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Learn more about my books at ShoshannaEvers.com

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Insider Secrets from Top Writers

Hello Fellow Writers!

Yesterday I did manage to plot out more of "Snowed in with a Millionaire". Well, technically, I reworked some of what I have in the hopes that it will help me through the sagging middle. The going is tough but I'm plowing through it. If I can't manage to get 40 pages of really tight plot written then there is no way the story will make a good romance novel. I'd rather learn that now than after writing the whole thing and realizing it doesn't work!

Today I will review a book on writing that I pulled off my shelf, after not having read it in a while:
"The 101 Habits of Highly Successful Novelists: Insider Secrets from Top Writers"
by Andew McAleer.

This book was really good. Now that I have it in front of me again, I want to reread it for the motivation it inspires. It covers everything - from the creative side of writing, to the discipline involved in actually getting things written, to the business side of getting an agent and getting published. The contributors are all well known, published authors who know what they are talking about.

Here is a tidbit that I especially enjoyed, from Daphne du Maurier Awaed winning author Vicki Stiefel, of the critically aclaimed Tally Whyte suspense novels, including Body Parts, The Grief Shop, The Dead Stone, and The Bone Man:

First-draft rule: Don't go back. I love to edit. Love it! So when I'm writing a first draft of a new novel, I never do it. What! Yup, I never go back and edit. Why? If I did, I'd end up with about twenty pages of really, really, really well-edited material. And that would be it. On a first draft, I push forward. Period. Gee, but I'd love to go back and just tweak that one small section. Nope, not allowed. I push forward. Golly, if only I could smooth out those pages. I know they'd be better. Probably right, but no way, not now. Gosh, it would be great if I could have these words in the "real" Portuguese right now, I'll begin that research and... Forbidden. Don't do it. Just jot some quick notes and move on. Move forward. Always forward. Relentlessly forward. And that's how I write some 400-plus manuscript pages for a novel.

Side roads are great, if you're driving a car or taking a hike. For me, they're crummy when writing a novel. So I write on, and write on, and write on. And suddenly, I'm there. Whew. And when I've finally made it to the finish line, I smile. Because that's when I pull out my pen, and I edit, edit, edit the bahoosie out of the manuscript. That's when I do thorough and important research. That's when I check spelling, continuity, and a million other things. But not before then. Because if I did, I'd never have finished book one.

Rereading that section made me wonder if this is what is paralyzing me with "Snowed in with a Millionaire". I too love to edit, and I have a hard time shutting off my "internal editor". Then again, I can always put this theory to test once I have my plot outline finished. I really like what this author has to say because I love the idea of just writing, writing writing nonstop. If only it were so easy in practice as in theory!

Today I am going to work more on my plot for "Snowed in with a Millionaire". Seriously, the fact that last week I made my daily goal to write out the whole plot in one day is laughable. This is taking longer than I had realized it would!

Tonight I am going to my Advanced Writing Workshop, which I am looking forward to. The feedback I've received for "Marrying a Movie Star" has been very helpful so far, resulting in revisions that have strengthened the book.

Wish me luck and good luck to you too!

Yours Truly,
Shoshanna Evers

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Silhouette Desire

Hello Fellow Writers!

Yesterday was Yom Kippur, so with going to synagogue, fasting, and dealing with a nasty cold (which is still kicking my butt today), I didn't get any writing done other than on this blog.

Right now I am reading a Silhouette Desire book called "The Billionaire's Fake Engagement" by Robyn Grady. So far so good!

I would love to write for the Silhouette Desire line. I'm putting the publisher's tip sheet about what they're looking for here for your convenience, but if you want more info about other lines check out their site at eHarlequin.com.

