Mar 25, 2011

How to be a Plotter & a Pantser at the same time

I’ve been working on The Blood Within, part of my House of Reinhardt series, for the past few weeks. While I'm having a blast writing it, it's still being a pain in my bum. See, I'm usually a hardcore plotter. I'm talking outlines, timelines, diagrams, post-its & bulletin boards. And normally, those things work for me. But when I started TBW, I wanted to take things a little differently. I wanted to let the creative process find it's own way. I have the basic points mapped out in my head, sure, but how am I going to get there? I don't know! It's been...interesting. Sometimes, I surprise myself with my spur-of-the-moment-quick-thinking. Other times, I want to bang my head against a very sharp, metal instrument.

The first few chapters were super awesome! I wrote them quickly and with no problems, and they don't need much editing. But the further in I get, the worse off I am. Some of the chapters took me DAYS to write and they still need a serious round of red-penning.

I thought things couldn't get much worse. A few days writing a single chapter--no biggie. I can deal.

Boy, was I wrong.

Nothing has been as trying as Chapter 8.

I've had some serious bonding issues with Chapter 8 for about 3 days. THREE. He just wouldn't play nice, and by 'wouldn't play nice' I mean I'd spit out 200 words and Chap 8 would throw them back in my face, laughing! I'm talking I'd write 1000 words only to delete 1500. Yes, he'd actually make me delete words that had NOTHING to do with him! Can you believe that? Chap 8 has a mind of his own! I mean, come on; get with the program!

Despite our domestic problems --after much fighting and hair pulling-- Chapter 8 is done (for now) and I've moved on to the next part (which I'm calling Chapter 8B since it's still in 8 but is a different scene).
Now I'm trying really hard to get 8B to play nice but I don't want to piss him off, so I decided to do a little exercise to get the creative juices flowing. It's not exactly "pantsing", but it's not quite "plotting" either.

Mind Mapping is a great way to get the juices flowing & get a little direction in your writing. The key is to keep both halves of your brain working together. The left side is your analytical side, and the right side is your creative side. Personally, I tend to let my left side take over. I start putting things in organized columns and rows, complete with bullet points. But that ends up stifling your creativity! If you can Mind Map correctly, you'll be a much happier writer and your story will thank you. You'll use both logic and creativity. When you Mind Map, don't let yourself focus on order or neatness. Let the ideas fill up the page. Use bright colors in random places. Make squiggly lines, little doodles, lots of notes jotted here and there. Use lines and bubbles to keep your ideas in order (you're right brain needs a little action, after all..) but don't let order override your creativity. Maybe your Mind Map will be a little prettier, but this is what I came up with.

Here's my Map, just starting off. There are a few key pieces that I already knew were going to happen. ((Sorry about the lighting…))

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And here's my Map finished. See all the craziness?!

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**Does Mind Mapping seem like something that could work of you? What methods do you use to piece your books together?

Mar 16, 2011

Broken Heart Blogfest Entry

As usual I'm *fashionably* late ;-) My apologies boys and girls. I got a little side tracked--trust me, it wasn't my fault, it's just that there were all these Buffy reruns on and, well, you can't pass up good Buffy...

So I wrote this scene as part of a character-sketch for one of my House of Reinhardt characters, Alessandra. Alessandra is a secondary character who has a major crush on her ex (my protagonist), Erik.
**This scene is a rough draft and will never actually be written into the book. It exists to help me see who Alessandra is and where she is 'now'.

*******

Alessandra doubled over, unsure whether she was going to vomit or scream. Her stomach turned over and over, twisting like a wrung towel. Twin lumps rose up in her chest just above her lungs until she could barely suck in the air her lungs needed. A slow burn crept its way through her throat and she realized her mouth was open, trying to take in great lungfuls of air, but it wasn’t working. Slowly, Alessandra realized she wasn’t inhaling. Placing a hand over her throat, she focused and took one shaky breath.

Oh God, what had she been thinking? She’d had such a great thing going with Erik; why did she have to screw that up by getting together with Collin? She didn’t even like Collin. Sure he was good looking. And yes, he came from a great family. And okay, sure, he was going to be an important leader one day. But Erik trumped him in all three areas.

So why had she been cheating on him for over a month, having Collin up to her room as soon as Erik went out on patrol? Why hadn’t she been more careful? Dammit. The look on his face when he’d walked in on her and Collin had been terrifying. He’d gone through shock, hurt, anger, and hatred in five seconds flat.

