Jot IV – Mark Your Calendars

Originally posted on Josh Mosey | Writer:

pen_and_book

My writers group, The Weaklings, met recently to discuss the next Jot Writers Mini-Conference. I thought I’d tell you what we know so far.

Jot IV or Jot 4 (which one do you like better?) will take place on Friday, September 12th at Baker Book House in Grand Rapids, MI from 7pm – 11pm. The price, as it has always been, will be nothing. The value will be considerably more (hopefully).

At the moment, only a few of our speakers have been confirmed. We’ll have veteran Jot speaker and editor at Discovery House Publishers, Andrew Rogers, and we just signed on blogger and Houzz.com writer, Alison Hodgson. We have two more speakers that we’re still bullying into agreements, so stay tuned for those.

For past attendees, we’re excited to announce that Baker Book House has agreed to expand the stage area of the store to accommodate our…

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Do Bad Things To Those You Love

There are many reasons for writing a story. That thing that inspired you, the character(s) that would not shut up, that horrible tragedy you suffered, or a place you visited or book you read that required some sort of artistic response.

However you wound up here, you are beside me and all of the other fiction novelists wanting to bring your book to life.

When I first started writing, I discovered a few characters I really wanted to know. I wrote a draft of a book with them in it, and it was terrible. But, it was also a stepping stone up to a bigger world and some of the characters stayed with me. I want to write because of them and I want you to care about them.

The hard part about this is that I can’t just tell you about their day. I could describe their upbringing, dreams and nightmares, and where they live and the people they know in their world. But that would be stupid boring to you. They’ve lived in my head for a decade and I know them very well. If I mentioned them to you, you might be nice and say you care but you don’t. You don’t know them like I do and I get it.

This is going to hurt.

So, I have to do bad things to them. I have to put them in horrible situations and sometimes even kill some of them so you will care. I have to make you worry for their safety, wonder about the impact of a lie they told or a discovery that they have to hide from everyone or the world may end.

In the next book in my series I killed a character in the opening. The characters I created have already suffered enough in book one, but this one had to go. It just didn’t make sense for them to continue and they had to exist in the previous book. Now, they are gone. The hard part about this is that I loved them. I truly did. I had someone in my life just like them when I was fifteen.

Writing is fun. It’s a thrill to put together a story and even more so when people enjoy reading it. It is also hard because in the end, we may have to torture them.

How about you writer? Are you having a hard time hurting those imaginary people you love?

Cheers,

Bob

Stalling Is Not Writing

Yesterday was a good day. Great sales day at work, I mowed the lawn, played with my kids, gave them a bath, did all of the dishes, swept and mopped the floors, and had great conversations with my wife and a friend. I’ve also been deviously tricky and the person I’ve tricked is me.

I’ve been stalling.

All of these things are not fillers. These are things that matter to me for practical reasons (work, the upkeep of my house) and because I love them (my wife, kids, and friend). Earlier today I talked with my wife and we agreed that Monday is a writing night. I planned to write 500 words on my latest work in progress, two blogs, and finish a few writing related emails. Once we got the kids settled I was going to head to my desk around 8:30pm or so. It’s 10:30pm on Monday.

I don’t know about you but occasionally when I have scheduled time to write I find myself doing other things. It’s not because I do not love to put words down on the page, I do. It’s more because I want to be ready mentally. I want to have my mind in the right place to prepare a brilliant meal that agents and readers will devour and beg for seconds. At least this is what I tell myself from time to time.

Writing Fuel

Let’s Do This!

Sadly, this cannot be done while on TSN.ca/NHL. Strangely enough, this cannot be done on Facebook, Twitter, my gmail account or anything else internet related.

So today, if you are reading this and you are not done with your novel and this is scheduled writing time, I ask you to stop reading. Stop and get to work. Our stories must live and they cannot do so when we are thinking of the perfect words, messing with our playlists, or daydreaming about a wicked huge contract. It’s time to grab our lunch pail and hard hat and get to work.

Write 500 words today.

Cheers,

Bob

No Writer Can Make It Alone

I write alone. No one can write for me. That being said, there are countless people involved in my stories. These individuals read my drivel. They listen to me dream about being a writer and manage to do it without a smirk. They encourage me every step of the way and I would not have written a novel, help start a writer’s conference, published in journals newspapers and websites or started this blog without them.

Part of her birthday card to me.

One person in particular has sacrificed more than anyone else: my wife. This week was our nine year wedding anniversary. We’ve “dated” for over 11 years.  She didn’t marry someone who wanted to write. I developed the passion about six months afterward.

I write this blog to tell her, that I am so very thankful for her. I’m not always pleasant. I’m certainly not perfect, but she has always been there sacrificing time, correcting grammar, reading and suggesting. So, thank you baby. Thank you for being there. Thank you for not laughing or telling me I’m not good or that I should focus my efforts toward something more practical. In your quiet strength you help me move forward. I could not be here without you.

If you have some one or a group of people who help you in your writing be sure to use your gift of words to say thank you.

We forget that too much.

Cheers,

Bob

What Is Your Scene/Chapter Aiming At?

I mentioned in the last few posts that I am reading James Scott Bell’s The Art of War for Writers. It is an essential guide for fiction writers.

Through my interaction with it, I’ve come away with a hundred different ideas. It’s like each paragraph holds four morsels to help tighten up your prose and create books that will continue to ratchet up until the final page.

