Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Gobble Gobble

Happy Thanksgiving!

We hope everyone at Scribble Chicks has a great holiday season.
We are THANKFUL for YOU GUYS!!! :) 
Because without our readers, this blog would be a ghost town. ::insert creepy theme music here::
We'll see you back here next week :)
Gobble gobble!

Monday, November 25, 2013

More on tenses and editing

SO sorry for my long absence guys!! I was completely planning on answering the question our lovely Cjoy left for me (which Betsy fabulously answered! Thanks so much friend!!) and I split my knuckle open that night instead which put me in a splint for a week and left me totally incapable of writing more than a few picked out words.

Because I'm all about what would add the most fun and extra stress to getting ready for an early Christmas with the in-laws. ;)


Thank you to Betsy for doing a great post about tenses!! She said this as well, but I think the biggest thing to remember when writing is consistency. I've heard the thought about the first sentence of a paragraph as well and I think that has to do more with the word "had". Example:

I had never seen something so disgusting since the time both me and my brother had the stomach flu at the same time. And that was something. My poor mother cleaned for weeks afterward. It had lived in family lore since then.

There were just no other examples in my mind for what was sitting in front of me.

Okay, so in this example, I'm in first person, past tense. So during her remembrance of a further in the past event (oh my), we use the word "had". BUT, we only have to use it once in the first sentence for the reader to understand this paragraph is her memory from awhile ago and to close out the memory, we use it again in the last sentence instead of putting "had" before each verb.

Does that even make sense? ;) Ha! English is failing me right now.

Alicia also asked what editing software we used. Alicia, my editing software is named Mom. ;) Honestly!

So, my basic "program" for editing goes kind of like this. I aim to write about 2000 words a day (sometimes this is totally doable and I fly right past my word goal. Sometimes, I remember that I have a 3-year-old or that my morning sickness is awful or I have a zillion things to do that day or my house hasn't been cleaned in months or I have 8 blogs to write and I end up getting 200 words in my WIP or nothing at all). The next day when I sit down to write, I read back through what I wrote the day before, just to get in the character's head and get the "voice" back. I also use that time to correct the mistakes I see in the previous day's work. Then I write another 2000 words. When I get to the end of the novel or novella, I email it straight to my mom. I don't reread it, I don't try to edit it first, I send it straight to her totally raw and while she's reading it, I do everything except look at that book.

Mom finds a bunch of mistakes, I correct all of them, then it's MY turn to read through the book and since I've let it sit for a few days to a few weeks, the book is so much more "fresh" to my brain and it's way, way easier to find the storyline issues and grammar mistakes. I read through it once, correct it again and then send it off to the publisher.

So, I'm not really a "rough draft" kind of a girl, I guess. I like things to be written once, corrected once or twice and then out of my hands. I HATE revision and so if I can write it correctly to begin with, I'll always choose that route!! ;) I really, really, REALLY recommend finding someone who will be totally honest with your work and do the same for you! It so helps to have extra eyes on it.

Does that answer the question, Alicia? :) And question for all of you: What is your editing style??

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

Friday, November 22, 2013

What You SHOULD Be Doing

Sometimes, what you should be doing is writing. Let's be honest. I'm probably not the only one who spends time on facebook when I should be typing away on my work-in-progress. Sometimes we're wasting time, being insecure, or not writing for another bad reason.

If that's you, you already know what to do. =) Go write! Whatever your "bad" excuse is, let it go, make some coffee (or tea) and go get some word count!

But some of you keep beating yourselves up for no reason (not thinking of anyone in particular, just saying I've done it, so I'm guessing chances are good that someone here has). You keep telling yourself you should be writing. But this is a busy season for you. And some of that time, if God has called you to be a writer, then you should be writing.

But I think knowing when to write, having the discernment to know when to close the computer, is something we need to learn more about. I've been learning that this week. This week, there were things I needed to do more than I needed to write.

This Week I Needed:

To spend time with God, talk to Him like He's involved in my life and not just skim His Word so I can check it off my list.

To remember that my husband is not last on the list of people/things that need my attention. After God, He should be first.

