April 20th, 2018

You’re Driving Me Crazy!

Laurie Schnebly Campbell

You’ve heard of the Myers-Briggs test, right? Maybe even taken it for school or work? Maybe even had one or two or 28 of your characters take it?

No worries if you haven’t done any of that — it’s a pretty simple concept, which goes all the way back to Aristotle. (Actually even before him, but he’s the first famous person who believed in these four core personality types.)

Characters who drive each other crazy fit those types.

Of course each character is more, a LOT more, than just a personality core. But noticing what’s way deep down at their most fundamental layers is a handy way to know not only what’s making them tick…but also what’s creating problems for them in their relationships with other characters.

It’s what gets them sparking conflict with one another — and sometimes even within themselves.

Why does driving each other crazy matter?

Because problems like North vs. South, or Dog vs. Cat, or Traditional vs. Modern, don’t always provide the kind of conflict you need to keep readers glued to the story. 

For that, you need conflict that might not be evident from the first paragraph a character appears on the scene. That’s the kind of problem which goes beyond just Dog Versus Cat.

 

So let’s say you (or your characters) have already determined — or will determine during the class in May — whether each person is:

* More energized by being in a group or more energized by being on their own

* More inclined to notice what’s worked in the past, or to come up with ideas out of the blue  

* More apt to base their actions on how they feel or on what they think

 * More excited about embarking on the new quest or about successfully completing it

 

For each of those four choices, neither side is better. The greatest heroes and the worst villains are pretty evenly scattered among every possibility on the list.

Depending on what kind of story you’re writing, you could choose characters based on all 16 potential combinations — and feel confident that they’re going to run into SOME kind of conflict along the way.

But what if you want to improve the chances for something important? Like:

A really compelling conflict

That’s where you get into the personality types which combine different aspects of those choices. And what’s amazing is that even though these four types are the same ones observed by Aristotle, they’re equally valid today.

When it comes to driving each other (not to mention themselves) crazy, people haven’t really changed that much in the last 2,400 years.

Sure, someone who’s a corporate raider today might have been a Viking raider in the eighth century. And someone who took bread to the leper colony a thousand years ago…

 …might send checks to a charity today. But the deep-down personality which makes them behave that way? It’s still the same thing.

So, since people throughout the millennia have clung to the essentials of what makes them who they are, it’s no surprise that the types which combine various aspects of each core value are naturally gonna have some problems with one another.

Even more convenient, they’re ALSO going to have something else:

Problems with their own type

Take the Viking raider and corporate raider, for instance. Let’s say the Viking time-traveled to present-day Manhattan and is working with the executive who wants to use him in her new ad campaign. (Can you tell my day job is in advertising?)

Each one is going to have traits they admire in themselves and in the other person: strength of character, the ability to move quickly, skill at spotting potential problems, and so on.

But of course, they’ll also have traits they might like just fine in themselves and object to in the other person…like the assumption that “I’m going to be in charge.”

They might even have traits they dislike in themselves AND in each other, like the inability to stop planning for half a moment to appreciate the beauty of the sunset. And while all of those are very surface-level examples, you can see the opportunities for trouble between (and within) these characters who share the same type.

So, given that these reasonably similar people already have their share of problems, you can easily imagine the potential for…

 

Trouble between different types

We’ll talk more about that in next month’s class on Relationships by Aristotle, to which some commenter will win free registration (or a refund if you’ve already signed up for the class), but meanwhile here’s a question for you:

In a book you’ve written or read recently, what personality trait created the most trouble WITHIN one character or BETWEEN two characters?

If you’re pressed for time, it’s fine to say something as simple as “pride.” It’s also fine to go into more detail, which’ll give everyone else a reason to read that same book.

And while I’m taking off around 7pm Eastern time today for a workshop in New Orleans tomorrow, I can’t wait to check back before & after the flight to see what you have to say!

 

*  *  *  *  *  *

About Laurie

After winning Romantic Times‘ “Best Special Edition of the Year” over Nora Roberts, Laurie Schnebly Campbell discovered she loved teaching every bit as much as writing…if not more. Since then she’s taught online and live workshops for so many writers that she keeps a special section of her bookshelves for people who’ve developed that particular novel (a total of 43 so far) in her classes – like the upcoming one on using Myers-Briggs for conflict.

