Tag Archives: author

Honing my author’s voice

So I’m up to about 72 pages and I’ve been thinking about what I’ve written so far. I keep reminding myself not to worry about how “bad” the writing could be at the moment. Its a first draft, its supposed to be bad. What I can’t help thinking about now is that I know my non-fiction voice is much stronger than my fiction voice. why?

© Artaniss8 | Dreamstime.com

© Artaniss8 | Dreamstime.com

Why am I able to write humorous non-fiction that I’m proud of after I finish writing it, but when I write fiction I feel like I loose 5-10 years of age and write like I’m a 15 year old? Based on my plot and the female protagonist, I think my novel in progress would fit best in women’s literature/chick lit (whatever you want to call it), but my author’s voice is screaming young adult fiction.

How can I hone in on my non-fiction voice and twist it so that it will fit with my author’s voice? Non-fiction is easier to write because I can just write whatever I’m thinking and usually there is a specific topic that sparks my creativity. When writing fiction, my voice becomes more juvenile and boring like a “story-teller” around a campfire with an audience of a dozen 10-year old kids.

Why does my spark disappear when writing fiction? I think maybe its because I’m trying to think from the perspective of the protagonist and because the protagonist isn’t me I can’t say what I want to say. I’ve been using one of the secondary characters as a medium for my snappy remarks. I read that the best-friend (secondary character) in a novel is sometimes more interesting that the protagonist, but the protagonist can’t be all wit and humor otherwise there would be no conflict.

I need to figure out how to make more use of my “non-fiction voice” (rather than just through the secondary characters) because its more entertaining than my author’s voice.

How did you find your author’s voice? In what ways did you start using it?

A little help here. Anyone?

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Writing outside the outline

I planned my novel. I planned for a month, writing notes, character sketches, plotting the novel chapter by chapter and now I’ve found myself writing a whole chapter that I didn’t plan. Ok so, there was a secondary character, a friend of the protagonist, who I had previously sketched out to include in the novel. I didn’t know when she would appear, then I didn’t know if I would need her at all and now I’ve written a scene starting her and the protagonist.I know this secondary character is needed, but I feel a little uneasy that she took up a chapter…well 4 pages when I wasn’t expecting it or hadn’t planned her at this point. But I’m happy that she has made her entrance because she will come in handy later.

I’m still plugging away slowly at writing out the plot. I know that what I’ve written so far isn’t very deep. Its the surface level, the first draft of a plot. I will have a lot of work ahead of me for the next round of re-writing. Maybe I should hit the pause button and really think about how I can write more in depth with the protagonist and her conflict. I should print off a big sign that says “CONFLICT” and “ANTAGONIST” and “SETTING” as reminders to keep these things present in the story because for the moment they are quite scarce.

Progress so far:

  • 70 pages written (hoping to make up for my missed target last week)
  • wrote and unplanned chapter 8 and made some notes of scenes to write in chapter 9

I can’t think of any “Novel Writing Tip of the Day” because I haven’t thought of anything useful lately. I am feeling particularly novice in this whole novel writing business and I should start looking for a writers support group or something to keep my motivation up.

Cheers to all those writers who have finished their first draft!

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Identifying the Antagonist

Doing more reading than writing lately, I’ve discovered a small problem. Before I began writing, I knew the general storyline and what the central conflict was going to be, but what I didn’t create was the antagonist. Yes, its seems logical for most people that all stories should have an antagonist, but for some reason I had mistaken my conflict for the antagonist and so here I am.

Thinking about this predicament, I tried to identify an antagonist. I had developed and introduced a character in the story already who could serve as an antagonist. The issue is that this character cannot be the one and only antagonist driving the whole story to its climax. This antagonist is part of a bigger picture.

Unfortunately, I’m not writing fantasy or an good vs. evil story so this is where I am stuck. The antagonist  was supposed to be a place, but as far as I’ve read, a place doesn’t qualify as an antagonist. It kind of has to be a person. So I will use my already in play character and make her the antagonist who will represent the place as well. How’s that? Not enough details to know right?

Enter the antagonist: The protagonist’s boss at work. So far she doesn’t play a large role, but I will have to make her more present and make her be more “antagonistic.” It will take some creativity, planning and beautiful execution for me to be able to pull it off; the antagonist being a person who also represents an “place” or “an idea.”

Sounds more complex than what I was going for. I wonder if it will work. I will think about it as I continue to write out the plot for the first draft.

Progress so far:

  • 68 pages (missed 10 page target per week)
  • started chapter 8
  • discovered major issue: lack of antagonist/conflict driving the story

I will keep chipping away at draft 1. Hopefully by the end of this draft, I will come up with a way to make into a real novel with all its respective parts.

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He said, She said

I took too many days off writing. I think I can definitely count 4 days where I did not add one word to my novel. This is bad. I didn’t even blog. The only thing I did was some research, which I don’t know if it can really count towards my novel.

But today, I sat down after dinner and I wrote until the sun went down. I finally introduced the hero! I’ve had the heroine going along the path to meet the hero. I struggled to wait until the right moment and it has finally come.

