Writing: I’ve had fun!

I mentioned that I was trying a writing experiment with POV. It’s taken more time than I expected it to, but I met my goals. Each day this week, I’ve put one part of a short story on my webpage, with one more to go up tomorrow. Each part was from a different POV character. What have I learned?

It’s fun writing from the villain/antagonist’s POV. I don’t do that very often. As a matter of fact, I use third person, single POV in every series I write except Fallen Angels. Those are the only books I write with multiple POV, and I still rarely write from the villain’s veiwpoint. I think it might be hard to do without giving too much away, but it worked for a short piece. And letting myself live inside Merlot’s head helped me understand her more. I read once that villains don’t think of themselves as bad or wrong. Instead, they focus on what they want, what they’re striving to do, and they justify their actions. They often feel they’ve been wronged, and they’re putting things right. Merlot has that tendency. Hezra, on the other hand, (in part 4), decided to turn to the dark arts and makes no bones about the fact that she wants power. It was fun writing from her perspective, too, but I still wanted to make her an individual–not just the “evil” who battles my protagonist.

I’m putting up the last part of the story tomorrow–the big showdown–but this experiment has made me think more about villains/antagonists. For me, Ilona Andrews’s Kate Daniels series really got interesting when she had Hugh D’Ambray walk onto the pages to play mind games with Kate and to battle her and Curran. For me, she created two of the most intriguing “bad guys” I’ve read for a long time when Hugh and Kate’s father, Roland, became active in the series. Not that she hasn’t had a strong, almost invincible enemy in every book. That’s part of urban fantasy, but Hugh and Roland are unpredictable and do the unexpected, and that’s made them really interesting. She’s made them such a blend of good and bad that the reader has mixed feelings about them. It’s sort of like reading The Silence of the Lambs. I hated Dr. Chilton more than Hannibal Lecter. Odd, right? But a really well-done villain can pull a reader’s emotions in strange directions. For that reason, I’ve decided to spend just as much time on my villains and antagonists as I do on my protagonists from now on. They can really make a story zing.

http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

Writing: grateful sigh:)

I finally finished the rewrites that my agent asked for. One of my critique friends asked to see them before I send them to Lauren, so they’re not on their way yet, but they’re done. And that feels GOOD!

Things I learned about writing a romance:

Everything has to affect the budding relationship between “guy who met girl.” I tried to cheat. Yes, I admit it, and I thought I could get away with it. I didn’t feel comfortable hinging everything on the push-pull of the romance, so I added a mystery subplot that played into the hero’s business and let the heroine bail him out here and there. It didn’t work. As my agent and my writer friends who KNOW romance explained, the story has to be driven by the “I’m attracted to you, but….” struggles of romance. The relationship has to drive every part of the story. Adding the mystery was a misstep. A fixable misstep, but one I’d do better to avoid next time. Each genre has rules. You can bend them, but you’d better know what you’re doing if you intend to break them.

Characters can’t be stereotypes if they matter at all in the story. They have to have depth, or why care about them? And if you push the envelope and break the stereotype too much, the consequences need to ripple through the story. For instance, I tossed in a surprise about Ian’s fiancee’. I thought it added a nice out-of-the-ordinary punch. The surprise went over great, but I got nailed for not dealing with the consequences all the way through to their eventual outcome. So think cause and effect from beginning to end. Why did it happen? What brought it on? And how did affect everyone involved?

I wrote my story from single POV. The first romance novel I studied to get a feel for the genre did that, so I did, too. Then I read Catherine Bybee, and she alternated scenes between the heroine’s POV and the hero’s. That might have made things simpler for me. With the guy’s POV, readers can get closer to him and know his reasoning when he’s a jerk (even though in his mind, he’s not). It’s a tough call, but since I wrote this first novel in single POV, I’ll write the next one that way, too. If I ever start a new romance series, though, I might play around with his and her POVs. It punches up the tension and makes both characters more sympathetic. We don’t have to rely on the heroine guessing what her romantic interest is up to. He can tell us. POV is something to consider when you start a novel. Is single better than multiple? Which would work better?

Small details can make a big difference in a romance. When I write urban fantasy, the conflict is on a grand scale. Life and death weigh in the balance. In romance, emotions drive the story. A misunderstanding can derail an entire relationship. Working on the dance of “he said,” “she said” was good for me. It reminded me that it’s fun to let your characters tell lies. Usually, in urban fantasy, the good guys and the bad guys face off against each other. But in real life, people sidle out of responsibilities, they distort the truth, and they tilt events to their own advantage. And sometimes, they out and out lie. It was refreshing to work with motivations driven by emotions and needs instead of good versus bad. (I like that, too, though:) Anyway, the romance, for now, is done. Tomorrow, I start doing plot points for my third Wolf’s Bane novel. It’s back to gargoyles, witches, and werewolves again. I’m liking the balance–dealing with mortals and their emotions for one book (romances) and then switching to battles and monsters for the next. Pretty fun!

