Critique Blog Hop Week 8

It’s Sunday, and that means another addition to the Critique Blog Hop! You can click that link for more information, or check out this page on my blog for the details.

This week I’m returning to my highest priority work-in-progress – On The Surface. These are the freshest 250 from what I’ve managed to add to it over the past few weeks… my schedule just has not been kind to my creative side lately. These are also the (current) first lines of the second chapter. I’m considering changing the point of view for the story, as I feel it may be more powerful in the first person POV rather than third. Any comments or thoughts on that are welcome!

—-

Liza wasn’t exactly thrilled about the idea of cleaning up the house. It would undoubtedly be a huge task, and why did they have to sell it anyway? After all, the house was still filled with Pap’s belongings, and most of his wife’s. She just knew her mother would get emotional, and then her dad would become annoyed and the whole thing would go to hell. Just thinking about the impending hours in the old house was exhausting.

They pulled into the cracked cement driveway between the house and the garage. Liza couldn’t help but notice her grandmother’s rose bush was blooming beautiful, bright pink flowers. They were still somewhat closed, like roses that people get for corsages or in arrangements for special occasions. They weren’t exactly buds, but they still had some time before they would open completely. She sighed as they walked past the bush and underneath the overhang.

“I’m so glad you decided to stay home for school, Liza,” her mother said over her shoulder. “You’ll be able to help us get the house ready.”

Before she could stop herself, she rolled her eyes at her mother’s comment. Luckily, though, her mother was in front of her and wasn’t looking. She knew her parents had been nervous about her college decision, but they were not the sole reason she chose to stay home when she could have gone to the state’s best school – three hours away.

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Like what you read? Check out these great authors for more 250 word excerpts!

http://mermaidssinging.wordpress.com/

http://caitlinsternwrites.wordpress.com/

http://ileandrayoung.com

http://jennykellerford.wordpress.com

http://jennifermeaton.com/

http://richardleonard.wordpress.com

http://jordannaeast.com

http://itsjennythewren.wordpress.com/

https://wehrismypen.wordpress.com

http://jlroeder.wordpress.com

http://letscutthecrap.wordpress.com/

 

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Giving Backstory WITHOUT Info Dumping?

This is the current challenge I’m facing with my WIP. I need to explain some backstory, as my protagonist’s character flaw stems from a death in her family that happened way in the past.

I know the first question I should be asking myself is “Is it really necessary information?” It is — without including it, my readers and critiquers are kind of like, “Meh, she’s just dramatic and sad.”

It’s actually a lot harder than I originally thought. I want to show and not tell, but it’s hard to “show” history. Just about every writer will tell you, “NEVER INFO DUMP. EVER!” (Imagine someone saying that you to in the same manner the Mythbusters always give their “never try this at home… EVER!” warning… hehe.)

But in my research, I’m finding that some writers say info dumping might be the only tool in certain situations. And if that’s the case, you’ve got to work to try to make this information matter to the reader now.

Some suggestions I’ve collected from various writer’s blogs on how to accomplish this include:

“The more your information dumps relate directly to a story element currently at play in your narrative, the easier it is to hold an audience’s attention.” – From Lit Reactor

“Add Tension:  Make the info dump something that causes problems for the characters.” – From Jami Gold’s Blog

“I think the key to making information entertaining is to entwine it with drama — and that means ensuring that the characters’ happiness is tied to it too.” – Ruv Draba, a moderator at Scribophile

Would anyone else care to offer their opinions, advice, or techniques for getting essential backstory to the reader without the dreaded info dump?

 

Separating author from story

One of my goals for this year is to finish my work-in-progress by the end of the summer. By finish, I mean publication ready, whether that means marketing to agents or self publishing it.

Exciting, I know!

However, I am finding it difficult to tell my story in a way that will be appealing to all readers, and I think it’s because it’s such a personal story. I don’t want to give away too many details just yet, but the plotline involves my main character overcoming grief and demons regarding her grandmother’s passing which resurface with the failing health of her grandfather. She thought she’d dealt with all her problems and overcome her emotions, but now she realizes that all she did was shut them out. Cue philosophical, life-changing emotional growth!

