Monday, December 28, 2009

Timelines and Mapping: Timesavers in Writing

If there is one thing I'm reminded of when writing, it's how I must learn to keep notes along the way. My recent WIP, which I've finally finished, gave me reason to think about this organization thing a little more carefully. When including the ages of my older characters and the mention of past events in which they were included, I realized there was a discrepancy. I had to go back and search for each point in the story where information had to be changed so that all would make sense. A timeline would have helped to prevent that mistake and spending valuable time undoing the errors.

I feel there is definitely the need for a timeline. If you are going to include a story setting that expands several days, several weeks, or several years, it doesn't matter. Create a timeline to fill out along the way as you write. Dates, ages, duration of time, all can be thrown out of kilter if you don't keep track. If you are a computer guru who enjoys software with all its colors and gizmo devices to create your timeline, check out
TIMEGLIDER . The software is free and it will give you choices for how you would like your timeline to look and then store it for you.

Another point in story writing which can be a challenge and thus cause for error involves character interactions --- who said what to whom and where they were, where they've been, how to get there from here---well, you get the picture. Or maybe you don't. One of the teaching strategies I've learned is mind mapping. It truly works. I've seen this used with various mediums, including one lady's suggestion to create a map or miniature model of the town in which your story takes place. Mapping can be a great tool and will visualize any information you like. Another free site/software that uses mapping tools is
MINDMEISTER . Once you've signed up, you can create a map webbing for your characters, locations of places in which they live or visit, events, etc.

Of course, if you are more of the paper and pencil type, you can always jot your timeline down on paper. However, I can't emphasize enough how important it is to add to it as you write. Perhaps at the end of each writing session, or after each chapter you've written would work. I know how difficult this may be when you're in the writing zone, that mad frenzy of passion where your fingers are burning up the keyboard as the words pour out. And you're supposed to stop and take a moment to jot down notes? Not easy, but find a point where you can do so. As for mapping without computer software, you might try note cards. Plaster them on the wall of your writing space or spread out on the floor, or wherever you can.

I think these tools work. Try out different methods and find the one that fits you. Then use it. That way when you get to that point in the story where you think, "Did I say Martha was five when that happened?" or "Did Martha tell Tim she was in love with him before or after she dumped Tom?", you can look at your timeline or map for the answers within seconds, rather than spending extra time going back through your novel to find out.

Writing should be fun, but the organization helps in the editing process. And at the very least it will save you time for, well, for all the other important things in your life that you've neglected while--what else?--WRITING!


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays

Wishing everyone a happy holiday season!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Check It Out ... Weekly Websites

If you are all about reading and perhaps belong to a discussion group, here is a site that gives you reading guides for thousands of novels. It even gives authors an opportunity (at a fee of course) to have your own book's reading guide published on this site. Other goodies include contest book giveaways. In any case, check out:


Here is one that many new or immerging authors may be interested in. This site gives writers the opportunity to have their work displayed on the site, giving it exposure to both readers and literary agents.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

An Honor to Receive

Thanks to 2b4unate for the beautiful award! I am so behind in my blogging, I just now got around to this. And I want to say that it's very difficult to pick only seven sites to pass this on to since the sites I visit are all so great!

A few simple rules apply to the recipients of this award.

1.Thank the person who gave you the award.
2.Copy the Award.
3.Post it in your blog.
4. Tell Us 7 things that your readers don't know.
5. Link 7 new bloggers as recipients.
6. Notify winners of award with comment on their blog.
7. Keep being Awesome.

7 things you might not know about me:

1. I have "stage fright" even in front of small groups, and yet I'm a teacher... go figure.
2. I play the guitar and have written songs (okay... I didn't say they were GREAT songs!)
3. When I was very young, I wanted to be an actress and always talked and performed in front of my bedroom mirror. And I still do that sometimes :-)
4. My first major in college was French. Parles-tu francais aussi?
5. My left big toe is noticeably longer than my right one.
6. Back in the day I played a mean tennis game. I really "aced" them! .....yeah, I know it's corny.
7. I'm great with words, but I swear I'm dyslexic with numbers!

And the winners are.... drum roll, please .....

This one is just a lot of fun to try.

For a great, entertaining story, this is the one to visit!

For the photos, this one is awe-inspiring

Wonderful site with wonderful stories. (Plus I like the blogname.)

