Trivia Night!

Friday: Friday was a long, but good, day. I had work in the morning and then later on that night I went to a Trivia Night with everyone from work. There was a fundraiser going on for the town I work in. There were teachers from most of the town’s schools, parents, and general residents of the town. Let me tell you… the place was packed. The Trivia Night was at a venue walking distance from my house and I’ve been there a few times before. I have never in my life seen the place so full of people.

It was ten rounds of trivia, but at the end of round four only the top 50% kept playing. Needless to say, we stopped after round four. My work had three tables called Material Girls, Uptown Girls, and Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (we were dressed up as the 80s). Material Girls came in dead last, Uptown Girls (the table I sat at) came in second to last, and GJWHF came in fourth to last. The main point is that we had fun and that’s all that matters!

I got three questions right and two of them were book questions, so I was proud of myself for that. If there was a trivia night dedicated to books and authors, I would so do that! That would be so much fun.

Saturday: I was down for the count. I stayed up late Friday night because of the trivia night and I was exhausted all day Saturday. I didn’t really do anything too exciting–I cleaned up a bit, went food shopping, and printed out the second draft of Detective Florence.

I have to edit the first chapter of that by March 15 for my local writer’s group, which will meet the last Saturday of March. You never really think how quickly the 15th of the month comes up until it’s the 8th and you realized you only have about a week left to get it done… oops.

Sunday: I went to church and we talked about helping people, being nice to people, and what it means to be happy. It was a good lesson, if I do say so myself.

Kris and I started playing a new video game and we wrote for a little bit. I tried to organize some of my writing things and I worked on this week’s blog posts. So… hopefully those will be good.

This Week: I hope to get my homework done as soon as possible for this week. The following week is Spring Break so I want to have as much time off from school as I can get to focus on writing for the time being.

I also have to edit the second draft’s first chapter of Detective Florence by March 15 to pass it into my local writer’s group. In addition to that, I hope to get some outlining done for my Camp NaNo project.

Those are my two biggest writing goals at the moment. If I can get more done, then I definitely will.

How was your weekend?

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Babies And Video Games

Friday: What did I do Friday? Well, I went to work and constantly checked my phone. Thursday night my friend went to the hospital to be induced. The meds to induce her were not working so instead of texting her sister, “was the baby born?” I had to ask, “is she in labor yet?” After work, still constantly checking my phone, I worked a bit on my blog and did my Sunday school lesson plan for this Sunday. I also organized some stuff around my desk. It was very riveting.

Saturday: You ready for this one? Kris and I went to Barnes and Noble in the morning, like every Saturday. We got some writing done. I wrote a bit of Detective Florence — just a quick story about the characters, it’s not in any of the novels… although it might be someday. Then we walked around looking at books and decided that we haven’t gotten any books in a while. Kris bought two books and I bought one.

Then we went to Kohl’s because even though I just bought new clothes, I needed more pants. Two pairs of jeans ripped in the rear so I had to throw them out. I also got socks, too because I’m always putting holes in mine.

Then we went to Toys R Us in search of a Wii U SD card. They didn’t have it, but we gawked at all the games and ended up buying two new games for our XBox 360. One of them is Minecraft… yes, we finally gave in to that fandom.

To keep a long story short, we tried to play multiplayer, but one of the controllers died. Actually died, not just the batteries. We went out to Toys R Us again to buy a new controller. They didn’t have them. So, we went to Gamestop and bought one. We went home and discovered that in order to play multiplayer on Minecraft we need an HD port and since our XBox is old, it doesn’t have that. In other words… we fail.

In other news, after being 11 days overdue and being in the hospital for three of those days, my friend finally had her baby Saturday night! She is adorable and I can’t wait to meet her so I can spoil her rotten!

Sunday: We went to church and were there for an extra two hours because we had our annual meeting afterwards. It was long, but I can’t complain. We came home and I helped my dad clean up some of the basement. Whenever this snow melts, we’re most likely going to get flooded. Then I worked some more on my blog.