To clean my kitchen and learn how to love cooking for my family.

To talk in baby-talk to my one year old.

To read to my three year old.

To do yoga.

To smile at funny little things throughout the day and remember that I'm very blessed.

I didn't get much writing done. This has been nagging me all week, really, really bothering me. But you know what I realized today, what I want you to realize today?

It. Is. Okay.

Writing is important. This is a writing blog. We wouldn't write if we didn't think writing was important.

But there are things that are more important.

How was your week? Did you get a lot of writing done, or was this an "other things" kind of week for you?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Reflections and Tenses and Back-story, OH MY!!

A handy dandy Scribble Chick reader asked last week:

If a paragraph reflects the past, do all of the sentences that follow need to be constructed in past tense? Someone told me that only the first sentence needed to be past tense, leaving the rest in present--which I find confusing and frustrating as a reader. I could possibly see it either way if it's a very short section of a paragraph, maybe two, though it's a stretch for me. Even tougher is if the reflection takes about a page...partway into it I can't figure out if this is still a reflection or back in the present and I just missed something. What is the "right" way to handle a reflection of the past? 

I thought I'd try to tackle this. 

::cracks knuckles::

I usually write third person past. But for my YA novel, ADDISON BLAKELY, CONFESSIONS OF A PK, it was first person past. Yet there were many times in the writing that I found myself switching to first person present, because of the content or her internal thoughts, etc. and it was exhausting to figure it all out. Thank the Lord for crit partners ;)

So the tense stuff can get tricky regardless of first or third person and regardless of past or present tense. That to say, you're not alone in this battle. 

The main rule to follow? BE CONSISTENT. 

I would say, what that person told you about making the first sentence past and the following present, is, in a nutshell - mind numbing and terrifying. LOL. That makes me want to cry as a reader and as an author. Too much. FLEE the thought! :)

Here's the thing about back-story or past reflecting - it needs to be done in brief segments ANYWAY. So switching tenses in a short paragraph like that seems even more confusing. If it's set up to somehow be a chapter's worth of some kind of major plot line reflection, or prologue, or a diary entry, or a discovered letter, etc. that's a different consideration, but those are rare instances. (And for pre-published authors, not the way to go out of the gate typically. Attempt to get fancy after you've proven yourself to your publisher! Then you can break rules and go outside the box a lot easier)  :)

Maybe I'm misinterpreting what you mean by reflection of the past, but I'm imagining it to be a memory or a retelling of a back-story event from the character's life. If that's the case, and the story is 3rd person, the retelling still needs to be third person and same tense. 

For example: (and this will suck, because it's getting late and this is all off the top of my head)


Heather popped the lid on her white chocolate mocha and breathed in the heady aroma. Last time she'd had one of those, David had handed it to her with a smile, that same lopsided grin he wore every time he had bad news and wasn't ready to admit it yet. He'd shoved the drink in her hand like a peace offering, then tucked his hands into his leather coat pockets and shuffled backward a step before delivering the news that changed her life forever. "Annie's pregnant. And it's my baby." The mocha had hit the ground, splashing on her favorite suede boots and running in creamy white rivulets down the sidewalk. What a waste. Of coffee. Of footwear. Of six months of relationship. 

But this mocha...this one smelled like redemption. God made everything new, right? Even 280 calories for four bucks a pop. She grinned--straight and even--and took a long sip. 


Same with first person. 

* * * * *

I popped the lid on my white chocolate mocha and breathed in the heady aroma. Last time I'd had one of those, David had handed it to me with a smile, that same lopsided grin he wore every time he had bad news and wasn't ready to admit it yet. He'd shoved the drink in my hands like a peace offering, then tucked his hands into his leather coat pockets and shuffled backward a step before delivering the news that changed my life forever. "Annie's pregnant. And it's my baby." My mocha had hit the ground, splashing on my favorite suede boots and running in creamy white rivulets down the sidewalk. What a waste. Of coffee. Of footwear. Of six months of relationship.

But this mocha...this one smell like redemption. God made everything new, right? Even 280 calories for four bucks a pop. I grinned--straight and even--and took a long sip. 

