Thank God for lists!

Do you ever have a problem repeating words while you’re writing? I sure do. I’m aware that when I finish writing this novel (Where the River Goes) I’ll have a ton of work editing and rewriting it. A lot of it will be searching out and killing those repetitious words and phrases.

I’ve found a website that helps me avoid using repetition so much as I write.: http://www.wordhippo.com.  I love this site! I keep it running while I’m writing so I can refer to it often with a click of the mouse. Another resource I’ve found helpful is Pinterest. I search for something like ‘writing a novel’ and tons of information is available to help me be a better writer. I have three one-inch binders full of helpful articles, word lists, name lists, etc. I use constantly.

I organized my binders by using dividers to section off topics such as plot structure, character development, conflict, story structure, layering, and on and on. Great writers seem to enjoy sharing their knowledge with us lesser writers, and I’m glad. I benefit so much from their shared wisdom.

I also save information about publishing, book signings, and marketing. I’m like a sponge when it comes to learning more about my craft. Because I’m a retired English teacher I do okay with grammar, but there’s countless articles to be found for those who aren’t. Grammarly can help, but it isn’t always right.  

I have lists of body language and facial expressions I use constantly. I find these imperative to help me express what is going on with my characters. I also have lists of attributes, values, careers, and other things that come in handy.  

Thank God for writers willing to share their knowledge, for lists, and for binders.

Holiday writing

I sure am enjoying writing over the holidays! My novel is coming together nicely as I start working on the climax and nearing the end. I have to do some layering, going back to add scenes and amp up the plot. Some of my characters need added depth. I’m not sure they have a realistic balance of strengths and flaws to make them believable. Especially the MC.

I have to check descriptions. Probably I’ll have to add some. I’m sure I’ll have to add emotions to scenes. I always have a little trouble with that. I know I need more suspense. Wow, I have work to do! And I haven’t even started working on ridding the story of filter words, repetitions, passive voice and being verbs.

I’m hoping to finish the story in the next couple of months. Then to start edits before I submit it to beta readers. I’m happy that a couple of writer friends have volunteered to beta read it in addition to some others I have.

Here is a scene I wrote the other night. I’d love it if you’d make a comment about it.

A group of angry men gathered under a tree in the Johnsons’ yard. Anger boiled over onto the women who served meatloaf and scalloped potatoes. It boiled over onto rowdy children who played chase around trees and stumps and through and around the legs of the adults.

                “Wade, you said yourself we caint keep doin’ nothin’. Nobody else’ll help us. It’s up to us to fix things around here.”

                “You got that right, Josiah. I’m sick of the law ignoring us. They don’t care when it comes to river people.”

                Other piqued voices joined in and everyone was talking at once. A man near the center of the crowd raised his hand and shushes spread through the group until all was quiet.

“Pa Eli is speaking,” someone said. All eyes turned toward the small, grizzled man.

                “Folks, anger and bitterness will get us nowhere,” he drawled. Heads nodded, and he continued. “We gotta consider the truth, and we gotta have a plan.” He perched on a tall stump and contemplated his audience. “The truth is, people who got no rights are interrupting our lives and taking what’s ours. We’ve asked for help and got nothing. We gotta take matters into our own hands.”

                Fists pumped the air and affirmations articulated the mood. Once more, all grew quiet when Pa Eli opened his mouth. “One thing we gotta remember—people, good and bad, have value. We have to be careful to protect the innocent.” A long hesitation punctuated the importance of his statement.

“Our creator gave us soul to balance us. We have emotions to stir us, a will to move us, and a mind to guide us. We don’t need to get all riled up and act stupid. We have to use our brains to get us going in the right direction.”

The outline debate

Often writers debate over whether to outline or not. I won’t debate over it. I don’t care what method you use when you write—to each his own. I have published three novellas and didn’t outline any of them. I just started writing and wrote until I was done. About a third of the way in I sketched out a semblance of an outline to sort of know where I was going. However, my characters seemed to change the story, so I’d have to periodically change the outline.

This novel is different. It’s based loosely on a story from the Bible, and I tried to write it from the hip (panster it, if you know what I mean), but I got nowhere fast. One day I sat down and outlined the whole story. I tried using Scrivener, but I haven’t learned that program well enough to make it work for me. Maybe someday. Once the outline was done, I started writing and still haven’t stopped. (Except to eat, sleep, go to church, and other necessities. You get it.)  

My characters still change the plot scenes and I have to revisit the outline a lot, but initially, the plot remains the same. However, I have altered the ending. I intended to kill off a couple of the main characters, but they had a different idea. Guess they didn’t want to die. But who does?

I find it amazing that my characters take on lives of their own. They seem to determine what happens to them and sometimes I feel I have little control. It makes writing fun. I told someone the other day, “My character is lost in the woods and I have no idea where he is.” Their response was priceless. I did eventually find him and take care of him.

I almost dread the long editing process, but I’m excited about getting this book finished. I hope when I read it through it all makes sense without a lot of rewriting. Oh well! I’ll do what I have to do.

Marketing my book.

Last weekend the writers’ group to which I belong had a presenter speak about marketing. In three hours, he had time only to scratch the surface of what we writers could do to market our craft. He discussed building a platform and a brand. It was interesting and informative. His main point was ‘get your name out there’. Make friends. Build relationships. Network, network, network.

I get it. I need to get out of my shell, off my butt, and promote myself. But I hate that! I don’t want to do that! I have a writer friend who wants to do all the writing and illustrating and let ME do all the work of publishing and marketing. I DON’T THINK SO! Of course, like me, that’s what most writers would like.

So, I did a few things the presenter recommended, like fix my tags to include more things such as my website address. That wasn’t so hard, was it?

Then I did something else I loved. I’m in the middle of my novel, and my main characters are having a baby. So—I had a contest on my Facebook author page. Suggest a name for the baby, and if I pick the name you suggest, you win a free, autographed book. One of mine (obviously). I ran the contest for one day, and I had a great response. I chose a name (actually two names) which I announced in a post, announced the winners, and private messaged them to tell them how to choose a book. Guess what. They want to wait for this book!

Now all these people know I’m working on a novel and they feel somewhat invested since they helped me find a name. The two winners are excited about getting a free, autographed novel. Hopefully, they’ll tell their friends, and so on. The word is out! Today, I ate lunch at a local restaurant and with a big smile, the waitress asked me if I decided on a name. YAY!

I’m on the way. I’m building my platform. I’m getting my name out there. Now I’m trying to think of another way to get more people invested in my book. Bless my soul, I’m marketing!

Self-publish or traditional, that is the question.

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I’ve self-published all my books, but I’m considering querying a traditional publisher for my next novel. My knowledge about this issue is limited, but I’ve thought about the pros and cons of both methods.  As I see it, the benefits of self-publishing as these: it’s much faster, the royalty is considerably more, and the author has more control over the book.

The only benefit I can see to publish traditionally is getting the book into bookstores such as Barnes and Nobel and being able to have book signings there. However, this is a pretty big benefit. Readers can’t read a book they don’t even know exists. Right?

I’ve read a lot about both methods of publication, and it seems to me that getting a publisher to accept a book can take years, then the royalties are small. It’s my understanding that authors still have to do their own marketing. I may not be seeing the whole picture, but I want to.

I think the time factor is the thing I most dread. I am so torn. What do you think? Am I missing something?