#writingcraft: What Worksheets Work?

#writingcraft: What Worksheets Work?

I started out as a pure pantser with my only guide being yWriter. That rough draft still sits in a folder of one of my clouds waiting patiently for me to return to it.

The poor thing needs so much revision, when and if I get back to it, it will be a total rewrite. One of the major problems is I did not to any preparatory work on the project except for a short worksheet on the main character. Even with that, I changed so many things about my protagonist, the worksheet became worthless.

At a snail’s pace, I have been learning to accept the fact I need to be a plotter–of sorts anyway. My short-term memory loss issue is getting in the way of me ever having a book published, that and those rare days when my motivation cannot be thrust into motion no matter what I try. If I am ever going to get any manuscript finished, I need outlines and summaries already done. The incidental days are not of great concern to me; that is as long as they are not frequent. As they are so far, I will call them mental health days meant to be used to take care of myself instead of the project I am working on.

Trying to find the right approach to this preliminary work has been vexing. Googling for worksheets generated page upon page of sites offering guides of all kinds promising to make the task of writing easier. I find myself being reluctant to use the templates that have more than three pages worth of questions for me to answer about the characters, plot, and/or scenes. Bits and pieces of the plot are already in my head so that all that is needed is a brief summary. The fine details will come to light as I need them. The same goes for the characters and scenes, although, with the former, I like having “complete” worksheets on the main characters so if I forget the color of the hair, how tall or short they are, or any of those pesky details, I can just click on the worksheet to get the prompt.

In the end, I went with the worksheets from Creative Writing Now. The site also offers courses but, as you have probably guessed, I cannot afford them. One thing I noticed right away about one of the guides was there was not the word, plot, or any form of it on the page. They call it a novel outline. Even at that, it is more of a summary with prompts. It should not make any difference but, psychologically, I felt as if the authors of the site, Nancy Strauss and Linda Leopold Strauss knew what type of writer I am and had addressed their offers in such a way that I was sure to accept them.

My worksheets include:

  • Novel Outline Summary
  • Character Outline
  • Scene Outline

I do not need a world building outline because my project is in the historical genre. Still, as I write each scene, I am doing research on the era of my story, hoping I am putting the reader into the thick of the tale I am writing.

Some authors use what is called beat sheets. They kind of combine the three outlines using a spreadsheet mode. Jami Gold has several templates of this kind at her blog. If I feel I am getting stuck on this journey, I will pop over to her domain and pick one of the forms to download and use.

Have you found the worksheets that do the job for you? I am interested in knowing which ones and why you picked them.

“I’ve always said, ‘I have nothing to say, only to add.’ And it’s with each addition that the writing gets done. The first draft of anything is really just a track.” ― Gore Vidal

 

Nine Month Kickoff

nine-month-kickoff

Last Tuesday I started thinking about how I was going to get back on the train of the blogosphere after being somewhat MIA [missing in act] for six weeks. As an “unpublished” writer, I don’t feel qualified to give advice to any other writer, so posts stressing how to do anything concerning the craft is pure ludicrousness.

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Before I get into that more, I was thinking some of you may be curious as to what I did during my semi-sabbatical.

Those of you who have been faithfully reading my blog know I took the time off to concentrate on my WiP. I didn’t goof off, giving hours every day to my unfinished manuscript. Still, I didn’t get as far along as I was hoping. 13,728 words so far. I can’t stop myself from looking for better words in the thesaurus. What’s with this obsession? I rationally know this is the first draft, yet I feel compelled to find the exact words I want. Yes, I also looked up spelling too but there are times when I’m so far off the mark that if I don’t correct it, I’ll never have a clue as to what I was trying to spell when looking at it later. Correcting the spelling cannot wait until the rewrite in my case.

I have learned to go a little deeper with my characters though. I had to allow myself to get off the beaten track in the story to show who my characters are. The first rewrite is probably going to be enormous, but then again, maybe not.

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Okay, back to the original thought of this piece.

The idea of telling you about my writing life has appealed to me. Yes, I’ve been doing something of that all along. However, what if I go beyond this little corner where I have my padded chair and my PC in front of me? Maybe explore what it feels like to see the other parts of my life from the perception of the writer in me?

Some parts are going to include my judgments–my opinions. This may not set well with others in the writing community who read my blog. Nevertheless, I am going to stand firm, and hope that I’m not too offensive. I’m hoping by making sure readers know that I accept criticism in the comments, they’ll tolerate my point of view. I’m hoping a learn something too.

Today is Thursday. I’m more or less settled on making my posting day every Thursday, either that or every Wednesday. So many bloggers post on the weekend. I get it. They have jobs, kids, appointments, and so on happened throughout the workweek. Of course, this means I have blog upon blog to read during the weekend. Answering comments on top of giving comments sound like too much because I want to do other things during my days as well. You see, I still want have some time to write in each day, and spend a little time away from this blasted screen that isn’t for housework. I’m not going to run myself ragged and ruin the fun of having a blog.

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What day would you like to see my post, Wednesday or Thursday? Additionally, is this idea of mine one you’d like to see in my blog?