Happy writing!

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Writing–random thoughts

I’m not an especially social person.  I like people, but as a spice that accents my more ordinary, sit-in-front-of-my-computer habits.  A sprinkle here, a dash there, but nothing overpowering.  I like my alone time–a lot.  My husband wanders in and out during the day, but he gives me plenty of writing time.  So it’s really unusual when I fill my calendar with social events.

Last week, we had my daughter from Florida, John’s brother from Oakland, and Tyler from college at Bloomington, come to stay with us for five days.  And I enjoyed every minute of it.  Then on Thursday night, John and I took my sister, Mary, to see So You Think You Can Dance at the beautiful, restored Embassy Theater downtown.  (We used to grab Mary and go to Chicago once a year to see dance shows.  Now we hope something comes to us.)  On Saturday, I had my sisters over for an afternoon tea.  We’d planned it before everything else filled up our time, and I’ve been dying to use the blue glass, luncheon plates I snagged at an antiques store, so we decided not to reschedule.  And today, Sunday, my sister and I went to see the Parade of Homes on the far, far north side of our city.  We walked through homes neither of us will ever be able to afford, but they’re fun to visit to see the latest trends.   Everything was wonderful and fun, but now, I’m ready to hibernate and hide in my office and write.

I’m still working on plotting my new book.  I’ve been adding scene ideas sporadically.  And it’s occurred to me, as I go, that there are other reasons to do at least a smidgeon of plotting before you start your book.  One, I’d have never realized that some of the scenes in my head would have a lot more punch if they were told from Angel’s (the 10-year-old’s) POV instead of Enoch’s.  In my head, I “saw” the scenes, but I couldn’t see that Enoch would just be a distant bystander, where Angel would be a particant.  And the scenes would be a lot more vivid and powerful if SHE told them.  I also couldn’t see where the VERY slow building romance between Ulrich and Scarlet would sag if told by Enoch, but might sizzle if told through Ulrich’s POV.  (That vampire has no patience).  And the romantic tension between the two of them just wasn’t going to be enough, in and of itself, so I needed an extra oomph going on between them somehow.  Scarlet needed a big problem of her own that she’s trying to overcome.  When I hit a wall in the plot points, I knew I didn’t have enough to carry the story.  That’s a lot easier to fix when I’m doodling with plot points than when I hit page 100 of my novel and don’t have enough threads to keep the tension going.

I also tried to do a little bit of marketing last week.  And for any new, indie authors out there, I can only say that my numbers go up when I market and they fall when I don’t.  Readers don’t find your books if you don’t help them.  And if they don’t like your book covers, none of it makes any difference.  I paid $10 to be on http://awesomegang.com/advertising-on-awesomegang/ last week.  I also tweeted about my new novella bundles three times.  And my rankings rose on a few of the novellas/novels I have online.  Nothing has worked as well as Bookbub, but that was $90, and it’s hard to get them to take you now.  But for $10, I was happy.

So, all in all, I spent a lot of time socializing last week, but I squeezed some writing stuff in.  And the more I do plot points, the more I’m convinced they save me time later on when I’m hitting the keys and the story’s flowing.

And last, for Unikorna, a fellow author and blog friend (www.unikorna.blogspot.com) –she asked to see a picture of the boys since I talk about them a lot.  This is for you:  P1030036

 

 

 

Writing–Experimentation

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you know that I’ve been experimenting with different types of novels and novellas in the last two years.  With Fallen Angels and Blood Battles, I’ve tried using multiple points of view for storytelling.  The advantage of multiple POV is that you can choose which character will add the most emotional impact for each chapter of your novel.  You can juxtapose points of view to build tension and add layers and depth to your story.  Romantic suspense authors use it often to show a nice, sympathetic woman’s POV before they flip to a villain’s POV.  Then they let the reader know these two characters are going to collide, and the rest of the book will be a struggle for the woman to survive that encounter.  Multiple POV is a wonderful tool that lets an author come at a story from several different angles.

For everything else I write, I’ve used third person, limited POV.  The advantage to third, limited is that you live in one character’s mind and can only know or experience what that person experiences.  Therefore, the reader only knows what your character knows and, just as importantly, thinks and feels, which in theory results in the reader identifying more with your main character.  In Wolf’s Bane and Shadow Demon, I tried for a kickass heroine in a traditional type, urban fantasy novel.  In Empty Altars and the novel I’m working on now, I did the kickass heroine with layers of Greek and Norse myths.  In my novellas, I experimented with different settings and time periods, some more like romance plots, some more like mysteries or quests.  Whatever struck my fancy.

