Wednesday, September 28, 2016

First Drafts - You Have to Start Somewhere

 We all want to write a book, that's why we feed the passion inside of us. But, how many of you have started writing a book, then put it away and started another and then another? Many writers have a "stop, start, stop, start" mentality about their writing. Every time an idea about another book comes into their head, they stop the book they are currently writing and start on the new idea. Then, another idea sweeps into their mind, so they stop their current book again, and start on another new book, again.

That type of writing can be exhausting and infuriating. I can tell you how I handle the numerous ideas that flit in and out of my head every day. Whether they be dreams, articles, words, newspaper articles, overhead conversations (yes, we all do it) or that "must write" book of your passion.

I keep binders with plastic inserts so I can put the things that inspire me about a topic or idea. I write a few words or a sentence or two to help me remember why I was so inspired and put that in with the other items. Then, I close the binder and go back to the current book I'm writing. 

How many binders do I currently have on my shelf? Four 4-inch binders. Packed so full, they are overflowing. 

I know. 

I get a lot of ideas. 

So, now that I went off on that little tangent, let's get back to first drafts. Be truthful, how many first drafts of articles, blog posts, or books do you have cluttering up your desk, computer, head?


Bernard Malamud gives us a great quote about the purpose of first drafts. 

Do you consider this true about your first drafts?

Do you treat your first draft as something that must be written and finished, editing comes later?

Why or why not?

If you edit as you write, will you ever truly finish your book?






For some writers, editing can take a lot of time. Why? For a variety of reasons:

  1. They expect their editing to make their writing perfect.
  2. They think they are the only writers who can truly appreciate their words and the only ones who can edit appropriately.
  3. Editing is "rewriting" and for some writers that could mean a whole "new" book!

BuzzFeed posted a great article of 27 famous writers giving writing/editing advice.

27 Pieces Of Advice For Writers From Famous Authors

Celebrated authors, editors and illustrators write advice to young writers on their hands for “Shared Worlds,” a two-week creative writing summer camp at Wofford College. 

The article is unusual because each author wrote their advice on their hand. 

Another blog post I found extremely helpful comes from YA Science Fiction author, Beth Revis.


I like her website and blog so much, I'm adding it to my Recommended Links.


This button image gives you the greatest advice about First Drafts.

Don't you think? 

Important tip to know: A book cannot be properly edited until the first draft is written. I know that there are a lot of authors/writers out there who will disagree with me, as they write and edit as they go. But, honestly, can you really focus on the story you are writing and making sure there is consistent continuity if you are always changing something?


Don't let this happen to you.

Writing and editing is a slippery slope. Your characters are already trying to write the story the way they think it should be written. If you aren't paying attention, they will run off and either change the outline of the book, or disappear all together. They may even band together and attempt to fight you.




Yes, I do believe my characters have life. My characters talk to me all the time. While I'm writing, after I've written, and before I've started the next book. Get to know your characters. Inside and out. Once you know them intimately, you'll be able to write their story.



Once you've discovered all of your characters' stories, only then than you let go of the control you hold over them and they will be able to tell their own story.















In conclusion, I'll let Nora Roberts have the last word.

Happy Writing,



Tuesday, August 30, 2016

August Writing Challenges: Day 30 - My Sincerest Apologies

I had full intentions to complete this challenge, unfortunately I was challenged as well, physically and emotionally. I ended up with a Fibromyalgia flare up, migraine headaches, and some household chores that required my attention. I don't remember if I told you or not, but we moved in our new home at the end of March, 2016. We moved to Spring Hill from Tampa. There are still boxes to be emptied all around the house. Window treatments to be hung. We have windows with arches above them. Very difficult to measure and find something that works.