Length: 50,000–55,000 words
Senior Editor: Krista Stroever
Associate Editor: Diana Ventimiglia
Editorial Assistant: Shana Smith
Editorial Office: New York, U.S.A.
A powerful, passionate and provocative read…guaranteed!
At 55,000 words, Silhouette Desire books are filled to the brim with strong, intense storylines. These sensual love stories immediately involve the reader in the romantic conflict and the quest for a happily-ever-after resolution. The novels should be fast-paced reads, and present the hero and heroine's conflict by the end of chapter one in order for the reader to understand what obstacles will impact the characters for the remainder of the novel.
The Desire hero should be powerful, wealthy — an alpha male with a sense of arrogance and entitlement. While he may be harsh and direct, he is never physically cruel. He is capable of being saved and it's up to the heroine to get him there. The Texan hero should own the ranch, not work on it, and the urban hero should be the company CEO, not a handyman.
The Desire heroine is complex and flawed. She is strong-willed and smart though capable of making terrible mistakes when it comes to matters of the heart. This is primarily her story so much of the book should be from her point-of-view. There is room for the hero's perspective as long as his thoughts are centered on the heroine and their conflict. Instead of dividing the novel equally between both protagonists' points-of-view, Desires should be more 60% heroine and 40% hero.
The conflict should be dramatic with such classic plot lines as revenge, secret pregnancies, marriages of convenience and reunion romances. Plots which focus on suspense, paranormal or character-driven concerns are best directed elsewhere. The story can be set anywhere in the world, but the tone should be true to the author's voice.
Desire novels are sensual reads and a love scene or scenes are still needed. But there is no set number of pages that needs to be fulfilled. Rather, the level of sensuality must be appropriate to the storyline. Above all, every Silhouette Desire novel must fulfill the promise of a powerful, passionate and provocative read.
There you have it! Today I will be working on fighting this stupid cold along with plotting "Snowed in With a Millionaire." Wish me luck and good luck to you too!

Yours Truly,
Shoshanna Evers

Monday, September 28, 2009

More on Writer's Block

Hello Fellow Writers!

Yesterday I reworked a scene in "Marrying a Movie Star", and then I had to rework the following scene in Chapter 3 to follow up with it. It's amazing to me how quick and easy these revisions have been for me to work on - even major overhauls like rewriting a scene are no problem because I am so in tune with the characters that it's almost like they are writing the scene themselves. The revisions that are taking me less than hour to do would have completely baffled me and stopped me cold just last year.

Last night I thought up an really fun idea for my next romance novel, and I got so excited I almost said "Forget 'Snowed in with a Millionaire"! Let's scrap that and get started on "Seduced by her Captor"! But there is unlimited time, I am under no contracts, so what I did this morning was write down my idea for "Seduced by her Captor" and file it away so I can use it when I am done with "Snowed in with a Millionaire" for my next novel.

I wanted to put more information on writer's block. Yesterday's advice from the experts was to work through it, stay at your desk and get it done (that's what works for me, personally) - but this video shows Rebecca Sato, a professional freelance writer, giving basically the opposite advice. She suggests getting up and moving around.

Today is Yom Kippur, so I don't think I will be getting much done today since I have to be at synagogue, I'm fasting, and I have a cold. If I do get anything done it will be - you guessed it - more plotting of "Snowed in with a Millionaire".

Wish me luck, and good luck to you too! If you are Jewish then I wish you an easy fast!

Yours Truly,
Shoshanna Evers

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Writer's Block

Hello Fellow Writers!

Yesterday I planned on working on my plot for "Snowed in With a Millionaire". Instead, when I had a nice 3 hour chunk of time to write, I took a nap. I feel like I'm getting a cold so I felt the time would be better used for sleep. However, I went to bed that night feeling guilty - like maybe the real reason I didn't work on my novel at all was because I am suffering from a slight case of writer's block.

I left off my writing at a place where I was stuck, and the thought of going back to that stuck, difficult place doesn't sound like fun. This is one of the reasons why I have numerous "half novels" - I'll get maybe 50 pages in or so and then give up and start a new one. My goal with "Snowed in With a Millionaire" is to ensure that I complete it by writing a very detailed, very long plot outline to help me through that time.

Today I got a good piece of advice from one of the women in my writing class about "Marrying a Movie Star". She felt that one of the scenes seemed contrived and suggested I rework it - and now that she mentions it, I realize she's right. So I will work on that today as well as try to get my writer's block unblocked for "Snowed in With a Millionaire."

Here, Bob Moresco, the Oscar winning co-writer for the film 'Crash', discusses writers block.

He says it all - basically, just write through it. Don't worry about creating a masterpiece. Just write.

Wish me luck and good luck to you too!

Yours Truly,
Shoshanna Evers

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Hello Fellow Writers!

