The Writers Circle: Handwritten or Typed

TWC
One of our goals here at Today’s Author is to help all of the writers among us to do what we love to do: write. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by talking to each other and learning from each other.  Our Writers Circle series is designed to do just that – provide a chance for us to discuss writing, editing and publishing questions.

This week’s topic is:

When you begin working on a new project – be it to start the actual drafting or to start building an outline – do you have a tendency do this with pen and paper? Or do you tend to do this on a computer? Do you find your level of productivity with the initial work on a new project to be better if you write it out by hand or if you type/draw it on the computer?

Let’s discuss this in the comments and see what our community thinks.

The Writers Circle: Gifts for Writers 2016

TWC
One of our goals here at Today’s Author is to help all of the writers among us to do what we love to do: write. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by talking to each other and learning from each other.  Our Writers Circle series is designed to do just that – provide a chance for us to discuss writing, editing and publishing questions.

This week’s topic is:

With the holiday season upon us, thoughts turn to gifts for us or for our loved ones. What do you, as a writer, wish someone would give you as a gift this holiday season? What are you planning to give to the writers on your gifting list? If you’ve been shopping this past weekend or today for Cyber Monday, did you come across any great writer-oriented gifts?

Let’s discuss this in the comments and see what our community thinks.

The Writers Circle: Gifts for Writers 2015

TWC
One of our goals here at Today’s Author is to help all of the writers among us to do what we love to do: write. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by talking to each other and learning from each other.  Our Writers Circle series is designed to do just that – provide a chance for us to discuss writing, editing and publishing questions.

This week’s topic is:

With the holiday season upon us, thoughts turn to gifts for us or for our loved ones. What do you, as a writer, wish someone would give you as a gift this holiday season? What are you planning to give to the writers on your gifting list?

Let’s discuss this in the comments and see what our community thinks.

The Writers Circle: Helpful Websites

TWC
One of our goals here at Today’s Author is to help all of the writers among us to do what we love to do: write. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by talking to each other and learning from each other.  Our Writers Circle series is designed to do just that – provide a chance for us to discuss writing, editing and publishing questions.

This week’s topic is:

With NaNoWriMo less than a week away, thoughts for many people turn to ways to build higher word counts.  But whether you are participating in NaNoWriMo or not, sometimes having help getting motivated to write is a good thing. There are many websites out there that are designed to encourage you to write more words quickly and save the editing for later.  What are some of your favorite sites and tools to help motivate you and increase your writing output?

Let’s discuss this in the comments or on the forums and see what our community thinks.

The Writers Circle: NaNoWriMo Poll 2015

TWC
One of our goals here at Today’s Author is to help all of the writers among us to do what we love to do: write. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by talking to each other and learning from each other.  Our Writers Circle series is designed to do just that – provide a chance for us to discuss writing, editing and publishing questions.

This week’s topic is:

It’s a special Thursday edition of The Writers Circle!  Now that we are mid-way through October, we wanted to check in once again to see how many of our community members are joining the hundreds of thousands of people around the world who are excitedly anticipating November 1 and the start of NaNoWriMo 2015.  What are your thoughts are about NaNoWriMo this year?

After taking our unscientific poll, leave a comment to discuss NaNoWriMo:  Have you participated in NaNoWriMo? What have you learned or gained from it?  Will you do it again?  If you haven’t done NaNoWriMo, are there reasons you would or would not consider it in the future?

Let’s discuss this in the comments and see what our community thinks.

The Writers Circle: Gifts for Writers 2014

What’s with all the red?

Today is December 1st–World AIDS Day. The fight against AIDS is very personal to me, and my co-owner/editor has agreed to let me make this change to show support for World AIDS Day.

I lost my father 25 years ago when the disease was a death sentence. Today because of the hard work of hundreds of thousands of people, that’s no longer the case. In a few more years we might even have a cure.