“I have from the first felt sure that the writer, when he sits down to commence his novel, should do so, not because he has to tell a story, but because he has a story to tell. The novelist’s first novel will generally have sprung from the right cause.”
Anthony Trollope, Autobiography of Anthony Trollope

 

Stomping On Hate

Stomping on Hate
Image provided by darwin Bell
https://www.flickr.com/photos/darwinbell/

A few days ago I woke up with a multitude of health problems. Some were easy fixes. I opened the new bottle of Ibuprofen and swallowed two with water. That took care of the headache and the chronic leg pain for a while so that I could come up with some sort of plan to alleviate what else was wrong.

I’m not used to chronic illness. Most of my life has been spent being healthy despite the disability. That’s always been thought of as a constant annoyance instead of a health issue. Now I’m at that place in life where health problems are becoming more frequent. I can tell you right now, I’m not adjusting well to this.

I had been to the doctor just days before. According to all of the blood tests, I’m in great shape for a disabled person who’s entering senior-hood. So why do I have all of these digestive difficulties? Truth be told, I know what part of the problem is. I’m eating food I’m sure are ones I should avoid. But I love these foods and I used to eat them all the time. I’m older now. I know this, yet I want to eat as if I’m just embarking on adulthood. Yes, I’m foolish. The rest of the tummy issues may subside a little once my body doesn’t have food in it that hates me.

Maybe that’s where this other hate I have inside me is coming from.

Since the middle of July, I’ve been trying to work on my WiP. I let this blog slack a little, hoping to create more time being productive with the hope-to-be novel. I made some progress–for a while. Then I hit a big black wall of hate. I found myself hating all of my characters, settings, and how slow it’s going getting from one part of the story to the next. Yet, at the same time, I was certain that these characters were worth this story I long to write. And I knew the settings were working. All contradictions.

So, what has happened? I have a feeling I’ve gone into self-loathness as a writer–at least as a story-teller. Rationally, I know that many writers go through times like this. In my head, I have to admit that this knowledge does help me feel a little better. However, the emotional side of me still wants to delete all my story ideas, all my character sketches, and anything else I have pertaining to serious writing. It all sucks.

The inspiration and motivation had died somewhere within a four-day span.

I went searching for free writing courses online. Although many of them are what I would consider worthless because they’re so elementary, there are some excellent free ones too–just a few though. I found a new one at Creative Writing Now. I’m in the middle of their one free email course, struggling but learning. Through taking this class, I’ve seen how I’m not paying attention to blogs that have good advice. I had become shallow when reading them because, after a while, they were all hitting me the same way. My reaction: I know this already. Move on.

It’s time to read posts as if I’m a brand new writer and see what knowledge I can scrape up from them. I’ve started a digital journal in my OneNote program for all the notes I’m going to take with a new attitude–okay, hopefully a new attitude.

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There are some blogs that have never hit me as being all that repetitive. I thought it might be good to share them with you.

Blogs that Help Me Write

From WP

Amanda Staley: https://staleybooks.wordpress.com/blog/
Today’s Author: https://todaysauthor.com/
Writerish Ramblings: https://writerishramblings.com/
Sharon Bonin-Pratt’s Ink Flare: https://sharonboninpratt.wordpress.com/
A writer and her adolescent muse: https://awriteradolescentmuse.wordpress.com/
Quintessential Editor: http://quintessentialeditor.com/
WordDreams: https://worddreams.wordpress.com/
Jean’s Writing: https://jeanswriting.com/

Out in Cyberspace

Jami Gold: http://jamigold.com/
Fiction University: http://blog.janicehardy.com/
The Writing Practice: http://thewritepractice.com/
Creative Writing Now: http://www.creative-writing-now.com/

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From the deepest desires often come the deadliest hate. ~ Socrates

 

Deep POV vs. Omniscient POV

Deep POV vs. Omniscient POV
Image provided by eltpics
https://www.flickr.com/photos/eltpics/

The debate between deep Point Of View and omniscient Point Of  View is becoming a major topic of discussion in the writers’ community. Many writers are cheering for the profound perspective of the characters they create, hoping their choice is what their readers want. I’m not convinced this is the way to convey all tales.

I can’t even begin to guess how many articles within the field of writing I’ve read in the past six months that have concentrated on deep point of view. Numerous novelists and journalists now follow the trend of putting the reader inside the mind of the character in which point of view is being used for the scene or maybe the entire story. The reader sees, feels, and understands the world as only that one character knows it. The reader is in the head of that character and isn’t allowed out.

The deep POV is usually written in first person, although writers have done it in limit third person too. In the latter, a reader is more likely to see the POV change from one scene to another, but not any more than that.

The articles I’ve read teach techniques to obtain that more emotional connection to the characters. The omission of dialogue tags appears to be the most prevalent. In addition, the inner dialogue is held just with that one character. The reader understands the book from one perspective. In order to keep the characters straight in a person’s mind through dialogue without using proper names within each spoken passage, the writer must create narrative amongst the dialogues to explain who is speaking. This makes the conversations between characters more real to life and the tale is told in a tighter perception, as if the reader was one of the characters. Howbeit, there is more technical writing labor to this way of presenting the story. The writer must know when the narrative is needed and when it is not.

