Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Editing within an inch of its life

At the moment I am editing. I like what some say the result is-edited to within an inch of its life. I always chuckle when I hear that statement. But oh how true it needs to be. Fine tuning is a necessity for many facets of life. Take the accomplished musician. They tune until that instrument is perfect pitch. One slight deviation and the performance is off.
Our manuscripts should be like that. Though I am getting thoroughly sick of mine now.
Remember as a child cutting out those dolls from a sheet of paper with umpteen folds? One wrong move and the chain of dolls was broken. No more dancing dollies!! Just shattered pieces and a major reconstruction or start over to bring the desired outcome.
I seriously hope I don't cut an important chain and ruin what I started. Paranoia is setting in!!
Regards Annie

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Truth stranger than fiction

Isn't it amazing when you least expect it, up pops an idea for a novel or story. Right out of the blue! Well this discussion is about truth and fiction.
This week I heard a romance story that would make my hair curl-and that usually takes a lot. It had tension, yearning desire, forbidden love and spanned generations. It did end with a satisfactory resolution to cap it all off. What more could anyone ask for? It just happens to be a true story, and I am not into writing memoirs, yet anyway.
So can I use some elements of this true love story in my next novel? Well, I guess, as readers you will never know the truth behind the answer to that question because where does truth stop and fiction begin?
I know as one observant people-watcher, I often use an eclectic mix of people I know, those in my head and even those I see but don't know for my characters in my stories . Even settings have been jumbled or contrived from reality to accommodate the story to greatest benefit.
I'd be interested to know how others handle the mix between truth and fiction in their story-telling.
For my latest manuscript I envisioned a beautiful waterfall as part of my setting. I even knew which one I would use from my actual teenage memories. Trouble was, when I went as part of a family outing to photograph it for inspiration, it wasn't there. I don't know where I stored that memory from but the recall didn't produce accurate details. I know what I imagined I saw but couldn't find the reality.
Never mind, my imagination is more fun anyway. How's yours?

Friday, October 19, 2007


Just wanted to respond here on the main page to Suzy's question about plotting. And you knew I would have to answer that open question hah?
I like to plan my timeline with spreadsheets. One event per cell, then I can rearrange them by copy and paste etc. I often use this for a tricky scenes where I want the timing exact (well shouldn't they all) but sometimes you need to see it in black and white.
Re plotting in tables - this is where I do most of my work with plots. I start by putting in the characters and their personality/profiles interview results or important relationships next to them. Then I will do a separate one for my outline. I use this for the duration of writing my novel. I put chapters down left hand side, next column is for headline for that chapter eg Sarah intro and the POV used (in this case Sarah POV), the next column I put each main detail for that chapter on separate lines, next I have my wordcount which I add to as I proceed. In the extended details I can rearrange to suit as I feel the story changes as it sometimes does. Main thing is I put the conflict here and bold it. So I can see at a glance where my weaker chapters are. Of course also I can add or subtract a chapter's details POV by inserting columns or rows whatever. It also helps with synopsis and that dreaded fear of what do I write next. The outline give you an idea of when to say what!!!
I was interested to see Jenny Crusie's theory of sectioning novels into four with main conflict in each section. I can see this would translate nicely into the way I plot too.
I am keen to hear how others do their planning if they aren't pansters of course!
I also use a spreadsheet to keep track of my word count. I especially use this during BIAW but also for my novel. Can you tell I like it organised??
Regards Annie

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Next step

I have been trying to plot manuscript # 2 and wanted to continue with the story form my 1st manuscript. Now I am having second thoughts. It seems very time consuming and conflict constricting to use characters from a previous ms. Double mindedness! I always have trouble with it. And I also don't like to start something until I know I can finish it. So I will plot (in my head first then using tables and spreadsheets) 'till the cows come home'.
Today is our 32nd wedding anniversary. Wow! It really doesn't seem that long. In the words of a friend of mine - 'that's 2 life sentences!' Well I guess that there are two lives involved. But while good times, hassles, joys, sadness, riches, poverty, sickness, health and all those things covered by the vows do occur - sometimes love prevails.
Take the time to discover it... However you can.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The challenge ahead

Many of my writing friends are challenging themselves in November with NaNoWriMo which I fully support them in their endeavors. They are putting their hands up and saying 'I am committing to this' and I would love to join them. But I am giving in to the external pressures in my life at the moment, namely, renovations.
Our entire house has been turned upside down-literally. We are ripping up floor tiles. Jackhammers, dust and noise-and an over-abundance of all. Just when I thought the dust would settle, along comes another project-sanding timber stairs and benches. Different tool, same affect-dust.
Also in November we have our son's engagement party here in our home and I am catering for this exciting event. November sees some overseas visitors coming to stay for several weeks and then my other son and his wife come for the annual 'after uni holidays'. I really hope at least some of the renovating is complete by then.
I am between manuscripts now and having finished my first I now see there is another story in there that should be written which precedes it. I have already developed the new hero and heroine character profiles so I might run with their romance. Amid all the dust, a plot is building-I hope! When I have a spare moment, I whip out my laptop and jot a few things down or research a topic I think will develop it further. Not all writing is words on a page.
So for me, my November challenge will be to have my plot plotted! If you aren't doing NaNoWriMo what are you challenging yourself to do to advance your writing?

Saturday, October 13, 2007


Thanks to Eva for raising the question about the photo above. It is indeed Venice. In fact it is sunrise in all its intricate glory. I had to lighten the photo so you could see the buildings more clearly. But it does bring back wonderful memories of our visit there last year. This was, in fact, how Venice said goodbye to us. We left shortly afterwards on the early morning train headed for Salzburg. We traveled there via Villach and the six-hour trip was sensational and more than DH and I could have expected a train journey through the alps could be. Austria is beautiful. But oh, I do love Italy. And what's not to love about Venice.
The highlight for me was the gondoliers serenade as they passed by our window each evening. Naturally I figured they were singing to me not their passengers. The atmosphere-Magic!
Oh, and yes, I did get to experience my own gondola ride.
Very romantic!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Using the senses

Sparked by my critique group's monthly exercise, I recall a time at high school when we were asked to write a piece using our senses. In order to do this more successfully we had to blind-fold each other and describe what we encountered. I have never forgotten this experience. It forced me to 'look' at things in a totally different way.
One of my childhood influencers was a blind lady. She taught me to knit using two colors. Still to this day I don't know how she did it. She would say the cotton felt different. It was the same brand, same ply, same labels but she could still tell when she was using pink and not blue.
I have always thought there was a particular type of personality who likes to touch and feel. You know her. She's the lady who enters the boutique and immediately grabs to feel the material. She doesn't respond to color or patterns but will purchase on the feel of the material or how the garment makes her feel when she puts it on. (Yes I used to work in a ladies-wear boutique)
Well now I apply these types of sensory awareness situations to my writing. And yes, I am one of those touchy, feely type of people. So I guess that helps.
If you have trouble with putting the other senses to work in your writing, try the old exercise above. Blindfold yourself and spend some time listening, tasting, feeling and smelling or even sixth sensing. There is a spiritual world out there. Let's not forget about that one.
You will be amazed at those other worlds that exist.