DSC_6334_smallWelcome to my writing pages!  The main focus of this page is to explore ways beginning writers can find inspiration.  You’ll also find information on my published works and the ones in progress. My schedule for posting is:

Monday Sparks: Writing ideas to fan your creative flame

Thursdays – Writing tips based on a monthly theme

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Featured post

Three Styles of Editing

Sorry this is so late. I thought I’d scheduled it to post when I hadn’t.

Editing a novel is tough work. So many elements have to mesh together to make a coherent, entertaining, and meaningful story. As I edit my YA novel, I’ve considered three styles of editing.

Read through novel like a reader.

This style helps you check for big picture problems, like narrative flow and sense. Author Stephanie Morrill in Go Teen Writers: Edit Your Novel writes that she uses this method while keeping a pad handy to note big changes she wants to make once she’s read the entire manuscript.

This sounded good to me, but when I tried it, I found it very difficult not to stop and make changes as I came across them because a change in chapter four would affect the way I evaluated the rest of the manuscript. I thought it was more efficient to make changes as I discovered them.

Treat each chapter as a short story.

I like this approach because I love reading and writing short stories. To start this method, I decide what the purpose of a chapter is and determine if it meets its goal by analyzing each component. Is the setting described enough or too much? How about the characters? If I have character charts that list their appearances, personalities, and mannerisms, I should pull them out. Does the dialogue sound realistic and appropriate to each character? Are my characters running off at the mouth or are their exchanges so brief as to confuse readers? Then I analyze the plot. Is it moving forward, stalling, or grinding to a halt?

The problem with this editing style is that each chapter may sparkle but might not flow into the next one, giving the novel a choppy or disconnected feel. Once I’ve edited each chapter, I need to read big chunks, like five to ten chapters in a sitting, to determine if the chapters are woking together.

Edit each element.

In this style, I focus on one element, such as setting, and read through the entire manuscript, only fixing problems about that component. Then I read it again with characters in mind. And again for plot, theme, and whatever other writing techniques I want to polish.

The drawback I see with this approach is that going through the novel so many times might make me blur over sections because I’m too familiar with them.

Next week, I’ll write more about what I’ve found to work for me. Writers, what’s your style of editing?

Three Words for January

What three words for January would you use if you described a setting in a story placed in the month or wrote a poem about it?

The first scene of my YA mystery is set in mid-January in southeastern Ohio. I start the book on a sunny, cold day. The weather grows more gloomy as my main character encounters obstacle after obstacle, trying solve the mystery. The three words I had in mind were “cold”, “blue”, and “bright.”

Here’s the finished product:

The sun shone ice white in a clear sky so blue that it looked like an illustration in a hyper-cheerful picture book for preschoolers. But despite the sun’s dazzling appearance, not an ounce of warmth made it to the hilly streets. 

From A Shadow on the Stone

For more inspiration about January, click here for posts on winter weather, New Year’s Day, and other January holidays

What three words for January would you pick?

How You Write Determines How You Edit

Although I didn’t finish my YA mystery until December, I’ve been editing for months. Whenever my inspiration for writing my first draft failed to catch fire, I’d work on editing what I’d written so far. After working with my novel for so long, I understand how you write determines how you edit. Below are a few key insights into my writing style that helps me edit.

I write dialogue first.

In the first draft of a scene, my main concern is getting down the purpose of it. Since I write mysteries, the purpose is usually for my detective to gain information–a clue, an insight, or a conclusion. Sometimes a scene has a dual purpose, such uncovering a clue and developing a couple of characters. Most of the time these purposes are accomplished through dialogue, so the bare bones of my first draft are characters talking to each other.

When I go back to edit, I need to flesh out the scene with:

  • Descriptions for setting
  • Determining if it’s clear who is talking when.
  • Vivid action tags that reveal something about the character who’s talking
  • Thoughts of my main character.

I overwrite dialogue.

Since I write dialogue first, I tend to over explain. My family can tell you that’s a habit not confined to my writing. When I review a scene, I almost always cut down the dialogue. That’s helpful to know since I’ll add the other components I listed above.

I plot too much.

As my word count rose in A Shadow on the Snow, so did my anxiety as I realized I had shoved in too many characters with too many subplots. Once I knew my ending, I went back and edited out characters who weren’t necessary. I also simplified or eliminated the motivations of several minor characters. Not only did that lower my word count, it also allowed the necessary characters to become more important and complex.

What kind of a writer are you? Do you overwrite? Or do you write the bare minimum of a story and then beef it up during the editing process? I’d love to know what your writing style is and how it determines your editing style.

Winter Haiku

I haven’t had a poetry prompt in a long, long time, so here we go with a prompt for a winter haiku. My oldest took this photo when my family and I went birding on New Year’s Eve Eve. A flock of over a hundred swans milled about in a cornfield as we headed to Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area in Marion County. My oldest took this photo. I like the contrast between the white feathers, gray sky and black trees.

Black and white against

Gray. Winter strips the world to

Its elegant bones.

What does winter look like where you live? Of if it’s summer where you are, what the weather like? Leave your haiku about it in the comments.

If you’d like to try another form of Japanese poetry, check out my post on how to write tanka.

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