FOCUS and Our Lives In Story Structure

time dreamingAs I prepare the material for this evening’s writers’ meeting, my mind drifts back in time to an event I can’t relive, can’t change. It was decades ago. I’m no magician. I can’t go back and undo the past; I can only live with the results.

Then I jerk my mind back to focus on the task at hand: preparing notes for the meeting.

We will be discussing the 2nd part of Act II tonight and the Hero’s journey. I’m going over an email a member sent sharing her ideas on this. She writes, “We either go with the flow, give up and be miserable, or we take the risk and go on a journey no matter what we leave behind.”

And my mind wanders to the past again, thinking about my life and comparing it to the Hero’s journey, to the structure of a story. I went with the flow and gave up. I know where that led.

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Why Do I Write?

Why I writeI’ve been asked many questions over the decades concerning writing, but one that often stands out is: Why do you write?

I’ve answered this with a question of my own: why do you fish, why do you build houses, why do you do what you do? The obvious reason is because I want to.

Telling others why I loved fishing was easier than explaining why I loved to write. I mean, to many, writing was school work, which they were thankfully graduated from and wouldn’t have to do again.

Lately, I get this question with an add on: Why do write so much?

Ten years ago, I couldn’t answer this question nor the simple one (why do you write) as accurately as I can at this moment. It’s not that I’ve thought about it any more; the answer simply comes to me when I’m asked.

Why do I write like a mad woman?

The Short Answer

I have stories that need to be told before I die, and I want to live where I love.

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What I learned about writing two novels at the same time.

NaNoWriMoFor NaNoWriMo 2018, I wrote two novels at the same time: Revelation Stones and Beyond the Myst. I didn’t plan it that way. My goal was to complete the first novel. The second one started as a homework assignment from my writers’ group.

I focussed on the book I wanted to complete first, writing a minimum of 2,000 words a day for it. I wrote 1,500 words a day for Beyond the Myst.

To keep the stories separated in my mind, I wrote Beyond the Myst in the morning between 5:30 am and 7:20 am. If I didn’t reach my goal, I spent a few minutes after the morning chores to complete it. I wrote Revelation Stones from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Often I finished early, so I was in bed by nine o’clock. I get up at 4:35 am, so I need to go to bed early.

Before each writing session, I’d envision the scene I was about to write. This put me in the mood to write and provided details I might not have considered. I run scenes in my head like movies, so I get a clear idea of what I want. The scene is basically written before I sit down to the computer. I just record what happened.

I’ve never tried to write two full novels at once. I have written a short story while writing a novel, but usually I’d write the short story in a few days, then return to the novel writing. This whole experience of writing two in one day was completely new to me. Here’s what I have learned listed under the benefits and the drawbacks.

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Filter Words – Who Knew? Not Me

A week ago, I stumbled onto a YouTube video discussing filter words. Never hearing this term before, I watched, listened and learned…and discovered I was guilty of using filter words.

What are Filter Words

Although I’m relatively new to the idea, my understanding is: words that create distance between the reader and the detail the character is seeing, hearing, tasting or feeling.

In other words, we are not using one of our senses to digest the story, rather instead, we are being told through one of the character’s senses.

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Tip for Choosing Character Names

Thought for the dayWhen I started reading fantasy novels in my teen years back in the 1980s, I struggled with the pronunciation of some of the far-out names authors had given their characters. To get through these stories, I turned names such as Gorggegx in George in my mind and kept reading.

Why fantasy authors feel the need to create strange names always confused me. It came off as part of the genre, I think. When I started writing fantasy stories, I thought about using similar names, but I quickly put it to rest and stuck with names I could pronounce.

Since then, I’ve encountered many odd names in the genre, and I continue to do the same thing: turn them into simple names.

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A Hard Lesson Learned

Hard Lessons LearnedAlthough it’s tough to admit it, six years ago, I made a horrible mistake in my publishing journey. After publishing the first book in my Castle Keepers fantasy series, Shadows in the Stone, I should have buckled down and completed the draft to the second book in the series, Scattered Stones.

However, feeling the pressure to get more books on my publishing shelf, I wrote a few short stories that were not in the fantasy genre. They were quick writes, quickly edited by my editor and quickly published. I soon had four books on my shelf. It looked impressive.

I was following the advice of those who believed the more books on a shelf, the more a writer gets noticed because they have a larger footprint.

However, those giving advice didn’t stress the vital fact that the books written should all be in one genre. Readers sometimes stick to one genre, so those who loved my fantasy novel might not like my contemporary stories about death, domestic abuse or a cranky neighbour.

Sigh.

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Why I Watch Movies

movie nightWinter is the season I catch up on movie watching. I try to watch at least one a week. Some years I don’t do well, and in times like last year, I end the winter with watching only one or two movies.

There were years that passed when I didn’t see any movies. Spring, summer and fall are just too busy to watch movies—unless something monumental, such as a Marvel movie—comes out in theatres. I’m just not a TV watcher, so I’ve missed many good—and some just for fun—movies over the past three decades.

Why do I force myself to watch movies now?

Disconnect

Movies remove me from reality. Although many enjoy this chaotic, messed up world that has become void of common sense, I often prefer to journey the path less travelled, less noisy, more personal.

Movies transport me to another time, another place and a more fantastic reality. It must be the fantasy gene in me that keeps me hoping that life can be more adventurous, more challenging and more magical than it is. I need the break from reality to recharge my batteries.

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