Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Writing Tip Tuesday - Where Ideas Come From

Ideas for writing are everywhere! We just need to let them surface at will. One of the novels that's still more in my head than on paper comes from a dream I had -- NOTE: an important point is that I wrote detailed notes very early the next day or the idea would no longer exist.

Another idea was suggested in a writing magazine interview with I believe R. L. Stine. He said a lot of his stories start as a title and develop from that title. I tried this for a short story I submitted to CBAY for the ghost story anthology that has since (sadly) been pulled. The title used the word "possession" as kind of a double meaning between ghosts and basketball and the story just kind of grew from there.

Where do your ideas come from???

Let's always make sure we listen when they appear!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Slow Start Sunday

Took the luxury of sleeping in this morning.....well 7:00 at least.

Slowing down. When I went to post Wiki changes yesterday, one of the writers had suggested the chapters are very short and that we should slow down and enjoy each one. I think the nature of the Wiki makes this an inherent issue. Most (possibly all) of the writers are published, have a book about to be published, are trying to get their work published, etc. Let me edit that -- they're busy writing their own things. The Wiki is a fun aside to clear the mind, so ideas may get thrown in rather abruptly at times. The group also (inherently) has a lot of imaginative ideas. I actually found trying to edit Chapter 4 kind of a first lesson in Novel Editing 101 -- hopefully when I look at what I changed (in a day or two) I'll give myself at least a B-.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Wacky Wiki Wednesday

I've been looking at Chapter Four of the Wiki and have this incredible erge to edit. I can see that the biggest pitfall in group writing is that details start to get inconsistant. For example, Chapter Three indicates Moctor's gang of friends number five and Chapter Four indicates only three, maybe four are below waiting for him. There's timing issue between the two Chapters too. They essentially happen at the same time, but different locations. Timelines need tweeking.

Goal: Fix the problems, but leave the meat of the story alone. If you have no clue what I'm talking about, go to http://witchesandwiki.pbwiki.com

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Writing Tips Tuesday

One of the things I've noted over the last couple years is that every section of a MS. should be read out loud prior to presenting it to others -- in other words read it to an empty room. In a pinch, you could try reading it out loud in a public place holding your cell phone to your ear, but someone will probably catch on that nobody is on the other end. I'd stick with the empty room.

When I read a piece out loud for the first time at critique I usually find myself making mental corrections as the group jots down a lot of the same things. I might add, I'm talking MG novel chapters. For my rhyming PB I went as far as to record myself and listen to myself repeatedly.

On the things you might want to avoid: Unless you like wash ink off your hands (or have better luck than I did), do not purchase kits to refill printer ink cartridges yourself. On the plus side the ink did wash off, plenty made it into the cartridge in spite of the leaky container and after a few pages the printer worked fine.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

April Snow

Well, today's writing (during my train commute) consisted of a little poem about the weather.


by Jim D.

Here's a fact
You really must know
I'm allergic
To all April snow


It's ugly and cold
It's slushy and wet
My shoe sprung a leak
Now I'm really upset

Grrrrrrrrrrr !!!!!

Oh that snow in December
Was fluffy and white
With soft flowing drifts
That glistened at night


Here's a fact
You really must know
I'm allergic
To all April snow

In case you didn't figure it out--Chicago weather was nasty this morning.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Rejection Monday

Yesterday was apparently rejection Monday for a fair number of Illinois writers who submitted to the same editor following a conference last fall. The question had been made on our listserv "Has anyone heard back yet?" Well the answer came to at least seven of us in yesterday's snail mail.

General consensus: It was actually a "good" way to receive the rejections -- we shared them.

Three cheers for the support virtually all children's writers share!!!

Sunday, April 1, 2007


This week marked a new children's writing experience -- I joined the group writing an online book on a site named http://witchesandwiki.pbwiki.com . I was a bit nervous about tacking on my own plot directions as I wrote them on my commute to work. No need to worry though -- two sentences were added through the day calling for changing my text completely. (I've sometimes felt my own fictional characters do the same!) I sat at the computer that evening and wrote the changes on the spot. EEEEEEEK! An ugly first draft. I sent the text and added a bit over the next day or two -- and I waited.............waited...............waited................. (Nobody has made changes since)

This morning is when the "EEEEEEEK!" really occurred. I realised what a weak position I had given to the MC Moctor Fall. Not good. I patched a bit and hopefully this version will still look okay in a couple days.

Hopefully I haven't scared everyone off with a bad plot twist. The whole project seems like it can be great fun. It also should open our minds to accepting those twists our characters drag into our plots when we least expect it.