Archive for the “the writing process” Category

“Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar.” – E.B. White


I’m on a writing retreat this week, taking a leap of faith.

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Dear Mr. Critique Guy,

When I agreed to exchange pages with you, I know I said I wanted an in-depth edit. I know I said I wanted you to be straight with me. I said that thing about not pulling your punches because I’m tough. I think I strutted a little at that point.

I’m used to hearing tough critiques because I’ve been a member of a writing group for years, okay? Week after week these people read my spew and give me thoughtful comments, whether to say “great” or “start over.”

These people should be sainted but I digress.

You come along and with a snap of your fingers you say my character needs to show his emotion more. Oh really. Whuttt, you can’t read my mind? And I can’t even tell you about it . . . I have to SHOW this stuff to you?

Mr. Critique Guy, you ask a lot, you know?


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Do yourself a favor and click this link:

born that way

You will not regret it.

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Made by Ryan Woodward–one of my daughter’s mentors at BYU. This video has gone viral and no wonder.

It required over 200,000 drawings.

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Diagnosing my book:


One or more of the four elemental core competencies – concept, character, theme or story structure – must be exceptionally compelling, original and mind-blowing.  If all four are simply good, that probably isn’t enough to get you published, it merely blends you in the crowd.  Agents and publishers aren’t looking to add to the crowd, they’re looking for a home run to emerge from it.

And… both of the two execution-driven core competencies – scene execution and writing voice – need to be rendered at a professional level of excellence.  Doesn’t need to be John Updike, but it can’t have a amateur moment anywhere on the pages.

That’s the ante-in.  The bar you must reach.  Now that the clouds have parted, you can see how high it is and what it will take to get there.


Now to figure out how to write “mind-blowing.”

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At my critique group this week, one of the members handed out the final pages of her novel for our opinion.

This is worthy of a hooray. She wrote the beginning, the middle, and the end of a book. Praiseworthy–and actually sort of unique. I mean, how many people dream of writing a novel? How many actually do it, all the way?

Now, she isn’t done working on it. She’s fiddling, tweaking, revising here and there. Still, she has a completed draft, and a darn good one. We took the time to pause and congratulate her for her accomplishment. After all, most authors these days receive precious little acknowledgment.

It’s all about the glory, right?

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One of the hardest part about NaNoWriMo is forcing myself to Turn Off my internal editor, and just let it spew.

I find this troublesome. But it’s a good prescription for what ails me: a hyper-perfectionist writer, who polishes and polishes until the life is rubbed right out of the thing.

There is a lot of cringing going on as the words gush out of my fingers. I want so badly to go back and fix, smooth, adjust. But I can’t, not with that word count demanding first dibs on my brain. Its cry for more, more, more, can only be soothed for a few hours, and then it’s a new day and a new 1,667 words that must be fed to it. No time for reflection on what’s been written. I have to plunge on.

Even if I never use this manuscript, I’ll have broken free of at least one rut. That’s what I keep telling myself.

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It worked for her.

Plotting the Order of the Pheonix:

This is the most fascinating image I’ve looked at in a long time. I love seeing into the mind of J.K. Rowling. There’s so much of this I love. Look at the timeline! The various plotlines charted and kept organized! Chapter titles! Click on the image to see it bigger: zoom in. Look and learn, people.



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I went to a writing workshop Friday and Saturday. I learned some great stuff.

Along with how to shape a scene and to play nice in the author sandbox, I also learned something about myself.

I used to suck everything in at these things. After all, pretty much anyone in the world knew more about writing than I did. But this time, I listened, thought, and then decided I actually disagreed with something that was being taught.  (not you, Annette or Josi)

There’s a certain confidence that wasn’t there before. Maybe I’m not an infant writer anymore. Maybe I’m actually a toddler now.

The fact that I feel all kinds of awkward saying that shows how much a baby I still am.

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photo credit

Wednesday I read pages written by my critique group, red pen in hand. They’re great writers, so there wasn’t much to fix. Just a comma here and there, a funny little misspelling, a viewpoint that needed to be gently pointed back in the right direction.

Later, I found myself editing my closet–taking out summertime clothes, things that no longer fit, things that no longer please me. Fixing a dangly button. Ironing a blouse so it was smooth.

Then, my Wednesday piano students started to arrive. I realized I was editing again. Guiding a hand into the proper shape. Correcting a misplaced note. Making things more harmonious. Shaping a phrase.

I didn’t realize pretty much everything I do is editing.

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