Keep the Confusion to a Minimum!

Do you ever get a feeling of Déjà vu when you’re talking to somebody?

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You know you’ve said those exact words, but somehow it doesn’t seem like you said it to the person you’re currently speaking to. Or you call somebody you know by another name and not even realize it.

In real life this can embarrass you, but as a writer it can also be very confusing to your reader. This has happened to me a few times, but I’ve caught my mistake before it went any further than the pages of my story. Keeping your character’s activities and personalities consistent is essential for a well-crafted manuscript.

Now image you must keep track of more than one project.

I find when I write multiple series at one time my imagination flows, but my work demands I stay focused. That conversation I thought I had? I did; but with other characters. And the character I so easily called by the wrong name is a character from a different series. These are common mistakes I’ve made, and I know there are more. They can quickly get out of hand when I’m writing multiple series. However, for me, the benefits of writing more than one serious far outweighs these little mistakes that can be caught and fixed.

When I write in multiples, it keeps my word count consistent. If I find I’m stumped on a scene or I can’t quite get to the research I need to finish, I can easily push one to the side and work on another. I use scrivener and this helps me tremendously because you can write by scenes and chapters. Scrivener allows me to move from one project to another as the ideas come, filling in where I need to.

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Another lesson I’ve learned to help me jump from project to project is having a ‘Series Bible’ for each of your series. This is essential, especially as you get deeper into each series you write. Most writers are thinking of scenarios constantly, and if one doesn’t fit in this book, it might fit in another. So why not write out your thoughts and insert them while they are fresh on your mind? Rather than waiting until you finish this book and increasing the chances of losing that thought or passage forever. In a society geared on multitasking, this is an excellent practice to begin. But only start a Series Bible if this method feels comfortable. If you’re the type of writer that needs to write the entire story out at one time tweaking as you go, then this method might not be good for you.

In your series bible, (using a notebook, program on the computer, or storyboard) you to keep track of your characters; their likes and dislikes, physical appearance, their mental capacities and anything else you consider important. Also keep track of the settings; where each scene is taking place, characters new to the series as they appear, personal interactions between characters. The list goes on and should be specific to your books. For instance, I write a cozy murder mysteries and I like to keep track of each method of kill; how does my main character solve the puzzle uniquely so none of my books have the same ending.

Use your Series Bible to write ideas as they come to you, outlining each new book in the series ahead of time. You may find the ideas you come up with are better suited for another series. Either way it’s important to get the ideas down in some form. After you’ve gotten the words written, then it’s easy enough to put your thoughts into a different Series Bible.

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Some people do better with a huge storyboard, outlining the same information where it’s visible to them always. There are also many programs for computers to carry out these goals. Even an Excel spread sheet will help your writing process. Whichever method you use, be sure to keep your Series Bible updated as you go along and refer to back to the information. There’s nothing worse than calling your main character a blue-eyed beauty, only to find out in an earlier book you gave her green eyes.

By having this information at your fingertips you’ll find it easy to check your facts. No matter what method you use, if you’re comfortable about putting your important information in one easy to use location, then it will be worth the time you spent.

Until next time, keep writing, Sam…er…Susan…

 

 

 

 

It’s all about the prep.

Don’t prepare and you might be preparing to fail.
No matter what you’re doing, the job is always easier when you prepare for it ahead of time. Whether you’re cooking a new recipe, planting a garden, building a bookshelf, or writing a book —preparation is the key to success.

There are those that say they are Pantsers and there are those say they are Plotters…

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But, I think, all in all, each of us does a bit of preparation before we sit down to write that first word. We have a general idea of what our book it’s going to be about. Who are main characters will be and the central setting we will create. A Pantser might stop right there and start writing. On the other hand, a plotter (like me) will sit down and do an outline. We want to get as much preparation done before we start making, making the writing process flow.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, there will be changes. Something comes up that makes your story go in a different direction, but if the outline is done and your notes are organized, then it’s easy enough to adjust and move on.
And so tomorrow begins the month of July. This is one of three months that I participate in NaNoWriMo. To me the preparation for this month (as well as April and November) are critical to my success. Writing 50,000 words in 30 days is more than a challenge it’s a conquest!

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Today is June 30th, and I wait with bated breath for midnight. Why? Because I’m ready to go. My outline is complete, I’ve got my first scene is written in my head and I’m just counting the hours to start. Yet, I can also look back and remember when there were times that I wasn’t so prepared. Because of this, I wasted precious time and word counts trying to figure out where I was going.
To all of you who have no preparations set out–there is less than 24 hours to be prepared. Turn off that TV and get ready!
And to all of you who are prepared and are waiting for that stroke of midnight-—good luck. I hope Camp NaNo is a rousing success and at the end of the 30 days you are pleased. Then you will hold a rough draft of your book in your hands, ready to edit and publish.

