ones: 

* How long a span of years or months or days can my book cover?

* What should I condense, what should I expand (Do I have to relate everything in real time or can it be summarized)?