One of my recent takeaways was to make sure you have a focal point for every scene you write.

Each portion of your work should be directing the audience toward something. What I mean by this is that there is something they are looking forward Archerto, some dangly little cookie that is just in front of their face. Is the character to have a visit from someone? Are they finally going to go through that door? Has your character had enough and it is time to speak up after months of getting trod on? Whatever it is, there needs to be a purpose for each scene, or in other words, the scene’s bull’s-eye.

It’s hard to write a book and be in a fictionalized world and not write for me. In a way I am. I would hope I am entertained at the placing of each word after the next otherwise why would I spend all of this time by myself typing away? But, one thing to keep in mind is that focal point. The place in the distance we are herding our audience. It’s a crescendo that is building and then instead of handing it to them, take it up an octave. This could be an action or a reveal that comes completely out of nowhere.

To take it from Mr Bell –

Every scene in your novel should have a moment or exchange that is the focal point, the bull’s-eye, the thing you are aiming at. If your scene doesn’t have a bull’s-eye, it should be cut or rewritten.  Art of War for Fiction Writer’s pg 113.

So as you consider your next chapter – the one with the scene at the café or the grocery store or standing on the parapet overlooking the battlefield, remember, what are you aiming at?

Cheers,

Bob

100 Word Challenge – Emerald

It’s been a while since I participated in the 100 Word Challenge from Julia’s place. I was inspired by my friend Josh’s short story. Read that HERE.

If you100wcgu-73 want to stretch your writing muscles or are considering working on a large piece of fiction, I’d start here (click on the logo). Confining your words is one of the best ways to develop your language. Limiting your words means you have to pick the right words, or at least the best words you can manage.

This is titled, The Dragon Rider. Enjoy.

Alden Nash touched the Emerald. There was a flash, and he vanished.

Dr. Bulgakov looked around. He heard a faint squeak and saw his friend, a half inch tall now,  screaming up at him.

“……!!….!!!!”

“I’m sorry my friend. I can’t understand you.” Dr. Bulgakov replied knowing it was some form of eloquent profanity.

“… said… dragon…rider.” Alden screamed, throwing his fedora down and jumping on it.Dragonfly

“I didn’t. The runes did.” Dr. Bugakov put his on glasses and read the stone tablet again.

“Oh, no.” He looked down. “It says dragon fly rider.”

“…!!!…!!!…!!!”

“Yes, well, I’m sorry Alden.”

Hope you enjoyed it.

Cheers,

Bob

How To Create An Effective Word Count Goal

Failure

Think about the last time you failed at a goal. Be it to land a job, run a triathlon, swim a mile, write a book, etc. Whatever it is, it weighs on you. It can be a mocking, dark cloud. You might have failed from lack of effort but those usually don’t hurt. I am talking about one that hurts, and hurts bad. Not a mosquito bite, but a side swipe by a car.

I’ve been side swiped on and off for the last seven years. Okay that might seem a bit dramatic but the stings have been there. I’ve gone through spurts where I have written a lot, and not written at all. This is not what a novelist does, I told myself. Novelists write every single day. They get up and write when they don’t feel like it. They write when they are tired and when they have no effort or words left. Still, they keep laying them down one by one.

I’ve read how Stephen King would spend hours every day finishing his daily word count, Hemingway too. These giants keep/kept a pace of writing deities. I used to think with a little bit of effort, I could do five hundred words a day. But then I’d have a bad day. A day where nothing comes together and my emotions are sapped. I’d given all I could to my family and gladly, but I’d get nothing on the page. There was no more time for artistic pursuits. This was a big issue for me. I’m serious about my work. This is what I want, but I keep failing at measly little daily word counts.

A Realistic Goal

I am reading the Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell. It is an excellent read and I recommend it to any writer I know. In its pages I discovered something so simplistic I could punch myself for not trying it before (actually I did punch myself): the weekly writing goal.

Instead of walking around feeling like a failure five days a week, because I wrote only two hundred words those days, I’ve decided to aim for a weekly writing goal.

Here are three reasons weekly writing goals work

  1. They are flexible. With a life dominated by the sporadic, I could suddenly lose or gain writing time. Instead of being bummed or paralyzed you can be okay with not writing, or staying up late working toward your goal.
  2. It is a goal. Writers need goals. We need to be working for something. Be it a short story, poem, or novel, there needs to be consistent work and effort. Professional writers, like professional athletes, don’t get to where they are by being lukewarm in their pursuits.
  3. It builds momentum. I wrote 2547 words on my novel last week. I wrote 2 blogs (429, 589 words) and in my sons journal every day. It was nice to continually write. If I had a daily goal, I am sure missing one day would let the air of out my momentum and crush another day with ease. I want to stop that failing feeling.

For my weekly goals, I’ve decided to write:

3000 words on my novel.

2 blogs a week.

1 short story submission per month.

I do all of this while keeping track on a notebook. I always count backward to my goal 3000-0. It’s a physiological thing. Do whatever works for you.

Avoid the power of failure. Set an effective weekly writing goal and don’t compromise. Don’t make it 10,000 words if you don’t have the time and vice versa. Maybe you can only get 1000 words done per week. Whatever your goal is, keep striving and keep writing. If you have goal setting tips, please comment below.

Cheers,

Bob