Slow Reveal


One of the things I love about having a writer’s critique group is the learning opportunities it provides. I learn by reading the work of my CPs, through them critiquing my work, and through critiquing them. I’ll be the first to admit some of the things they suggest to help me strengthen my work are things I already know. Every now and then I’ll let a passive sentence slip by when it can easily be converted to an active one. Sometimes, I don’t dig deep enough because writing can feel like frothing egg whites by hand. It takes concentration, dedication, and by the end you ache from the effort.

Photo credit: Jon Rieley-Goddard aka baldblogger’s photostream

During a recent review of my current WIP Dark Intent, an adult paranormal romance, one of my CPs busted me on this very thing. My main character has a severe fear of the dark. I established my MC’s distress by showing her emotional/physical reaction to darkness. After watching her internal struggles for a while and not understanding the root cause, her responses lost impact. To avoid ‘info dumping’, the source of her terror must come out in bits and pieces.

The ground work for this was already there, I just didn’t dig deep enough. My CP helped me see how I could use the existing framework to strengthen my story. She recommended I go back to all those places where my MC attempts to confront her fear and reveal snippets of the inciting incident of her anxiety. Nothing major, just incomplete glimpses because in the dark, its often the thing we can’t fully see which scares us the most. It took my story from ‘can relate’ to ‘now I have goosebumps’.

Have you come across something similar in your writing/revising/editing process? Do you have any tips on slow reveals? Do you have character(s) coping with phobia?

The Voices Told Me To Write It


 

If other writers are anything like me, they write what characters tell them to write and don’t always immediately understand why things unfold the way they do. This happened with my current adult paranormal WIP, which is 87% complete. I knew my human heroine possessed otherworldly abilities, yet I didn’t know where those powers stemmed from, only the cost she paid for using them. I also knew her fate was tied to the immortal hero’s and that their first encounter would change both of them fundamentally.

It wasn’t until my critique partners (CPs) Dawn Allen and L.L. McKinney sent a tidal wave through my WIP that I fully understood how deep the characters’ connection ran. Immortals have a lot of history to sift through. Sometimes, its tough to decide which part of their past is pertinent to the current plot. I knew something major in my hero’s past was coming back for him and that it was somehow connected to the heroine. My CPs helped me dig deeper with the hero to learn how his actions in the past could affect the heroine centuries later.

The fun part? The foundation for our discovery was there all along. The new information we uncovered fell into place like lost puzzle pieces.

I LOVE my CPs, which includes Nicole MacLaughlin who meets with us once a month. They are my girls and without them, I don’t know where my writing would be. They challenge me to push harder, dig deeper, stay true to my characters, etc.  We don’t always agree with one another, but when we do…magic! And goosebumps.

Have you experienced and “AH!” moment in your writing? Do you push yourself to dig deeper? How do you know when you’ve gone deep enough? Do you have awesome CPs you want to give a shout out to?

 

Getting Unstuck


I love my new adult paranormal WiP, DARK INTENT (excerpts here and here). Sometimes, the words flow from your fingertips and on to the keyboard. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for me. My muse and I haven’t exactly been getting along lately and I refuse to let it stop me. My word count is slow, but I like to think the progress I’ve made is quality over quantity. Although I have technically typed THE END on this manuscript, I don’t feel it’s agent ready yet.

Right now, I’m stuck on a new scene near the beginning. I already know where it starts and how it needs to end. I keep sitting down to write it, and ending up revising other sections of the manuscript instead. So, I contemplated the value of the new scene (another stalling technique – or is it?).

I asked myself things like:

  • What’s the purpose of the scene?
  • What’s kind of conflict is in this scene? How does it worsen things for my character?
  • Or does it resolve a minor conflict from earlier chapters?
  • Does it move the story forward?
  • Does it reveal important information about the character, setting, plot?
  • Which characters will make an appearance?

After I broke the scene down into parts, rather than trying to write the whole thing at once, I started making progress. I wrote one-word lines and the value I thought they would bring to the story.

Pain (worsen, reveal setting)
Hunger/Thirst (worsen)
Embarrassment (external conflict, worsen, reveal character)
Escape? (physical conflict, forward progress, reveal plot)
Failure (physical/emotional conflict, backward progress, reveal plot)
Frustration (internal conflict, worsen, reveal character)
Iago (appearance – POV character)
Adele (appearance, forward progress)
Minor characters (appearance, external conflict, worsen)

Next, based on those words and values, I wrote sentences starting with the conflict I planned to introduce, how my characters would respond to it, what would result from their actions. Then, I looked at those sentences to find places where I could bring in sensory information (sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell) and considered how they might affect my characters’ actions/thoughts.

Before I knew it, words covered the blank page. Words I could revise, and edit, and sculpt into something I wouldn’t be embarrassed to share with my critique partners. I got unstuck!

Do you ever get stuck when writing? How do you deal with it?