Just remembering that look brought tears stinging to her eyes. There was an actual pain in the center of her chest. If felt like someone had frozen her heart, then smashed it to bits with a sledge hammer.

He would never actually hurt her-- she knew that better than he probably did. But he’d wanted to, God he’d wanted to. She could see it in his eyes. Of course, the way he clenched and unclenched his fists was a dead giveaway too. Collin hadn’t been so lucky. Erik had exploded into motion before Collin could pull himself off the bed. A few minutes later he’d turned on her, and, after a few choice words, Erik had said it was over. He’d told her they were done.

Now Collin was cradling his broken nose, screaming at her to call a doctor. But Alessandra stood frozen, holding a sheet to her bare chest, standing in the doorway, and watching Erik walk away. The pressure in her chest grew heavier and she gasped for breath as hot tears streamed down her cheeks.

How could this be happening? Erik loved her. He was just angry right now, but he couldn’t stay mad at her forever. He’d forgive her. He’d take her back. He had to. It couldn’t be over. They were meant to be together. She just had to show him.

Feb 19, 2011

Drama on Steroids

I'm supposed to be writing in my WIP but, as you can see, I'm not. Instead, I've been procrastinating by blog hopping. Originally, I was looking for a good writing exercise--notably a topic from a blogfest. But I just couldn't find anything that struck up a quick idea. All the ones I found required too much thinking on my part, and I'm more in the mood for "new-character, please invade my brain" kind of ideas. Not to worry, I'll keep looking for more exercises. What I did come up with was a pretty nifty new blogfest to sign up for.

Dawn Embers over at It's in the Book is hosting The Broken Hearts Blogfest from March 13th-15th! Now, is it just me or does this fest look like something you could sink your teeth into?? I don't have any new characters coming out of the woodwork just yet, but I do have a few sparks of oh my God, this is going to be soooo good! so I'm pretty excited to participate in this one. Truth be told, it's been a while since I last took part in a fest, but I'm assuming--praying--it's like riding a bike.

This uber awesome pic was created for this fest by Mia Hayson. Pretty fab, don't you think??
So be a sport and run on over to Dawn's blog and sign up! With all the drama that will be flying around, it's going to be like a soap opera on steroids. Oh, yes. There will be blood, sweat, tears, screams, sarcasm, and maybe--hopefully--even a bit of revenge! All I'm saying is you'd better take advantage of the turmoil and be there on March 13th, 14th, or 15th, or you can no longer call yourself a writer. There, I said it. You miss this fest and you are no longer a writer! *adds alarm to iPhone calendar so I don't forget and end up relinquishing my sparkly writer's tiara.*

Feb 1, 2011

Unofficial Post a Photo of your Work Space Day!

Hey guys! I'm dropping in at the tale end of February 1st Unofficial "Post a Photo of your Work Space Day"! I absolutely LOVE looking at pictures of people's writing space so when I dropped by Kristen Yard's blog today and saw that HOLY COW! it's Post a Photo of your Work Space Day I was ecstatic!

But come on, who doesn't like to see where the magic happens?? So I decided to post a few pics myself... are you ready??

And yes-- because you asked, the walls are pink. It was a 4 year old's princess room before I took it over, and I'm far to lazy to paint... Trust me. Pink suits my muse ;-)

This is where some writing happens. And Netflix makes an appearance...
And this is where some serious plotting takes place =)
I'm an old fashioned kind of girl-- I sit on the floor and use my WIP notebooks to file away the details.

Still...sometimes the best stuff comes when curled up in bed and on the lappy 8-)
Anyone else post any pics of their work space??

Jan 23, 2011

Major Changes

Before you ask, let me explain... You see, between today and my last post, I got a 2nd job and have been working a LOT, as in 13 days on, 1 day off, then 13 days on, and 1 day off. Basically I haven't had much time for anything, let alone my poor, forgotten blog. But I'm dropping in today to say HELLO and
Ohhh Nooooo.
I'm starting MAJOR changes on my unfished but dearly loved paranormal romance novel. It's not an easy thing to do, especially since this book is my nearest and dearest but it HAS to be done. I just can't go on the way I have been. It's too much for the first book in a series so I'm cutting, cutting, cutting. And replotting my tush off. It's not easy and is definitely not fun. As a matter of fact, I think I'd rather take on a paper cut to the eyeball. Nevertheless, here we are...
So where have I been? In writer-purgatory.

