Should We Write the Whole Truth? #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

Author Toolbox Blog Hop

The Author Toolbox Blog Hop is “a monthly blog hop on the theme of resources/learning for authors: posts related to the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, blogging tips for authors, reviews of author-related products, anything that an author would find helpful.” Want to jump into the writing tool box? Search #AuthorToolboxBlogHop or to join via blog, click here.

Thank you Raimey!

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When I wrote my first draft of my first novel, I went scene by scene, chapter by chapter. I wrote in a logical timeline, from Monday, Tuesday, not knowing how to get to Friday where I really wanted the conflict to begin. I had no idea there was this really cool technique called Narrative Summary, and used effectively and efficiently, may work better then walking a reader through the whole truth.

Ever told an event from your day word for word and managed to hold attention from start to finish? I’m not sure if this is possible. I admit, I’ve done it. I’ve also watched eyes wander away.

In writing, Narrative Summary is a great way to hold on to a reader’s attention with a great fast-forward bridge where the reader may not notice a skip over a course of hours, maybe days, and may also remain engrossed on the page without scanning.

So what is it, you might ask?

According to Quora, I found the perfect definition:

Narrative summary is possibly the most flexible of the various ways of presenting a story. Narrative summary doesn’t necessarily tie the author down to chronological order, the way dialog and dramatization do, nor does it require a focus on one particular aspect of the story, as description often does.

90 Day to Your Novel by Sarah Domet also states, “the narrator summarizes some events of the story for the reader, without showing the scene directly.”

Author Domet goes on to say, “you don’t have to show, in scene, how your character got from the end of chapter one to the beginning of chapter two by first getting a car, driving to the ferry, riding a ferry … then walking the rest of the way. But you will have to make clear to the reader that these changes took place.”

One of my favorite young adult books I’ve read this year and talked about multiple times is Panic, by Lauren Oliver. In one beautiful sentence Oliver transitions the reader from one Saturday to the next:

“Time tumbled, cascaded on, as though life had been set to fast-forward.”

Then she begins the next paragraph so perfectly, “Finally Saturday came, and she couldn’t avoid it anymore.”

I am so drawn in. I can see her panic, her nervous tension. And I want to read on and find out how she faces her worst fear in the next blind challenge against her peers.

One more example, you may ask?

A perfect one ends a chapter with a huge confrontational moment where our second POV main character Dodge is crushing on a girl and gives her a gift for her birthday. One he can’t afford. One he can’t stop thinking will finally show her he really cares. She’ll melt. She has to. Instead, she gives it right back and he’s so dejected he says the worst thing and they’re both sniffing back shadowed tears:

“Her eyes locked on his for a minute. He saw two dark holes, like wounds; then she whirled around and was gone.”

Thus, the chapter ends.

The next chapter begins with him home in his apartment, dreading his decision to head straight home the second he hears his mom call from the living room. To meet her new boy of the week. The father of a former classmate who had recently died. In the very game our two main characters are competing in. The entire scene is painted so we see Dodge’s awkward tension.

Oliver could have started the new chapter with the door in Dodge’s face, a slow walk down the hall, him shuffling down the steps to the street below, but she didn’t. We don’t need to watch a dejected walk of shame or the passing details of the city. Realistically, Dodge wouldn’t be paying attention to the city. Instead, Oliver shows us in the opening page of the new chapter with body language, dialogue, all the while, ramping up new conflict to peek our interest.

What can you do to try Narrative Summary?

Take out a scene you’ve stewed over. Maybe it doesn’t feel right. Maybe you’ve had comments from your beta readers, peers or editor how the action or conflict has dropped. Reread it. Seek places to summarize point A to B in a sentence. Notice the differences. Maybe try a new scene and write it out both ways. You might really like what you discover.

First Impressions Make and Break Books #IWSG

[I wrote this post as a member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our worries and also offer support and encouragement to each other on the first Wednesday of every month. If you’re a writer like me and you’re looking for a bit of support, you can click the link and sign up here]

This month’s awesome hosts are: Beverly Stowe McClure, Tyrean Martinson, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor!

And thank you to founder Alex J. Cavaugh 🙂

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What does our name mean?