Steps of the hero’s journeyhttp://writersinthestormblog.com/2017/08/no-road-she-cant-travel/

(Note from Fae Rowen: If you’ve never seen the questions, six years ago I wrote a post that you might find interesting, with links to an online version of the Myers-Briggs test for you to take.)

 

Photo credits:  

  1. http://www.freestockphotos.biz/stockphoto/5335
  2. http://www.freestockphotos.biz/stockphoto/10629
  3. http://www.freestockphotos.biz/stockphoto/10590
  4. http://www.freestockphotos.biz/stockphoto/14027
  5. http://www.freestockphotos.biz/stockphoto/17295
  6. http://www.freestockphotos.biz/stockphoto/10117
  7. http://www.freestockphotos.biz/stockphoto/2250
April 18th, 2018

Not Your Mama’s Character Descriptions

Margie Lawson

writing

Does your real or imaginary writing checklist include: Make Character Descriptions Fresh, Unpredictable, Multi-Powerful?

If not, it could.

Character descriptions can add power on multiple levels. You can treat the reader to something fresh, something they haven’t read before. You can slip in details that deepen characterization too.

Character descriptions provide an opportunity to:

  • write fresh
  • boost cadence
  • add a humor hit
  • strengthen emotion
  • slip in backstory or other story dynamics
  • share physical and psychological descriptions
  • deepen characterization for one or more characters, including relationships

The more important a character, the more attention and power they deserve in the description.

Attention: Consider the number of lines.

Power: Be strategic regarding style and structure.

The Promise Between Us, Barbara Claypole White

  1. “They made a good team in the classroom, despite their different styles—and physiques. Thanks to all the lifting and hauling of steel, Ben was a Viking built for battle; Trent was a mix of scrappy street fighter and Dudley Moore in Santa Claus: The Movie.”

 Deep Edit Analysis:

      Linked Ben’s description to his job.

      Rhetorical Devices:

  1. Alliteration: scrappy, street, Santa
  2. Allusion: character in movie
  3. “Ben raked his hands through his dirty-blonde hair. He kept trying to sculpt it up, but the front continued to flop forward into a cowlick that made him look younger than thirty-five.”

Deep Edit Analysis:

 Fresh Description

Age Slip-In – Smart!

Some authors like to share several physical traits. Others may share a physical trait or two, leaving most of the description for the reader to fill in. This plan works well in these examples from Dana Summers.

 Drawn & Buried, Dana J. Summers, Immersion Grad

  1. “Luke Skywalker had Darth Vader. The Hatfields had the McCoys. Me? I had Brawley, the editor with the sense of humor of an IRS auditor. He had the look of a man who sent his suits out once a week to be rumpled.”

Deep Edit Analysis:

            Humor Hits!

          Shares POV character’s attitude about Brawley in an unpredictable way.

  1. “Between breaths, Stanfield worked his gum. His eyelids hung like broken window shades.”

Deep Edit Analysis:

            Fresh writing.

            Implies Stanfield is overweight.

            Humor Hits.

            Fabulous imagery.

 Say Goodbye for Now, Catherine Ryan Hyde, NYT Bestseller

You may know Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of Pay It Forward. If you didn’t, now you do. 

 Fifth Paragraph of Chapter One:

  1. “Below her on the front porch stood two young men, dressed in matching uniforms of white T-shirts and jeans. Even their flattop haircuts looked identical. The only obvious difference, at least at this distance and in the dark: one was a good six inches taller than, and had forty pounds on, his companion. That and the fact that the little man’s T-shirt was soaked through with a jagged map of bright blood.”

Deep Edit Analysis:

The POV character is a physician, seems right she’d note height and weight.

Backloaded with blood.

  1. “He was a compact man, not very big. But strong looking. In many ways, he was a dead ringer for his son. Small stature. Dark skinned. Hair cropped close. Glasses.

         Taking him in with her eyes made her feel better. There was something…for a  second she couldn’t quite find the word. Civilized. There was something civil about him. Compared to most of the men she had met.”

