June Rodriguez
JUNE: This past week the Friday Night Write Blog had a minor (it didn’t seem that way at the time) tech problem. An ad blacked us out and streamed across all of our pages. As a non-tech savvy blogger first I panicked and envisioned having to start all over again. When the fog cleared I went to the source of the template I downloaded to hopefully find the answers. I emailed the team behind the Hive and was rewarded with a fast response and an even faster fix. I’m still not quite sure what the problem was but I consider this another lesson learned in the new world of cyber blogging. These guys were great.

JUNE: Wow Jackie. I am amazed at what you can get on a phone these days. You are able to gain access to your writing and computer programs from your phone.

JACKIE: Yes, it’s very cool. My Docs to Go app has essentially turned my Iphone into a mini sized laptop.

SARAH: Yay! Now, we'll get to see more of your WIP! Sounds like a great purchase. Amazing how technology can help and hinder. LOL My mom is way less productive now that she is addicted to Facebook.
I saw a cute little notebook in at Costco for $350. It's like a "mini me" lap top. You can bet I was elbowing hubby in going, "Hint, hint."

DORI: Technology continues to change the entire writing and publishing world. It's amazing what options are now open to us.

JUNE: We have talked about POV before but I still have trouble picking out the specific areas that need to be cleared up. I can tell that something is wrong but not specifically that the problem is with POV.

JACKIE: Well, you did a great job Friday night. You may not have known that a problem was specifically POV, but when discussing it, it was very clear. POV is definitely a boogaboo that is always creeping around a story. We want so badly to express every characters sense of what is happening, it’s all too easy to mingle them together.

DORI: I think I notice POV issues, or the dreaded inadvertent "head hopping," because I generally write in multiple POVs. When you're critiquing a piece and you stumble over something, asking yourself "huh" and it's not the verbiage itself that's awkward, then look at whether there is a character doing or thinking something. If so, which character is it? Whose "head" would you have to be in to know that information, see that transpiring, etc? If it's a different character's lens than the line before, you know it's the POV that's at issue.

SARAH: I'm glad Dori has such a good grasp of POV. A simple sentence phrased a little off can shift the POV of a scene. I get completely frazzled sometimes trying to keep it all straight. It just goes to show how valuable CP's can be. Here's to hoping we're not head hoppin' in the future!

JUNE: I noticed tonight that we are getting better at breaking up our descriptive sections. Mixing up the longer with the shorter sentences.

SARAH: There is a balance to everything in writing. It's like cooking with pepper. A little can go along way and then on the flip side- sometimes a lot is just what the recipe ordered. Now, finding the balance is where the true skill comes into play. I know I'm still making your eyes water with my over-peppered sentences, but I'm getting there.

The advice you gals doled out about branching out my reading has really helped me see sentence variation strategies. I can't stay hopelessly devoted to a couple authors and be content to re-read. LOL No sad Sandys! This newbie has gotta break out of my shell and experiment with different genres and sub-genres. It's like studying, but better.

DORI: One of my favorite things to do is read. These days I read both for pleasure as well as to study craft. There is so much to be learned from seeing how others write.

DORI: Dialog is tricky. Not only do you want to make sure that the dialog is meaningful (moves the story forward), but that each character has a distinctive voice. On top of these issues is dealing with dialog tags, versus using a beat. When necessary to distinguish between who's talking a simple dialog tag of "said Joe" is best. Another option is to use a beat to signify who is speaking. For example. Martin tossed his drink on Sherry's silk evening dress. "Now, what do you think of your precious dress?" There is no need to use a dialog tag, because it is clear who is doing the speaking here. Another use of beats is to break up long pockets of dialog. However, the beats you use should propel the story forward by showing us emotion or other action pertinent to the story and not simple stage directions for the sake of having something break up the dialog.

JUNE: I did notice some stage direction or empty direction. I’m starting to pick up on when they are unnecessary or not clear.

SARAH: Guilty as charged. I know this is another area I need to brush up on. Inserting action into a scene is fine, but I have to be attentive to what I use. There has to be a flow.

DORI: . . . and a purpose, other than simply to break up dialog or having someone doing something simply for the sake of having something happening.

JUNE: We know about the need to let ourselves vent or talk to someone when things begin to stress us out. I think the same thing applies to our characters. At what point in your novel or story do your characters need to vent. And what about the characters that can’t or won’t talk to someone about what they are thinking or feeling. Do they become the antagonist of your story?

DORI: Interesting question June. These characters are no different than real folks, or at least that's what we want our readers to think. That means that some characters will haul off and put their fist through their bedroom wall to vent, while others hold it in. Could be the antagonist, but could just as well be any other character in our story. Our job as writers is to tap into emotions in a way that resonates with readers, who can either say "hey that's me," or "that's my hot-headed brother-in-law," sorta thing.

JUNE: When writing our novels should we think about the possibility of writing toward a series or stick with a stand alone? We talked about the pros and cons and the differences each has in the different genres.

DORI: In my genre series, mystery/thriller/suspense, series are popular. I have read some series I like, but overall find I like to write and read stand alones. Personally, I think I would become bored with writing about the same characters for too long, unless the series had a story arc that was mapped out ahead of time. For instance, the Harry Potter series was ultimately all about vanguishing Voldemort, and we knew that wasn't going to happen until the last year of Hogwart's. In the meantime, each story had its own satisfactory resolution. Over the series we got to watch the characters grow and mature to the point that they could take on Voldemort. However, this story would've lost momentum at some point too. You can't go on forever with a series and keep readers hooked to the same degree they were early on. Hard to say if it's just the readers getting tired of the same old thing, or if it is also the author who's getting tired of the same old thing. I find my best writing is when I'm psyched about the story and the characters. That excitement comes across on the written page. However, that kind of excitement can't be maintained forever.

JUNE: In writing romance the secret number seems to be “three”. Very seldom do first books become part of a series. Once you are established as a published author a series becomes a better opportunity and possibility. But even books in a series need to be able to stand alone. I see a story line of “3” in my future.

SARAH: Would you guys help me with a little plotting problem? I can't decide how to clean up a problem I had with one of my chapters.

JUNE: Oh yea! Let's have a go at it. I really like to play WHAT IF. Having other writers help with ideas or how to work through problems in a story line is exciting. Each of us will have a different direction to suggest. Next time we brainstorm we should bring chocolate.

SARAH: Discussing and dissecting my plot points with you gals was really beneficial and fun. I enjoyed getting a fresh perspective. I walked away from our little pow-wow with a much better understanding of where my story is heading. Thanks!

DORI: We can get so wrapped up in our plot and characters that it is hard to see things as clearly as an outsider. That's a good thing about a critique group. Better us than an agent, editor, or worse yet your readers who then throw the book against the wall in frustration because you have a character in two places at once and you're not writing a fantasy novel.
1 Response
  1. A good post, you gals do a great job with your group.

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