Here are some quick links:
Learn more: http://www.worldaidsday.org/
Learn more: http://www.red.org/en/learn
Do Something: http://www.worldaidsday.org/act-aware.php
Do Something: http://www.red.org/en/act
Donate: https://mydonate.bt.com/charities/natnationalaidstrust
Donate: http://www.red.org/en/act/donate
Buy something (charity gets a cut): http://www.red.org/en/shop/

Thank you for your taking the time to read this. And if you used any of those links to support, or learn more about, a cause that’s important to me, I thank you for that, too.

And now, I’ll turn your attention back to writing and today’s topic of Holiday gifts for writers.

–Dale

TWC
One of our goals here at Today’s Author is to help all of the writers among us to do what we love to do: write. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by talking to each other and learning from each other.  Our Writers Circle series is designed to do just that – provide a chance for us to discuss writing, editing and publishing questions.

This week’s topic is:

With the holiday season upon us, thoughts turn to gifts for us or for our loved ones. What do you, as a writer, wish someone would give you as a gift this holiday season? What are you planning to give to the writers on your gifting list?

Let’s discuss this in the comments and see what our community thinks.

The Writers Circle: Seasons

TWC
One of our goals here at Today’s Author is to help all of the writers among us to do what we love to do: write. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by talking to each other and learning from each other.  Our Writers Circle series is designed to do just that – provide a chance for us to discuss writing, editing and publishing questions.

This week’s topic is:

Do you have a favorite time of year to write? Is it easier for you to feel creative at some points during the year than others?  Do you have a favorite time of year in which you set your stories?

Let’s discuss this in the comments and see what our community thinks.

The Writers Circle: NaNoWriMo Poll 2014

TWC
One of our goals here at Today’s Author is to help all of the writers among us to do what we love to do: write. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by talking to each other and learning from each other.  Our Writers Circle series is designed to do just that – provide a chance for us to discuss writing, editing and publishing questions.

This week’s topic is:

With the calendar saying it has already flipped over to October, thoughts for many thousands of people around the world have also flipped over to National Novel Writing Month.  So given our wide community we’d like to know what your thoughts are about NaNoWriMo this year. 

After taking our unscientific poll, leave a comment to discuss NaNoWriMo:  Have you participated in NaNoWriMo? What have you learned or gained from it?  Will you do it again?  If you haven’t done NaNoWriMo, are there reasons you would or would not consider it in the future?

Let’s discuss this in the comments and see what our community thinks.

Coffee Talk: Let’s Talk about Writing

brainstormingSeveral members of our community wrote in and suggested that we have an occasional post where we simply talk about writing.  New or less-experienced writers often have a lot of questions about crafting stories or editing or publishing and can benefit from hearing from more-experienced writers and their efforts in those areas. Similarly, experienced writers can get stuck in a rut where writing is more of a chore than a joy and they can benefit from new ideas, tools, methods and energy from other writers.

So, let’s take today to just talk about writing.  Do you have trouble with some aspect of writing? Do you struggle with a particular tool you use when writing? Are you lacking a tool for some aspect of it?  Do you have a particular tool or writing process you’ve found to be a tremendous benefit to your writing efforts?

We have a vast community of writers with many levels of expertise and experience, and each of us has something to offer and something to learn.  So, grab a cup of coffee or tea or whatever your beverage of choice is and let’s share some ideas, questions and answers here in the comments.

 

Writing fiction in layers results in more speed and less frustration

By Model Land Company, Everglades Drainage District (Everglades Digital Library) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Model Land Company, Everglades Drainage District (Everglades Digital Library) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Last week it struck me:  I’ve rarely read an article on how to write fiction—more specifically, how to actually put words down on the page!

When I started writing fiction regularly about eight years ago, I read many books and articles to help me create great plot, make dialog realistic, and strike the right balance between “show” versus “tell”.  I thought I was reading books and articles on how to write.  But instead I was actually reading books and articles on how to create great plot, how to make dialog realistic, and how to strike the right balance between show versus tell.

As a novice writer I’d sit at the keyboard for a couple hours and squeeze out two well-polished paragraphs that read as though they came straight from a book on the shelf of my local bookstore.  But the agonizingly slow pace raised self-doubt, and I’d quickly wind up with an unfinished manuscript of a story that I felt wasn’t worth telling.