Yesterday I received a very good piece of advice from my writing teacher, Vinnie Dacquino, a published author. He said that while he was having fun reading Chapter 2 of "Marrying a Millionaire", there was one piece that seemed out of character for my heroine. And you know what? He was right! So I reworked it and now I think it reads a lot better.

I also worked on my plot for my work in progress, "Snowed in with a Millionaire". I realized, after bouncing ideas off of my husband, that I need to really make the snow storm extreme, and put our hero and heroine stranded together for days, not just one night. So today I'd like to work on that some more.

Characterization is key in any novel, but especially a romance novel, where we know there will be a happily ever after (HEA) ending - so we need a reason for these characters to have conflict.

Bronwyn Jameson, a romance author who has published several Silhouette Desire novels, has a really good article on her website, www.bronwynjameson.com.

"What makes a satisfying end to a romance? What leaves you with a smile on your face, convinced the characters have achieved a lasting happy-ever-after?
  1. Satisfying resolution of internal conflict.
  2. Plot has a believable resolution.
  3. You believe the hero and heroine will make it together, even after the consuming heat of first love has cooled.

What works against this happening? Why would you doubt that the h/H will be happy together and not facing the divorce court in a couple of years' time?
  • The I hate you-I hate you-I hate you, swiftly followed by the I-love-you about face without sufficient motivation/credibility
  • The relationship is all about lust rather than love
  • They have nothing in common beyond a mutual physical attraction
  • They haven't resolved the conflict satisfactorily
  • They still have issues
  • They haven't changed or grown during the book.

In a romance we need the reader to believe that this pair has something very special going on, that despite all the conflict pushing them apart during the pages of the book, they will make it. And yet…if we make that too obvious, too early, we risk diminishing the tension.

How do we set up a believable HEA without sacrificing tension?

We need to recognise that this is a juggling act of conflict vs attraction. We need to acknowledge that our characters will clash and will bond. We can think about the points or road-signs only the rocky path to love.

Ensure your characters clash (conflict) and bond."

There's more to the article than what I quoted here, so be sure to check it out.

Today I plan on working on my plot more for "Snowed in with a Millionaire." Wish me luck, and good luck to you too!

Yours Truly,
Shoshanna Evers

Friday, September 25, 2009

"First Draft in 30 Days"

Hello Fellow Writers!

Yesterday my goal was to take the love scenes in my romance novel "Marrying a Movie Star" to the next level, since I've recognized that my book is less Harlequin Romance and more Silhouette Desire...

Perhaps it's because I've been living with my Hero and Heroine for so long, so I know them as well as I know myself - but it wasn't difficult to add a couple of romantic love scenes and an extra kiss in the places where I knew the characters wanted to be with each other. They had previously been kept from consummating their passion by the fact that I was nervous about my father reading the book!

So I got a lot done yesterday. I also emailed out the first chapter to my book to my writing teacher, and so far the response has been quite positive. Yay!

I could have gotten even more done and worked more on "Snowed in with a Millionaire", but all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, so I stayed up late watching "The Biggest Loser" on Hulu.com. I was amazed that they could lose like 25 lbs in a week. Seriously.

I pulled another book off of my shelf to review for you, "First Draft in 30 Days" by Karen S. Weisner. Titles like that hook me every single time. I love the idea of writing a book in a month. It hasn't happened yet, but I still love the idea.

Really what the book guides you to do is to create a very detailed outline, similar to the 40 page plot synopsis I've been writing for my work in progress based on 'The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing" by Evan Marshall. Weisner has written over 20 books, so her method must work for her. Unfortunately, the book is a bit dry. My main problem with it is I don't jump up and down with inspiration as I read it. On the other hand, another book that promotes writing a first draft in 30 days, "No Plot! No Problem" by Chris Baty, the founder of National Novel Writing Month, does make me get all excited and ready to write. So there you have it. By the way, NaNoWriMo is coming up in November and I'm seriously considering joining in on the fun.

Left brain thinkers might like "First Draft in 30 Days" more than I did. Weisner does have a lot of good information and suggestions, however - including letting your outline sit for a while before you go back and look at it. I remember Stephen King said in his book "On Writing" that he did the same thing.

Today my goal is to work on my plot for "Snowed in with a Millionaire".