This Week: I’m going to continue working on my blog posts. I want to get my March posts written as soon as possible to leave room for other things like writing/editing.

I have to edit the first chapter of the second draft of Detective Florence by March 15 to send to my local writer’s group. I have to figure out what I’m going to write for Camp NaNo next month (yes… it’s already a month away!) and I have to outline whatever it is I’m going to write.

I actually have a lot going on in March when it comes to writing and blogging. It’ll be interesting to see how it all goes.

How was your weekend?

Writers Workshop

It’s been an extra long weekend for me. Yesterday (Monday) and today were two more snow days for me. We had another big snowstorm all day yesterday. We may be getting another one Thursday and then yet another one Sunday into Monday… more snow days? We’ll see.

As you can see, my fence is completely buried.
As you can see, my fence is completely buried. Where we’ll put the upcoming snow, I have no idea…

Friday I didn’t do too much. I went to work and finished my homework for the week. It was exciting. Sunday I had church and it was the Superbowl. I’m sure most (if not all) of you watched it. I did not. I know who we were rooting for and I knew who won and that’s about it. I don’t watch it because I don’t understand it, but I heard it was a good game.

Saturday was a fun day for Kris and I. Our dad found an event at our local library called “Writers Workshop.” He thought we would like it, so he told us about it and we went.

Remember a few weeks ago I posted Writers Group Wanted? Well, completely by accident my father found one for me. We all get together, swap manuscripts, give each other feedback, etc.

I know I said I wanted an online one, but you take what you can get, right? Plus, all the people seem really nice. There was about 20 of us there; it was a big turnout. So, the guy who’s running it decided to split it into two groups. Kris and I are going to be in the Saturday group because Wednesday nights are school nights for me and I’m in my pajamas at the time they’ll be meeting.

So, we’ll swap our pieces through e-mail by the 15th of every month and then we’ll critique each other. We’re going to meet the fourth Saturday of every month and discuss our work and critiques. It’ll be a good experience.

With that being said, I still may or may not try to do something on the Internet for me and my WordPress friends (yes, you). As I mentioned in the post above, I was thinking of starting one myself online. I still haven’t decided, but it’s still a thought.

Yesterday and today, as mentioned, are snow days so I plan on doing nothing. Maybe get some homework done, do some writing… but nothing major. I have to take these days while I can.

How was your weekend?

My Planning Process

Yesterday I discussed different outlining methods for your novel. I talked about three techniques, but there are many more. Many are out there on the Internet and others are private between the novel and the author.

So today, I’m going to share my magnificent outlining secret!

Not really… I’m pretty sure I’ve seen people use this way before even though I thought I made it up myself.

All you need are six items: index cards, post-it notes, a pen, a pencil, a notebook, and tape. I like to use the bigger index cards to fit more notes. I also use colored index notes to make it look pretty. Same goes for the post-it notes; use pretty colors (but that’s totally optional). I use a pen to write on the index cards and post-it notes (because that’s what a pen is for). I use the pencil to number each post-it note (I’ll explain further in a minute). I use a notebook to put the post-it notes and the index cards. I use the tape to hold the index cards in place on the pages.

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I’ll use Detective Florence 2 as an example of this untitled outlining method. I have a total of ten index cards (there may end up being more). On one card I wrote a list of characters in the novel; main, secondary, minor, etc. I also wrote their ages and their purpose in the story. The list was too long so I taped a second index card on the bottom to continue the list. One card has a list of plot points; questions that need to be answered by the end of the book. One card is a general list of notes about plot, setting, characters, anything. Since DF2 is a mystery novel, two of the index cards are death details; “who, what, where, why, how, when” questions and answers. Two cards are the culprits plans; again, the who, why, what, etc. questions. It’s a lot of repetition, but mysteries have a lot of information that need to be remembered. I also have an index card with a list of dates and a small summary of what the characters did on each date. It helps keep track of the times and days in the novel for the characters. The last card is editing points, which I don’t create until I start the editing process.

