Showing posts from 2016

Resolving a Plotting Crisis

This post is all about how, or how not to, resolve a crisis with your novel's plot.

First steps are sensing the crisis in the first place and then figuring out what the exact crisis is. In this case it amounted to the following:

In revising a chapter to read to my critique group at our meeting this Saturday I found the writing flat and there wasn't much happening until page 5 of the chapter.There was a supporting character causing me some trouble. First there were incidents occuring that didn't work when I checked my research contact. Second in analyzing what I needed to change I realized this character wasn't adding anything to plot or doing anything that moved the plot along.Once I put that all together I had to figure it out. I knew the flat writing could be fixed in the rewriting process and that some of the action, or lack thereof, in the first two chapters could be condensed and the meeting of the two romantic leads could be moved up sooner in the story. Easy-peasy…

How I Came to Write Romance Novels

As I sit and write page after page of my romantic women's fiction novel I recall how I came to write romance at all. After all, I started my writing life with poetry and was barely writing any fiction at the time.

It had to be thirty years ago. I was teaching creative writing in adult education classes and had met a few writers who eventually came together in a weekly writing group. At the time I was writing poetry and short stories. I didn't even read romance novels, thinking they were too formulaic and simple. Instead I immersed myself in literary fiction writers like Margaret Atwood, Gail Godwin, Joyce Carol Oates and poets like Rod McKuen and Sylvia Plath. 

One night at a local library several romance writers were coming to speak and my little critique group decided we would go and see what it was all about. The talk was interesting and still I had a negative view of romance novels. Of course I had never read any so I held my opinion until I picked up a couple and gave them …

Writing Success Breeds Writing Success

I was sitting in a Weight Watchers meeting one night when a member uttered this eye opening comment. "Success breeds more success." I clearly saw how it related to weight loss as each pound shed helped me believe I could lose more.

Two years later I am finally grasping how that mantra could lead to writing success. As I attempted once again to revive an old short story, and once again to start a new novel I intend to actually finish, I came upon that age old wall called writer's block. I never believed I had writer's block as I defined it as not having any idea what to write. My problem has always been having too many ideas and not being able to decide which to work on first.

My writing wall comes when just feel like all this writing, the time and the paper and ink involved will lead to nothing but file cabinets filled with half-finished or forgotten stories, novels and poems. I ask myself why bother? Why not just go out and have fun?

But then that little phrase nudged …

Short Story Writing

This is a difficult post to compose because as usual I have always waffled among many genres and that includes both writing and art. But I feel like I've had an epiphany and I need to voice it.

I've been reading Elizabeth Gilbert's book "Big Magic" and in it she talks about not "doing what you would do if you knew you could not fail" but "doing what you would do even if you knew you would fail." It strummed a chord for me. If I knew for sure I would never publish a novel I would never spend years writing one. If I knew I would never publish another poem or short story, or knew that my art would never see the light of day outside my little craft room, I would still write poems and short stories and make art. My career days are over and now it's time to spend my remaining years on what drives me creatively.

So I will continue to create art and I will continue to write poems and as for fiction my focus will be on writing flash fiction. 

I have t…

The Fiction Writing Wars

I went out yesterday and bought a new netbook to take with me when I travel or go on my writing retreat or to a writers' conference. Well, now they are all called chromebooks. I guess google has taken over the computer industry. I think there may be a learning curve coming. And the computers come with google-docs which I have never used so I will need to try that out before I have to go on the road with my writing.

So what is this war I speak of? Well, it's nothing new but I am always at war with myself about whether I should write novels or short stories. Here are my thoughts:

With a novel I have a long journey to just write a first draft. Then the hard work of several revisions comes along and then the long process of seeking a publisher or agent. Sometimes it seems too long a trip to take.

When I write a flash fiction story I can knock off a first draft of 1,000 words or less in an hour, revise the story in another hour and send it out to several literary journals by the end o…

Writing a Fiction Series

I am undertaking the long journey of writing a romantic women's fiction series with the help of Karen Wiesner's book "Writing the Fiction Series." This may seem odd to my writer friends who know that I haven't finished even the one novel I've been writing since forever. But now that I am retired there are no excuses and I came up with an idea that I am excited about.