Wish me luck and good luck to you too!
Yours Truly,
Shoshanna Evers

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Taking a Writing Class

Hello Fellow Writers!

Last night I went to the first night of my Advanced Writing Workshop. That's a pic of the teacher, Vincent Dacquino. And yes, he's a published author - or I wouldn't be taking the class, honestly. No sense in the blind leading the blind! He wrote a children's fiction novel, "Kiss the Candy Days Good-bye", a Dell/Yearling paperback, an adult biography called "Sybil Ludington: The Call to Arms", and then a kid's version of that book for classrooms. Vinnie also has a book called "Hauntings of the Hudson River Valley: An Investigative Journey".

One thing I'm totally psyched about is the class is just three other women, me, and the teacher. And get this - one of the women, Maureen, loves romance novels too! I practically squealed with excitement when I pulled the Silhouette Desire book that I'm reading out of my bag and she pulled not one, but two Harlequin Presents books out of hers! It will be much easier for me to put my novel "Marrying a Movie Star" out there knowing that there is at least one person in the class who reads romance as much as I do. The other women, Patricia and Jennifer, are writing non-fiction I believe, so that should be interesting. I think it's a good sign that Patricia took the class before with Vinnie and liked it enough to take it again. Sounds promising...

Yesterday was a busy day, and I didn't get to sit down to write until about 9:45pm. I came thisclose to saying forget it, I'll write tomorrow, but if I do that then my work in progress, "Snowed in with a Millionaire", will never get done. Vinnie says: Writers write, talkers talk. Amen.

Today my goal is to take my novel "Marrying a Movie Star" and find the perfect place for a romantic love scene. I was originally planning on making it a "tender" romance, with no sex, but now I'm feeling that it wouldn't be fair to my hero and heroine to deny them the physical relationship they crave! Who am I to tell them no?

I also want to read a bit more of the Silhoutte Desire book I just picked up, "In the Tycoon's Debt" by Emily McKay. I love me some inspiration :)

Wish me luck, and good luck to you too!
Yours Truly,
Shoshanna Evers

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Secret Formula of Most Romance Novels

Hello Fellow Writers!

Yesterday I worked on my plot for my romance novel, tentatively called "Snowed in with a Millionaire" (or maybe it will become "Snowed in with the Tycoon"). Usually I get my most work done when dear hubby returns from work so he can take the baby off my hands, but last night we watched a documentary online together, so there went two hours of valuable writing time. I don't know why I did that to myself - especially for a documentary I've already seen!

Today I will get as much done on the plot as I can - though it will be a busy day, with a doctor's appointment an hour's drive away for the baby, and then tonight (drum roll please).... I start my Advanced Writing Workshop! I'm very excited. The purpose of the class, from what I hear, is to learn how to revise your fiction to make it better. Everyone is supposed to bring a work in progress. I will be bringing my romance novel "Marrying a Movie Star". My husband has been reading it since Sunday and he says "it's like a book from the book store". Here's hoping he's right, and I'm not going to seriously embarrass myself in this class.

I've already decided that the category line I was planning to submit "Marrying a Movie Star" to (Harlequin Romance) isn't the right one - while my characters don't have sex, they have very explicit kissing and emotions - so I think if I take that to the next level and add in some romantic love scenes I can submit it to Silhouette Desire instead. (UPDATE: Marrying a Movie Star got a rewrite, sold to Ellora's Cave Publishing, and became Hollywood Spank!) (Another UPDATE 2/10/2014: Three years after selling Hollywood Spank to Ellora's Cave, I got the rights reverted back to me, and I self-published the book with fresh edits, a new cover, and a much lower price! I also put it in print using Createspace! You can see how it looks now here.)

Actually, I really want to submit it to a literary agent first.

I've been looking at a book I read awhile back, called "You Can Write a Romance" by Rita Clay Estrada and Rita Gallagher. The text is interspersed with fun quotes from published authors, like this gem:

Never give the reader the chance to ask why your character didn't take the logical action. Either explain before hand or at the time of the incident why there were no other choices. That's called "pointing to the hole."
- romance author Chelly Kitzmiller

The authors also point out that most romance novels are a twist on a simple plot. They say it's not a formula, it's a guide, but really, what do you call this?