I tape those down on the first few pages of the notebook, as shown above.

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The rest of the pages are filled with post-it notes. I use the pen to write in each scene on post-it notes. Each scene takes multiple post-its because I do a minute-by-minute summary. I don’t say, “this will happen in this scene.” I say, “George will do this” then “Lilah will say that.” Post-it notes are small and my handwriting is big; but I think it’s more helpful to be more detailed rather than give a general summary of each scene. I like to lay each scene out so I know exactly what to do next. Sometimes it changes, but that’s okay; at least I start off with a plan.

That’s exactly why I use post-it notes. If something changes, I can easily add, take out, or simply rearrange the notes. That’s also where the pencil comes in. I number each post-it note–despite they’re already in order in the notebook–so if I move them around I can erase and re-number them instead of crossing out the numbers with a pen.

Since I’ve already edited the manuscript once, some post-its got moved around. Others got cut completely. However, you should never waste an idea you once thought was good or needed. So, in the back of the notebook I stack all the unused ideas together. Some might end up back in the novel and others might appear in the sequel. You just never know.

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If you look closely at the picture, you’ll see there are 15 notes that didn’t make the cut this time around.

Now, why do I use a notebook? When I first thought of this method I used a giant poster and stuck everything on there. I hung it on the wall behind my desk for easy access as I wrote and edited. The thing was, the post-it notes kept falling off the more I moved them around. They lost their stick so I tried taping them down like I did with the index cards. That just ripped the poster so I would have to replace the tape each time I moved a note. It was more tedious than it needed to be.

So I decided to use a notebook. I can close the cards and notes inside so they don’t fall off and they don’t get crinkled up. Plus, you can see from the pictures that there is still some room (mostly just the margins) to add in notes about the notes.

This method is easy, flexible, and doesn’t take much time. That’s why I love it so much. So feel free to try it out for yourselves, regardless of what genre you’re working on. I hope it works just as well for you as it does for me.

 

Snow Day!

My mailbox and fence in the front yard.
My mailbox and fence in the front yard.

Blizzard 2015 (that’s what they’re calling it) has hit us hard. Everyone stayed safe (as far as I know) and it gave me a snow day from work. So go Blizzard 2015!

We got about 2-3 feet of snow… maybe more. I’m not entirely sure. As you can see from the picture above my fence and mailbox was just about buried. I took that picture earlier this morning, so it’s a bit worse now.

I charged all my electronics last night (Kindle, phone, 3DS, Wii U controller, and laptop) just in case. My co-worker said, “Isn’t it sad that our first thought of a power outage is to charge our electronics?” It’s not worrying about food spoiling, heat, or anything like that.

Yes, we are human and we have our priorities straight.

The snow started at 12:30 PM yesterday (Monday) and is still going strong. It’s not expected to stop until about midnight/one o’clock in the morning, which would be Wednesday. It’s kind of crazy, but cool at the same time.

It was nice not to have to go to work today. I got a lot of homework done. Two out of my four classes are done, one class I just have one more assignment to do, and my other class (Spanish, if you couldn’t guess…) has a quiz and a project left. I’m hoping to get the rest done tomorrow because I have another snow day tomorrow! Yay! They’re not optimistic they’ll have the snow cleaned up by tomorrow morning for school to resume, so I get to sleep in again and have another pajama day. Fine by me.

In addition to homework, Kris and I played video games. No surprise there, right? The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask and Super Mario 64. Two games from the Nintendo 64… we’re going old school because we’re cool like that.

I did write today, so I actually did something. I typed up about 14 pages of Detective Florence 2. I’m about halfway through the manuscript now so I’m hoping to finish by the end of the week. Then I can outline the next part so I can write the next part in February. I think that sounds like a good plan, yes?

