Blogging has been on my list of things to do every day for the last two weeks. And every day, it is the thing that doesn’t get done.
Why? Because I have a two year old and a cold and four novels in various stages of development. That’s right. Four. Because the three I was working on weren’t enough, so I decided to draft another one. Whee! But I opened this today to share two links, and instead I blathered on. So here are my blatherings. They are scattered! They are ill-composed! They would be better off written some other way! But if I wait for the moment when I have the brain for that, they will never get written at all.
The good news is, I have a novel nearing completion with my editor. It has a title! The book formerly known as HAYLEE’S JOURNAL and then SINGLE FILE will hereafter (for real!) be known as EVERYTHING’S FINE. And it’ll be out this spring. Wait, is it spring? Yeah, well. I’m hopeful. I’ll commit to a specific date when we get to copy edit, which will be soonish. Since this is my first time through the indie process, I’m not totally sure how the rhythm will go. That’s probably unprofessional of me. Just like this post!
Other books are also in revisions. Those you will get to read, too. I’m so very excited about that.
I’m due for another Mommy Writer post. I can tell because my last one didn’t say anything about the 45 hairclips that have been methodically flicked onto my floor while I’ve been writing this post, or the fact that I wrote it as my lights flicked rapidly on and off. So my work habits may have changed some. It happens. A lot.
But what I’m really here to share with you is the brilliance of others. A couple weeks ago my writing group read a chapter I had written, and felt like they just weren’t quite connecting with the character. That’s a note I’ve had more frequently than I’d like, so I asked them to try to identify why. And due to some insights from my brilliant friends, they were able to show me which beats my character wasn’t reacting deeply enough to. And then I spent six hours on my Saturday with other people’s novels open to deep character scenes, trying to figure out what they were doing that I wasn’t. I was going to write up what I discovered, but critique buddy Heather did it for me, more eloquently than I would have, and with pretty examples! She would be my blogging role model if I hadn’t just sworn off waiting for time to compose posts. Anyway, go read her post. I’ll wait.
Did you read it?
Good. (Or if you didn’t, for shame. The next paragraph won’t make much sense to you.)
The only thing I would add to what she said is the reason for the beats. When your character is surprised, the reader needs the visceral, physical beat to ground them in the scene, or your characters start to feel like floating heads, instead of people interacting at a specific time and place. Then, the reader really needs an internal response, so that your scene is not just grounded the physical, but also grounded in the particular point of view. It’s this that makes your reader feel close to your characters. Then you can proceed to the dialogue response, where your character actually responds out loud. These beats aren’t as important when the stimulus isn’t surprising or new–when characters are just riffing off each other, rapid fire dialogue is great. But when your character has to make quick, unanticipated reactions, physical and internal beats are your friends. And even putting them down in the wrong order will get confusing, and throw your reader out of the story.
One of the things I love most about writing is that I never run out of new things to learn. One of the things I find most frustrating is that it’s impossible to know and be accomplished at everything. Writing is awesome like that.
And while I’m pointing you at other smart people, you should really read Natalie Whipple’s writing advice post. +1 to everything she said, even the stuff you don’t want to hear.
That was crazy.
If I ever want to blog again, I better make a habit of doing it like this.
tl;dr: My first indie published book is called EVERYTHING’s FINE. It’ll be out soon. I’ll tell you more about it in coming weeks, but I’m going to have to start doing so in a drive-by, scattered way, or I shall never do so at all.