  • Boy meets girl.
  • Girl has a secret.
  • Girl keeps secret from boy as they fall in love.
  • Boy finds out and they part in anger.
  • Girl loses all.
  • Boy returns, repentant, to declare what they both knew all along. He loves her.
  • Girl is now strong enough to turn him down or take him back (as an equal partner).

Although I did just read a wonderful romance novel by Sabrina Jeffries called "The Pirate Lord" where a woman was kidnapped by a pirate and taken to his secret island - that set up a really fun historical romance, no secrets necessary. So there are definitely exceptions to the rule.

Now, back to writing. I'll let you know how the writing workshop went (it's a five week class) tomorrow. But before I go, one more fun quote from "You Can Write a Romance":

Writing is an action verb. Do it, don't just talk about it.
-romance author Maria Ferrarella

Wish me luck, and good luck to you too!
Yours Truly,
Shoshanna Evers

UPDATE!! For those who have stumbled upon this old post, I want to share the good news. Yes, I have a literary agent now (see how it happened here), and she got me a 6 book contract with Simon & Schuster Pocket Star! Please visit my website at ShoshannaEvers.com to learn more about The Enslaved Trilogy, out now!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Stephen King says: ya gotta read to write!

Hello fellow writers!

Yesterday my goal was to finish plotting out the middle of my novel, and I also planned on re-reading a large portion of Leslie Wainger's very helpful book, "Writing a Romance Novel for Dummies". I did indeed spend most of my free time reading, and what happened is suddenly I thought of some important emotional areas that my characters were lacking, and I was able to go back into my novel outline and add those elements to strengthen the story. Gotta love how easy it is to rework an outline, instead of rewriting a whole novel! I also changed my beginning, and while I was rereading what I already had plot-wise, I thought - hey! My hero would never do that! - Cut, cut!!

Today my goal is to continue to plot my novel. I'm through saying exactly what part of it I must get to (although I'd love to finish plotting the middle, again) because life keeps getting in the way, but I will work on it -that's my goal.

Stephen King never pre-plots his novels - he just goes with the flow. But then again, plenty of authors do tons of prep work and outlining, like J.K. Rowling.

In this video of Stephen King giving a talk at Yale in 2003, he talks about the most important prerequisite to being a writer - you have to read a lot, and write a lot.

Wish me luck, and good luck to you too!
Yours Truly,
Shoshanna Evers

Monday, September 21, 2009

Writing A Romance Novel

Hello Fellow Writers!

Yesterday my goal was to plot out the middle of my romance novel. Instead, I plotted out half of the middle. What got me stuck was I created a bit of a mystery in my storyline, and as I was plotting I realized I have no idea what the solution to the mystery is. Fortunately, I'm just in the planning stages now. It's not too hard to go back and change things or provide foreshadowing if I need to. I couldn't sleep last night - after I fed the baby at 3am I was up until 5am, thinking about it.

The other thing that had me tossing and turning is I want to add a big surprise smack in the middle of the book - something that comes from and affects the hero and heroine's romance. I have an idea of what that could be, but I'm wondering if I put it in now, after the reader has been with the characters for 100 pages, will the reader feel betrayed? Like, "Hey, I thought I was reading these characters' innermost thoughts, so why did he never think of that??"

That happened to me once when I was reading a thriller. After several chapters where the protagonist doesn't even think about or mention her occupation as a detective, all of sudden she's pulling out a badge - and the rest of the novel she's thinking like a cop. I thought that was pretty underhanded. But then again, he's published and I'm not, so there you go.

I've been finding the book "Writing a Romance Novel for Dummies" by Leslie Wainger very helpful. She's an editor at Harlequin, and since I'm hoping to eventually be published by Harlequin (hey, I can dream, right?) I am taking her advice very seriously.

This book has everything - information about characterization (make your heroine someone your readers want to be, and your hero someone they want to be with), manuscript preparation, plotting, the basic points every romance novel must have, and so much more I couldn't begin to list it all. Basically, if you want to write romance, this book is a must have.

According to Wainger (and any romance novel you buy), the milestones that all romances share are:
  1. The first meeting

  2. Confrontation

  3. Physical Attraction

  4. The realization of love (once of the heroine and once for the hero, but before they declare their love)

  5. The mutual confession of love, The End.
She left out The Point of Hopelessness that happens before the mutual confession of love, but it's in her book in other places.