Tomorrow will definitely be helpful since I don’t have to spend six hours of my day at work. If I can get my homework and another chunk of writing done, then the rest of the week will be a breeze writing-wise… even with work and babysitting thrown into the mix.

Anyway, I hope anyone getting hit by this blizzard is doing well… I hope we’re all warm and all have power in our houses.

Why Outline?

Who actually outlines their novels? I know a well variety of people who outline and people who don’t outline. For the people who do not outline, is that a bad thing? No.

Outlining means to lay your novel out flat before you even begin writing it. You write the basic idea, certain scenes you want, character bios, etc. in a notebook, on the computer, on index cards, what have you. It’s almost as if you’ve mapped out your brain so when you do start writing, you’re able to write, write, write!

Outlining is optional when it comes to writing. It’s not like the first draft stage or the editing stage; you can actually skip the outlining stage. It works for some people, but it doesn’t work for others. Some prefer to freewrite from the get-go and go from there.

Via Google
Via Google

Personally, I find outlining to be a huge help, but even I don’t do it all the time.

I think it depends on the kind of project your writing. When deciding if you should outline your novel before writing, ask yourself:

–Are there going to be a lot of characters that need developing?
–How many different ways can my plot go? Will there be any opportunities where the plot will rip and cause a hole?
–Where are my characters based? Is the setting fiction or based off of a real place?

Of course, there’s also genre to consider. I believe that if you’re writing a mystery or a science fiction/fantasy novel, it always helps to outline. If there’s a lot of information the reader will obtain while reading the novel, how can you as the author be expected to remember it all while writing? That’s how plot holes happen.

As I said, outlining is completely optional. Will it hurt your writing? No, of course not. Does your outline need to be complete before you start your novel? No.

Via Google
Via Google

That’s what I love about outlines; there are no rules. You may not stick to your outline (or your characters might not), but that’s okay. An outline is just a guideline.

You can map out your ideas however you want, where ever you want, whenever you want. If you get stuck on your outline at some point, you can begin writing what you have already outlined. By the time you get to the end of your outline, you should have thought of new ideas to continue on.

When that happens to me, I continue to write and outline as I write. It makes editing a lot easier for me.

Speaking of editing… outlining is a great way to help edit; not just help with the first draft.

Once you finish your first draft, you can always refer back to your outline to look up certain characters, change some scenes around, etc.

All in all, outline helps you further understand your novel.

Related Articles:

How to Make a Novel Outline
Writing an Outline of Your Novel
Outlining Your Novel: Why and How

Long Weekend

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Via Pinterest

This past weekend lasted three days thanks to our good friend Martin Luther King, Jr. I know a lot of people who are thankful for him because we get a day off from work/school, but there is so much more meaning behind the holiday than that.

I had an eventful weekend. It was busy, but in a good way. However, I can’t seem to remember Friday. I think I worked Friday and then came home and did nothing. I think Kris and I ended up playing Hyrule Warriors for a good chunk of the night.

Saturday we went to Barnes and Noble. She hand edited the first draft of her novel while I typed up the next draft of Detective Florence 2. We then went to Staples because we needed ink for our printer and we bought red pens because… why not? We went home and I spent the next 2-3 hours planning my Sunday school lesson plan for the following day. I was printing stuff out and my laptop kept losing internet so the connection to the wireless printer kept getting interrupted. I wasted a lot of paper… and ink that we just bought.

I babysat Saturday night for two kids I had at my old preschool. They kept talking about Martin Luther King, Jr. which was nice to hear they were learning about him in school. The 4-year-old told me, “Everyone has skin, but not everyone has the same skin.” Yes, I think that sums it up quite nicely.

Sunday morning I had church and my Sunday school class. The kids were off the wall, but I guess that’s expected from a long weekend. After church I dusted my bedroom and office and just did a bit of organizing. I planned on getting more cleaning done, but I didn’t. While my parents watched football, Kris and I watched two episodes of House Hunters before talking for the next 4-5 hours about writing, friends, high school, life, etc.

