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!

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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/

 

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!

Don’t Struggle to Finish!

I found this great post in the “Questions and Quandaries” section of the Writer’s Digest website. It’s about finding that time to actually finish a writing project, be it a novel or a short story.

The author makes three sound suggestions for making visible progress in your writing. Here’s the questions that prompted such excellent, clean advice from the people over at WD:

“Q: I am a working mom and frustrated writer. I have been writing a story for several months, but now find myself stuck. I know what the story is about, I have a very detailed and a clear mental image of the characters in my head. I am currently in the process of fleshing out the story, but what next? I don’t know anything about getting into this field, and outside of college, have never written such a long and involved story. What advice and directions can you suggest to a writing virgin? —Val M”

And here’s the link to the entire post: http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/questions-and-quandaries/writing-advice/how-to-finish-that-novel

I think #1 is absolutely KEY. If you can’t take at least 15 measly minutes out of your entire day to find time to write something, how can you call yourself a writer? Even dedicating a small amount of time to a writing project will guarantee progress.

PS: For those still interested, here’s another article (also from Writer’s Digest) about the debate on short story and novel lengths! It has some helpful tips on how to make your manuscript more marketable, too!

http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/questions-and-quandaries/marketing/novel-and-short-story-word-counts

Brainstorming Strategies

Figuring out where to start a writing project has always been difficult for me. I found this technique on dailywritingtips.com and after many semesters of writing courses, I’ve actually never heard of it before. It’s called “Cubing” and the idea is that you look at a subject from 6 different angles (like a cube has 6 sides!).

Here’s the excerpt from the website:

In this strategy, a topic or idea is examined from six distinct viewpoints — hence the name. Describe the topic (what is it?), compare it (what is it like or unlike?), associate it (what does it make you think of?), analyze it (what constituent parts is it made of?), apply it (how can it be used?), and argue for and/or against it (how can you support or oppose it?).

Cubing was developed as a critical-thinking exercise to help students express their thoughts in opinion essays, but it can be adapted for general nonfiction writing, though it is of limited value for fiction.

A similar technique is to explore three perspectives: The first is to describe the topic and its features, its constituent parts, and its challenges, and to compare and contrast it with other topics. The second is to trace the history of the topic and the influences on it throughout that history, and the topic’s evolution. The third is to map the topic to similar contemporary topics as well as to its influences, and to topics that it influences.

Here’s the link for some other strategies from dailywritingtips.com: http://www.dailywritingtips.com/5-brainstorming-strategies-for-writers/