Monday, March 29, 2010


My life as metaphor . . .
My life is a series of dilemmas right now.
How to use my time is a common dilemma. I face significant dilemmas like how to best raise my sons. I also face trivial dilemmas like what to make for dinner.

The dilemma I face now relates to writing. Imagine that! Again, I am faced with those two virtual manuscripts in front of me. One is 30,000 words fleshed out, but an editor/teacher told me that I should set aside because the market is glutted with fantasy right now. Drat. Just when I thought I could conquer a fantasy novel as well.

The other is a dream turned outline. The editor/teacher thinks it is marketable and unique. I agree with her. I should write it then, correct? Oh a whole unfinished draft! A draft not even started yet. I want to run and hide under my desk until it goes away.

Of course, it will not go away. So, back to work. Perhaps I could write both simultaneously. But I would need the time I do not have.

So, I have a dilemma.

Friday, March 19, 2010

So Proud

Here's a link to a story in this week's local paper about my boys and their friend's most excellent discovery:

Sunday, March 14, 2010


I'm not a huge fan of outlines or outline tools. Over the years I've learned many techniques for building stories. Some writers swear by the index card/scene method (which can now be done on the computer). Some writers love detailed outlines with every chapter broken down. Some writers use collages out of magazine pictures to build plot.

I've tried all of these and more. I'm glad I tried them, but I didn't get the results I wanted. My method includes lots of thinking, brainstorming, and a list outline (one word for each plot point) before I begin. Incidentally, the outline changes significantly with each draft. I was one of those students who wrote the outline after I wrote the essay. I needed to write the paper to know what direction I wanted to take. Some of this spills over to my fiction writing.

Yet, writing does need direction and structure or a great idea may not become a great story. A great start may not become an entire book.

Recently I stumbled across this great visual outline on C.J. Omolulu's blog:

I applied it to a something I would like to start soon, and I loved the results. It was short enough, so I didn't feel bogged down with details yet specific enough to cover all the main parts of a good story.

I hope you find it helpful as well.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Voice and Muse

A compelling voice! How many times do we hear this is what a writer must have to succeed?

I talk with my composition students about voice. We all search for adjectives to adequately describe something that cannot be described adequately with adjectives.

Is my voice compelling? What does that mean anyway? To use force or pressure to lure a reader away from his or her other obligations? I can think of many journeys to the library or bookstore where my true quest was lost in the discovery of new words. I was pressured into reading and loved every minute.

I would like to think of other words with other connotations for voice. How about authentic? Authentic in what way? The voice could sound real, yet is this what we want to achieve? Realism?

Voice. Some voices I do love to hear. Usually, these voices are from people I love.

Mix the writing with a powerful love potion and stir; this is how to capture the reader with a compelling and authentic voice.

Now, what is the love potion?