I’m including today in the weekend since I did not have work and I have to say it was mighty productive. My parents were out all day, so Kris and I went to Starbucks in the morning and then came home to edit. We’re both in the process of typing up the second draft of our novels. Then we went out for lunch, walked around Barnes and Noble for a bit (because we’re obviously not there enough), then went back home to write/edit some more. I typed up over 10k words of my draft and I’m still going. I just wanted to post on here before I forgot/it got too late.

Tomorrow is Tuesday the 20th which means back to work and… back to school for me. This means starting tomorrow I have to get myself in a new routine and add homework into the mix of everything else. On the bright side, it’s my last semester! Let’s pray I get through it safe and sound.

How was your weekend?

George And Me

In yesterday’s post, I discussed how every author puts a little bit of themselves (or something from their life) into their novels. For me, there are numerous things I throw into my novels that are inspired by true things in life. I won’t spill all my secrets, so for now I’ll just explain my good friend George Florence.

20150115_170826George, my protagonist, is a 30-year-old laid-off detective trying to make a place for himself in the world while doing what he loves: helping people and fighting crime.

Being a police officer was something I wanted to do when I was very young. Even when I knew I wanted to be a teacher and writer, I still had a spot in my mind that wanted to be a cop. I wanted to be a teacher since I was six-years-old because of my first grade teacher. I wanted to be a writer since I was ten-years-old because of Kris. Where did this cop thing come from? I have no idea.

When I was little I was always fascinated with that sort of thing. I remember I had a spy kit with handcuffs, a decoder, a notepad, and–the best part–rear-view sunglasses. I was always trying to solve “mysteries” around the house. One time, Kris and I eavesdropped on my mom’s phone call because we were looking for “evidence” in our case, “Mom’s Cooking: Real or Take-Out?” I can’t remember how old we were, but I wish I did.

However despite my fascination, I never pursued it for a plethora of reasons. I’m tiny and have no upper body strength, I can’t stand loud noises, I’m squeamish, and I’m not good under pressure. I just don’t think it wouldn’t have worked out. Of course you never know until you try, but I think when I discovered teaching/writing, my heart changed its mind.

I have written a few novels. Most of them are fantasy-ish with the main characters having super powers. A couple of them are cliche high school drama stories. Each one of those manuscripts (five of them total) are still on the first draft. I congratulate myself for completing a novel, but editing them is just not something I have the motivation to do.

20150115_170900Then I created George. He was a silly character started in a yellow notebook a few years ago at Barnes and Noble when I didn’t know what else to write.

I say he was a “silly” character because that’s entirely what he was. He was originally a detective who did well at his job, but had no common sense whatsoever. He was comical. I didn’t expect to go anywhere with it, but I liked the story. I wrote 32 notebook pages before I stopped and moved onto something else.

Who knew that years later George would rise to the surface and be who he is today?

Unlike my other novels, I completed a first draft easily and then had the urge to edit it right away. I want to continue his story. I want to write more books about him. I want to publish them all. Needless to say, I think I have found my genre for writing.

Funny how it turned out to be a secret passion of mine.

It’s also funny because George was inspired by Phoenix Wright, a character from the Ace Attorney video game series. I played those games and wanted to write my own mysteries and decided to revive George as my main man.

Of course… now that I write this post I realize that George wasn’t originally based off of Phoenix Wright. He was based off of me.

Typing A New Draft

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Via Pinterest

 

If you have ever edited a manuscript before, then I’m sure you said, “that’s totally me!” the moment you saw the above picture.

Kris and I go to Barnes & Noble every Saturday morning. For the past couple of weeks I’ve been hand editing Detective Florence 2 and I have to admit that I have made that face quite a lot. I mean a lot.