What I noticed today in my writing, is that its hard for me to describe the actions or body language of my characters. I can see them doing the motions, but I cant write them down. Its come out something like this “she placed her right hand next to the phone on her desk and picked up the receiver swiftly with her left hand”.

I don’t remember reading another author note which hand the character is using and exactly where it is going. I don’t think I even notice the body language descriptions because they are so well written that they are just part of the story. But when I write these descriptions, it sounds like painstaking detail with no life.

In addition to this description problem, I’m writing “he said” and “she said” a lot lately. I’ve been keeping my eye on this because I know this can be a trap. Either you write “he/she said” too much where it becomes distracting or you use too make verbs: “He barked/yelled/stammered…” you know what I mean. Or what might be worse “he asked” and “she replied.” My previous research showed that its better to use “he said/she said” instead of using other verbs because the body language should to the telling rather than the verbs. This is great, but these descriptions aren’t going so well for me at the moment.

I need to work on my supporting action for the dialogue. The body language and “she/he said” stuff doesn’t flow well.

Progress so far:

  • 65 pages
  • still working on chapter 7
  • hero has made his entrance

Novel writing tip of the day:

  • Keep your discipline!!!

This isn’t a new one. All professional writers say that you must write everyday and they generally agree that you need to make a certain time everyday to write. This wasn’t working for me so I created my own rule “write 10 pages per week”. I don’t yet know if I will make this goal by next monday, but I wrote 4 pages today which I hope makes up for the 4 days I took off. I feel guilty. So I need to be more disciplined! I need to be my own Drill Sargent and get myself and my characters into written action.

I will write 10 pages this week and the weeks thereafter!

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One Month Down

Today is March 31 and I have completed the first month out of the 12 I’ve allowed myself to finish the first draft of my novel.

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Progress so far:

  • 61 pages
  • working on chapter 7

Research shows:

  • writing a book is work
  • I have lots to learn as I go

Novel writing tip of the month:

  • Break the rules!!!

I have read so many blogs and articles by other writers and published authors. Everyone has their own advice on how to write a novel. I chose to stick with Maeve Binchy’s advice of writing 10 pages per week. For me this goal is doable and its rewarding because its achievable.

I can’t commit to designating a certain time of day to write and writing for 1-3 hours during that time of day. I’ve found that trying to write every night after dinner, having worked an eight hour day, is just not feasible nor enjoyable. On evenings where I was too exhausted, unmotivated or had a bad day, I skipped it. But I didn’t skip entirely! I would read about other writer’s experiences or their tips, I read part of a novel from a published author, or I wrote a blog entry. I found that by doing this, when I wrote next time, I wrote something that was ok. I didn’t force myself to just write something that would need to be re-written later anyways.

This month has been interesting so far. I’ve learned a lot about how to go about writing the damn thing (ex. characters, plot, dealing with gaps in time, organizing my ideas, etc.) and I’ve learned what works for me.

I can’t say if I’ve written 10 pages every 7 days this month (I could probably see if I went back through my author’s log- blog posts), but I do know that I’ve written 61 pages when my goal was 40 pages for this month.

So hopefully I can keep the momentum going in April.

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Plot, plot, plot

I was on a role. I had preplanned a few chapters in advance. As I started writing today, I realized that having one or two events planned per chapter isn’t enough to go off. Its hard to keep the plot going. How do you fill all the space between the scenes with engaging narrative? I need to entertain the reader while they read what’s going on in between the dialogue.

I guess the main problem comes down to the plot and character development. My characters have specific jobs and a good portion of the story takes place in an office. How exciting is that? Not. So what can the characters do that is interesting besides talk to each other? Reading about someone working is not entertaining, unless they are a sexy fashion editor, PR person or some other glamours job. And even then the writer has to be super creative in making the plot progress. I find myself writing similar things in each chapter because going to work is somewhat routine.

How do author’s write an interesting and entertaining story from beginning to end? There are a bunch of entertaining scenes, but how does the author move from one scene to the next while still keeping the readers attention?

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Opposite of writer’s block

I don’t know what to call it other than the opposite of writer’s block. I don’t necessarily have a flow of idea, but the storyline if filling out. I think that if I could make the time to dedicate a solid 3-5 hours of writing, that I could make some serious headway. I sat down this evening to write and I had filled four pages in no time.

I have finished chapter 6, which is pretty short and I wrote a few notes of what to cover in chapter 7 and even some notes for chapter 8. This is good. This is good I tell myself. I just need to make the time to write. I am doing well of keeping on track. I’m still making my 10 pages per week.

This is the hard part of having a full-time job and writing in the evenings. But I better not count my chickens too soon because the scary slow period could kick in at any time. For now, I will enjoy the flow while it lasts and will try to write whenever I have a free moment.

If you have a full-time job and are writing on the side, do you write in the early mornings or in the late evenings? How do you make the uninterrupted time to write?

Progress so far:

  • 54 pages
  • Planned out chapter 7, just need to write it now.

Research shows:

I need to find a pen name and I need to find one now! Any potential readers need to have someone they can identify with. They will never remember “An Author’s Log”. Readers need your name so they can easily find your work. I have a pen name that I’ve been mulling over for a few weeks now. I think I’m just to nervous to fully commit to it yet.

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