Hello wonderful followers! This post marks the two year anniversary of Writing Snippets. We’ve gone through lots of changes in these two short years, and we’d like to send a hearty THANK YOU to anyone who was along for the whole ride, and an equally hearty THANK YOU to anyone who hopped on board more recently. We love you all!
In the new year, due to time restraints and logistics, we’ll be spending more time blogging and less time podcasting. We hope you’ll enjoy our written words as much as you’ve enjoyed our spoken words.
As this anniversary passes and a new year begins, members of our crew are looking back over what they’ve learned this past year and what lies ahead for them. Here are their thoughts – please share your own in the comments.
I think the single thing I have learned this year about writing is that there is no single thing I need to improve on. But my biggest lesson is this: I have more to learn than I have learned in the past, and I know when I have learned everything I think I need to learn right now, that I will have miles more to go. I want to start learning how to logically follow a story, so that I can find plot holes and character inconsistencies — big picture problems — that I haven’t been able to see before.
I think it odd that when we are learning to write, most of us focus first on grammar and punctuation; but grammar and punctuation are the last things to be fixed in a serious edit. If you fixed the grammar first, you would have to fix it again with every subsequent edit. Why torture yourself? I want my stories, my characters, my thoughts, to live and breathe in book form. That means I have to perfect the characters and the story before I perfect the words that create them. It feels backwards somehow.
I can read your thoughts. You’re thinking, “Good luck with that perfection thing.”
Oh, well. I’ll never get there in this life, but think of everything I’ll learn along the way.
What I’ve learned in the last year:
Some of the things I’ve learned this year are how to plot a novel. I was more of a pantser to begin with but I’ve found that I end up having to do too many revisions that way and I’m not a super fast writer so it takes too long. I tried several plotting worksheets I found on line and they’ve helped me do loose outlines of my stories. I also started doing character sketches to help me get to know and develop my characters better since that’s one of the things I struggle with and it’s made a difference. For me character development usually comes last after I’ve got my plot and story figured out and have done several revisions. Emotion is another thing I’ve worked hard to portray in my stories this year and I think I’m finally starting to get the hang of it and be able to incorporate that more into my stories.
Writing goals for 2013:
Publish a novel and find an agent. I have two novels out with editors who have expressed and interest in them. I’m doing a revision on one of the novels, and I’m going to start querying agents for another one. I’m having a third novel critiqued by our writer’s group and some other writers I trade books with. After that I’ll do more revisions on it, then I’ll query agents with it. I also plan to plot out and write sequels for two of my novels.
Jocelyn Nash Carlin
The biggest lesson that I’ve learned this year is that I don’t function well as a writer unless I have a structure – and after having a baby a year and a half ago, my structure completely fell apart. If I don’t have a fixed writing schedule and goal, the work doesn’t happen. If I don’t have an outline, the work is three times as hard. That novel I wanted to have finalized by Christmas 2011? Still not done. Why? Because I wrote it by the seat of my pants. Every time I go to work on more edits, I curse myself for not outlining beforehand.
I’ve also learned that I enjoy writing short fiction from time to time. I’ve completed several short stories this year, which are making their way through the rounds of submission to various publications and contests. Writing them was a wonderful palette-cleanser from my endless novel edits.
In this new year I’m working with my spouse and children to get back on a fixed writing schedule that works for the whole family, and that the whole family will respect. I plan on trying my hand at more short fiction, redoubling my efforts at submitting regularly, and outlining my next novel before diving in too deep.
My only measure of success will be: Am I happy with what I write? Sometimes, after writing slumps, that’s the goal that matters the most.
Lilly decided to share her thoughts in a vlog:
In 2012 I learned a valuable lesson — or at least that’s when it finally sank in. The concept is this: From the very first page you set up an expectation for your reader, a promise, and it’s a promise you must keep.
For example, if you’ve written a blossoming romance set in regency England, you can’t introduce aliens in chapter five. Okay, that’s a big jump but you get the point. In the case of my work in progress, I was aiming for a YA paranormal romance but in trying to add depth to my characters, I’d inadvertently written a gritty contemporary. The “issues” my main character struggled with were distracting and prevented the story from moving forward. I’d mislead my readers, switching the focus entirely. Readers couldn’t get past my main character binge drinking and cutting herself to focus on the important parts of the story — the discovery of a gorgeous male siren. Forehead slap. I had taken my story in the wrong direction because I failed to keep the promise I’d made. The good news. Once you’ve grasped this concept and stop fighting against it, it’s much easier to delve into your story and take it where it needs to go.
In light of the New Year my writing goals for 2013 are as follows:
1. Schedule and honor time to write as follows: every other Tuesday and Thursday from 9:00am -noon. Every Friday from 7:00am- 10:00am OR 10:00am-1:00.
2. Edit and polish Allure by March 15th
3. Submit query letter to dream agent C.D. by March 30th
4. Research and compose list of backup dream agents just in case 😉
Now you’ve seen our New Year’s thoughts – don’t forget to share yours in the comments!