I haven’t just been experimenting with my writing, though.  I’ve been playing around with marketing too.  I started this blog and a facebook author page, joined Goodreads and twitter to have an “author platform,”  to learn a little about “social media.”  I can’t honestly say that I have an opinion on how effectively any of these have worked.  Sometimes I tweet about a novel or novella and my numbers go up.  Sometimes, they don’t.  When I first started Goodreads, it was a lot easier to list a book for read-to-review and get some reviews.  Now, Goodreads is deluged with authors, and finding reviews isn’t so easy.  Bloggers have reviewed or interviewed me, and they’ve all been wonderful to work with.  Have I gotten sales from them?  I don’t know.  But my theory is, a little of this and a little of that might add up to something eventually.  I don’t expect overnight success.  I plan to just keep doing what I’m doing and give it time to grow.

I can say that Book Bub was worth every penny of the $90 I paid to advertise Fallen Angels when it was free for four days.  Book Bub was full when I wanted to promote Shadow Demon, so I paid $40 to try eBookBooster.  For $40, eBookBooster sent my free days for Wolf’s Bane to 50 sites.  Do I know if those sites actually listed my free days?  No, but I know that my ranking for Wolf’s Bane shot to #120–all free, of course, but I’ve had 3 more good reviews on amazon as a result and hopefully more to come.  Enough to make me happy.  Right now, I’m just trying to get readers to find my books.

The thing I just started to experiment with is Wattpad.  I just downloaded the first two chapters of Fabric of Life there and joined that community.  I plan on downloading a new chapter every Tuesday and Friday.  My first impression is that Wattpad is going to be a fun place to be.  I’ve started following some really good writers on it.  Eventually, I hope some readers start to follow me.  Would I put my chapters on Wattpad if I only had one book?  I don’t know.  But I don’t plan to write any more novels for that series.  I’m only using the setting–Emerald Hills–for a series of novellas, a tourist town filled with different shops that not only sell painted gourds, bonbons, or imported shoes, but each of their sells items comes with a touch of magic.  And if Fabric of Life bombs on Wattpad?  I’ve learned something.  Wattpad isn’t for me.

I’m still trying out new things.  I’m getting an idea of what I’ll keep writing and what I’ll close up.  In marketing?  I’m still learning.  The journey might be bumpy, but so far, it’s been fun.

http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

http://www.wattpad.com/23706023-fabric-of-life

 

 

What does your handwriting reveal about you?

My a’s, e’s and o’s are closed.  Not a good thing for a writer.

I bought a book on how to analyze handwriting and had a friend (who teaches about it) look at a page of my cursive squiggles.  The first thing she told me was that my vowels are closed.  She said that means that, even though my other letters show that I’m generous and friendly, I hold my true emotions in.  There’s a filter on how much I share.  She told me to open them, and I’d be able to express emotion better.

I’ve tried.  I still can’t do it.  My vowels are still pinched looking.  Maybe it’s my inner editor.  But feelings are what drives fiction.  What provides  motivation.  Scenes with emotional impact stay with us.  I’ve worked hard to put deep POV in my stories, more interplay between characters.  But romance?  That yin/yang of love/hate?  Boy, it’s hard for me.  I’m a nurturer, not a hearts and flowers type of girl, so courtship isn’t my strong point.  I’m not a natural at it.  Neither are my grandsons.

Tyler went to two proms this year.  He’s a senior in high school, close to graduating, and he attended the first prom at his own school.  He went with a pretty girl he didn’t know that well.  The second prom was with a girl he worked with, at her school.  His brother, Nate, two years younger and only a sophomore, teased him for renting a “monkey suit” two weekends in a row, but Ty didn’t care.  I listened to the boys talk about the intricate boy/girl back and forth, and realized all over again how tricky start ups are.  There’s lots of room for error.  Does she like me?  Doesn’t she?  When she laughed at me, was it because she thought I was funny or because she’s sure I’m clueless?

Novels are about relationships.  The plot drives the pace, but the characters– their interactions and motivations–provide the soul of the story.  I’ll read a mediocre novel if I love the characters, but I can put aside the most well-written book if I don’t care what happens to the people on the pages.  And romance?  I love it as a subplot in a mystery or urban fantasy, but it’s hard for me to write.  I’ll never capture the angst of the Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series.  Or the chemistry between MacKayla Lane and Jericho Barrens in Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series.  I guess, to this day, courtship and the “she loves me/she loves me not” type of chemistry is as much a challenge for me as it is for my boys.  And writing “intimate” scenes?  Lord, help me!

If you’re interested, this is a quick handwriting test for you try: http://quizstop.com/askhand.htm

And here’s a link for writing romance/love scenes: http://www.writing-world.com/romance/love.shtml