Today my goal is to finish plotting the middle of my novel. I would also like to reread a large portion of Wainger's book - because just flipping through it again I'm reminded of all the wonderful tidbits of information she has to share.

Wish me luck, and good luck to you too!
Yours Truly,
Shoshanna Evers

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Sagging Middle

The classic Aristotelian story format is Beginning, Middle, End. Sounds simple enough, right? But I am queen of false starts. I have dozens of beginnings that end up in my desk drawer when I get to the middle and run out of things to write about.

I'm working on a romance novel now - "Snowed in With a Millionaire" (although I may change it to "Snowed in With the Tycoon" or, depending on where my story goes, "Snowed in With the Tycoon Daddy"). Anyone who thinks those are really strange titles hasn't been near the series romance titles from Harlequin lately :) But I'm terrified of having the same thing happen to me that often does - a false start and then the novel goes nowhere. The solution? Plotting out my novel ahead of time in detail.

Yesterday my goal was to do my character studies for my hero and heroine, and to plot out my novel. Easier said than done. I did my character studies, and then I started plotting. I got ten pages of good, detailed plotting for just the beginning section of the novel. Now that I realize how time consuming it is, my goal for today is a little more realistic.

Today, my goal is to plot out the middle. I'm figuring, based on Evan Marshall's "The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing', that I'll need 20 pages of plotting for the middle section, then another ten pages for the end. Then I'll flesh out those 40 pages of plotting into 200-220 pages of novel.

I surfed the web for information regarding how to plot out the middle of a novel so it doesn't "sag" - and found this gem at www.inforesourcecenter.com (italics and bullets mine, the rest is a direct quote):

The middle can, however, be deepened and strengthened by following this advice: Have three purposes at least for each scene. One should be "advance the external plot". For the others, consider these:

  • Develop character.
  • Show character interaction.
  • Explore setting or culture and values.
  • Introduce new character or subplot.
  • Forward subplot.
  • Increase tension and suspense.
  • Increase reader identification.
  • Anticipate solution to problem.
  • Divert attention from solution (but still show it).
  • Show how character reacts to events or causes events.
  • Show event from new point of view.
  • Foreshadow some climactic event.
  • Flashback or tell some mysterious past event that has consequences now.
  • Reveal something the protagonist has kept hidden.
  • Reveal something crucial to protagonist and/or reader.
  • Advance or hinder protagonist's "quest".

So there we have it. That's some good advice to help avoid a sagging middle, and today I will try it out and let you know how it goes.

Wish me luck and good luck to you too!

Yours Truly,
Shoshanna Evers

Saturday, September 19, 2009

J.K. Rowling - how she did it

Hello Fellow Writers!

Yesterday I had big plans - I was going to do character studies of my heroine and hero for my new romance novel, and I was going to plot the whole novel out ahead of time in meticulous detail using Evan Marshall's "The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing". Instead, my infant son took such a nice long nap that mommy ended up - you guessed it - falling asleep too. Since the plan was to write during his nap time, I suddenly found myself with no more time to write, since we went to synagogue shortly after my hubby came home from work.

Although - now that I'm thinking about it - if I really had to I could have (should have) written when we came home from temple around 9pm. The only thing that I got accomplished was thinking up a working title for my new book. I'm thinking "Snowed in With a Millionaire". I'm not 100% certain on that just yet, but for now it will do. So today the plan is to get what I had promised to do yesterday done. It should be easier to accomplish today with Jeff around to take care of baby Jake.

J.K Rowling, billionaire author of the "Harry Potter" series,was meticulous about her plotting and character studies.

She plotted out all seven novels before starting the first one! There's a BBC special about her that was done in 2002 that chronicles how she went from single mother on welfare to being the only author to ever make a billion dollars from writing - although I don't think she had hit the billionaire mark quite yet back in 2002. I won't post the whole thing here, since it's a) quite long b) belongs to the BBC and c) you can find it yourself on YouTube by searching for "J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and Me".

But I will share a segment of it that I found very inspiring - it shows J.K Rowling on the floor, surrounded by pieces of paper that contain all of her pre-writing notes about the world of Harry Potter. She has a list of all of his classmates, their lineage, now magical they are, etc. She drew pictures, wrote notes, basically anything and everything she could do to make her fictional world complete. It's fascinating.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Plotting Your Novel

Hello fellow writers!

