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Monday, February 28, 2011

Need to Rethink Some Things

We had a very exciting Saturday. It was pouring rain that morning, and in the afternoon there were periods of hail. Later that night, the rain turned to SNOW!! Yep, we had another snowy adventure but a much more AWESOME one. I live in a town that sees snow maybe once every couple of years, and usually it's just a bit of slush. The snow came down in fluffs and I kept running around in it, catching it on my tongue and taking a ton of pictures. Around 11pm, it started to turn the parking lot at my condo white! We ended up getting about an inch (maybe a bit more). Here are some pics. Yay, snow!!

After I finished geeking out about the snow, I took some time on Sunday (during the Oscars) to rework the beginning of my WIP based on the comments from my crit group. I attended my first critique group last week and it was a very informative and rewarding process. I was so excited to share my pages with new people. The feedback was very positive overall, and I was beyond thrilled with that!! I couldn't believe they liked my character, liked the story I introduced, and were eager to hear more. OMG, they liked it! I also learned A LOT about how to make my pages stronger. Here are some of the main critiques my group had:

  1. Weave description into the action. Instead of saying "I was wearing this, this and this," say "I smoothed my sage green skirt" or "His clear blue eyes bore into mine."
  2. Describe more what the main character is thinking. This was a great one because as I'm writing, I already know what Maggie is thinking because I'm in her head. But the reader doesn't. Plus, my scenes were really short and I was struggling with how to make it longer and more interesting. Adding what Maggie thinks about what's happening is important for the reader to understand her character.
  3. Cut out action that slows down the movement of the story. Maggie is a florist. One of the first scenes is her setting up for a wedding. When I was writing, it felt weird to skip over her florist duties and skip to the more exciting part. But, as my crit group suggested, I can weave in more interesting details and what she's thinking into those more mundane actions to make it more interesting. Or, just cut them out all together. If it doesn't add to the story, take it out.
  4. Add a bit more backstory to help introduce the character. One of the first things I read on blogs was "Don't fill your first chapter with backstory," so I tried to avoid as much backstory as possible. I guess I left out too much :).
After working with the pages for a couple of hours, I realized that the way I began the story might not work. I also have to figure out a bit more about how the story is going to progress, what motivates Maggie, and her background. I thought I had it set, but now I'm not so sure. My first step will probably be to pow-wow with my writing friends, and then write out an outline to help organize the ideas and find a solid storyline.

A couple of writers have told me that if there are scenes I know I want in the story, then I should write those first and come back to the other parts later. Does that process work for you? How do you work to fill plot holes? I don't want to rely too much on other people for ideas because it's my story, after all. Do you work through plot problems on your own or bounce ideas off your friends?

Thanks for reading!!


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Whoopsie. Let's try that again:

    I usually solve my plot holes by talking the hubby's ear off about them til the answer comes to me. For some reason, talking about it out loud really helps me get all my ducks in a row plot wise. And sometimes he has some really killer ideas, too. It always helps un-stick me.

    And I will pass on my favorite piece of advice right now: there is no such thing as writer's block. There is only not knowing what to write next. In other words, writer's block, in my opinion, boils down to a plot issue. Solve the plot issue, and bam-- writing will begin.

    Not everybody works the same way, though, of course! Maybe try writing some ideas down in a notebook and just keep doing that til something sticks?

  3. Sometimes scenes pop into my head, and I can write crappy, crappy versions of them. But mostly I have to work straight through (and honestly, half those random scenes have to change/be deleted by the time I get to them).

    Bouncing ideas off people is great for me, though I don't do it often. I did that in this post and realized what I should've known the whole time: of COURSE I can combine a whole bunch of cool elements into one super awesome world!

  4. L.T. - Thank you! I think talking about the problem helps me too. Though, my Mr. usually says "I don't know" so that's no help, ha ha. The problem I'm having is a big part of the plot, so I think I need your brain :).

    Adam - I saw that post! LOL. And I agree, I think I'm throwing wrenches in my own gears. It's better to just write it out so it flows naturally instead of trying to work out the kinks beforehand. But, I should probably deal with this plot issue first :).

  5. Beautiful photos!!! I love snow! I grew up in Iowa so I'm used to snow but living in Houston I never see it and miss it!!

    I love peoples comments!! Scenes definitely pop into my head like Adam!

    Great blog!