For women, a very supportive soulful blog

creative site, I like this one and it's creator!

this one is a new launching for Michael with great stories. check it out

Thanks to all of you and many others. This is such a supportive and creative group of bloggers!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Check It Out ... Weekly Websites

Here are your weekly goodies, starting with a useful site for those who want to find writers' conferences and workshops going on in their area or across the country:


And for those who are wanting yet another site to help with editing and networking, as well as a shoulder to cry on or ear to bend with numerous message boards at hand, NaNoWriMo does a great follow up to their November contest by giving writers tons of information:


Name That Novel #14

Here's an internationally well-known classic. See if you can guess the TITLE and AUTHOR:

So saying, he gave the spur to his steed Rocinante, heedless of the cries his squire Sancho sent after him, warning him that most certainly they were windmills and not giants he was going to attack. He, however, was so positive they were giants that he neither heard the cries of Sancho, nor perceived, near as he was, what they were, but made at them shouting, "Fly not, cowards and vile beings, for a single knight attacks you."

Good luck to all!

Congratulations to Sarah: Don Quixote by Cervantes is the answer.

Friday, December 4, 2009

NaNo Notes, or So What's the Big Deal Anyway?

The NaNoWriMo is an experience from which everyone should gain something, something to share, something to make one a better writer, or maybe even a wiser person. Okay, that last one might be telling me I'm getting just a bit too Zen about this. So, I'll just stick with the "making one a better writer" aspect.

Here are a few thoughts I have come away with and I'd like to share. Take 'em or leave 'em. I'll admit the whole affair at some point changes you ... lots ... and often ... and it can scare you ... because you may not recognize yourself ... but then you come back to you in the end. And hopefully you can say ... (here you reread paragraph one). Now, on to the thoughts:

1. Writing that flows from hour to hour, day to day, week to week is euphoric and painful at the same time. I have to say there is nothing like it. You become consumed with this other world, i.e. your story, and it haunts you, even when you're not writing, you're writing in your head.

2. Don't sweat the small stuff. (Okay, I know, I'm a pirate, a thief of words, but it fits so well here, I had to do it!) It's understandable that when you write this way, under these conditions, you will find word usage rather, shall I say, looking as if Webster's Dictionary was just culled down to a mere 100 words! Not to worry, the story shall flow and you know that words can be changed ... LATER!

3. A rose is a rose, but a story is not just a story, it's YOUR story! What I mean is when you think half way through, or however many times through, that your story sounds like all the others, remember it's in your words, with your tone and voice ... your unique style going to work putting those words down from pen to paper, from fingers and keyboard to computer. THE STORY IS YOURS!

4. Hey! I think I get this and I do know what I'm doing! This is your life: several hours x 1700 words x 30 days = one great story! Okay, maybe not great, but it will be :-) The beauty of writing this way, everyday, is that your story feels like you're at the movie theatre, watching it up on the big screen. It really becomes easy to progress from one scene to the next, to know what event should happen after the last, to recall details of what you've already written down. At least for me it was this way. I never left the story for long before returning to it. There is something to be said for discipline and writing everyday, for writing continuously when creating that first draft. I say, getting bogged down with finding that right word or rewriting that one little scene twenty times over messes with the flow of the story. And like so many have said, there's time for picking it apart later. JUST WRITE THE DARN STORY! GET IT DOWN! SPIT IT OUT! NOW!

5. It's my party and I'll write if I want to! (I'm just full of it today, aren't I?) Sinclair Lewis once said "It is impossible to discourage the real writers. They don't give a damn what you say, they're going to write." So, to all the naysayers, to all the negative Nancie's, to all the poo-pooers who think you can't write, you tell 'em, "It's my party!". Writing is a very intimidating experience. Like golf, one minute you're thinking, hey, I've got this game now, and you just know there's an eagle or hole-in-one coming. Then in the next moment, there's a shamefully embarrassing, discouraging shot, not just any old bogey, but maybe a nine shot deal where you want to crawl into the golf bag and just disappear. Well, writing can be like that, where you think you can't do it. You stink. It's all a bunch of drivel. And then you have this moment. It's a gloriously perfect moment of clarity where it all flows. Think of that moment whenever the bogey is trying to ruin your party. Remember the shiny things that make writing so great. DON'T BE DISCOURAGED! And maybe you'll finish a NaNoWriMo next year, and maybe you'll polish that story and sell it to a publisher, and maybe you will really feel it and mean it when you say, "I'm one of those real writers." Besides, what else have you got to do for several hours a day, every day of of the week for an entire month?!