As a kid, I remember the first time I actually picked out my own first pet, a dog. She was a two-year old mix between a cocker spaniel and a sheltie. Her hair was black, soft and wavy. Her eyes were giant, brown and watery. Her nose wasn’t fat or thin and everything about her sweet face, her expressions, melted my heart. I took her home and bathed her and then I found her ear had been damaged from what I guessed had been a fight with the other larger dog in her previous home. I couldn’t stand it. I couldn’t believe someone had left the skin so dirty and crusted over. I cleaned it, cut her hair and sat with her on the back steps in the backyard, drumming my fingers on my knee pondering the perfect name for her. Naming her was the first difficult act and I spent several hours searching for just the right one. My dearest nightmare chaser, my waiting friend at the door when I’d return from school or sports. I called my sweet little lady, Sadie.

THis month’s IWSG question asks: “What’s harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names?”

A name is identity, association, personality, even a secret if we don’t like what we get. I’m in the business of public relations and some days I stare at thousands of names as I’m preparing for specific events, publications and news stories. By staring at so many names, and watching so many student faces in school crowds, honors events, and social media feeds, I find it much easier to place a character with a name than titles.

Titles are like a brand. I have the worst time writing news headlines at work. I know they draw the eye in and if the headline doesn’t peek the curiously of the reader, and if you give away too much of the story in the headline, you lose the reader.

True, a brand is also identity. But a brand is far more than a name. It’s something you can remember. LIke an old 80’s jingle. A title is also a visual and it sets the tone for what a reader expects to find within a book. Titles further merge with image, photos and cover designs. I dread book titles. The first point of entry is so critical for any author or news writer. It’s the best victory in the world to finally settle on one. When I know it’s right, it feels really right, too.

Here’s my favorite commercial as a kid with the best motivating jingle song. Not sure how a tiger ever got associated with Frosted Flakes, but I loved the tiger more then the cereal and ate it every chance I could just to stare at the fun face on the box.

Do you have a favorite 80’s commercial? Does a jingle from your past occasionally float into your head and get stuck? Are names or headlines tougher to write?

Happy IWSG Day, all. Make it a “Great” day.

Celebrate the Small Things: Struggle and Forward Strides #fridayfeeling

Fridays are all about celebrating the Small Things thanks to a weekly blog hop created by author Lexa Cain. Joint co-hosts this week are authors L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits Blog The mission coincides with what I’m hoping to do with my own writing, inspire and focus on the light when those slippery shadows creep around our shoes. Want to sign up? Click Lexa Cain’s link to find out more.

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Last night, I listened to my son at piano practice until suddenly the sounds on the piano silenced and his voice quivered with frustration and tears. I listened closer to the teacher as she slowed her voice and softened her tone. She offered him a glass of water and talked about pushing through our mistakes. How we have to slow down and correct our hands and our fingers to play the right keys. How we all have to learn sometimes, and not everything worth the struggle comes easily. I thought to myself, Thank goodness you take the time to listen and encourage. Thank goodness you allow him time to feel his discouragement and then set a time on that feeling before asking him to recharge and start over.

Because she’s right, and no matter our age, I believe we all need to remember we struggle at some point with something we love or care about. We all need to make ourselves do hard things sometimes to reap the greater reward. Practice, Practice, practice, I always tell my son. Giving up never gets us anywhere we want to be.

So what has happened to me this week I might celebrate through the struggles? Finally, my kiddos have made it through multiple illnesses from the stomach flu, to fevers, to tooth decay issues and then boom—allergies beyond sufferable. Finally, we’re all sleeping again. Finally, we’re all singing to our own little rhythms because I am a noisy mom and I apologize right now, but my children are noisy too, singing, whistling, singing louder in the shower, talking about their worlds and their adventures both good and bad—nonstop. I see me in them. I see them striving for joy no matter what happens in their days. I’m loving it. I’m also loving the fact that it’s their last day of school and I’m taking off early to walk them home, eat ice cream, a non-dairy kind for me, and celebrate all of our successes over the course of an academic year. I’m celebrating home improvement projects I’d like to begin, painting the trim and the cabinets in the bathroom from their golden oak color to white. And new curtains for the kids.

On the writing side, I’m celebrating several things: the end of historical Celtic research and the beginning of writing again. At least a little every day.

And while I’m talking about celebrations and books, I’m helping out a sweet friend Author C. Lee McKenzie, with her new Middle Grade Release: SOME VERY MESSY MEDIEVAL MAGIC.

Isn’t the cover lovely? I saw the playful text and it made me smile.

Here’s a bit about the book:

Pete’s stuck in medieval England!