I do have the guest room finished, or as close to finished as I'm going to get right now. I'm also working on the backyard, creating flower beds and gardens. My favorite garden I'm working on is the Fairy Garden, which will provide me with a Spiritual Space, calming space, and a place to meditate. You can see more at Vicki's Fairy Garden and Spiritual Space

Soon, I'll provide pictures of what I have finished now. As of the moment, I'm unable to move as I worked to hard over the weekend and today to get all the plants potted in the ground that were becoming an emergency.

I've also been collecting things around the house and outdoors to create accessories for the Fairy Garden, including Fairy Houses.

It's a fun diversion. My husband thinks it's an obsession.

And, to top it off, it was my dog's 13th birthday on the 28th. We go all out on our pets' birthdays - carrot cake slice for Jack, new toys for Bailey, toys, party hats, the whole she-bang!

So, what I'm going I'm going to do, is give you a list of books that will provide you with challenges, writing prompts, exercises and overall help with your writing.

If you require help or have a question, please don't hesitate to contact me.

And for the heck of it, a friend sent this image I used at the top, and I thought it would bring a smile to your face.

Books that can help you increase your writing skills with exercises and writing prompts:

(Some are embedded and available as a download straight from their cover image)







Write Starts
Hal Zina Bennett
Paperback















The Writer's Little Helper
James V. Smith Jr.
paperback





Writing Tools
Roy Peter Clark
paperback




Now Write!
Edited by: Sherry Ellis
paperback





A Writer's Workbook
Caroline Sharp
paperback





101 Creative Writing Exercises
Melissa Donovan
paperback























Take Ten for Writers
Bonnie Neubauer
paperback






















712 More Things to Write About
San Francisco Writers' Grotto
paperback




1,000 Writing Prompts
Bryan Cohen
paperback























501 Writing Prompts
Learning Express
paperback






60 Creative Writing Prompts and and Plots
Ganga Bharani Vasudevan




510 Creative Writing Prompts
Jonathan Wright




A Year of Creative Writing Prompts
The Love in Ink Team





Writing Prompts: 150 Ideas to Help
James Maschia



Creative Exercises to Inspire
Heidi Angell




Fiction Writing Prompts
Patti Stafford





Four Seasons of Creative Writing
Bryan Cohen


I've given you some great resources to help you get started with creative writing prompts.

If you have any other questions, please let me know. If you'd like to suggest a book to add to the list, I'd appreciate that very much.









Wednesday, August 24, 2016

August Writing Challenges: Day 24 - Depression & Doppelgänger

August. The summer is nearly over. Kids are going back to school. You now have some time on your hands.  Okay, you still have a list of chores a mile long, but let's put writing at the top of the priority list, okay?

I am going to challenge you with a writing prompt every day this month. Are you up for it? I hope so.

The writing challenges will be about a variety of topics and hopefully cause you to dig into your writing toolbox to complete with emotional skill.

Watch out, I just might throw in a fun one, well, just for fun!

For the twenty-fourth challenge we're going to discuss your goals to success.

Here is your challenge:
You are a depressed person. You are tired with life, you are tired of the disappointment and loneliness. One night, you contemplate suicide. Before you can pull the trigger of your firearm, you are confronted by your doppelganger. The doppelganger says, “We need to talk. It is urgent.”


This is a very interesting prompt. For those who have ever been this depressed, they will understand the emotional and mental effects on their mind and be able to write a thoroughly expressive piece.

For others, you may have to do some research about depression and suicide to get the right attitudes and background to help you write.

I hope that if anyone has ever been this depressed, they seek help immediately. Go to your nearest ER and let them know what you are feeling.

If this prompt is too much and you experience triggers that cause anxiety, depressive, or panic episodes, please do not complete this writing exercise.

Proceed slowly.













Wright, Jonathan (2015-06-17). 510 Creative Writing Prompts: For Aspiring and Experienced Writers (Bundle) (p. 49).  . Kindle Edition. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

August Writing Challenges: Day 23 - Embarrassing Secret

August. The summer is nearly over. Kids are going back to school. You now have some time on your hands.  Okay, you still have a list of chores a mile long, but let's put writing at the top of the priority list, okay?

