Row80 January 21st

Okay, finally back in the game. Seriously, I can say thanks enough to Row80 for existing to keep me on task for accomplishing things. I think I would fall into super lazy mode otherwise. I think it’s just this time of the year. Too cold to ride my bike and skiing is snow dependent. 😉


I haven’t yet stated my Row80 goals, so here they be, whether overly ambitious or not, I’m still gonna give it a go.

Outline the rest of Codename Clemmings. I need to turn this novelette into a novel. I think it has great potential, but originally I only saw it as a novelette, so it’s been doing nothing after 5 chapters. I’ve had some vague ideas, but I haven’t really put in the effort. Time to make it so.

Finish “The Fire in Fiction” and read two fiction books.  I don’t know why TFIF just wasn’t happening for me, but that’s what another Row80 is for. I also have a few unread books on my Kindle for the fiction option I should be able to cram in. Last time I got three fiction books in with a goal of one, so certainly I can make two.

Write Codename Clemmings. I want to get a first draft off. Preferably a semi-edited draft, but a full draft in some form. I think this is possible considering I’ve already got the first 5 chapters and this is a YA.

Do writing exercises at least once a week. I got a few writing exercises from a forum at a conference and I believe they’ve already strengthened my writing with what little I’ve used them. I want every story I write to be even better than the last one and I want my skill to continuously improve. I never want to become one of those writers that gets lazy just because they’ve made it. I want my readers to keep coming back because they know I’m putting in my best efforts for them and for it to show. That takes practice. So writing exercises. Once a week. Yep.

BONUS GOALS: # 1 Get five chapters in to my Codename BFF project. If I’m hoping to accomplish the above goals, this may not be possible, but that’s why they’re BONUS goals. 😉

#2 Plot out a screenplay. This is really shooting for the moon here, but just a plot session might be possible. I did major in film in school and this short series project keeps coming to my mind. Plus I have friends in the independent biz and if it turns out clever I might be able to get them interested. But can’t do any of that without getting the idea out first, right?

Okay, go ambition, go! Still, remembering what I accomplished last session I think many of these things are possible. How are you coming on your goals already? Or have you also just started with new ones?


Connect the Dots, La-la-la-la-la!


In preparation for the NaNo I’m outlining among other things for Shade 2. I have to ask myself questions like WHY? HOW COME? WHAT FOR? And so on.

I have a major plot point I want to get to and from their out it’s fairly plotted. But all the before that, I’m trying to forge some kind of sense out of it. After all…

In storytelling, logic is retroactive.
-Robert McKee, Story

But even if it is retroactive, it doesn’t mean it’s easy. And I’m not complaining… mostly… but was just curious to know any techniques any of you have out there when you’re throwing together your story. I know some of you pantsers will say, “Ba! Outline shmoutline. Just write!” And oh, I intend to. But surely even ye pansters have a few ideas about connecting dots in the heat of the moment.


When I feel like something isn’t working, I stop and ask myself what the motivation of the characters is. Heroes, villains and secondaries alike. Sometimes I’ve found it really helps if you know what the villain is after, because then you can balance it with how the hero would react if they knew or when they know, etc.

I’m constantly asking myself: what is to be gained in this scene? And sometimes I write out in margins the arc I want a character to take. Perhaps they start off really good, but then tread toward the dark side which prepares them for the climax of choosing good or evil. Stuff like that.

And sometimes I pretend I’ve killed my darlings and left them in the dumpster across the street. If I CANNOT ABSOLUTELY use the plot line I just came up with, what’s Plan B. Sometimes this will show me Plan A was really the best plan and to stop doubting myself. And sometimes this shows me new pathways to try that turn out better. And more often than not Plan A and B get morphed into Plan C because I like elements from both.


Sometimes plot flows like I’m tuned into some cosmic writing spectrum flowing through the universe and I can hardly keep up with the ideas spilling out of me. And other times I’m forced to take the time to connect some dots. But many a writer’s conference has taught me when you come to those places where you’re struggling, when the dots aren’t so easy to find, that’s often when you’re on the cusp of something fantastic.

I’ve found that to be true in my case many times. So I’m thinking, thinking, and thinking some more. (Is there really any other way to get things done?)

But I still want to know, so if you’ve got ideas, spill them now.

What do you do when you have difficult plot dots to connect? Any techniques you use or have heard of that you recommend?

The Writing Game

I’ve been working steadily on polishing my WIP Shade for probably two years now, with breaks in between for other projects. First it was having a friend who edits professionally go through it with me and changing it as I learned. Then it was doing a major rewrite after a conference. And then again with Pitch Wars.

I got to the point where I felt pretty confident about editing—as far as process goes. But that’s when I started to notice a shift in writing. When it came to starting brand new—and I’m talking a project you’re not sprucing up, I mean 100% scratch—it was hard to switch over from editing mode. Part of me felt like I had to edit as I went along. And I’m not discounting that, but I do think it can hinder creativity.


If you’ve been in this game long enough, you’ve been through different writing phases. For me I see these stages as plotting, creating, and editing. There are complexities within those stages, but I think it’s sufficient enough to cover the areas of writing with these phases. You can be in all three at one time, but my philosophy is you’ll likely be in one of them more than another at different times while you create story.

And these stages don’t necessarily occur in that order. You might be creating, then decide it’s time for some plotting, and then go on to editing. There’s no wrong or right way when it comes to process, except to say do it right for you.


This is the stage where ideas are knocking down your door. Maybe you can’t even sleep at night because ideas are bothering you so much. Scenes are vivid in your mind. You might take to outlining, if you’re a plotter like me. You may also do some research to help the plotting along in your mind. Perhaps you gather photographs or other things that remind you of the story bouncing around in your head.

Often I have to outline just so I can get some peace. It seems like during this stage it’s hard to stay focused on conversations. Sometimes books, too, are difficult to read because the ideas are flowing.

The upside is you’re on top of the world. You can’t stop creating and you hope you can somehow capture all of that wondrous creativity before you. For me, it’s like that scene in Tangled where they’re surrounded by sky lanterns. How can you possible focus on anything else when you’re surrounded by all of that?

tangled sky lanternsLife is good and you’ve got creativity flowing.

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