Friday, August 28, 2009

What If?

“What If” is one of the most important questions we, as writers, can ask ourselves.
What if all of the Earth's volcanoes exploded tomorrow?
What if my grandfather started speaking to me while in a coma?
What if conjoined twins' souls got separated during surgery?

Well, you get the idea. Asking "What If" helps strengthen our writing. We can create more complex plots, sharpen our timing, and deepen our characters. But too often we get fixated on the wrong What Ifs and negatively impact our writing.

What if that agent doesn't like my query?
What if I don't get published?
What if everyone laughs at my Illusions’ Mini Excerpts?

Wait- you don't ask yourself that last one? Hmmm...must just be my “friend”.

How has asking "What If?" improved your writing?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Illusions Mini Excerpt

“I don’t get you.” He brushed a hand through his hair. “You climb cliffs and attack strangers without blinking. But one little rat has you screaming like a girl.”

“I am a girl, in case you hadn’t noticed.”

“Yeah. I noticed.” He bit his bottom lip, then turned his head as he rubbed at the back of his neck.

She didn't know if he was hiding a smirk, but wanted to deck him anyway. Just in case.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

I Learned It From Backyardigans

I watch a lot of Backyardigans. My daughter is 18 months old and it is the ONLY thing that will keep her still for more than five minutes, so we usually watch one episode a day. The more I watch, the more I've come to appreciate the writing.


They have a great group of five animated kids/animals who live their imaginations in their backyard. But even though they are pretending to be different people (pirates, spies, trash collectors, clowns) their individuality still shows through.

Pablo panicks easily, Austin is shy, Tasha plays the diva, Tyrone states the obvious, and Uniqua...well - I haven't quite figured her out yet.

Of course, they are much more complicated than that - but the consistency and strength of these traits shows through, regardless of what's happening in that
particular episode.

They have very basic plots for each episode (hey - my 18-month old daughter can kinda follow along). But it is still something that can be translated into plotting a novel...ifjust do it with more subtlety.

    1. They start by telling you their goal.
    2. They introduce the characters in their roles - antagonist, protagonist, plucky side-kick.
    3. They sprinkle in some conflict or obstacles to be overcome - usually something for each character to help with.
    4. Finally, they achieve their goal and have a happy ending - because really...who wants unresolved, unhappy endings?

Of course, they add in a nice musical number every couple minutes...I wonder how I can work that into my novel?

What have you learned from watching TV?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Illusions Mini Excerpt

She ignored the whistle and the “hey, hot stuff” called from a yellow convertible filled with frat boys. The car slowed and she gave them her peel-yourself-off-my-sneaker look to get it speeding along again.

The only danger there is having my shoes puked on.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Good To Know You

Visit Give a Girl a Pen to see my Good To Know You post.

Monday, August 10, 2009

And the Winner Is...


Congratulations. Email your physical address to and I'll send out your prize.

Thanks for celebrating with me!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Drawing - Entries Close Sunday

Just a quick reminder to enter a comment on this post to be entered into the drawing for the $10 Target gift card.

Drawing will be on Sunday.

Now off to stop my daughter from destroying the house. Oops...too late!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Happy Birthday, Illusions!

Happy birthday, Illusions!

Well, it isn't technically Illusions birthday. But it is the last save date on the first, first, first version of the prologue (which no longer exists in any form).

I look back and am amazed at what a transformation Illusions has gone through. I am so very grateful I didn't have a clue about the whole publishing process when I first sat down at the keyboard.

To celebrate, I'm giving away a present!

Just comment on this post telling me what made you start to write. You'll be entered you into a drawing for a $10 Target gift card.
Winner will be announced on 8/10/09.

Good To Know You

Visit Give a Girl a Pen to see my Good To Know You post.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Warning - I thought of this post while brushing my teeth.

Editing is like whitening your teeth.

You may just need a quick brush to polish it.

I equate that to the whitening won't get too much bang for your buck. But it's better than nothing. If you are an experienced writer, with years of manuscripts behind your belt, then this might be the choice for you. (I was naive after finishing my first draft of my first novel and thought this was all it needed...boy was I wrong.)

Then there is the do-it-yourself whitening kits.

You know, the Rembrandt Whitening System or the Crest Whitestrips. This is the editing that most of us do...some help from the critique group, some flushing out of characters, cleaning up plots and emotional arcs. Time consuming, but effective. And cost efficient.

Finally, there is the go to the dentist and have them put the radioactive goop on your teeth under the light and walk out with TV worthy teeth.

I think of this as the legit, professional editing services. You walk in not realizing there was a stain on that incisor (or inconsistency in your character dialogue) and walk out with something shiny (though you do have to put in the hard work of actually making the changes). Granted, you also walk out with a flatter wallet. And I wonder how much you learn and improve by doing it this way.

Disclaimer: I have never had my teeth professionally whitened, or even unprofessionally whitened. Nor have I gotten my manuscript professionally I'm just guessing about how helpful it would be.

So now your teeth are white and shiny. But they are still the same teeth. And your manuscript is still the same story you fell in love with. And now it is one you can proudly show the world.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Cliches for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

We've been told to avoid cliches like...well, the plague.

Sometimes that can be difficult. After all, they are cliches for a reason - they give the image you want to portray. But not the tired feeling that may come with it.

I really wanted to use "like a hot knife through butter".
It became "like an Olympic diver piercing through water".

I'm still not completely satisfied and it will likely change before the edits are finished...but you can't say it is a cliche. Or at least not one I've heard of.

What cliches have you caught yourself trying to use. And what have you changed it to instead?