Deep Edit Analysis of the Two-Paragraph Description:

            Varied sentence structure, including frags.

            Shared a quality she respected.

            Implied she didn’t respect most men.

The Forgotten Ones, Steena Holmes, Immersion Grad, NYT Bestseller           

  1. “My grandfather is an old man. He’s thin, frail-looking, and with only a little bit of hair on his head. His face creases with wrinkles when he smiles, and the skin on his hands—even on his arms—is translucent.”

Deep Edit Analysis:

            Clear description. I like that she didn’t share the color of that little bit of hair.

           The reader knows he’s dying. Translucent skin, backloaded.

  1. “His gray-blue eyes stare at me with a steadiness, measuring me, judging me while I stand there.

Do I pass?

What does he think when he looks at me? Does he see a thin and mangy girl trying to find her way in the world, or a confident woman willing to take the world by storm—what I hope to portray?”

Deep Edit Analysis of the Three-Paragraph Description:

            First Paragraph: Lots of power words, triggers her emotional reaction.

          Second Paragraph: Strong stand-alone.

          Third Paragraph: Slips in two physical descriptors for the POV character, and hints at her struggle with her self-concept. Smart!

Long Shot, Kennedy Ryan, Immersion Grad

“She must be a good seven inches over five feet. A guy my height gets used to towering over everyone else, but I like a woman with a little height. Her hair, dark and dense as midnight, is an adventure, roaming wild and untamed around her face in every direction, drifting past her shoulders. She looks pissed, her wide, full mouth tight, and the sleek line of her jaw bunched.”

Deep Edit Analysis:

            Shares her height and hints at his.

           Alliteration: dark, dense, drifting

          Shares her emotional set, angry, but does it with descriptors that are suggestive—wide, full mouth, sleek like of jaw. 

My Hope Next Door, Tammy L. Gray, Immersion Grad, RITA Winner

“He hadn’t changed much. His hair was still in need of a good cut, and his mouth still wore that infuriating smirk that attempted to be both condescending and charming. But he’d aged. Lines cut around his eyes, and his skin had a weathered look from working outside in the hot Georgia sun.

She eyed the distance between his massive body and the edge of the narrow aisle he blocked.

As if he could read her mind, he broadened his stance and cut off the little space that remained. ‘A while? It’s been years, Katie. I almost didn’t recognize you.’

Of course he didn’t. She’d stopped dyeing her hair jet black and had cut at least five inches off the length. She also wasn’t wearing frayed booty shorts and a ticked-off expression. Well, she hadn’t been scowling, not until Cooper cornered her.

He reached out to touch her natural, more traditional locks of hair, and she flinched. Physically, he’d never hurt her, but the man knew how to throw an emotional right hook that could knock a person down for days.”

Deep Edit Analysis of Five-Paragraph Description:

            First Paragraph: Shared some negatively-connoted descriptors

          Shared two factoids too. We’re in Georgia, and he works outside.

          Second Paragraph: Shared another physical descriptor, and intimidation.

          Third Paragraph: More intimidation, and sets up her description.

          Fourth Paragraph: Points to Tammy Gray for slipping in description for the POV character and contrasting with how she had been years before.

          Fifth Paragraph: Deepens relationship and strengthens emotion.

Hints at their history and added emotion in fresh way. 

The Darkest Lie, Pintip Dunn, Immersion Grad, RITA Winner, NYT Bestseller

  1. “I rip my eyes away, and my gaze collides with a guy I’ve never seen before.

Which is saying a lot, since Lakewood, Kansas, only has a population of 10,000. He’s tall, totally built, and wears a pair of wire-rimmed glasses.

I can’t figure out whether he’s a hottie or a nerd. Maybe both. On the one hand, he has the kind of pecs Mackenzie would be all over like buzzards on a carcass. On the other, his jeans are an inch too short, the color unfashionably faded from too many washings.”

Deep Edit Analysis of Two-Paragraph Description:

                  First Paragraph: Shares factoids and physical descriptors.

                Uses teen-speak. It’s a YA.

                  Second Paragraph: Fun and unpredictable.

                Simile with negative connotations (Mackenzie)

  1. “Mackenzie’s waiting by my locker after school. She sticks out her designer-jeans-clad butt, taking up half the hallway, so that the foot traffic has to diverge around her.

As I approach, her eyes flicker over my gray hoodie and black canvas high-tops, clothes designed to make me disappear. I think about walking past her and out the double-glass doors, but I need to face her sometime. And if I look like the coward I really am? She’ll find some way to use it against me.”

Deep Edit Analysis of Two-Paragraph Description: 

                 First Paragraph:  Clear visual, negative connotations, shares attitude

               Second Paragraph:  Shares POV character’s clothing and why she chooses to wear those clothes.

               Deepens characterization for POV character.

               Shares powerful internalizations that speak to their antagonistic relationship. 

Now you have a few ideas regarding how to make your character descriptions carry more interest and power. You could have lots more ideas after July.

I’m developing a course on writing character descriptions, which will be available in July. It includes my Top Twelve Techniques for Writing Multi-Level Character Descriptions. And you can count on tons of teaching points, amazing examples, and deep edit analyses too.

Kudos to all the authors I referenced in this blog. Love their writing! 

And — THANK YOU to the WITS gals for hosting me. Can’t wait to see you at RWA National! 

THANK YOU ALL for dropping by the blog.

Please post a comment or share a ‘Hi Margie!’ 

Post something — and you have two chances to be a winner.

You could win a Lecture Packet from me, or an online class from Lawson Writer’s Academy.

Lawson Writer’s Academy – May Courses

  1. Submissions That Sell and More!
  2. Giving Your Chapters a Pulse
  3. 30 Days to a Stronger Novel
  4. Crazy-Easy, Awesome Author Websites!
  5. Battling the Basics
  6. Creative Writing Weapons – New Course!

 Post a comment. Let me know you’re here. I’ll draw names for the TWO WINNERS Thursday night, at 9PM Mountain Time, and post them in the comments section.

Like this blog? Give it a social media boost. Thank you.

Margie Lawson —editor and international presenter – teaches writers how to use her psychologically-based editing systems and deep editing techniques to create page turners.

She’s presented over 120 full day master classes in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and France, as well as taught multi-day intensives on cruises in the Caribbean.

To learn about Margie’s 5-day Immersion Master Classes (in 2018, in Phoenix, Denver, San Jose area, Dallas, Yosemite, Los Angeles (2), Atlanta, and in Sydney, Melbourne, and Coolangatta, Australia), Cruising Writers cruises, full day and weekend workshops, keynote speeches, online courses through Lawson Writer’s Academy, lecture packets, and newsletter, please visit: www.margielawson.com.

April 16th, 2018

Is It Unhealthy to be a Workaholic Writer?

Colleen M. Story

If you’re a hard-working writer, are you a workaholic?

And if you are, is that necessarily a bad thing?

With all writers have to manage today, including consistent marketing, maintaining an online presence and oh, yeah, writing and editing, it’s important to step back every once in awhile and say, “Am I overdoing it?”

What is Workaholism and How Does it Apply to Writing?

If you’re under the spell of workaholism, you may feel guilty when you’re not working, and tend to neglect your own well-being because you’re over-focused on work.

Not sure if you qualify? Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you feel compelled to write or work on writing-related tasks while on vacation?
  • Do you cancel social plans so you can catch up on writing-related activities (such as blogging, posting to social media, marketing, etc.)?
  • Do you regularly engage in writing work during meals?
  • Do you work on writing stuff even when you’re ill?
  • Do you sacrifice sleep or exercise to get your writing work done?
  • Do you feel compelled to work on writing-related activities even when you’re all caught up?
  • Do you feel like your work-life balance is out of whack?
  • Are you neglecting your hobbies and other enjoyable activities so you can get your writing work done?

We’ve all experienced insane working periods in our writing careers, perhaps around a book launch or when wrapping up edits for a publisher. Sometimes, you have to let other things slide to get the writing done or the book out, but then the question is: Do you slow down after that, or do you continue to work at the same pace?

How Workaholism Can Damage a Writer’s Health

The problem with workaholism is the more you work, the less time you have for other things in your life.

That means you’re likely to skip out on important stuff like your daily exercise routine, preparing healthy and wholesome meals, or taking time out to relieve stress. Overwork is also likely to interfere with your sleep, depriving you of that important 7-8 hours you need each night.

All of us can survive a few weeks under these conditions, but longer than that and you’re putting your health at risk. Lack of exercise, grabbing meals on the run, and regular sleep deprivation all increase risk of overweight and obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

In a 2016 study, researchers found that workaholics experienced more sleep problems than non-workaholics, and were also more at risk for cardiovascular disease. A separate review of 25 studies involving over 600,000 people found similar results, with those working longer hours having a higher risk of stroke.

Workaholism has been linked with an increased risk of mental and emotional health problems, too, like burnout and depression.

Don’t We Have to Work Hard to Be Productive?

There’s no doubt that a successful writing career requires hard work, but there is a fine line between putting in the time and overdoing it to the point you’re no longer productive.

A number of studies have actually linked workaholism to decreased productivity, finding that those who work longer hours typically complete fewer projects. The more hours we work, the less effective the brain is, and we’re likely to make more mistakes that we have to fix later. We also make poor decisions (about plot and characterization, perhaps?).

Worse, workaholism can lead to a drop in creativity—definitely not something writers want. Stress itself is a creativity killer, and if you add overwork to it, your ability to create an original and inspiring story declines rapidly.

In a 2008 study, researchers found that compared with working less than 40 hours per week, working more than 55 hours a week was linked with lower scores on a vocabulary test (bad news for those working with language).

Of all things the mind needs for creative thought, it’s space, and when we fill all our time with work (and other activities, like perusing social media), we fail to give it that space, leading to dull thought.

When Workaholism Might be Okay for Writers

Despite a plethora of research on the potential negative effects of workaholism, we also have some recent studies showing that under certain circumstances, workaholism may not be as damaging as we thought.

What circumstances are those? The main ones involve your attitude about the work: Are you enthusiastic about it? Do you enjoy it? Do you love it? 

In one recent study, for example, researchers questioned about 750 employees. They found that yes, workaholism was related to high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol (risk factors for heart disease), but only when work “engagement” was low—in other words, when the employees felt they were wasting their time on projects they didn’t care about.

In those participants whose engagement was high, on the other hand, the opposite was true—they were actually less likely to suffer from these sorts of health risks. These were the participants who enjoyed their jobs, got absorbed in what they were doing, and felt like their tasks were worthwhile.

Interestingly, researchers also found that highly engaged employees:

  • had more support at work and at home for the work they were doing,
  • were skilled at time management,
  • and had a high level of intrinsic motivation for their work—they loved doing it regardless of the outside rewards.

Help for Overworked Writers

Looking at the results of these studies, we can conclude a few things that are likely true for writers.

  1. Working hard at what you love is more likely to help you than hurt you.

When you love writing, you’re unlikely to suffer from negative consequences by spending a lot of time on it, as long as you make sure to take care of yourself and don’t neglect the other things that matter in your life. Indeed, if writing is your calling, you’re more likely to suffer from not pursuing it wholeheartedly than you are from working some extra hours on it.

  1. When writers feel overworked, it likely has something to do with projects other than writing.

I think the reason why more and more writers are feeling overworked these days has little to do with the writing itself, and a lot more to do with the marketing responsibilities we’re now faced with. Most writers don’t like marketing and feel uncomfortable and out of their element when trying to do it, which puts this task squarely in the “don’t like” category mentioned above—the one that can lead to negative health outcomes if we pursue it too heavily.

Yet marketing can take a lot of time, particularly if we’re really trying to get some attention on a book or on our careers in general. There’s not only the work itself, but the education that’s involved—we have to learn how to do it, and since it doesn’t come naturally to most of us, that can take longer than we’d like.

