Michele Regnold’s posts talks about about getting to know your characters by interviewing them. This is definitely a worthwhile exercise. If you want to read a book on the subject, I enjoyed Taking Your Characters to Dinner by Laurel A. Yourke.
When we think too much about our writing, sometimes it can stall our progress. K. M. Weiland discusses some of the things that can hinder writers. The nice thing is, she also gives us some ideas around this.
Though with item #6 in the making writing easier list, I’m not sure focusing on what you’ve learned from book #2 is quite right. I would say acknowledge what you’ve learned (you’ve learned a lot writing that first book), but then forget it. You really don’t need to consciously think about what you’ve learned while writing book 2. And I’d say it will hinder you to think about it. Just write with no expectations. There is nothing more damning for a creative project than letting expectations take hold.
As she says in item #1 – no one has to read this.
Also, what you’ve learned will creep into your writing all on it’s own. And the more you write, the more this will happen. And if it doesn’t, then you always have draft #2, #3, #4… to figure it out.
You can do this!
Writing a second novel can often be surprisingly harder than the first one. Check out six challenges sophomore writers often face.
I totally agree with Jyotsna Sreenivasan about the time needed to let story ideas percolate. (Remember our parent’s old coffee pots – percolators – that had that little glass nob on the top that, as the coffee was brewing, it would spirt up into that little glass nob. It told the coffee drinker that their morning wake up was brewing.)
I’ve even heard a writer friend say she goes to bed purposefully asking a story question, looking for sleep to help answer the question. Some people like to take walks outside to let the great out there push out the cobwebs to let other ideas in.
I personally haven’t had sleep or walks help me much. I generally get ideas after I’ve read, listened to, or watched particularly good writing. It doesn’t have to be anything related to what I’m writing about, because all good writing resonates, and it will remind me of how to make my own writing resonate too.
But most any time away from the keyboard or writing pad will help your mind mull over your writing without you even having to think about it directly.
Setting an idea or draft aside for “percolation” allows the brain’s subconscious to arrive at insights while we’re busy with something else.
Story structure is always something that seems to come up repeatedly over time among writers. K.M Weiland recently read “Wild Mind” by Natalie Goldberg (1990) and Natalie doesn’t use the word in same way most of use do. But the topic brought up some new thoughts on the subject for K.M. you might find interesting.
Here are a five important questions you, as a writer of fiction, can ask yourself to help you in making story structure your own.
Yes, what does a writer need for Christmas? (notice the word “need”?) More books to sit on desks and tables and in bookshelves that you may or may not read!
Is this silly?
Yes, but we want them anyway 🙂
I have read a few on K.M. Weiland’s list and agree they are good:Story, Techniques of a Selling Writer, The Emotional Craft of Fiction, though Story is a bit of slog to get through and is set up for writing a screenplay, it does have good bits. If you’re a regular reader of K.M.’s blog, you know she follows the structure of screenplays with her story writing. Probably not exclusively (I don’t like to pigeon hole anyone) but in general she does, which is not a bad thing.
I would add: #1! – Roget’s International Thesaurus(I have the 6th edition but there may be newer ones). If you are ever stuck for words, this is a wonderful book! A must for any writer’s bookshelf. Then The Writer’s Journey(3rd edition) by Christopher Vogler, Story Genius by Lisa Cron and Story Physics by Larry Brooks. On the grammar and punctuation side, (and yes, writers need to learn basic grammar and punctuation) is Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss (so funny for a non-fiction book on this subject matter), and Woe is IPatricia O’Conner (very practical and easy to use and understand!) And if you want a bit more: Dreyer’s English by Benjamin Dreyer (which hits on things that aren’t covered in the other two, if you can believe it).
Here is K.M’s list:
Looking for Christmas gifts? Here are what I currently consider the 10 best books to buy a writer for Christmas.
If you’re looking to traditionally publish your novel, keeping the word count down to about 80 – 85K is important. It’s mostly a matter of publishing costs – bigger books cost more to produce.
I have a large book: A Burnished Rose – Book I and book II (don’t remember the total work count but it’s over 400 pages) that I split online because it was too costly to print as one book.
that I split up for selling online because of the printing cost. When I sell it in person, I have a brick and mortar printer print Book I and II together because it is cost-effective for me, but not for online print sales.
If you are a plotter (a writer that likes to work on your plot usually via an outline before you start writing), or a plotter once the whole thing is written (using the exercise to make your story as strong as it can be), then this post, along with the others that K.M. Wieland has written (or will write) will be very helpful.
I liked I liked her line: The First Plot Point may take the protagonist to a new place, but the Third Plot Point makes him into a new person.
K.M also has a great archive of movie and some book plot points that can help you when you’re struggling with your own manuscript.
Deepen your understanding of story structure by examining the parallel functions of the First Plot Point and the Third Plot Point.
This is something that I see debated often and probably will continue to be a topic of discussion; I think because there isn’t any one right answer. Odd characters are fun to write so writers like to create them. And odd character often speak in odd ways. Or if you’re trying to portray a certain group or character by their/the character’s speech pattern, trying to make them stand out, dialogue is one way to do that.
But as K.M. Weiland notes in the post below, if you use slang, or even odd speech ticks, I agree, that a little goes a long way. Part of the reason for this is you don’t want the reader to stop and have to really look at a word(s) to try and interpret what you’re trying to say. Text should flow easily through the readers mind. An odd word here and there probably isn’t an issue, but if you make the reader stop too often, they may decide they need to unload the dishwasher instead of continuing to read your book!
Authors need to get the nuances of slang in dialogue right, because smart readers will always recognize phony speech patterns.