When the Plot Thins

Which way do you go?

So, I am new to this whole writing a YA novel gig.  Less than a year in now. (Although I think I have spent at least as much time reading and following all the awesome writerly blogs out there!)  For those of you who followed me before you’ll see my blog has transformed from a-day-in-the-life of a crazed mother of 4 who clearly needed to get out more, to a writer’s home.  It’s all good.

So, writing.  The idea for my ms. has been bouncing around my head for a long time.  When I finally decided it was time to write it, I started out by outlining the big picture.  Then I broke it out by chapter with a bit of detail in each.  Next I fleshed out the chapters with the who/what/why.  Only then did I start writing one scene at a time, thinking through the details as my fingers flew across the keyboard.

But as the story came to life it became complicated.  The lines weaving through grew more elaborate.  The characters in my book became real people (to me).  Things were going fine for a while.  But then the plot got thin.  My story hit a wall, or rather my characters were running along until the ground fell out from under them and then they were pinwheeling like Wile E. Coyote, hanging in midair.

Something wasn’t working.  The reasons for their actions were not big enough; more needed to be at stake for the story to move in the direction I needed it to go.  If I had read to this point in someone else’s book I would have said, “But wait, if that is the case, why can’t they just do this?”  As a reader, I would have been pulled out of the book and felt cheated by an easy way out.

As a writer, I see the need for the change and sit a while to mull over the possibilities.  Once I am ready to make a go of it, it is not a simple change on the current page.  Of course I have to build the change into the early pages and then iron out the ripples that my change has sent through the rest of the story.  It is a humbling process, but I am finding it to be a necessary one for me.  I think it is improving my story, I hope so at least.

This weekend I hit another thin spot and have been smoothing out the ripples from another necessary change.  It is a slow process that fascinates me.  How do you discover/work through changes that must be made in your story?  Do you stop and go back like I do?  Do you make some notes about your change and just continue on as if they are already made?  Do you save the file and never open it again?

I am curious to know.

Blog Makeover!

My poor blog has been wearing the same old thing since May 2008. *yawn*

Time for a change.  You like?

I saw this and felt like I just walked into my WIP!   Yes, my YA fantasyadventurecomingofagemagicalstory has birds. And darkness. And full moons.  (no weres, or vamps, or other transmorphable beings though, sorry.)

I am still playing with the tweakables, so bear with me if something is amiss.

I know not what I do!

Ciao folks!

Blog Chain – Which writers speak to you?

The topic of this blog chain was chosen by Christine Fonseca who has asked:

“Which author or authors have most influenced your writing and how?”

Questions like these are always so hard for me to answer because it seems like I take something away from every author that I read and don’t want to exclude any one piece of inspiration.

I have been writing in some form for many years, but have been working on my YA novel in earnest since late last year.  Being a reader while trying to be a writer is a strange thing; my awareness of style, method, and the frame of the story is acute.

When I think of inspiration and influence, here are some authors who have left something behind for me:

Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth is one of my favorite books.  Aside from my love of the well told epic story, I love the ways he has drawn every character, given them so many layers and meaningful depth.  All while keeping his sentences simple and spare.  His books are a reminder to me that you don’t have to get flowery to get to the awesome.

Diana Gabaldon. Outlander. Greatness.

When I think about the enigma that is “voice”, I think of Stephen King and his ability to breathe life into the most believable and authentic characters, regardless of the setting.  Of course, J.K. Rowling is a master when it comes to voice, and for those of you who have not yet read the Odd Thomas YA series – Dean Koontz has created first-person narration perfection (IMHO).

Writers whose work haunts me for their ability to leave me thinking for days simply about their word choice are Anita Shreve, Sena Jeter Naslund, and Caleb Carr.  For the awesome movement of the narration: Dan Brown, Harlan Coben, and James Patterson.  

I am constantly influenced by whatever I am reading.  Some of my recently read or re-read:  the WAKE series by Lisa McMann *whoa*, Bleak House by Dickens (amazing), Under the Dome by Stephen King (talk about voice), Love in the Present Tense, by Catherine Ryan Hyde (forever love), and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Fablehaven by Brandon Mull, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (I am Heathcliff!), The Language of Bees by Laurie R. King, Hold Tight by Harlen Coben.

TBR:  Maximum Ride by James Patterson, Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting… any more for me?  Do tell.

Hop over and read what author Michelle McLean had to say about what influenced her.

Do the Write Thing for Nashville – holy cats!

How do you describe generosity that moves beyond the bounds of the everyday random act of kindness?  Tonight I am sitting here unable to sleep because I am thinking about what’s happening over at Do the Write Thing for Nashville.  I am having a hard time finding the words.  It is huge.  HUGE.

As some of you may know, when I am not writing, I run a small nonprofit organization.  Like many orgs out there, mine subsists solely on the generosity of those who choose to donate.  So you can imagine how much I love seeing people rally for a cause, any cause.  I am a cause believer, through and through.  I think it is vitally important to do the right thing when people are in need and you can help.

When this group came together at Do the Write Thing for Nashville to rally for the wonderful cause for Nashville Flood Relief – The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, I knew I would be a part of it, even if only to spread the word.  (…and it seems to bid until my mouse refused to click *refresh* any longer.) 

But seriously, have you seen what is going on over there?  People are bidding.  Lots of people.  People are overbidding. Lots of those too.  Amazing donors are coming out of the woodwork to give incredible gifts.  They are adding twists to their gifts to include the runners up.  Agents, writers, crafters, blog designers, book trailer makers, artists, and..  It has grown to the point where the amazing organizers: Victoria Schwab, Amanda Morgan, and Myra McEntire have to stop accepting donations and somehow figure out how to make this thing end on Day 10.

It is so easy to watch the news and feel like the world is spinning out of control and into the gutter.  But when real people are given the opportunity to come together to help out – truly amazing things happen.  All the time.

Sorry for getting sappy – but I am truly moved by the generosity of the people giving their gifts and talents, and by the people who are giving their hard earned money and continuing to do so. 

Get over there… only 4 more days left!

Do the Write Thing for Nashville – I won one!

I am stoked!  STOKED!  Did I mention the stoked part?

In case you haven’t heard, there is one heck of a fundraiser going on over at Do the Write Thing for Nashville Flood Relief.  Last time I saw a tally, it was closing in at $9,000 and that was a few days ago… how wonderful and incredible to see the writing community come out in force like this.  *warm fuzzies*

I had been busy bidding on this little gem:

Day 1 – Item 3: From Hannah Moskowitz, author of BREAK (Simon Pulse) and professional query-pusher two query critiques. She wants to make your query agent-ready, so that you can sub now. Or now. How about now?

Critiques go to two highest bidders.

I was checking the bidding hourly, and making sure I still had time.  But then I forgot that my friend was turning… well, it was her birthday that night and she was throwing herself a PROM!  Yes, my husband donned a tux and I wore pantyhose.  And so I had to go.  I made one last bid and crossed all of my fingers.  And then I lost.  (boo!)

Only the fabulousness continued when she threw in a twist and made it available to the top FOUR bidders.  And then I won. (yay!)

Hannah and I have been emailing now, we go way back (to last night).  And now she has her eyes on my query!  Once upon a time I had no idea how important a query letter was, and now… well there is only one word, say it with me: