June 2 2017

Developing your writer process…

This is a question I get asked a lot by other writers, readers, and strangers I meet on airplanes: How do go about writing your stories?

My response is always the same: That’s a loaded question.

I’ve learned over the years that readers want to know if I use real people in my stories. They want to know where I get my ideas from. Do I dream about my characters (yes, I do, but it gets really dicy when I dream about other people’s characters). They also LOVE to tell me their idea for a story., which I always find fascinating because I feel as though my brain (and other writers) functions differently than an non writer. So, as I listen to their idea, and they way the present it reminds me how important it is for me understand the people of my story. If I don’t, doesn’t matter how great a plot I have, the story will suck.

Years ago, I attended a workshop with the great Deb Dixon. The workshop was based on her book: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict. This is one of those books that made my head explode. At the end of this blog, I give you my ‘must have’ recommended reads for the craft of writing. I know there are tons more, but these are my go to guides.

Anywho, I sat in the workshop and listened to her and scribbled notes (before I had a laptop, it was that long ago) and the world of writing all of a sudden opened up to me. It was as if I’d been alone in the dark when suddenly a door opened, light filtered in along with a half a dozen of my characters.

I struggled with GMC at first and to be honest, it messed with my writing for a bit.

Tip # 1: As you develop your process, it will screw with you mind. Don’t worry about it. You’ll get through it once you figure out how a new step fits in.

Since I write romance with a splash of suspense, I do what I call a GMC chart for my hero, my heroine, and my antagonist. This is a basic chart. I always try to keep this simple. It’s just something I put on my desk to keep me grounded, so I don’t go off on some tangent. I do a more in-depth character outline, but this gives me a start.

So, lets do a GMC for my novella coming for THE OMEGA TEAM: THE LIGHTHOUSE.

Hero: Logan Sarich

Goal: Protect Mia Vanderlin and her family from a death threat.

Motivation: It’s his job.

Conflict: Someone from his and Mia’s past is trying to destroy Mia.

Pretty simple, right?

Heroine: Mia Vanderlin

Goal: Find the person who is destroying her professional reputation.

Motivation: She’s one of the top ethical hackers in the country and she wants to keep it that way.

Conflict: Someone is trying to destroy her career.

Antognist: Not Telling

Goal: Destroy Mia Vanderlin’s career.

Motivation: Blames Mia for all his failures in life.

Conflict: Damn hot ex-military, ex-boyfriend shows up and foils his plan!

The Antagonist’s motivation was the key ingredient to finding this story. Remember, the antagonist is the hero in his/her own story.

But I’m not quite done with GMC. Above is your external GMC. It’s my suspense plot. But what about the romance? I do a GMC chart for that as well.

Hero Internal Goal: Tame his restlessness.

Motivation: Tired of not feeling fulfilled in life.

Conflict: He doesn’t know what is causing it, until he sees Mia again.

Heroine Internal Goal: Change the direction of her life…less on the job and more on finding the right person.

Motivation: Wants someone to share her life with.

Conflict: No one excites her…until Logan walks back into her life.

These are very simple. Nothing to complicated about them. I break it down the smallest fraction. From here, I do  detailed character sheet (actually, still working on this part of the process…each book I do something different). This character sheet details their journey through the book along with documentation of their past.

Tip # 2: Take what you like and make it your own. Every writer will handle GMC differently. I’ve seen authors do pages and pages of GMC for each character. Not everything I do will work for you, or any other writer. If it resonates, try it. If not, move on to the next thing. Don’t be afraid to take someone else’s process and change it to fit your own needs.

Now, pass that butt glue!

Forgot the books….

Novel Writer’s Toolkit by Bob Mayer

How to Write the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass

Stein on Writing by Soul Stein

PS. Just because I watch this video all the time now because it makes me happy. This little girl is magic!

Category: writing | LEAVE A COMMENT
June 1 2017

Rejuvenating Your Passion for Writing

The hardest part about writing, is writing. Seriously. I often do things to avoid writing new words. Re-writing? LOVE re-writing. It’s my favorite part of the writing process, but if I don’t get the words on the page, there is nothing to re-write.

Years ago, when I blogged, I often blogged about my writing process. It was called “how we write”. I tag teamed with a fellow author. Her process was VERY different from mine, so it was interesting to trade ideas and share them with our fellow writers. But life often takes us on a different journey and I focused more on the business side while I was COO of Cool Gus Publishing. Well, now my life has taken another turn and my sole focus is on honing my craft, and writing again.

But more than that, I want to get back to one of the most important parts of becoming a successful writer: CRAFT.

Recently, I came a cross a young, talented writer. Talented isn’t the right word. It’s the kind of writing that brings you to your knees without even trying. I’ve meet a few talented aspiring writers in my days teaching craft and the business of writing as I’ve traveled across the country attending various writer conferences. I’ve seen a few gifted writers pack up and go home. The business of Publishing is not for the weak of heart. It’s filled rejection after rejection and those rejections tend to do a number on even those writers with leather for skin.

I won’t even get into the one star reviews in the middle of 50 four and five star reviews. Oy. They say it takes 50 atta girls to erase one negative? I think its a few more than that.

I got to talking to this writer, who knows more than I do about the english language and literature, so it humbled me that he even considered asking me for advice on ‘writing’. Not how to upload a file to KDP. Or promotional stuff. No. He wanted to ask me about how to get motivated (he laughed when I said butt glue), what my process was (um, hello, my mind is a dark and scary place, even I don’t want to be there half the time), and other writerly stuff.

I sent the poor man a million and one things, including one of my famous spreadsheets! He might be regretting asking me anything at this point…

I was happy to answer his questions. But what struck me this morning when I sat down at my computer was that I have missed blogging and sharing ideas about process, craft, all aspects of the actual writing part of this business. I used to blog 2-3 times per week. Once about the process of writing. Once about whatever I felt like (often times silly things that just make me giggle) and sometimes about the business part.

I think it’s time to get back to that regime.

There is that old saying: you can’t keep what you don’t give away.

I think there is a truism in that sediment. We need to share our creativity with others and not just in the books we write, but how we write them.

In the same vein, we have to open our minds to new ideas. New ways of doing things. Writing is a constant learning process and we can always improve on it.

Happy writing and pass the butt glue please!

 

Category: writing | LEAVE A COMMENT