I am going to challenge you with a writing prompt every day this month. Are you up for it? I hope so.

The writing challenges will be about a variety of topics and hopefully cause you to dig into your writing toolbox to complete with emotional skill.

Watch out, I just might throw in a fun one, well, just for fun!

For the twenty-third challenge we're going to discuss your goals to success.

Here is your challenge:
You have an embarrassing secret: you can't swallow pills. Therefore, you prefer a liquid medicine. When you visit the doctor due to illness, he hands you a cup full of pills. You asks if he has it in liquid form and he sternly says, “No. Swallow the pills.” Sweat starts spurting from your face like a garden sprinkler, especially when the cute nurse enters the room... What do you do?

This is not an uncommon issue. Many people cannot swallow pills at all, while others can take a handful and toss them in their mouth, drink a swallow of water, and easy peasy, done.

My husband used to be unable to swallow pills. At all. We got liquid medicines when we could. However, I resorted to purchasing a throat spray that helped the pills slide down. My husband even found that a problem.

So, we talked about the mental and emotional issues tied to the inability to swallow pills. Once he opened up, eventually, with some guidance, he can now take pills, even more than one at a time, by tossing them to the back of his throat and drink a good amount of water.

So, if this is an embarrassing secret you've been hiding, or you know someone who is, know that it can be overcome.

Let's get writing.









Wright, Jonathan (2015-06-17). 510 Creative Writing Prompts: For Aspiring and Experienced Writers (Bundle) (p. 21).  . Kindle Edition.


Monday, August 22, 2016

August Writing Challenges: Day 22 - Gardening

August. The summer is nearly over. Kids are going back to school. You now have some time on your hands.  Okay, you still have a list of chores a mile long, but let's put writing at the top of the priority list, okay?

I am going to challenge you with a writing prompt every day this month. Are you up for it? I hope so.

The writing challenges will be about a variety of topics and hopefully cause you to dig into your writing toolbox to complete with emotional skill.

Watch out, I just might throw in a fun one, well, just for fun!

For the twenty-second challenge we're going to discuss gardening and how it relates to other aspects of our life.

Recently, we moved to a new community with an acre of property. I'm planting various flowers, shrubs, vines, and herbs as well as creating a fairy garden. Each flower bed will be connected to the other by paths of pine mulch. The central garden is my Zen garden. It has a "round-a-bout" made out of the pine mulch breaking off to different plant beds.

I thought today's challenge would be an interesting twist on gardening.

Here is your challenge:
Certain plants like yarrow flowers, Russian sage, and frostweed, thrive with low amounts of water and might actually die with too much. What does it mean to have too much of a good thing? Has that ever happened to you? If so, explain what occurred, and if not, what might you overindulge in and why?


How can you connect plants that die if they have too much water to over-indulging with something in your life?

Write as much as you can for about fifteen minutes. Don't edit, don't think, just write.

I wonder what you found out about yourself?












Excerpt From: Bryan Cohen. “Four Seasons of Creative Writing.” iBooks.




Sunday, August 21, 2016

August Writing Challenges: Day 21 - Writing a Critique

August. The summer is nearly over. Kids are going back to school. You now have some time on your hands.  Okay, you still have a list of chores a mile long, but let's put writing at the top of the priority list, okay?

I am going to challenge you with a writing prompt every day this month. Are you up for it? I hope so.

The writing challenges will be about a variety of topics and hopefully cause you to dig into your writing toolbox to complete with emotional skill.

Watch out, I just might throw in a fun one, well, just for fun!

For the twenty-first challenge we're going to turn the tables and you are going to write a critique.

Critiques are similar to reviews except they address a writer rather than a potential audience; a critique explains what's working and not working to the author in an effort to help a fellow writer improve his/her work.

In a critique, you start by listing what you liked about the piece. Then, you list the areas that could be strengthened. Don't try to change the piece into what you would have done as a writer; take it for what it is.