Pete and his friend Weasel thought they’d closed the Time Lock. But a young page from medieval times, Peter of Bramwell, goes missing. His absence during a critical moment will forever alter history unless he’s found.

There’s only one solution – fledgling wizard Pete must take the page’s place. Accompanied by Weasel and Fanon, Pete’s alligator familiar, they travel to 1173 England.

But what if the page remains lost – will Pete know what to do when the critical moment arrives? Toss in a grumpy Fanon, the duke’s curious niece, a talking horse, and the Circle of Stones and Pete realizes he’s in over his young wizard head yet again…

Release date – May 15, 2018

Juvenile Fiction – Fantasy & Magic/Boys & Men

$13.95 Print ISBN 9781939844460

$3.99 EBook ISBN 9781939844477

About the Author

Lee McKenzie has a background in Linguistics and Inter-Cultural Communication, but these days her greatest passion is writing for young readers. When she’s not writing she’s hiking or traveling or practicing yoga or asking a lot questions about things she still doesn’t understand.http://cleemckenziebooks.com

Where can you get the book?

Happy Friday, all. May your weekend be great 🙂

The living problem of ACT II Storytelling #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

Author Toolbox Blog Hop

The Author Toolbox Blog Hop is “a monthly blog hop on the theme of resources/learning for authors: posts related to the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, blogging tips for authors, reviews of author-related products, anything that an author would find helpful.” Want to jump into the writing tool box? Search #AuthorToolboxBlogHop or to join via blog, click here.

Thank you Raimey!

***

  I don’t know many people who run into drama and maximal conflict with their arms wide-open, ready to face off with someone near and dear to them, ready to cut them off or curse them to infinity and beyond, excited about being alone because trust is something we no longer know.

  Welcome to the world of writing ACT II.

  In 90 Days to Your Novel, Sarah Domet states, in real life, we are “conflict adverse … We strive to stay out of trouble and make decisions to bring us as close as possible to our desired outcomes … unless seriously provoked.”

   I reread this page just yesterday. I reread it over and over because finally, I’ve been given permission to do a very hard thing for me, create tension, difficult tension, which might really hurt the characters we breathe life into.

  ACT I is the introduction to your character and the world. ACT II is what Domet calls “the story.”

  In the Hunger Games … ACT I shows us Katniss as a realistic survivor whose mission is to provide for her younger sister because her father is dead and her mother lost herself while grieving. Katniss has one trusted friend with the same survival mission. Life is as it is. Then suddenly she finds herself at the name drawing ceremony when a boy and girl will enter an Olympian style fight to the death. Her younger sister is selected. Shocked, Katniss volunteers to take her place. ACT II begins on the train on the way to capital where she’s exposed to her wildest fantasies of food, clothing and the comforts of what was once an unattainable lifestyle. Her perception of what she is has to change. She must become pretty and fake. She must make allies of people she may one day kill. Survival is not just about skill anymore, and can she play a different version of herself to survive for her sister against her internal nature?

  In Jane Eyre … Act I is all about a young ordinary orphan growing up devote to her christian faith and unwilling to compromise her internal character. Finally free of a hateful aunt and an orphanage, she takes a well respected position as a governess. ACT II is all about her conversations with a sour older patron of the home. Unexpectedly, she develops feelings for the patron. When she finds out he loves her too, she falls hard and her love challenges her internal strength and christian devotion where she must ultimately make the choice between her faith and her strength, or, the only love she’s ever known.

 

  How do we take away what our characters want the most?

  • According to 90 Days to Your Novel, the best place to start is a timeline of events between ACT 1 and ACT 2.
  • Note the plot points of wants and needs.
  • Ask yourself how you keep your character from getting what he or she truly wants along the way.
  • Ask yourself, What continues to keep her/him from getting it and how can I deepen the conflict? 
  • How does the character motive and wants contribute to the action into deeper conflict?
  • Lastly, what points are left to get him or her to the climax, when finally you are free of ACT II.

Remember, bad things happen to all of us. Bad things must happen to your beloved characters. So as you write through ACT II remember this: Don’t give your MC this deep want or desire. ACT III is the choice of this attainment.

Additional Sources:

https://stevenpressfield.com/2010/06/second-act-problems/

https://www.emwelsh.com/blog/writing-act-two

https://www.well-storied.com/blog/second-act?rq=act%20two