Is there such a thing as too much advice?

So, what have I been up to this past week, from a writing perspective that is? Well, I’ve read lots of advice about structural editing for one thing and to be honest, some days, it has left me feeling quite depressed. There is just so-ooooo much advice out there that I can’t see the wood for the trees – oh no, cliché alert!!! and too many exclamation marks too, aargh!!! Let’s get specific then:

  • I have dipped in to Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ and found that useful but will have to wait till I get to the end to see how I can apply it.
  • I looked at Alexandra Sokoloff’s site and tried to apply her method to my novel but although this is a useful structure, it just didn’t seem to work for me this time. I may use it for my NaNoWriMo writing this year though because it has a lot of merit and I’d like to give it a try. Have a look and see what you think.

http://www.screenwritingtricks.com/2010/02/three-act-eight-sequence-structure.html)

  • I tried out the Snowflake method. The problem is, as you may have realised, I have already written my first draft and so I am trying to ‘impose’ these methods on to my novel after the event and that makes it doubly hard.

http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/articles/snowflake-method/

  • Finally, after looking at some really useful posts on this site:

http://blog.janicehardy.com/

I found a method of plotting that seemed to work for me. Janice has a way of explaining difficult things in a really simple way that I understand, maybe it’s just me 😉 But judging by the positive comments on the site, I don’t think so. This method by Michael Hague – The 6 Stage Plot Structure – fits my novel really well and has left me feeling much more enthusiastic about checking my story for plot holes. It’s going to take me a while to carry out this editing stage but I do feel more confident about doing it now, thanks to Janice.

http://blog.janicehardy.com/2013/10/plotting-with-michael-hagues-six-stage.html

I have started to read my first draft out loud as suggested by many people on the internet as my first proper editing step and this has already helped me to pick up on some important points. For example, I write dialogue very formally – I always write ‘I have’ rather than ‘I’ve’ which is what we would say to each other of course so I have tried to correct that tendency wherever I spot it.

As this week is half-term week in my part of the UK, I am not sure how much writing I will get done with my own kids around but I wanted to keep up with my blog and I also intend to start NaNoWriMo on Friday, come hell or high water!

Another busy week then. Let me know if any of these methods work for you or if you have another suggestion for structural edits of your first draft. Good luck with your writing in the coming week 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Attempting a structural edit of your first draft

Last week, I was overjoyed to have finished the first draft of my debut novel and was looking forward to the course I was going on to help me with the next phase. Then I found out that my course had been cancelled! Cue much disappointment and even despair on my part. What was I going to do?

As a beginner writer, I know that my first draft is going to need a lot of work on it and I don’t really feel equipped to do that on my own but I don’t have lots of money to spend on asking a professional to do it for me either.

So finally, after much hand-wringing and teeth-gnashing (not just figuratively speaking!), I knew I had to get on with it. I had come across a really useful website earlier in the week that someone doing prep for NaNoWriMo had recommended:

http://www.screenwritingtricks.com/2013/10/nanowrimo-prep-index-card-method-and.html

This got me thinking that I should apply this to my story to help me see where the gaps are and hopefully, begin to tighten things up. I found out that Alexandra has a couple of useful books too and I downloaded one of those today from Amazon, aimed particularly at romance writers:

I have spent a lot of useful time thinking about this today and it has helped me a lot but it is going to take me a really long time. I know that this is partly because I didn’t do all this preparation first and I truly regret that now but I have no choice but to try and get on with it. My aim is to make my novel better and so I am determined to plod on and do the best I can with the wealth of information there is on the internet and by buying one or two recommended books for writers as well. Wish me luck!

Are you doing a structural edit or have you tried to do one for one of your novels in the past? Have you got any tips you could share? Any comments will be greatly appreciated as always.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Critique Other Writers

I’ve just finished my first draft of my first novel and was about to start looking for beta readers so this is really helpful!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carly Watters, Literary Agent Blog

researchPart of being in the writing community is critiquing, editing and beta reading other writers’ work. It can bring so much to your own writing by helping you be clear about craft issues. And it can be a wonderful circle of support. However, it’s one thing to read someone’s work, but it’s another to provide editorial notes.

Here are my 4 tips for critiquing other writers:

1. Build them up and not down. Even if there are major structural or character issues, part of you job as a critique partner is showing them the good in their work, as well as what needs improvement. All writers are unsure of themselves in that moment when they send things off for another person/friend/colleague to review it. They want you to enjoy it so make sure you tell them the good, too. By highlighting what is good and what’s working for readers you’re going…

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The Joy of Finishing your First Draft!

I have finally done it, finished the first draft of my first ever novel. I have written nearly 4,000 words today in a final burst of energy that I found somewhere but don’t ask me where! I guess it was knowing that the end really was in sight and that was spurring me on. So now I have to take all the advice I’ve been reading and leave it alone for a bit before I even think about editing. I’m OK with that as a concept but what else am I going to do with myself now that I have established this routine of writing as much as I can on my days off from my teaching job?