Finally a proper critique discusses the work, not the person who created it. Your objective is to use positive, supportive language framed in the context of how the piece could be improved.

Here is your challenge:
Choose a piece of writing and compose a critique. You can use a book, short story, poem, article, or blog post. You will address the critique to the author, but you will not send it to the author. Also, your critique will discuss the work, not the person who created it. The length of your critique will depend on how long the piece of writing is and how deeply you evaluate it.

TIPS: While the focus of this exercise is to evaluate and analyze the overall content of a piece of writing, you should also look for spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes as well as typographical errors.

As a change of variety, you could also do this exercise using a TV show or movie, or any kind of story or art medium.

This exercise teaches you to look at a piece of writing objectively and assess it thoughtfully in an effort to consider how it might be improved. Writing critiques helps you build skills that benefit your own writing projects.

Enjoy!


Saturday, August 20, 2016

August Writing Challenges: Day 20 - Moral Dilemmas

August. The summer is nearly over. Kids are going back to school. You now have some time on your hands.  Okay, you still have a list of chores a mile long, but let's put writing at the top of the priority list, okay?

I am going to challenge you with a writing prompt every day this month. Are you up for it? I hope so.

The writing challenges will be about a variety of topics and hopefully cause you to dig into your writing toolbox to complete with emotional skill.

Watch out, I just might throw in a fun one, well, just for fun!

For the twentith challenge we're going to dig into moral dilemmas.

It's not enough for your characters to have simple opinions. Each of us also has deeper philosophical ideals and values. Our values come from our families, religions, and cultures. They shape our morals and the decisions we make.

People are complex. What we believe is right or wrong changes when we find ourselves in real situations. Consider an honorable character who believes that one's highest loyalty is to his or her family. Then, that character learns his/her brother is a serial killer. Does he/she turn him in? Testify against him? Stories get interesting when characters' morals are put to the test.

We all know the knight in shining armor should risk his life to save the damsel in distress. If he doesn't, then he loses his status as hero and becomes a coward. What if the knight is forced to make a more difficult decision? What if his true love and his beloved sister are both in distress but he only has time to save one of them?

Here is your challenge:
For this exercise, you will put a character's morals to the test. Below, you'll find a short list of moral dilemmas. Write a scene in which a character faces one of these moral dilemmas and has to make an agonizing decision.


  • In the novel Sophie's Choice, a young Jewish mother and her two children are taken to a concentration camp. Upon arrival, she is forced to choose one child to live and one to die. If she doesn't choose, they both die. Write a scene in which your character must choose between the lives of two loved ones.
  • A single woman is close friends with the couple next door and has secret romantic feelings for the husband. She discovers that his wife is having an affair. Normally, this woman minds her own business but now she sees an opportunity to get closer to the man she wants.
  • Some countries have strict laws regarding drug possession. A family has traveled to one such country for vacation. Upon arrive (or departure), one of the teenager's bags is sniffed out by a dog. The bag is opened, the drugs are identified, and the guard asks who bag it is. Both parents are considering claiming ownership. Everyone in the family knows the sentence would be death.
  • Your character gets to travel through time and face this classic moral dilemma: The character find himself or herself holding a loaded gun, alone in a room, with a two-year-old baby Hitler.
  • A plane crashes into the sea. Most of the passengers escape with inflatable lifeboats but they do not board them correctly. Your character ends up on a lifeboat that holds eight people but there are twelve people on it, and it's sinking. Your character can either throw four people overboard and eight will survive or they will all die expect your character, who will get rescued after the others drown.




Remember, during the scene, the character should agonize over the decision and reveal his or her reasons for the choice that he or she makes.

TIPS: Search online for "lists of moral dilemmas" to get more scenarios.

If you don't want to write a scene, you can come up with more moral dilemmas of your own.

The moral dilemmas force you to put your characters in situations that are deeply distressing, thus creating conflict and tension.

Good Luck!