* * * * * *

Hopefully that helps show what I mean. If that's not what YOU mean, please let me know. But this took you in first and third, and took you from "current" in the story to a memory and then back to current. 

Scribblechicks, what say you? Anything to add? 

And boo. 

I am totally craving a mocha now. 


Friday, November 15, 2013

Acting, Writing, And Lattes...

So you've heard of method acting, right? It's where actors try to get into the heads of their characters, almost BECOME them. It's a brilliant way to bring a character to life, I think, though it does come with it's hazards (I feel like someone should tell actors that trying to become a VILLAIN for the sake of your craft is a bad idea...And for the record, I will never watch that Batman movie that killed Heath Ledger. But I digress...).

As writers, we're told to get into our characters' heads. We have to make them seem real, 3D, and to do that, they almost have to become real to us.

In a completely sane, none-of-us-needs-a-shrink kind of way, of course. =)

Have you tried doing this for your character? Especially your main character? Do you ever walk around the grocery store and wonder which aisle your character would hit first? So no, you probably don't have a grocery store scene in your book. But that's not the point. The point is to learn EXTRA about your character, so that even though your reader only sees 75% of who they are, that 75% seems incredibly real. It's kind of like drawing, and using perspective (work with me here, okay?). You only draw the front of an apple, but it's rounded, shaded in all the right places, so that even though you can only see the front, part of you is SURE that the rest of the apple is there.

For the two of you that made sense to, you're welcome. For the rest of you, forget I said it and move on okay? Okay.

I'm bringing this up because last week I had a latte. To be precise, I had a grande latte with two raw sugars and whip. Which is not really my kind of Starbucks drink. I mean, I like it a lot, but usually I tend to go towards opposite ends of the spectrum. I either order a triple tall Americano, black (yum!) or something completely excessive like a Peppermint Mocha. But Norah, the main character in the contemporary romance I'm revising, only drinks lattes. Ever. Only. Lattes. Because Norah is stuck in a rut, she likes predictable, safe things, and a latte fits her personality perfectly.

So when I was struggling to get in her head last week, having a hard time getting her story to come out on the page, I had a latte. And sure, enough, a few sips in and it was easier to think like Norah. I wrote more words last week on her story than I have in a month or so, I'd guess. Because for me, it was all about getting in her head, method acting for a writer, if you will.

If you're not a coffee drinker, or your character isn't, here are some other random things that might help:

1. What does your character wear? If you're writing about a fashionista, maybe change out of the yoga pants (hey, I'm not judging, I love them too!) and be extra cute.
2. Is your character a health nut? Write while you're crunching on carrots or something. Unless you hate healthy food. In which case, change your character. ;) Haha.
3. Does your character have a favorite drink? A favorite food? Drink it. Eat it.
4. If your character loves the outdoors, write outside.
5. If your character is scared of the dark and you're writing suspense, write it in the dark. Living through it "with" your character will help you see the shadows they see, help you understand why they're afraid.
6. Do something your character likes to do. Go play sports, if they do. If she's a librarian, go sniff the insides of those books at the library.

What other ideas do you have for a random list like this?

Do you ever intentionally try to get into your character's head by being like them for a few minutes?

Disclaimer: I'm not crazy. I know my characters are not real...Honest... ;) At least, I mostly know this...

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Hey guys!

I think we need some new questions and concerns to address. The blog has been kinda quiet for almost a week, so maybe we're all running out of topics? That or everyone else is just as swamped and stressed as I am ;)

So what say you? Anything we can cover to help you guys out? Otherwise we will brainstorm here soon and come up with some new material for you guys.

What would ya'll like to see?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Typecasting in Real Life

In real life, people tend to be almost "type cast." Know what I mean? Like the ER nurse I saw the other day, who looked like he probably lifeguarded as a teen--he was tall, nice looking (although my husband is much better looking--just throwing that out there in case he reads this. Haha.), and very much gave the impression that the situation was under control. My husband and I actually laughed on the way out of the ER (everyone seems to be fine, by the way) because he looked SO MUCH like an ER nurse who should have been in some medical drama.