I finished editing it, so now I have to type up the edits only to print that out and start all over again. As you type a new draft it’s almost like doing another edit. Not only are you reading the words in your head looking for mistakes, but you’re reading the words, writing them, and looking at them on page and on screen. When I say “look” at them, I mean you’re looking at the words at what they really are. You’re not looking for words that are misspelled or misplaced.

You know how people always say, “you’ll find it when you’re not looking for it?” I think editing kind of works that way.

As I type up my new draft, I start to realize… my edits need edits.

The Second Draft

First is the worst, second is the… best?

As many of you know, I am currently working on the second draft of a Detective Florence novel. I hand-edited the first draft and now I’m re-typing it as the second draft.

What is a second draft?

Well, the second draft can mean many things to different people. It could be…

  • The first official edit of the first draft
  • The first official re-write of the first draft
  • The first realization that your novel is not in fact the next “greatest American” one

Second drafts exist (more or less) so that editors, agents, and publishers do not go insane. If writers were able to send out their first drafts then everyone in the world would be a published author. Also, the world would be filled with many terrible books.

Editing Second Drafts

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Via Pinterest

Some people see their second drafts as editing opportunities. By editing, I mean looking through the first draft with a magnifying glass searching for misplaced commas, spelling errors, and the occasional silly typo.

Not all people do this, but I have seen some work through their second drafts like this. I don’t completely agree with that because there are so many aspects about the novel that are going to change in later drafts. In other words, there will also be spelling and grammatical errors to search for. Why not look for them all at once on your final draft whether it’s the seventh draft or the 20th?

I mean, let’s be honest: you can find all the technical errors you want and polish the draft to make it absolutely perfect. However, when you read that fifth chapter you’ll most likely say to yourself, “Oops… plot hole!” or “Why does this character have blue eyes when he had brown eyes back in the first chapter?”

Rewriting Second Drafts

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Via Pinterest

In my opinion, rewriting second drafts get you farther than just simple editing. Rewriting means you look more in depth at the plot of the story:

–What questions need to be answered by the end of the novel?
–Do all the plot points connect well with one another?
–Overall, does the plot make sense? Is it realistic (as realistic as fiction goes)?

It means you look closer at the characters you’ve created:

–Does each personality stand out from the rest?
–Will my readers be able to picture each character uniquely?
–Does each character develop throughout the course of the novel?

Rewriting also means you look into the world you’ve created whether it’s made up…

–Will my readers feel as though they’ve visited such a unique, fictional world?
–Will they have the urge to visit this land?
–Is the world well thought-out and planned?

…Or whether it’s a true place:

–Have I done my research on this state/country?
–Will readers be impressed with my interpretation if they live/have visited this real life place?

A second draft should be your first attempt at perfecting the story as a whole. It should–to be blunt–drive you crazy.

The Honeymoon Phase is Over

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Via Pinterest

So, you’ve completed your first draft of your novel… yay! Go you! You’re one step closer to being a published author. That is, until you realize what exactly you’ve written.

As you write the first draft, you think to yourself, “This is fantastic! It’s my best work yet! Publishers are going to be all over this manuscript!”

It’s great to be positive and to string yourself along and all, but once you start working on that second draft that bubble pops. You feel incompetent, you feel as though you’ll never make it as a writer, you may even feel a bit depressed. You’ll say to yourself, “How in the world did I believe this novel was the absolute best?”

It’s normal to feel that way. In fact, it’s good to feel that way. By getting yourself out of the honeymoon phase, you become a real writer. You realize where you need to go from there. You realize what you have to do in order to make that “great first draft” become a better final draft.

The second draft of a novel is, in my opinion, the most crucial part of writing. Sure, writing a first draft is essential to getting started, but the second draft is truly where the work begins. Once you make it through the second draft, the rest of the drafts–whether there’s five or 50–seem easier than the one before it.

Once you make it through the second draft, your novel is finally on its way.

Related Articles:

What You Need To Know About Your Second Draft
How To Write A Second Draft
The Crash: Braving Your Second Draft