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Happy Writing!

When & Where do you Write?

When & Where do you Write?

 

Write.

The more I read and talk to other writers, the more I realize the answer to these two questions can be as diverse as the writer.

There are no set rules, no hidden formula to a productive writing time. Each author has their own recipe for success. And even then, it’s not written in stone.

I know some writers who insist early in the morning is the best time for them; they’ve had a good night’s sleep and are fresh to face that blank piece of paper/screen.

Others do best later in the day, when all their chores and responsibilities are out of the way, and the family is off doing their daily routine (school, work, etc.).

Then there are the night owls. They insist  they do their best work late at night when there are no distractions and they can concentrate on their work in progress.

 

Writer.

Personally, I’m all over the place. There are so many factors that can affect when I write. If I’m in my creative stage, late at night is my time. I collect all the thoughts that have been spinning around in my head during the day and put them into a solid idea and expand on it.

If I’m at my editing stage, or trying to work through a weak spot or solve a problem I’ve created, then morning is best. My mind is clear and I can focus. But it needs to be earlier while I have the house to myself.

Research and planning are best for the middle of the afternoon. I can sit at my desk and distractions don’t seem to bother me. It’s easy to break away from the work in front of me to watch the birds outside my window or talk to my hubby when he comes out to ask me a question.

 Of course these are not set rules. As every writer knows, when the idea for your storyline is new, there is an excitement that goes along with it. There is a hunger to get the ideas down as fast as possible so  you don’t lose them. You may find yourself shutting yourself in your office, blocking out everything else, for hours at a time. Eventually the newness of the idea becomes a solid outline, and then a rough draft. This is when you begin your writing routine.

Does part of this routine include a designated location where you work from?

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Mine is where-ever. That’s it; where-ever. I do a lot of dictations and as long as I have my phone with me, I’m good to go. Some of my most productive time is at lunch when I’m in my car, sitting along the river. No distractions, no interruption-just writing time (in between bites of my lunch). Having a laptop allows me to take my WIP where I want; be it under the oak tree in the front yard, by the pool or sitting by the hubby on the couch (ear plugs needed for this one since the TV is on). Serious editing needs to be done at my desk. I seem to do better in a more professional setting for the editing stage.

Every writer has to find what works for them. It may take a few books before you find your rhythm. But I think  mixing it up every once in a while, also stirs the creative juices and keeps you from becoming stagnate.

So move around, find your sweet spot, find your creative and productive times, and get to work on your next project.

Pile It On

Is it just me, or does it seem like life is crazy?

We all say there aren’t enough hours in the day, but do we really do anything to less than our daily schedule? I don’t think so. I think we try to pile on more and more. We are trying to be the super person who can get it all done-and with smile on our face.

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We’ve become so overwhelmed with wants and demands in our life, we forget how to simplify things and only deal with our needs. That’s all well and fine to say, but the reality is the American lifestyle demands we go at full trot, resting only when necessary. Whoever coined the phrase 24/7 was setting us up for an exhausting lifestyle.

And I’m as bad as the next person! I just signed up for NaNo camp in April. Am I crazy? I can barely find the time to do my regular work, let alone try to fit in a 50,000-word book on the sidelines. But I’ve been successful at previous camps, now I’ll to do it because I’ve proven to myself it can be done.

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This time, I will go about it a bit differently. With 30 days to prepare, that’s exactly what I will do. I have the outline for the book I had planned on doing it this summer. I’ll move up my timetable so I need not prepare a project for camp. In the meantime, all the little tasks that take extra time, when I could be writing, will be accomplished. The desk will be cleared off, spring cleaning done, and meals made ahead of time-frozen so my hubby won’t go hungry.

Now is the time to concentrate on managing my time. As my husband says; “plan- don’t react” and I’m convinced that’s a good start. Of course, things will come up that I can’t control. But if the nitty-gritty stuff is done and out of the way beforehand, it might not feel so overwhelming.
So, here’s to all the authors who are doing camp this year! Your deadlines are in front of you, be it for writing, or work, or family. Plan ahead, but don’t over react when things don’t go the way you planned. Don’t forget to take time for yourself. It’s okay sleep in an extra hour on a Saturday or take an extra-long shower. Go ahead and sit out on the patio with friends, enjoying a glass of wine and good conversation.

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Because that’s what we’re here for; to enjoy life, not just work life.

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