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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.

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

Celebrate the Small Things: Manifest Self-Miracles #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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Do you make lists?

Do you write notes to remember tasks you need to do?

Have you ever made a list about all the good things about you?

I’m revisiting an old blog hop called Celebrate the Small Things. It’s a wonderful way to remember all the sunshine in a day when skies seem dark and the wind is so cold you can’t seem to find any warmth, on the inside.

This week I’m picking self -miracles. Those choices you’ve made in your life because you believed in yourself and the work you knew you’d have to do, but you did it anyway.

The idea for today’s post came from my son’s homework assignment. I’ve spent the last two days home with my son who’s had a fever. He had a reading passage on Jackie Robinson, a famous American baseball player, and I enjoyed reading it and reflecting on the questions as much as my son did. Mr. Robinson believed in himself. Mr. Robinson inspired me. I’ve been reflecting of specific choices I’ve made to focus on being a mother these past almost 10 years, and to also live a few of my deeper passions by giving up some larger less weighted ones.

So how am I manifesting self- miracles?

I’m celebrating two accomplishments this week. On the work side, I built a bridge in the office and really listened to what others were saying in order to develop graphic concepts that mattered to a team and not just me.

On the personal side, I’m celebrating my choice to leave a fast-paced traveling career so I could be there as a mother for my two little ones. My son has had a fever for half the week and I’m thankful I’ve been home with him. I’m thankful my current job is so understanding. I’m thankful I’m a short distance away from my kids’ school so I can be there in the event of any emergency. So I can have lunch with each of them once a week. So I can meet all their friends and be involved with their lives.

The key to self-miracles from what I understand, is believing in yourself so much, you “bet on yourself.” You realize what you want and love and need, and you go for it.

As a result of “betting on you,” tiny miracles begin to grow. Faith begins to grow and take over. Before you know it, you’re growing too.

Happy Friday, all. Make that list 😉

“This ain’t fun. But you watch me, I’ll get it done.” ~ Jackie Robinson

Why You Should Celebrate You #IWSG #WednesdayMotivation

[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: Mary Aalgaard,Bish Denham,Jennifer Hawes,Diane Burton, and Gwen Gardner!

And thank you to founder Alex J. Cavaugh 🙂

***

Years ago, I met someone at work who wasn’t excited about anything.

I sat with her in a conference room, trying to help her imagine what life might be like at work if she could just plan out all the ways she could take control of her tasks, her work life.

Then the tears came. She grabbed a box of kleenex and meekly said, “I can’t. I don’t want to be here. ”

She went on to say she wasn’t living her dreams or the life she really wanted. She felt out of control.

I was much younger then. I didn’t understand at first. But now I do.

Almost twelve years ago, I set a very big goal for myself. I decided I wanted to finally address the passion I’d harbored all my life and had ignored. Writing.

I didn’t know how to get started or what the steps to achieve my dream might look like. I had no formal training, and barely a friend who loved creative writing and would commit to the process the way I tend to commit to things.  What I did have though, was a very big idea, and I knew the best place to get started was to first get up. Every day. And think or write or read for at least an hour. I wrote and planned with a fiery fury.

I finished that first book. I also learned that the first book isn’t always as great as we think it will be and I cried. And then I realized something, after the gentle coaxing of my mother and my devoted friends. I’d finished something huge. I started somewhere, and I used everything in my power in each moment to finish that first huge task. They were right. I needed to celebrate that, and bought myself a new book, and let myself disappear into the story for several days, letting go of my own goals for a brief period of time. I found my smile again, and the will to keep trying.

Today, I’m still not where I want to be. But I celebrate. Then I work. Then I celebrate some more.

This month’s IWSG question asked: “How do you celebrate when you achiever a writing goal / finish a story?”

I may have taken a different route to answer the question, but I think the important thing we all should do when we celebrate is to do whatever makes our hearts feel good. We walk taller, smile brighter and find that joy or light again within ourselves. It’s the best way I know how to make it through the tough days. And that’s exactly what I showed the lady I worked with back then. We may not be able to influence where we are in a present moment, but every moment has potential and we can influence how we feel about it and work to change it. Don’t forget to celebrate that.