Yesterday's writing experience was a smashing success - but not exactly in the way I had planned. I had wanted to start a new novel. I was thinking historical romance, despite the fact I've always been nervous about the vast amount of research involved. So I plotted out a fun kidnapping story set in the 1820s, but when I started trying to write it I just couldn't. Every second I was going - okay, what would his title be and how would he be addressed? What would she be wearing? Do they even have such and such in England in this time period? And so on... so once again I shied away from the historical romance novel.

Instead, I figured out an exciting plot set in contemporary America. I wrote about 4 pages (yup, 1000 words) of plot, although I don't know how it ends. I mean, it's a romance novel so of course they get together in the end, (oh no! Spoiler!) but I've created a situation where they have every reason in the world to hate each other, so it's going to take a bit of thinking to make it so they can go from hating each other to loving each other.

Which brings me to my review of Even Marshall's book on writing a novel, "The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing: A 16 step program guaranteed to take you from idea to completed manuscript."

One thing Marshall says that I agree wholeheartedly with is "show me an unpublished writer, and I'll show you a drawer full of false starts." Um, yeah, how did you know? I am queen of starting novels, but I've only ever finished two of them. I literally have a dozen starts that are about several chapters long or so, and then... I lose interest. Or I don't know where to go next so I give up.

Marshall says the best thing to do is meticulously plot out your novel ahead of time, planning each surprise and cliffhanger before you even can write "Chapter 1". Now, Marshall is not actually a fiction writer - he is an agent. He makes his living selling novels. His approach is highly practical - ie find a genre, figure out your word length, etc. Personally, I've always had a basic idea of where a I wanted a story to go, but I've never actually tried the Marshall Plan from start to finish to write anything. Those 16 steps he talks about are time consuming and difficult - but it can't hurt to give it a try.

So, my goal for today is to do my character sketches for my heroine and my hero, and to start putting my plot points down on Marshall's worksheet (you can photocopy it out of his book if you don't want to buy the companion workbook).

Wish me luck, and good luck to you too!
L'Shanah Toval, happy new year to my family and everyone celebrating Rosh Hashana.

Yours Truly,
Shoshanna Evers

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Stephen King's "On Writing"

Yesterday I met my goal of putting all of my revisions for my romance novel into the computer - all 203 pages of them! Now I will have a nice clean copy for when I start my writing class next Wednesday.

My husband has never actually read the novel I wrote so I asked him to read it this weekend and let me know if I am going to be making a fool of myself bringing it to this Advanced Writing Workshop. I doubt I can get an unbiased opinion from him, but that's okay - sometimes I just need a cheerleader. Other times I need honest-to-goodness critique, which I will hopefully get at the writing class.

So what happened to writing 1000 words a day, you ask? Here we go: it starts TODAY!! My goal today is to start writing a new novel. I am thinking of doing a historical romance, since I love to read historical romances. I've shied away from that in the past since I'm terrified of making a mistake, but that's what research is for, right? Plus, since I've read probably a hundred of them, I already have a pretty good idea of what times were like for the Dukes and Duchesses in England. I think. We'll see, I guess. The reason I love historical romance is that the time period creates some really fun story elements that simply don't exist in modern romances: arranged marriages, pirates, castles, archaic laws, etc.

But now, even just writing about starting writing, I am getting a bit freaked out. The thought of the research involved is once again scaring me. Well, we'll see how it turns out. I'll let you know tomorrow.

I would like to review another one of my favorite writing books: Stephen King's "On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft".

Stephen King writes 2000 words a day, every day. He says in the book that he used to tell reporters that he wrote everyday except his birthday and Christmas, but that it wasn't really true - he wrote on his birthday and Christmas as well. He can write a 180,000 word book in like three months. Unbelievable.

It was King's idea to write at least 1000 words every day, and I would like to take his advice. Of course, I have an infant who may or may not let me get much done, but he does take naps so there you go. I just need to use my time wisely and not procrastinate.

Another of King's big tips is to kill your adverbs. You know, the words that end in "-ly". When I was going through my first draft of my romance novel, I found quite a few "she said softly" etc that I had to remove. Sure enough, it tightens up the manuscript quite nicely. (Oh no! Nicely is an adverb!)