But seriously, this happens in life all the time. People LOOK like the kind of people they are, or like the job they have, very often.

When was the last time you walked into a library and the librarian was a 6'4'' man with broad shoulders and a young-Harrison-Ford-as-Han-Solo smile?

We make generalizations about people for a reason. Life experience has taught us that it's often right. Now, let's translate this to stories. What this means for me in my writing is that I know I have to make characters look a certain way for a reason. I'm not saying my character has to look stereotypical, by any means. Let's look at our librarian character, okay? You don't have to make the librarian a woman with mousy brown hair (said by a woman with hair about that color so I'm not hatin' okay, y'all? Haha.), who's petite with thick glasses, and always wears cardigans buttoned all the way up. If you want to, that will resonate with people. They'll think "Yes! Librarian!" And that's okay. I'm not arguing for stock characters, per se, not if they're important to your story, but sometimes people look like we'd expect and they should in our fiction too.

But what about the opposite? I think it's MORE than okay too! Say you want your librarian to be a 6'4'' man with broad shoulders and a young-Harrison-Ford-as-Han-Solo smile. That's totally fine, but let's face it, you've going to have to address that. Some character is going to make a comment about how he does not look like a typical librarian. There's going to have to be a reason he became a librarian instead of a football player, or police officer, or soldier. See what I mean?

Basically it breaks down this way. How your characters look matters. They almost (over-simplifying this a little) need to look just like their personality/job dictates, or totally opposite. Or even if you don't find that to be true, they need to have their looks for a reason. Don't give everyone blue eyes just because you like them. Don't make your hero look just like your favorite actor because you like how he looks even if it doesn't fit the character, okay? =)

How do you pick how characters look? Do you think you think through their physical descriptions consciously, or do they just "end up" looking like they're supposed to? Do you find pictures? Draw pictures?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Book tunes

Do you write to music?

Sadly, I can't multi-task sensory-wise like that very well. If I'm listening to music I can't concentrate on my novel, or else I DO start concentrating, and therefore have completely tuned the music out so its pointless. ha.

Does it work for you, though?

I know several authors who create soundtracks for their novels as  they write them or after the book is completed, popular songs that flow in theme or mood throughout the story. That's SO cool to me but I've yet to try it, mostly because of time. But even though I can't listen to music WHILE writing, I still am very much inspired BY music at any given moment. A song on the radio, or in a movie, or etc. can really make me feel something fresh toward my story or provide an idea or scene or argument or piece of dialogue that helps get me out of a writing rut.

Love how various forms of art seem to work together in that way. :)

So what say you on the music front??

Friday, November 1, 2013

Let Them Eat Cake!

Or, in my case, let them drink coffee. =)

I started writing a scene this week that wasn't going as smoothly as I wanted it to. My hero and heroine have just met for the first time, and I wanted it to be magical. Think fireworks, think the description Sam gives on Sleepless in Seattle when he says meeting his wife was "like...magic." That was what I was going for. But instead these two people in my head were being a little awkward.

I did finally manage to get them inside the coffee shop for their conversation, which was where they were supposed to be, so that was a good thing. (Yeah, I know, I made them up. But you're writers, so you get it, right?) But I feel like the conversation still isn't going quite the way I want it. Or maybe their actual words are okay, but I think I have a lot of "he said/she said" going on. And probably too many lines where there's nothing at all, just lines and lines worth of replies so that you'd read it and get confused about who's saying what.

But I finally managed to get some better word count when I started letting the characters just talk. I quit trying to "write" and plan and construct my perfect little scene and just let them have coffee. I let them talk. I might go back and delete some of their conversation, or polish it. I might go back and add some descriptions of the coffee shop, or their surroundings in some way (OOOH! Yeah! That sounds fun. I might go do that now...) But the scene does exist on "paper" or, uh, computer screen now, and that's better than nothing.

So I guess I just wanted to share what I've been working on and remind you that something is almost always better than nothing. Just let your characters go sometimes, let them work out whatever they need to say, or do whatever they feel like they need to do. You can come back and polish later. But you might learn things that will help you later, and at least you'll be making progress. =)

How's everyone doing these days?