Weekend Workout: End-of-Year Short Story Challenge! (or 50 First Lines Redux!)

I’ve been jumping up and down in my mind (I do that) to use some material from the 50 first lines exercise I started months ago. I used this exercise, another of my favourites, for a writing contest back in February and the results were terrific. The whole 50 First Lines exercise is a blast and it works. I’ve proven to myself over and over again that it works, and now I have an excuse to use some of my results. There’s an open call for a short story anthology I’m interested in submitting to and the deadline is Dec 31st, so it’s perfect timing. If you’d like to join me and submit to this anthology (or to any other anthology or magazine or just want to finish a short story by the end of the year), you can play along. You can play along regardless of anything, but...

Weekend Workout: The Fabulous What If?

I know, I know . . . I’ve mentioned my timed “what if” exercise before, but I’m too lazy to go back and see what I said about it. I bring this one back to you this weekend simply because I used it this morning while writing and found it useful. There is something simple and wonderful about a good “what if” exercise. I always seem to find what I need from it. I use it with kids and adults and probably more so than any other “what do I do now” exercise when I’m stuck writing or editing. There are a few ways I use my “what if.” Sometimes I already have an idea and just set the timer (10 to 15 minutes), and start with the line “What if … ,” writing spontaneously to work out the idea....

Weekend Workout: Too Much Information (in a good way)

This is a tardy Weekend Workout, but all my ‘Merican friends were probably digesting for the past two days and couldn’t write anyway. I was planning to do a rerun this weekend, but ran across a note to myself about using TMI (too much information) to create conflict (big, small, serious, humorous). I was specifically thinking about it because of a real life example. Okay, my 74-year-old mom has discovered boys again. I think this is great, since my dad died 6 years ago. But there’s only so much I want to hear about my mom’s escapades. Can you imagine writing that scene into a comedy script? That’s a minor conflict, but there are other ways TMI can create serious internal and external conflicts, like if your character learns something...

Tour Thanks and Weekend Workout

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a weekend workout. I knew that would happen, though, as I’ve come to the conclusion that writing and blogging do not get done while I’m on tour. If you wanna just scroll down to get your workout and skip all the “thank you” stuff, there’s a visual marker below that says WEEKEND WORKOUT. Before I get to the workout, I want to express my appreciation for all the people that made my tour a tour. I want to thank all the teachers, parents, principals, students, and especially the librarians at Regnart, Murdock-Portal, Blackford, Christa McAuliffe, and Gardner Bullis elementary schools, Gale Ranch Middle School, and Wingra School who all hosted me as a guest. I want to thank to Laurie,...

Weekend Workout: More NaNo / Novel Prep

In two days I’ll be off on a 3 week book tour in the U.S. so my posts might be sporadic (or simply reruns). But that doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about you. For those in preparation of NaNo, I’ve collected a few things for you: From Bob Ray and Jack Remick’s Writing Blog: New Tips for the 2012 NaNo This post covers setting, character, backstory, subplots, and structure. This is not just good advice for NaNo writers, it’s good advice for anyone starting any novel any time. And Bob and Jack have plenty of other exercises to keep you going for the entire month. This is an extremely helpful site for people working on novels run by two of the best writing instructors I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. And if that’s...

Weekend Workout: Prepping fo NaNo (or not)

I still haven’t decided whether I’m participating in NaNoWriMo this year, which begins, according to the ticking clock on their website, in 19 days, 12 hours, and 42 minutes, and 30 seconds (29… 28… 27…) Regardless of whether you are going for NaNo 2012, starting a new project, or editing an old, I cannot stress enough the fabulousness of the Sequence and Beat Sheet. It is both inspirational and practical. I used to be much more of a “pantser” when it came to writing, but being organized beforehand has done wonders for my writing process AND saved heartache while editing. I posted about this last year before NaNo and wanted to do so again for those about to begin. So, pardon the repeat post, although it has been edited...