I will begin by reading all of Karen's book and using her worksheets--which are quite helpful in the novel writing process and available to download from

I have a general idea of the story arc for the series and a solid plan for the story arc for writing the first novel in the series which will be called the Warwick House Series. I will do whatever it takes to accomplish this goal. I plan to have a first draft done by the time my writing critique group goes on retreat in April. I huge goal but I have writing time now and I have to use it to write! I am so looking forward to o…

Trying a New Look for My Writer Blog

I am trying out a new look for this blog and would appreciate comments or suggestions. I wanted to create something different and was reading about getting different blogger templates than what are offered on this site but it seems a bit beyond me how to upload them to this blog. I will continue to experiment until I find what I like and then see if I can figure out how to work zip files and "stuffit" programs to apply the new template to my blog. It's easier to write a novel than do this tech stuff.

I wanted a cleaner and more simple look to my writing blog as it deals with writing and I want it to appear professional. 

I am going to create a new blog for my art and poetry or attempt to add a poetry page to this blog if I can figure out how to do that. 

I'm just checking this out now and looking for feedback.'

Talking about Your Novel-in-Progress

Persistence is a necessary quality when writing a novel. Not to mention when I want to write a series of novels. But something else helps me as well.
I've read in several places now that it's a bad idea for writers to discuss their work in progress with others. I understand the concept that in speaking about your plot or characters you may dispel all your writing energy. In verbally telling the story you may lose the impetus to write it. I disagree, for me anyway.
I find that when I am writing a novel having a brainstorming session with my critique group is immensely helpful. Different viewpoints help the process. If I am stuck the other writers can offer ideas about how to smooth out plot points. If I share a few pages they may note where something isn't working and offer ideas for fixing the problem. Just discussing the general story with two other writers who know my book and know my writing style can unearth a whole array of new scenes that will create a more engaging st…

Brainstorm Your Novel Ideas

Despite the frigid temps and chaotic winds we fought the elements and went to Barnes and Noble this morning. Over a hot cup of java and a new notebook I wrote ideas for my new novel and purused some novel writing books.

After spending 6 years working on a novel that was never finished I decided to put it aside and begin something new. However, when I started brainstorming ideas for the new novel it occurred to me that I could turn these 2 ideas into a fiction series of 3 to 4 novels. 
It sounds rather presumtious to plan such a thing since I never finished the last novel. But I'm retired now and have more time and hopefully more stress free focus.
I think the idea was prompted this morning by reading the second book in Robyn Carr's Virgin River series. I thought, "I could do this." I love her writing and I am captivated by her stories and the characters. Her writing very much echoes the kind of books I want to write. Women's fiction with a romance going on and some …

Mentors and Routines: It takes a tribe

Even as I sit at my desk alone in the dawn I know that no one truly writes a novel by herself. At least not if she wants to hold onto a shred of sanity as she does so.

Of course, aside from that paper muse I showed you yesterday, I have a little tribe to gain confidence from.

First of all is Tapestries, my local writing group. We are a group of 6 women commited to writing and publishing our novels. Three of us have been meeting monthly for over ten years. Without these women I would have given up long ago. We help each other stay on task, brainstorm plot ideas and provide feedback as we each read portions of our novels.

Sometimes mentors come from outside my writing group, like the help I've gotten from Martha Alderson who is better known as the Plot Whisperer. Her books and videos provide wonderful guidance. Though I don't typically write from an outline her books provide a bit of structure to my plot planning and her prompts and direction in terms of rituals and routines help m…

Every Writer Needs a Muse

So here I am, 2 weeks into the new year and I am just fleshing out the plot for my new novel.  I should have written at least 30 pages of a first draft by now, but as usual I got distracted and sidetracked by art and poetry. 

It's time now to focus on writing this novel. While I have only a few sketchy ideas so far I must sit down with my spiral, one-subject, wide ruled notebook and just begin. I've written 3 novels that way so why try to change my process now. I will continue to fill in the plot points as I go but I won't wait till that's done to write a first draft. After all, writers write.

But all writers need a muse as well. Sometimes more than one. My visual muse looks like this

I created this myself on one of my many excursions back to art and even made a muse for each of the women in my writer's group.

But muses come in all shapes and sizes. Some are ephemeral and only exist in ghost like form as they perch on our shoulders, hopefully whispering helpful affirma…