Saturday, January 29, 2011

New wine, old wineskins...time to start a new story

I have been working on revising an upper MG manuscript that actually began from something I wrote a long, long time ago. I liked the characters and theme and built around what I had. I felt pleased with the result. That was nearly a year ago. Then I read more and learned more and realized, oh! My main character isn't active enough. He needs to make more decisions and push the action more. So I made more changes. Then I read about strong beginnings and made changes based on that. I've worked and worked on this story...but in the end, I think I've decided that it's time to set it aside and begin a fresh work. I think I need to take all the things I've learned and start fresh with a brand new story.

My husband and I both came up with the same analogy independently of each other, which is both eerie and neat, and it's something Jesus talked about in the New Testament-- the folly of putting new wine in old wineskins. The idea is that the new wine will be ruined this way and instead, you need fresh containers for the new stuff. He wasn't talking about writing skills when he was talking (or actually about wine, either), but I think it works for this analogy, too.

I think everything I've learned this year is the new stuff. It needs a new place to go, a clean slate. So. Time to start fresh!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

When Work is Busy

January through March is one of the busier seasons for me as a writer for assessments. This is normal. During this season, I usually do not even attempt to keep up with my "own" writing. What's interesting to me is that this year, I still can't get my own stories out of my mind. I think this is a good sign. Before, they just got shoved to the backburner and forgotten about in the frenzy of work. But's like spending time on my own work is a reward I offer myself after spending several hours writing test passages or items. I enjoy writing those, too, (sometimes) but it is a different kind of thinking process and I know that in the end, I'll sell all my rights and never see them again.

I have purchased three posterboards and a bunch of sticky notes in honor of the "index card plotting" method described by several bloggers, but in particular, the post on Adventures' in Children's Publishing on A Writer's Plot Board. I did this right before the big influx of work, planning on plotting out my completed first draft of my current WIP and maybe using it as I think through what might happen in my next story, especially now that I've figured out my original high stakes problem just isn't going to work. Very exciting. I love little post it notes, so I figured this would be great fun as well as very helpul.

It hasn't happened yet. I did attend a great Webinar through Writer's Digest on Strong Beginnings and learned that the beginning to my current WIP still needs further crafting. So I keep pondering it and that whole story...but can't work on it quite yet. It feels really good, though, that I want to.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Why It Sometimes Helps to Get Feedback Early

I wrote the first scene for my new MG sci fi story-- one I have been thinking about, very excitedly. I've been reading the book Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Them Go, and the whole time I was imagining this story. You know, comparing my plans with what the author Les Edgeron says is important in a great beginning...

Then my husband reads the first page and points out a major, fatal flaw in the story premise. There's really no getting around it-- the central problem I had envisioned just isn't a big deal in a sci fi universe. I've read enough science fiction that I should have seen that, but it took an outside person to say, "Uh, hey, if they can do things like terraform a planet, is this main problem of yours really that big of a problem? I'm really sorry to have to point that out." He was very sweet about it.

Well, better now than 100 pages later, right? So...back to the drawing board. Maybe there's a way to save it yet. I'll keep thinking. Dang it.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Found a blog to add to my list of favorites

I came across Alexandra's Sokoloff's blog. I'm not entirely sure how I found it, but I know it was linked in a post about plotting a storyboard. It's a treasure trove of ideas! As I'm thinking through my new story, I'm trying to keep everything in mind that she talks about. If you are stuck in the revision process and are a more organic kind of writer, I wonder if trying out the sticky note/index notecard storyboard idea might not help. I am definitely going to try it!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year's Writing Resolution

My goal for this year is to write another MG or YA manuscript. I actually have the idea and it's probably a MG novel, actually. This will be in addition to my regular writing for work, and keeping up with my Institute of Children's Literature course. I also plan on revising and doing a full second draft of my last upper MG/lower YA manuscript. I always like having my goals in writing-- makes it more official. So, now I'm off to write!