Friday, December 09, 2005

Reorganizing the Front Room

I have this problem in that I like to dump a lot of backstory into the first chapter of my story. It tends to be more of a problem with novel length, I guess, because with a novella, such as Nights in White Satin, or my first erotic short story, Esmerelda's Secret, I know I only have so much "story space" to work with. (As a matter of fact, I ended up cutting five pages from Esmerelda's Secret to come in under the word count.)

Writing as Tess Maynard I had this happen with She Moves Through the Faire. I was lucky enough to find a small critique group and with wonderful diplomacy, they led me down the path to realizing I needed to cut ten pages from the first chapter. They didn't actually come straight out and tell me to cut it, but made subtle comments, making me discover for myself what I needed to do. And it worked.

So I've had another story setting on the floor of my office for ages. It's done, but there were some issues I needed to sort out with it. Like the first chapter. I kept reading it over and over and couldn't quite figure out what I wanted to do with it.

Then the other day I read a short article on scriptwriting and it talked about reworking scenes by cutting them apart and seeing how they might fit together differently to give more impact and cutting out the dross.

Talk about seeing the light. (Sometimes it takes me a while, but eventually I get there.) So I sat down and printed out two copies of that first chapter and began cutting apart paragraphs. I pulled out one of my whiteboards (purchased for about five dollars at Home Depot), and using the back of it, I started reworking the paragraphs. Did I come out with a stronger first chapter? Yes, I did--at least I think so. Did I end up losing a few pages--only about a page and a half.

Now, I have another story I did the same thing with, and I can't wait to tear that little devil apart.

The front room--or first chapter--is the first thing anyone sees when they walk in the door. The impact it makes can make or break the impression of the "visitor." If I can't hold their attention for those important first twenty pages (let alone grab it with the first sentence), my story is going to be in trouble.

We had an interesting first line challenge on the Amber Heat Reader's List recently instigated by Brit Blaise. Have you read her Cave Creek Cowboys series? It was a great reminder about the first line and how it intrigues the reader to want to read more.

Sometimes I hit the mark, sometimes I don't, I guess. But I did always like paperdolls when I was a kid, guess this new editing process just gives me a chance to translate that into an adult process. Well...sort of adult...


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Amber Quill Author's Blog

I don't seem to have enough time to post here, so what do I do? Join another blog. I am a masochist I believe. But anyway you should stop by to check out what the Amber Quill authors are up to lately. Here's the link:

See you later.


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

I Know Your Name...

I was watching the news last night and they talked about how newscasters often referred to people as bodies or victims, unemotionalizing the situations. But then they spoke of the fact these people were relatives, sisters, brothers, children...even family pets. How right they are.

Being a member of an organization like RWA isn't strictly about policies and's about connecting with our fellow members. Nothing has brought that more clearly into focus than a time like this. It's about knowing and recognizing others need our help and support. And it's about knowing the names of those people. The help may be small or large, a prayer or a package, $5 or $500, you are in everyone's hearts--and we know your name.

Do you find that knowing the identity of someone makes you want to go that much further, give that much more? Seeing the face of a distraught child on television tugs at your heart. Seeing a family pet abandoned without the companionship of its owner makes me want to reach out.

These people may feel forgotten, but they are not. The need is overwhelming...and we know your name. Getting what you need to you may take time...but you are in our thoughts and prayers. And there are those working at the front who will make sure we don't forget your dire needs, nor who you are.

And in knowing your name, you have tied us irrevocably to your need. We are a country who supports each other. We will reach you. Our hand is outstretched to you. From this corner of Washington to the borders of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and hand reaching for another, building a strong link of connection, and holding on tightly. We will do all that we can to pull you into safe arms. You are not nameless.

I wish I could do more, but, still, I know your name...and I will not forget.

Friday, September 02, 2005

I'm Okay Now...

My website is backup and running nicely with a new host, I had a new story come out last month, and another new one will be coming out later this month. Things appear to be fairly peachy right now. But let's not say that too loudly.

Several days ago I finished writing the first draft of Jebediah's Promise. I'll be working on edits this weekend for that one. I have a few questions in to my "expert" help on titles and positions and things. I'm a little nervous on this story because it is sort of a special one. More on that another time.

I was pleased when I woke up this morning to find I have a handle on another story I'll be working on shortly. I often find I need to let them simmer for a bit and then the veils sort of peel away and allow me to see where I need to go next. That happened with a scifi romance I'll be working on in the next month or so. I have the outline written but getting into the characters takes some time. One face of the relationship fleshed out for me. I really like when that happens.

Sometimes by writing the outline and setting it aside, it removes some of the stress. Think of it as gathering all the basic ingredients together, putting them in a pot to cook, and putting them on slow simmer. Every now and then you check it, maybe add a little more seasoning, and set it back to simmer. What results is a perfect melding of the flavors to create a soup, sauce, or whatever, that tastes devine. I guess that's what I do to bring my story together. It works for me.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

First Thoughts

Sinus headache last week, host server problems this week. So when will I get to find time to write? I've started a new blog here at blogspot because Bravenet has decided to introduce censorship into our longstanding relationship. So here I am, having decided if they don't like my content, I'll take all my business, my four websites, journals, etc., elsewhere.

Granted, they are large enough not to care, but it makes ME feel better all the same.

They have the right to deny service and that's just fine. But a little advance notice would have helped. After all, I'm not using their free service, I'm paying for their censorship right now. The least they could have done is have the courtesy to say "hey, you have 24 hours to change your site." Nope, no notice, no email, no courtesy.

Bye-bye, Bravenet...