That’s only one story arc of two or three that I’m currently playing with, but the story is so personal to me that I am getting in my own way of telling it. I plan to make this an homage to my grandparents who have passed, and as a result I have given my MC’s grandparents many of their qualities and sometimes deviate into unnecessary vignettes, etc. that don’t contribute to my plot or move my story ahead. BUT THEY’RE IMPORTANT TO ME! Just not the reader! 🙂 (Side note: See my “Words to Write By” in the upper right — I picked that quote because I feel it’s very fitting to my issue right now!)

So my challenge is finding a way to stay true to what I’ve set out to do in a way that I can live with and still tell a compelling story.

Anyone experienced this or have tips for getting over it? They’d be much appreciated!

Smashwords, anyone?

www.smashwords.com

For all you self-publishers out there (or those looking into it), I’ve heard lovely, wonderful things about Smashwords. It streamlines your manuscript into formats appropriate for Apple iBookstore, nook, kobo, Sony Reader, etc. Basically any eReader that you can think of, Smashwords can help you get there with one simple upload.

I’m not ready to self-publish at this point, so as far as personal testimony on ease of use, pricing, etc., I can’t offer much opinion. I’ve only been hearing good things about it through my new pals on Scribophile (talked about earlier this week here).

Are any of you readers ready to self-publish or have you already? Familiar with Smashwords and care to offer advice? Feel free.

Also, anyone looking to support fellow self-publishers or looking for great reads and low prices, check out Smashwords’s homepage to see what they’ve got going on. There are tons of free eBooks, and while you do have to wade through some slush, there is absolutely something there for everyone.

It’s Nov. 1st – GOGOGOGO!!!

Hey NaNo’ers! (Like that? I think that’s a common term for us November novelists…) I know it’s been a while since my last update, but …

It’s that time of year again and I have to say I’m SO excited to be able to finally have the time to give NaNo a legitimate shot this go ’round. I have a rought idea in mind for a story I’d like to get down (perhaps I’ll share some tidbits if I end up liking it enough!), and I hope everyone else has at least an inkling of where to go with their rough drafts too!

For inspiration, I found a list on Twitter of novels that were published that actually began as NaNoWriMo projects. It includes one of my all-time favorite reads (and I highly, HIGHLY reccommend it after the craziness of this month is over!) The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. HOLY CRAP! I never knew! But the book is so great. Of course, as the article states, she didn’t publish it in it’s NaNo form. Heavy editing was applied before this one hit the shelves. 🙂

Another novel that was wildly popular (enough to be made into a MOVIE recently!) that doesn’t appear on the list but that I know began as a NaNo project is Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen.

So there you have it, folks. Perhaps 50k in 30 days is the perfect motivation for some of us (including me) to get that first draft of a manuscript out of our heads and onto the page!

Also, for your reading pleasure, and perhaps as a help to get yourselves started: Do You Have a Plot?

WHOA. Things have been happening…

Hello! I apologize for going off the map there for a while. I’ve taken some time to really focus on my career path, and things have been happening!

I am now working a job as a multimedia designer at my new college while also completing my master’s in instructional technology and design. I’m a substitute teacher, and, perhaps most excitingly…

I’M A FREELANCE WRITER. As in, getting PAID to WRITE.

This probably isn’t very exciting for the general public, but it’s a huge success for me. It’s definitely not the path I had imagined for myself when I was doing my undergrad at Penn State, but I’m so happy to be getting work published professionally, even if it is reporting. Everyone has to start somewhere!

I don’t hate being a reporter, but my true writing “passion” is creative. I’m hoping that freelancing can be a stepping stone into a full time job with my paper or at a magazine of some type. That’s not for a LONG time, however.

So, being a teacher, I’m going to make this a “teachable moment” for anyone stopping by to read this. KEEP trying and DO NOT give up! And do whatever you can to get your name out there to as many people as possible. I’ve already had at least three people ask me for my business card while on a freelancing assignment.

Lastly, to anyone still in college who’s facing a choice about what path to take… do as much as you can WITHOUT spreading yourself too thin. I majored in education, but I also worked at my college paper despite not being a communications major. I was also really interested in graphic design, so my electives were all in the vein.

I was really lucky to be able to pursue so many interests, and I am extremely lucky to still be able to do all the things I love now. It might not be the typical full time day-to-day job, but hey! Variety is the spice of life, right?
P.S. – I have now re-launched my website! Due to financial constraints, it’s not my own .com address, but I’m hoping to soon be able to do that. For now, you can find me (and my published works!) at katrinamwehr.weebly.com!