Trying to complete all our marketing tasks on top of our writing can lead to overwork, burnout, depression, and all the other negative effects of workaholism. What are the solutions? Every writer has to find his or her own way, but I’ve found the following five tips to be helpful:

  1. Write first: Since writing is the thing that energizes and engages you, it must be your top priority. Sometimes marketing can take over, but if you find yourself getting depressed or exhausted, take a step back. Return to the writing, and let the other stuff go. You can always get back to it later.
  2. Try to make marketing fun: Instead of feeling pressured to market in certain ways, try to find methods you can actually enjoy. Be open to a wider variety of marketing techniques. This will help increase your engagement so you’re less likely to suffer the negative effects of working long hours.
  3. Always put self-care first: Eating well, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep need to come first. Make these things a priority in your life, and you’ll be more likely to stay productive and creative…and healthy!
  4. Take more time off: America is a country that leaves vacation days on the table. Don’t be a part of this statistic. Make sure you take your vacation every year, and schedule at least one writing getaway in addition to help recharge your batteries.
  5. Find the support you need: Writing groups, book clubs, writing friends, and understanding family members give us the support we need to make sure our lives don’t go totally off the rails, balance-wise. Getting out to lunch with friends, taking the weekend for the family, or enjoying some wine and treats with the members of a book club can be like fresh air on an otherwise busy, busy week. Cultivate these relationships and keep them strong!

Read more about workaholism and how it affects writers, and how you can improve productivity and time management, in Colleen’s book, Overwhelmed Writer Rescue. Get your free chapter here!

 

What is your biggest challenge around workaholism and your writing?

 

*  *  *  *  *  *

Colleen M. Story is the author of Overwhelmed Writer Rescue—a motivational read to help writers escape the tyranny of the to-do list and nurture the genius within. The book was named Solo Medalist in the New Apple Book Awards, Book by Book Publicity’s Best Writing/Publishing Book, and first place in the Reader Views Literary Awards.

Colleen is also a novelist, Loreena’s Gift,  and has worked in the creative writing industry for over twenty years. She is the founder of Writing and Wellness. For more information, please see her author website, or follow her on Twitter (@colleen_m_story).

 

Sources

Andreassen, C. S., Griffiths, M. D., Sinha, R., Hetland, J., & Pallesen, S. (2016). The Relationships between Workaholism and Symptoms of Psychiatric Disorders: A Large-Scale Cross-Sectional Study. PLOS ONE, 11(5), e0152978. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0152978

Clark, M. A., Michel, J. S., Zhdanova, L., Pui, S. Y., & Baltes, B. B. (2016). All Work and No Play? A Meta-Analytic Examination of the Correlates and Outcomes of Workaholism. Journal of Management, 42(7), 1836-1873. doi:10.1177/0149206314522301

Flurry, A. (2014, October 30). All work and no play: UGA study examines psychology of workaholism – UGA Today.

Genkinger, J., & Koushik, A. (2015). Faculty of 1000 evaluation for Long working hours and risk of coronary heart disease and stroke: a systematic review and meta-analysis of published and unpublished data for 603,838 individuals. F1000 – Post-publication peer review of the biomedical literature. doi:10.3410/f.725736394.793512092

Nie, Y., & Sun, H. (2016). Why do workaholics experience depression? A study with Chinese University teachers. Journal of Health Psychology,21(10), 2339-2346. doi:10.1177/1359105315576350

Salanova, M., López-González, A. A., Llorens, S., Del Líbano, M., Vicente-Herrero, M. T., & Tomás-Salvá, M. (2016). Your work may be killing you! Workaholism, sleep problems and cardiovascular risk. Work & Stress, 30(3), 228-242. doi:10.1080/02678373.2016.1203373

Stillman, J. (2016, July 1). Why Being Constantly Busy Is Killing Your Creativity.

Sullivan, B. (2016, July 12). Why you should never work more than 50 hours a week.

Ten Brummelhuis, L. L., Rothbard, N. P., & Uhrich, B. (2016). Beyond Nine To Five: Is Working To Excess Bad For Health? Academy of Management Discoveries, 3(3), 262-283. doi:10.5465/amd.2015.0115

Virtanen, M., Singh-Manoux, A., Ferrie, J. E., Gimeno, D., Marmot, M. G., Elovainio, M., … Kivimaki, M. (2008). Long Working Hours and Cognitive Function: The Whitehall II Study. American Journal of Epidemiology, 169(5), 596-605. doi:10.1093/aje/kwn382

April 13th, 2018

Write Up a Storm Today!

