Sunday, July 22, 2012


Oftentimes, it seems that our writing goals are always our works in progress. It makes sense, of course. For many of us, the end goal is to be published (or to be published again), and to do that, you have to produce manuscripts. Sometimes it is easy to lose focus on other writing tasks that just don't seem as important, and I think that's a shame. I love my SFF genre, but if I spend all my time trying to come up with innovative new ways of hiding the savior to the world on a far-flung farm (I kid!), I'm bound to lose some of the other writery skills that I need.

Something that I like to do is jot down brief sketches from time to time. I will spend fifteen minutes just writing a character sketch about one of the multitudes of people that live on the fringes of my brain. This character is not intended for use in any particular project that I'm working on--it's merely a practice for me at coming up with characters. And, of course, if I need a character later on, it can come in handy! Especially for  providing depth to tertiary characters without derailing yourself from your current project. I often include a snippet of a scene that places the character in context, giving me a chance to see how the character acts. Sometimes this even leads me down the road of a new idea for a novel or story!

Another kind of sketch that I like is to try to capture pictures. I'm sure we've all had moments where our breath catches at the unique beauty (or horror) of something that we are observing. At least for me, I want to share that with people, but this is no easy task. Can you really explain the curve of that mountain fading into the distance? With practice, perhaps! I keep a file on my computer where I will type up a sentence or two and try to capture a particular moment in time. This is something that is very difficult for me--my writing tends to be terse and action-oriented--and so I must practice.

Here is an example about the view I had of downtown when I got to work the other morning:

The city rises into the sky, the highest buildings piercing into the bottom of a heavy gray cloud. Their tops are lost in the gloom, but between them rays of sunlight find a way to peek through, lancing through the buildings from some distant place where clouds do not hold sway.

Will this ever be useful in one of my projects? I don't know. I don't tend to write many locales that involve skyscrapers! But even so, I think it is useful to develop my skills in passing along inspiring, vivid scenes to my readers.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Settling In

I have been mired in the often-painful process of moving across the country over the past few weeks, and it has taken over my life! It is hard to make time for writing when your apartment is a mess of boxes and heaps of junk, and your to-do list gets longer every day, not to mention getting acclimated to a new job and the sudden loneliness of leaving behind a serious boyfriend. So writing has not so much been happening.

But now, as I get settled in, I finally have my desk set up and am ready to get some words flowing! And just in case I was lacking in inspiration, the recent move has unearthed random things I had forgotten about (as moves do), and I find it hilarious.

I keep a small notebook by my bed. I jot dreams down in it if they strike me as very vivid. Who knows, maybe I'll dream the next Star Wars? But alas, no luck so far. I found this page, hastily scrawled in a half-asleep state some long ago morning:

She meeets [sic] these aliens and accepts a job with them but then finally lands an acting job, not realizing it was arranged by the alien people, frozen lake walking 4 girl friends.

I'm not sure what the hell that was about, but maybe someday you'll see my bestseller on the shelves...Frozen Lake Walking 4 Girl Friends. Chick lit meets sci fi meets nonsense! (Or meeets nonsense.)