Nov 22, 2010

I’m baaaaaaack ;-)

Hello all!

I know it’s been a while, but I promise I didn’t forget about any of you. I’ve been swamped with work and such and haven’t had time to drop in since….oh, wow…September. Okay, that’s a bit embarrassing, but completely unavoidable. I promise!

But now that I’m back, I’m working on getting out of my little funk (and by little funk, I mean start writing again). It’s been a while. Too flipping long and while yes, I do miss it, I almost feel as though I don’t know where to begin. No, that’s a lie. I don’t almost feel as though I don’t know where to begin---I totally feel as though I don’t know where to begin. Add to that the brand spanking new character that popped into my head and is demanding her own book be plotted out n-o-w just to shut her up. I’m trying to ignore her, I really am. The last thing I need is a new story on my plate. I already have so many on the backburner, but this new kid—Claire, she says her name is—refuses to leave me alone. It’s distracting and if only she could wait her damn turn, I may be good to figure out my new Plan of Action for the rest of 2010 and into 2011. I have to get a move on. My poor Nightlings series is about ready to give up on me. I’m so ashamed! Still, I’m determined to have Kate and Caleb’s book finished in 2011, the sooner the better.

But it’s been a while since I was last in the writersphere, and I suppose there was a change of venue for the awesome #amwritingparty’s that I was so fond of—you know, back in the day. Then again, it is Thanksgiving week and I know as well as anyone that this is a week of craziness. But that’s probably why I’m so ready to get back into the swing of things. IT’S NOVEMBER! Where did the year go?! Oh my God! I’m so behind on my WIPgoals that it isn’t even funny! Actually it is, in a neurotic, straight-jacked-meets-padded-room kind of way.

So today I’ll be figuring out who’s still around on #amwritingparty, blogs, and wherever else we writers used to lurk when hiding from our word processors. If you do Twitter, I’m @courtneyreese86. If not, drop me a line on the comments section of this post!

See ya around,
Courtney

PS> Oh yeah, I’m changing my blog layout for a while since my old but awesome grey butterfly template was slowly falling apart. This one is a temp while I work on tweaking the code for a new one I want. Hope you like ;-)

Sep 5, 2010

the Nature of Pen Names

 

The pen name: A writer’s best friend (and source of anxiety).

This has been a big one for me for several months. I’m trying to come up with a pen name that a) suits my personality, and b) suits my genre. Oh—and then there is always c) doesn’t sound made up.

It isn’t easy.

It isn’t fun.

I do not enjoy it.

Ask me to come up with a character name. Ask me to come up with a baby name. Ask me to name your new retriever. Do not ask me to rename myself. How should I know what “fits” me? It isn’t like I really know myself, right? I mean, give me a character bio and I can tell you the perfect name to go with ‘em.

The name helps to shape the character, right? You don’t ever see Tom as a murder mystery, serial killer? Not exactly. Ted, sure; Tom, not so much. In fiction, the bad guy always has a somewhat-bad-guy-name. Cyrus the Virus from Con-Air, Sylar from Heroes, Lucius Malfoy from Harry Potter, Hannibal freaking Lecter from *duh* Hannibal!

And the good guys have good-guy-names (or normal names, depending on the genre). Harry Potter, Clark Kent, Jack Bauer, James Bond, Alex Cross, Sarah Connor, Selene (Underworld), Alice (Resident Evil)… Basically, nothing decidedly evil.

So does the same thing apply to people? Could I be, let’s say, Emily? Tess? Diane? Samantha? Nikki? Madison? Tracy? Faith? Elaine? Rachel?

No, no I can’t. Why? Because I’m not those people.

So basically, finding a good pen name to transfer on over to has been… a challenge. Unfortunately it’s one I have to face (and, hopefully, overcome). See, I work at an elementary school and it would be just plain awkward if one of my students, or even their parents, ran a little google search on me and got a direct link to a steamy blogfest entry. Yeah… creeptastic, I know. So it’s mucho important for me to get my pen name up and running. The problem—it’s not working.

My plan is to have a “general pen name” for the blog, the facebook, the writing world stuff. This pen name would go with my paranormal romance and urban fantasy stuff. But I’d also like to have a separate one for my contemporary/romantic suspense stuff. I can hold off on the 2nd name---no biggie there—but I need that first one.

Progress to come… wish me luck.