Today I have a completely different approach to writing fiction compared to the past. Now I write my story in layers, resulting in a speedier process with overall reduced frustration and self-doubt.

Think for a moment about how a house gets built.  Most people don’t wake up with the idea to build a house and immediately run down to the hardware store to make a huge lumber purchase, or worse yet, buy a brushed-nickel faucet for the powder room.  In most cases building a home starts with an idea like desiring a 2-story, 4-bedroom colonial style home, then creating several hastily-drawn sketches, then more formalized measured drawings, then performing the rough framing/plumbing/electrical, then followed by the building shell until finally finishing up with the small details like soft pastel paint colors and finally that brushed-nickel faucet for the powder room.

Writing can be less painful if you write in layers:

Layer 1 – Outline

Start with a high-level outline.  I’m not talking about anything fancy here, so just go ahead and open a word processor and drop some bullet-point sentences on the page.  Re-arrange them.  Delete some.  Add new ones.  Get 10-20 sentences on paper in the right sequence that depicts the story you want to tell.  You can even insert page breaks after each sentence to visually depict the start of a new chapter.

  • Primary Lead attends wedding of his love interest to “speak up or forever hold his peace”

Layer 2 – Fleshing the Story Skeleton

Now go back to your word processor and start building in more bullet points to flesh out the story skeleton.  The objective here is not to write a polished product, but instead you just want words on the page:

  • Primary Lead attends wedding of his love interest to “speak up or forever hold his peace”
    • PL standing on church steps, conflicted whether to go inside
    • PL encounters another friend, Lauren, who challenges him on why he’s there
    • PL reluctantly goes inside, realizing he’s turned into “that guy”
    • PL doesn’t quite know his strategy, but feels this is his last chance for true love
    • Ceremony begins, bride looks beautiful, priest asks the infamous question to guests…

Layer 3 – Rough Carpentry

For me, this stage is where the real work begins.  However the frustration level is usually much lower because I can jump around to different parts of the story on different days, taking a sentence or two and writing a few paragraphs.  Maybe I spend fifteen minutes in one session, or two hours in another session:

Saturday morning arrived and I found myself standing on the steps of St. Bart’s Cathedral.  I was frozen, having now to decide whether this was really a good idea or not.  I felt a warm hand touch me on the shoulder.

“Kevin?” asked Lauren.

“Lauren!  What are you doing here?”

“I’m here to stop you from making a fool of yourself!”

It’s a sloppy mess and it won’t win me any awards, I agree.  But at least now I have something down on paper to react to when I come back to revise in another pass.

Layer 4+ – Revision

I generally find my full-length novel equates to about 20,000 words at this point in time.  What’s that, about 80,000 words shy?  Queue the self-doubt.  But alas, now you can begin seasoning your story and adding bulk.  Writing now gets even easier because you have something to react to:

Saturday morning arrived and I found myself standing on the steps of St. Bart’s Cathedral.  It was nearly six years to the day since I last stepped inside the church for my nephew Evan’s baptism.  But today was much different.  Today I was frozen, having now to decide whether this was really a good idea or not.

I stood on the granite steps for several minutes watching many smiling faces enter the church.  Every time the decorative brass doors opened, I could catch a whiff of the residual incense that burned earlier in the morning for Mr. Covey’s funeral.

I felt a warm hand touch me on the shoulder.  “Kevin?”

I turned to find Lauren with a tear on her cheek, and she immediately embraced me in a loving hug.

“You know, there’s still time to turn back…” she whispered in my ear.  “I’m here to stop you from making a fool of yourself.”

Iterate, iterate, iterate…

I’m skeptical whether there’s value to me in the lather, rinse, repeat directions provided with each bottle of shampoo.  When it comes to writing, however, I’m sold on the iterative approach to building long manuscripts.  For me, it’s invaluable to have something down on the page at each writing session to react to and revise.