Category Archives: General Writing

Writing A Sequel

When writing a series, don’t get into the “sophomore slump” with Book II. Writing the sequel may sound easy, but there are pitfalls to watch out for!

That’s the topic of today’s guest post over at Sm Blooding and Crew. Swing by and check it out!

RHDavis

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Guest Post Thursday

It’s Thursday! Visit SM Blooding and Crew to learn an important vocabulary word for every writer: micro-tension.

RHDavis

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Rerailed

Yes, I’ve invented a word. Rerailed.

Rerailed is the opposite of derailed. Derailed means, of course, that you got completely sidetracked from whatever you were supposed to do. Sidetracked? Off track? Derailed? I notice a lot of train metaphors here. Huh.

Derailed is no fun. It usually means unforeseen obstacles, aggravation, distraction, and then that nagging sense of guilt at bedtime that keeps you staring at the blades of the ceiling fan until 2 a.m., wondering if they’re going to buzz down and nip your head off for being such a lazy layabout who never gets her to-do list done.

Or maybe that only happens to me.

In any case, I figure if “derail” means your plans get messed up, there must be a word for when you get back to those plans and finally finish them. Thus, rerailed.

There are three simple ways to rerail yourself after a distraction, setback, obstacle, vacation, or apocalypse. Here they are.

1. Start your to-do list over.

If something distracts you from your to-do list, don’t try to get caught up on all of it the moment you get back. That breeds discouragement, and discouragement won’t help you. For instance, let’s say you had things to do every day this week, but you got sick Monday and Tuesday. When you come back on Wednesday, don’t try to do Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday’s work. Just start over with Monday’s. Or do Wednesday’s and find time to catch up on Monday and Tuesday later. The last thing you need when you’ve just gotten rerailed is to let a discouraging workload derail you again.

2. Follow the bread crumbs.

Some people (and I’m not naming names here, but let’s tentatively say that this might include me) can get out of “work mode” easily. One little distraction in our week, and suddenly we feel like goofing off for the next three days. The very thought of returning to work makes us slightly claustrophobic. Our breathing increases. We feel the urge to run screaming outside. If you are that sort of person, you may need a trail of bread crumbs to get yourself chained back to the desk chair. Start with a small task to complete in the next hour. One small task, and then you can quit if you want. When you’ve finished that one, see if you can’t get just one more done. Then another. You may get one thing done, or two, or five, before you really do give in and go outside, but you’ve gotten yourself back into work mode, and tomorrow morning it’ll be easier to return to the routine.

3. Get up early. Shower. Dress.

This may sound off-topic, but it’s especially important for those of us who write (and work) at home. This morning, I was heading back to work after almost an entire week off. Understandably, I doubted my ability to pay attention to work for more than five minutes. But I set my alarm for seven-thirty, got up, and put on a nice outfit. I gave myself a task which had to be started at 9 a.m. The act of getting up early and dressing nicely put me into work mode faster than a thousand pep-talks in front of the mirror could have. And here I am, blazing so far through my to-do list that I actually got to my blog, which is usually the first thing to suffer on days like this.

What about you? Any tricks to get your wayward schedule rerailed and off to a good start?

RHDavis

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Ducks and Agents

What do stale bread, querying agents, the seven seas, and ducks have to do with each other? Visit SM Blooding and Crew to find out on my guest post tonight!

RHDavis

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Plugging Away at Edits

I never thought I would become one of those grouchy editors who breaks your heart by telling you to rearrange your story! Okay, so I’m never grouchy about telling people that, and I really hope I’m not breaking hearts. But being an assistant editor, I have already run across some stories that are solid gold–if only most of the plot were shuffled around. Sigh. It’s hard to give that kind of advice because, as a writer, I know what it feels like to hear it.

I’m reminded of Anne Lamott and her anecdote about writing ROSIE. It’s one of the most inspirational stories a writer can hear about the need to tear up your story and put it back together. For anyone interested, it can be found in her popular book BIRD BY BIRD, which is a book of advice on “writing and life.”

RHDavis

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New Year’s Start on Queries, Editing

The holidays are finally at an end! Between Thanksgiving, preparations for Christmas, Christmas itself, and New Year’s, I’ve been off my regular schedule (writing and otherwise) for about two months straight. But now I’m back! And instead of making New Year’s Resolutions to foster new and better habits, I’m focusing on the habits I need to get back into. Here’s my list of things to do.

I’ll be back and blogging at SM Blooding and Crew on the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month (that’s beginning this coming Tuesday, everyone).

I’ll send out more queries of FLYNN. The first round (of course) did not produce results. Honestly, I would’ve been surprised if it did. But armed with my subscription to Guide to Literary Agents,I ought to find someone who wants to see the full manuscript.

After NaNoWriMo this year, I have a good start on the rought draft for FLYNN II. It’s official title is under construction. I’ll be doing more work on that in the following months.

Now on to my new ventures.

I’m entering the first 500 words of FLYNN into a contest at Kidlit.com, a very helpful blog written by an associate agent at Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

My friend Kristine Pratt (who I met at a writer’s conference back in ’08) recently started up her own publishing company, Written World Communications. She asked me to be a (volunteer) assistant to one of her editors! It’s quite an exciting venture. I review proposals, manuscripts, and also short stories for the magazine. We just sent a round of submissions to Pub Board, so before too long, I’ll begin the editing process with the chosen candidates! Not to mention that I may get to help with layout of the magazine, a field which I feel I could easily excel at but have never had the opportunity to become familiar with.

Oh yes, and I may also be getting a part-time-job. As in, one that will give me a paycheck. FLYNN and my graphic novel are already full time jobs in and of themselves, but, well….they won’t pay for a second car, now will they?

Stay tuned to this blog throughout the coming year. I’m excited about the prospects of 2010, and I hope you are too.

RHDavis

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Thwarted Desires

When director Steven Spielberg first watched the recent movie hit “Paranormal Activity” (at that time just a low-budget indie film), he found it successfully scary and wrought with frightening tension. He had only one complaint; change the ending.

Though the film succeeded in scripting, acting, tension and creativity, the ending alone could have been enough to sink it. Why? Because the original ending essentially took all ninety minutes of terrifying build-up and then diffused it, slowly and politely. For ninety minutes we watched moving objects, heard footsteps and breathing, saw characters forcibly dragged out of bed and down the hall–only to have the movie end with hinted-at off screen violence, one character sitting still for a long, long time, and then her quick death at the hand of a confused policeman.

We’ve all watched our read such stories. We reach the end of an otherwise fascinating plot and ask ourselves “What went wrong there?”

Authors make the same mistakes as directors. I recently finished a book which had one of those characters that you love to hate. Readers spent the book wishing for this character to be revealed as the two-faced insincere user that he was, only to see him die before the secrets of his true nature could be revealed. The plot offered some fairly good reasons why it was best that the other characters never find out, but we are left wondering, “What about me? I’m the reader–don’t my feelings count for anything? You spent an inordinate amount of time building me up for something you absolutely failed to deliver on.”

It’s frightening to contemplate all the ways in which your plot could fail to deliver. As a writer, I find the best way to avoid these mistakes is to learn about them from other books.

I’ve shared my two most recent ending pet peeves. How about yours? What books or movies frustrated your expectancies so thoroughly that it left you ruffled at the author/director?

RHDavis

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