Monday, June 16, 2008


Day one. I am exhausted. Got to bed at 1:45--second night in a row. I fell asleep in the last class of the day--fourteen times--or so it seemed. I don't think anyone noticed as I caught myself but when my pen nearly rolled out of my hand I had to give myself a good talking to.

Some Gems--in no particular order:

  • Every single thing in a book needs to belong and moves the plot forward.
  • Don't edit as you write. Just get it down. If you edit as you go it will be hard for you to cut that scene later as you will have so much invested in it.
  • Write the whole book and then let it sit until the scenes, descriptions, etc. blur. Then you can go back to edit. Take whole scenes out. Fix others.
  • Is your writing fresh?
  • A good beginning has poetry in it--no extra words. Tell what the story is about without telling the whole story.
  • You usually mention the main character right off. Your beginning is your chance to connect with the reader.
  • Know what makes your story interesting and put that in the opening.
  • Memoir: Look for the hole in your heart. If waring men would sit down together and say, "Tell me about your mother. Tell me about your father. Your childhood." If we could get the stories of the holes in their hearts, war would cease to exist.
  • Spend some time writing the blurb that goes on the book jacket.
  • When book drags throw in a new character or bump up the tension. Make your villain more villainous, your hero more heroic. The strength of your antagonist will make your protagonist stronger.
  • If you would make a commitment to write only five minutes a day you can probably write a half page. Multiply that by 365 days and you'll have over 150 pages. A whole book. In only five minutes a day!

Exercise: Kathi Appelt--She put the word "Summer" on the board and then she filled the board with summer words, everything from mosquitoes to fireworks. She told us to choose three and then write a paragraph, using all of them. The first sentence could not use the articles "A" and "the." She gave us five minutes to do this.

This was mine:

Tomatoes, ripe, splitting at the stem end, oozing juice. I picked them, barefoot and bareheaded, the sun hot on my shoulders. The salt shaker, abandoned in the garden until the crickets sang and Mom needed to salt the beans. I snuck the salt shaker into the kitchen; we were both sticky with summer's red juice.

See you tomorrow.


Cindy said...

I can't wait to read your first book. I'm sure it will be great!!!

tearese said...

ooh, I like the paragraph you did, it painted a great picture. Those were good notes of advice they gave.

Colette Amelia said...

my goodness gracious the words just sing from your mouth...what a talent!

I am still trying to quiet the song in my colon.

Muum said...

Oh, I looked at that workshop. Sounds like it is good! looking forward to more of your writing and experiences!

Catherine said...

Your 6 lines text is really vivid!
It's just like we were feeling the heat of the sun, ourselves.
About begining of books, I like those which begin right with an action, as if, suddenly, you were opening your eyes in one direction where something occurs, or a begining presenting a main character. In that case, this character has to be immediately attractive.
How I like reading! I haven't enough time! 3 books are waiting for the 1st to be read.
And books for children are so interesting nowadays! I didn't have so many choise when I was little. Today, they're sometimes so humoristic!

N7GMT said...

Yup: cohesion, cohesion, cohesion.

There's a famous quote by some dead French dood, whose name I cannot remember, but the quote is something like

"[A project] isn't finished when there's nothing left to add, but rather when there's nothing [extraneous] left to remove."

And sometimes that one oh-so-clever idea is hard to cut (especially if you've invested in it by editing and polishing), but it doesn't meet the critical criteria: it doesn't advance the plot and must go. Save it someplace; maybe it can go into another installment, or into a different story … or maybe even the "director's cut."