Monthly Archives: April 2006

High Concept

the annual writing retreat I go on always leaves me refreshed, revitalized and ready to write. This year I had my next book’s characters but I didn’t have the villain. We figured that out pretty quickly and then we got busy working on the central story question of my book.
I’ve been writing news for 20 years, so this shouldn’t be difficult, but it is. I never really understood what it was until the logline contest at Intrigue. Once I figured it out, I realized I like figuring that question out first and then building my book around it. My last book was the first I’d done that with. I have the question now and it’s so cool. In two sentences, the editor will see the GMC’s of both characters as well as the mystery element, or in my opinion, why it’s an Intrigue.
I don’t know if figuring out the “high concept” or central story question of the book is essential to publication. I pretty much figure it’s not. But it helps me. And that’s what matters.

Breaking the cliché

I’m working on my characterization and plot for my new suspense and I’m wondering how do you write people who aren’t the same as all the others without going over the top?
It’s a whodunit and there’s a body. Poor guy was really a neat person. He’d been through hard times but was getting his life together. Then there’s the hero and heroine. And the villain.
How do I make them unique?
How do I make the plot different from the 5000 other Intrigue submissions crossing the desk of the NY editors?
My goal this weekend is finding the answer to that question. By next week, I hope I’m writing.

Prewriting

I love starting a new book. My new hero and heroine are very real to me. I see them as they are. I know some of their backstories. I know what makes them tick. I’ve finished the brief character sketches and I’m ready to start working on my basic character-plot structure. Before I do that I want a logline or high concept. Something that will pull it all together. That’s not so easy. I have the mystery part, but the romance is missing right now, and I want my logline to have both. Not so easy with this book so far. I’ve already realized my basic premise isn’t unique enough, so I’m going to work on finding the twist, the different aspect of the story. Something that will hopefully make my story stand out from the others. Again, not so easy. I’m going to try to make it happen with the conflict. I might do my Cindy Dees character sheets first (if you ever get a chance to hear her, do it!!!!!) or Discovering Story Magic. Both have helped me tremendously with my last two books.
I WANT to get started, but I know this prewriting stuff is essential for me. I did it with my last book and it made an amazing difference.

Went to the Teacher of the Year banquet tonight. I didn’t win, but it sure was cool to get nominated. I’m lucky to work in a building with teachers who support me, my students and my program. We’re on the last few spreads for the yearbook and working on the final paper of the year. This time of year is so exciting, but it also hurts. I’m losing a bunch of 4-year kids this time. Kids I’ve watched grow up into amazing people. I always have favorites. I know it’s wrong, but I do. I have a ton of them this year. They’re amazing, wonderful young adults who are really going to make a difference in the world. Some classes don’t leave that impression. This one does. I hear all the time about teenagers being such lazy slackers. I just don’t see it. My kids make me proud to be a teacher. I need to remember that when I’m in the midst of a crazy deadline. 🙂

Woo Hoo

We’re going to state! One of my girls took first in two of her events. We’re going to State in features and editorials. Woo Hoo!!!

And now for something completely different

We’re at Regionals this weekend. I hope my kids place because I love going to state!
Academic UIL competition is so much fun. I’m on a trip with 24 kids and they’re all making me laugh.
Today one of them told me he was writing a story, so I asked him what he’d been reading lately. 🙂 That’s my standard question when kids say they want to write stories because so few of them read the stories they want to write. I don’t get that. I hope I’m an influence in their lives. Because I do honestly believe that if you have the urge to put story in paper, the story-teller is a part of your soul, but if you don’t feed it, it can never be fully developed. So these kids that have the desire to write, MUST develop the appreciation for the written word.
I’ve been on this a bunch lately and I know reading will definitely be a mandatory part of my curriculum next year…and NOT the books they have to read for English.

I bought the Crusie Mayer book and an Intrigue by Debra Webb. Can’t wait to read both. I had to put Gilead aside. I like it, but it’s slow. It’s something I can read on the elliptical, not on a five hour bus ride with 24 kids.

Eyes

Okay. It’s official. I can’t read without my glasses.
UGH!

So I haven’t been to the crusie mayer blog lately and decided to check it out.
Only I type in he said she said instead of he wrote she wrote.
Not the right blog. Not by a long shot. 🙂

I planned on working on my next women’s fiction. I really love the story I’ve plotted. And I love the heroine, Grace. But there was this secondary character in my Intrigue that caught my attention in a big way. And I can see his heroine so easily. I even know the murder that starts the mystery and brings them together at first. BUT I don’t know why the murder happened. I know some of the red herrings, but not the real reason. So I started thinking about reasons for murder. Greed, jealousy, secrets, revenge. But everything I’ve come up with so far is way too obvious.
Since we’re testing this week, I have plenty of time. 🙂
Next weekend I’m going to my annual writer’s retreat. Maybe I can get the other one plotted there.
Decisions, decisions.

GH Scores

For what they’re worth my Golden Heart scores came in. Both entries scores in the top quarter. Both were big hits with some judges and so-so with others. For the first time no 3s or 4s. I don’t know if that means my voice is changing or if my judges were nicer.
🙂

The Letter T

So I discovered this week that I like to type without hitting the letter T. I especially like to do this when writing my stories. And Spell check’s no help. Because hat, hen, wan, his, hey, I ….are all words. Not the words I meant, but still words.
Editing was quite the experience. 🙂 Lots of fun. Lots of laughs.
But it’s done.

I discovered a lot about myself during this book. I learned rejection still can get me down. I learned an editor telling me my conflict from beginning to end with me giving her one sentence is a little intimidating. And it’s not enough, so I wasn’t going deep enough to find the real conflicts and doing so takes a lot longer than I’m used to spending with my characters. But it’s worth it in the end. I learned that restricting my computer time because a book’s not done is a great way to make me lock down. I need the support of my friends on e-Harlequin. I need my local chapter loop. I need to be reminded that I’m not alone in this. I learned to balance writing with family, and I think my family appreciated it. And I learned that when work kicks my butt, I’ve got to let it, but then I’ve got to get back up and get going again. Most of all, I learned I love writing. I love story.
I still have plenty to learn.. especially with verb choice and description, but this book was fun. I hope the next one will be too.

Happy Easter!

If it weren’t a hundred degrees outside, again, I’d be eating chocolate right now. Instead I’m wishing for a cold front. I love this season. Usually it’s a time to think of rebirth and new beginnings. This year I’m thinking of a swimming pool, but I can try to think about the other.

You’ve got to be kidding me

Dear Mother Nature:
I need to work. In a bad way. And it’s really, really hard when you’ve blasted us with the 102 high for today. I’m tired of the heat and the wind and the fires that accompany them. Please give us a break. Preferably without tornadoes involved.
Thanks!