In the omniscient POV, the reader is allowed to know what all characters are thinking, feeling, and doing. Yes, the dialogue tags are used. The point of view isn’t within the story, but instead, hovers above it. The writer becomes a God-like figure showing the tale to the reader. The novel is, of course, presented only in third person. All I have read advising novices not use this POV because of the strong temptation to head-hop and the difficulties there are with confusion of characters and actions. The enthrallment flies out of the novel this way.

I’ve read a few books written in the omniscient POV. Unfortunately, I only thought one of them as being successful in pulling the multitudes of perspectives into a worthwhile novel, God Game.

Despite my age, I am a novice writer. Even thinking about how to write a book in the omniscient POV is mind-boggling to me.

The deep POV has its drawbacks too. From what I have read, my understanding is there isn’t much room for narrative even though drops of it are being sprinkled within the paragraphs of dialogue. Yes, it’s up close and personal, but it doesn’t give the reader much of a chance to see the forest because they’re tangled in there amongst the trees.

I’m certain there isn’t any one way to write. There isn’t any wrong way to write. Knowing this, I pick and choose where to put any deep POV into my stories, and allow myself to step back to a more traditional POV stance, whether it be first or third person, when dealing with the rest of the passages of my manuscript.

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What type of Point Of View are you using when you write?

There should be two main objectives in ordinary prose writing: to convey a message and to include in it nothing that will distract the reader’s attention or check his habitual pace of reading – he should feel that he is seated at ease in a taxi, not riding a temperamental horse through traffic. – Robert Graves

 

Writing about Me / Religion

Writing about Me / Religion
Image provided by Mystic Politics
https://www.flickr.com/photos/mysticpolitics/

Some followers of this blog have been with me from the beginning in February of 2013. They probably feel they know me, at least a fair amount about my personality. Yet, there are so many things even some of my family members don’t know about me. My about page is purposely written in general terms, not to throw anyone off track, but to dodge the necessity to upgrade the page and the obligation of explaining any reasons in detail. My page about my disability quirks is the same way. There’s enough told so visitors to my blog can have a diffused understanding of shortcomings I have no control over.

In a nutshell, people who do not know me in person and for an adequate length of time don’t know much about me at all. Even some of the those people don’t know me all that well. I’m sure there are many others like me in the vast universe of cyber space. We’re commonly known as introverts and most of us are pleased with the notion.

Even though I love me solitude, sometimes I like voicing my opinion. Sometimes I like sharing a little more of myself than I normally would. Today and at various times in the future, I’ll be doling out posts that, I hope, will give you a more unhindered perception of me.

I thought I’d start out with one of the biggies that are known to shape a person’s character. Read on…

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My Views on Religion

There was a time when I embraced religion. I was involved in my church and I was trying my best to be virtuous 100% of the time, even when no one was looking.

The more I studied within my faith, the more questions I discovered within the text and the teachings. I finally had to admit to myself that what was not being addressed was destroying any belief I had. I didn’t give up–not at first. I went search for other denominations in hopes of rediscovering that certainty about life and spirit that’s prevalent within religion.

At first I thought maybe the dogma of a congregation and how it varied from church to church was the culprit in my predicament. Therefore, finding the right church for me was all that had to be done. Or so I thought.

Turned out that wasn’t what was going to answer the questions whirling around in my head. Sure, many of the questions revolved around why what was done in one church versus another one was so important to the basic faith. However, I was questioning the unornamented beliefs themselves.

I can probably bet money there’s a reader out there whispering, “Atheist.” No, I’m not an atheist. I can’t, for one second, think that I, a human being, is the highest level of intelligence hovering around this planet and/or throughout the universe. As a species, I believe we let our emotions rule our lives, which is probably worse than the instincts other animals rely on. We, as a species, does some asinine things in the course of a 24-hour day.

I suggest it’s been centuries, or even millenniums since human beings have considered the wonder and the mystery of everything–of anything– in our world. Sure, you might go to the text books of science for answers, but those same answers have questions within themselves that aren’t being answered.

There’s an actual religion called “Nature Religion”. I’m not advocating this. Although I find the concept fascinating, there’s still questions in their answers I want addressed. Still, the thought of truly accepting death as part of the mix, along with birth and all that is in between seems more in tune with what I can fathom.

Could it be that I’m questioning the confines of religion? Oh yes, most probably. My existence is limited enough without others putting their barriers in my way.

There are still questions galore, but I believe letting the answers come within their own time, as nature does, is probably the only thing I can do.

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Discussion is open!

“The very problem of mind and body suggests division; I do not know of anything so disastrously affected by the habit of division as this particular theme. In its discussion are reflected the splitting off from each other of religion, morals and science; the divorce of philosophy from science and of both from the arts of conduct. The evils which we suffer in education, in religion, in the materialism of business and the aloofness of “intellectuals” from life, in the whole separation of knowledge and practice — all testify to the necessity of seeing mind-body as an integral whole.” John Dewey