Happy Friday the Thirteenth!

This has the possibility for being a very good day for you, for me, and for all of us.

Hop on over to our Writers in the Storm Facebook Event Page to read about and participate in today’s event: Write Up A Storm.

You can write for an extended stretch or hop on and off all day long from 3 a.m. PDT to 10 p.m. PDT. Share your word count to be part of the cumulative sum.

Here’s a link to a post to tell you how to prepare and what to expect.

Your Writers in the Storm write-a-long partners:

 

Laura, in her normal habitat.

Golden Heart Finalist Julie Glover at the FF&P costume party

Laura Drake from 3:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. PDT

Julie Glover from 9:00 a.m. to noon PDT

Jenny Hansen from noon to 3:00 p.m. PDT

Fae Rowen from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. PDT closing.

Just because one of us isn’t there to call for word counts at the top of the hour during the two breaks in the day, doesn’t mean you can’t write, if that’s the perfect time for you. Go to our FB event page and record your word count. We’ll add it in. Add all four of us will be checking in throughout the day.

Who knows what excitement we’ll bring with us?

Looking forward to writing with you!

Nothing but fun!

April 11th, 2018

How Facebook Saved my Work in Progress

Orly Konig

I’ve been working on a story that I adore. The characters are fun to hang out with, the setting makes me happy, the topics fascinate me. And I was rocking the first chapters. You know that feeling, right?

Then the brain chipmunks got out of their cage and took off with my brilliant story ideas. I typed and deleted more than I’d typed. The harder I pushed, the more convoluted the story became.

Pound. Head. On. Keyboard.

So, what’s a writer to do? Yup, I did what any self-respecting, on-deadline author does … I futzed away the rest of the day on Facebook.

But, spoiler alert (you read the title of the post, right?), it wasn’t a waste of a day. Au contraire mon ami!

And here’s why …

I wasn’t looking for anything.

A lot of times when we’re stuck on a plot point or have a character who isn’t cooperating, we knot and re-knot the loose threads of the story in a desperate attempt to keep everything from unraveling. We poke and prod, twist and bend. We play the what-if game. We force a square character down a round rabbit hole. And we end up more frustrated than when we started.

Now, I have a confession. I’m not on Facebook that much these days. I spend the time I need for promotion but I tend to get on for what I need and not linger. That wasn’t always the case but I realized that the more time I spent on social media, the harder it was to stay focused and positive. Oh wait, that’s not the point of this blog (what was that about focus?).

But that day, I hung out. I scrolled through my feed, clicked on story links (no, I didn’t take any of those quizzes, don’t panic), watched videos, chatted with friends, posted silly pictures of my cats. It was actually, rather fun.

Then I went on with my evening. My son had climbing team practice, dinner had to be prepared, laundry needed to be folded, cats insisted on being fed.

As I was futzing about, one video from early in the day, kept replaying in my head. It wasn’t a thread I’d entertained for this story but suddenly there it was, THE missing piece that tied the whole thing together. It totally flipped my idea about one of the characters and how the book would end, but this made sense. The story suddenly had a secondary plot line that made it so much stronger.

The following day, I cranked through the synopsis and had a blast writing it. Crazy, right?! And my SWIP (stalled work in progress) is now chugging along again.

This is not a hall-pass to go play on Facebook for the rest of the day. But next time you’re stuck or stressing over a story thread that isn’t working, let the brain chipmunks loose and follow where they take you … they may show you the awesome story nuts are stashed.

 

What’s your go-to for untangling plot knots?

 

ABOUT ORLY

Carousel Beach CoverAfter years in the corporate world (most of it in the space industry), Orly Konig took a leap into the creative world of fiction. She is the founding president of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, an active member of the Tall Poppy Writers, and a quarterly contributor to the Writers in the Storm and Thinking Through Our Fingers blogs.

Her debut women’s fiction, The Distance Home, released from Forge, May 2017. Carousel Beach will release May 8, 2018. Find her online at www.orlykonig.com.