Another lesson I learned from King is that persistence pays off. He started writing as a kid, and by the time he was a teenager he was regularly submitting his short horror stories to magazines. The magazines would reject him, and he would just take that rejection letter, hang it up on a nail in his room, and keep submitting stories. He got so many rejections he had to replace the nail with a spike, and he filled that up with rejections too. But he kept going, because he loved writing and he wanted to share what he had written with others.

And here I am, with exactly two form rejection letters to my name (from agents) and I just gave up completely. I really want to gain the confidence in my writing to keep collecting those rejections until I get somewhere.

Thanks for reading. Wish me luck today (I'm going to need it!) and good luck to you too!

Yours Truly,
Shoshanna Evers

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"No Plot? No Problem!"

Hello fellow writers!

Last night I did as promised and finished going through my romance novel manuscript to fix glaring errors and tighten up the dialogue. I now have 200 pages to go through and put the revisions into the computer - then I can print out a fresh copy for the writing class that I am taking starting next Wednesday, 9/23. So that's my goal for today - put as many of those revisions into the computer as my baby Jake will allow.

I wanted to review a book for you that I really enjoyed. In fact, I enjoyed it so much I have read it about three times.

The book is "No Plot? No Problem! A low-stress, high velocity guide to writing a novel in 30 days".

Have I ever written a novel in 30 days? No. Do I even really listen to the basic instructions of the book, which is to ignore your inner editor and write as quickly as possible? No. If that were the case I would be writing a book every week!

I do, however, love the idea that I could just write without stopping, and worry about revisions later. I imagine writer's block would cease to be an issue. However, I have a very hard time writing that way. I'm more the slow and steady type. My few attempts at stream-of-consciousness writing ended up as boring disasters with tons of filler that no one, not even myself, would want to read. Even the author, Chris Baty, admits that several of the "novels" he has written using this method have been practically unreviseable.

So why do I love this book, you ask? I think it just inspires me. It makes writing seem like a grand fun adventure, and gives me all the permission I need to hole myself away with the laptop and just write write write.

Wish me luck, and good luck to you!

Yours Truly,
Shoshanna Evers

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Do you want to write a novel too?

I started this blog because I want to be a writer. Actually - I'm already a writer. I write stuff all the time. I want to be a published author, and I'm guessing if you are reading this then maybe you do too.

Let's support each other, and cheer each other on.

Here is The Writer's Challenge: Write 1000 words a day - that's about 4 manuscript pages - every day, come hell or high water, until your novel is written. Then get an agent. Then get it published.

Writing every day is hard for me, especially since I just had a baby. I'm typing this now while balancing him on my lap with the lap top. I have written two novels and countless short stories. They are collecting dust in my desk drawer. The first novel I wrote is pretty horrible, so it deserves to stay hidden among the dust bunnies. But the second novel I wrote has potential, I think.

I submitted the first three chapters to a literary agent and got a form rejection letter, and that was that. The letter wounded me so deeply (stupid, I know) that I gave up. Just like that.

But I've heard from published authors that the key is to keep pushing on. I'll never get my book published (that one or any future ones) if I don't even try to get it out there.

I'm not into self publishing (although I'm publishing myself on this website in a way) - but the whole self publishing thing is a debate best left to the experts, so I will find the info for you and post it on this site so you can decide for yourself.

I'm the sort of person who needs to be held accountable - so here I am, making myself accountable to you, promising you that I will write 1000 words of fiction a day and then try to get an agent, so I can try to get published - and it would be really neat if you joined me in this challenge.

I've bought practically every book about writing and fiction and publishing out there, so I will also start pulling those books off my shelves and reviewing them here, to let you know which ones I found most helpful and informative, and which weren't worth the money.

You can post your daily word count as a comment, tell me about how your novel is moving along, and we can help each other through this :) I am by no means an expert, but if you have questions about anything please ask and I'll do my best to find the answers for you.

Today I am fixing up some of the glaring errors in the romance novel I wrote - working title "Marrying a Movie Star" - so that I have something decent (I hope) to bring to the writing class I am starting on 9/23.

Wish me luck, and good luck to you too!

Yours truly,
Shoshanna Evers