Licensed to Write
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
See that license plate up there? I don't have it anymore. It is gone, gone, gone. That's because it was on the car that was stolen a week ago. Get this - it was taken from a parking garage that I was paying to use while I attended a hearing for the day job. That's right - my car was stolen from across the street from the courthouse. And the thief PAID to take it out of the garage. The car was insured. But the plate is gone. Even if I get the car back, the plate will apparently forever be on the "stolen" list. Like writers do when they experience tumultuous emotions, I tell myself I can use this experience. I can use that initial feeling of disconnect that emerged as I realized other car were now parked where I left my car. The optimistic belief I must have parked on a different floor that slowly seeps away as I wonder up and down the levels of the garage, to be gradually replaced with the sense of total bewilderment at the realization that someone truly has stolen my scratched and dented 5 year old PT Cruiser. The offense experienced when the first question asked by police is whether I was behind in the payments for the car (to be fair, I was offended because I thought they were suggesting I arranged to have the car stolen for insurance money, but I later realized, they were asking in case it had been repossessed.) The frustration as I waited for hours to make the official report. The hope at hearing that cars are recovered 75 percent of the time. The eagerness at each unfamiliar phone number that shows up on the caller ID (might be Metro saying they found the car!). The disappointment when that call does not come. Someday soon, a car thief will meet an untimely, but painful end in one of my stories. Or perhaps that car thief will merely end up making personalized license plates.
Sunday, April 3, 2011
I am what is known as a seat of the pants writer, aka a "pantser." That means I sit down and write. Many writers are pantsers, and we all share a similar experience: we cannot plan ahead, because the ideas only come in the midst of the writing itself. Most of us have a general idea of where the book is going, but now how it gets there.
Some also say that if they do plot a book in advance, they are then bored with it, and cannot actually write it. I do not say that, because I have never actually managed to plan an entire book in advance.
But lately, I haven't been sitting down and writing much - or at least, not writing fiction. So I am going to try something new. Actually, I am going to do two things.
First, I am going to try to plot a story in advance. It may be a short erotic piece, tentatively titled Stolen Kisses. Or it may be a full length sweet story, Auntie Mom. (I learned how to consider and present two side of every argument in law school. That is likely why I can write both sweet and erotic fiction...)
In the same time frame, I am going to take a mystery story for which the first draft is almost finishes, and fill out the templates for that story. I believe that this will help me 1) finish that damn book, and 2) help me revise that damn book. I want this one done by June 1, by the way, so the clock is ticking. The working title of that book is My Dog Carries a Knife.
To help me in this experiment, I am using Break into Fiction, 11 Steps to Building a Story that Sells, written by Mary Buckham and Dianna Love.
What I especially like about this book is that its templates (and, more importantly, the questions the author must ask and answer in order to fill out the templates) directly tie the concept of the turning points in the plot into the character arc.
Of course, the need for that connection is something I have understood, and even taught, for years. But I find it very difficult to do in advance (because of that whole pantser thing). So I am hoping that by forcing myself to think about these question in advance, and answering in few short sentences, I will get enough information down to guide me in my writing and make it easier for me to sit down. But it will not provide so much information to me that I will find it tedious to actually write a story I already know.
I typed up the templates shown in the book. (No, sorry, I will not send them my templates to you. It is OK for me to do that for my use - I bought the book. But it would not be OK for me to give other people copies of Mary and Dianna's copyrighted material. )
Wish me luck. And keep me honest - inquire regarding my progress!