Well, this calls for a list, methinks.

1. I’m going to go on my first ever writing course on 27th October. This is the one I’m attending, just to remind you, if you’re interested:

http://www.urbanwritersretreat.co.uk/masterclasses/

I am really looking forward to it, as I ponder the pitfalls of not only editing but polishing my story and making it worthy of publication. I am sure I will be talking about this a lot over the coming months.

2. I am going to take part in this November’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for the first time. The challenge is to write 50,000 words in a  month, that’s 1,667 words a day in case you’d like to have a go as well 😉 Some of you may think me mad, hell, I think I must be mad but I’m going to give it a go and kickstart novel number two. I’ve even started planning it in Scrivener and talking about my plot with anyone who’ll listen! I feel really excited and optimistic about it too.

3. I am also looking forward to hearing how the first chapter of my debut novel has fared in the Festival of Romance’s New Talent Award 2013. I don’t feel quite so optimistic about this because I don’t have much confidence in my abilities as a writer as yet but I’ve paid for a professional critique of that chapter too and I hope that will at least be interesting. I should receive that report in December and then I can set to work on their suggestions, eek!

4. I am going to get on to the task of finding some beta readers for ‘From Here to Nashville.’ I feel a bit unsure how to go about this. So far, some family and friends have read the first part of my story, as well as a number of very helpful people on Authonomy. The family and friends have been kind, as I knew they would be but they haven’t offered much in the way of constructive criticism. I did have some useful comments on Authonomy but I was also finding some of the comments unhelpful at this stage of the process and in the end, I realised that I had just put my story up there too soon. It’s only my first draft and it needed to be finished before others started to criticise it. I was also getting people offering to read and review my story if I’d do the same for them but none of those people were rating or backing my book so it seemed a bit one sided at times. I have therefore reluctantly retired from Authonomy for the time being.

So plenty of to-dos on this list to keep me busy until the end of November and beyond. Please let me know if you are editing your first draft and how you are managing it. Or are you going to take part in NaNoWriMo for the first time and need a buddy to see you through? I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Soundtrack of my Debut Novel

If you’re a new blogger and fairly inexperienced in the writing life, like I am, it can be a bit daunting to keep coming up with new ideas for posts. I have set myself the challenge of writing a new post every Monday and have even managed to keep to this goal so far. This  extends to preparing this one today because rather than having my usual day off tomorrow, I am going to be in London for the day.

During the day, I am attending training for the Young Voices concert taking place at the O2 next January so I shall be singing and dancing all day. I’m really looking forward to that 🙂

In the evening, I am off with my family and some lovely friends to the Danny Elfman concert at The Royal Albert Hall. It’s going to be a brilliant concert and I just can’t wait!

But I digress, although only a little 😉 I recently discovered a great blog by Molly Greene and I read this post on her site this week which has given me inspiration for my blog post this week.

http://www.molly-greene.com/101-blog-topic-ideas/

You may have guessed from the title of my debut novel, which is ‘From Here to Nashville’, that there might be some music involved and you would be right of course. The basic plot is that my main female character is a singer/songwriter from Dorset in the UK and she meets and falls in love with someone from Nashville, USA (not just any old someone either, without giving away too many clues)! So, there is a lot of music involved throughout and in fact, the story allows me to include some of my favourite country music songs. My MC, Rachel also writes her own songs but as yet, these are not recorded 😉

With my daughter’s help (she’s 16 and knows a thing or two tech-wise), I have put together a playlist for you. Do have a listen and let me know what you think.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Blogging No-Nos

I found this a really interesting post, even though I have only had a blog for a short while. I’m sure it is something that all bloggers wonder about, especially if you have something to promote as well. In my case, I’m writing my debut novel but I’m only blogging about my writing, not revealing what I’ve written at all. I wonder if I should, from time to time but some of my first draft is available on the internet and I’ve linked so I hope if people are interested enough, they’ll go and read it. But am I being too shy about it? Who knows? I only have a small blog readership at the moment so maybe this will become more of an issue as time goes by. Anyway, Scott’s post was interesting to me so hopefully, it will be to you too 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard

SnoopyI love having a blog.

It’s not an ego-tripping thing or anything, yet it is selfish. Oh, so very, very selfish because it is my opinion, my voice out there on display and… okay, maybe it is a little bit an ego-tripping thing.

See, I believe I have something to share, something to say that is unique and having this site gives me that opportunity. We all have dreams of making an impact on the world. For me, it is with my writing, which means my books or my pieces here. If you are starting a blog or have one already, no matter on what topic, you probably feel the same way; you have that itch in the back of your mind, knowing full well that “If I don’t say it, it won’t be said.”

I previously wrote a popular post on this site on the art of blogging and…

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