About rain — rainbows — writing — stories of wonder.

It’s raining today. Sort of raining, just enough to get everything wet and make me not want to go outside and stand in it because I’d get chilled and soaked, though the ground will still be thirsty when it ends because it’s not coming down hard.

Still, considering we’ve been in a ‘red flag’ event for a while — forest fires so likely that it’s scary — I love that it’s raining. Love it.

Perhaps one of the things I love most about rain is what comes afterwards. And that’s a rainbow. Once in a while the rainbow is double, making for double the wonder and double the beauty.

I always feel lucky when I see a rainbow, and if you’ve ever seen a double rainbow—two rainbows on top of one another— it’s an amazing sight.

But triple and even quadruple rainbows are possible. Okay, maybe they are found more often in scientist’s labs than out-of-doors after a rain, but they are still beautiful. Scientists in a lab used water droplets and a laser to create a 200th order rainbow. I can only imagine what that was like!

But I’ve tucked the idea and a gorgeous mental picture in the back of my mind because I fully intend to use it in a future story.

Imagine a world where seeing a rainbow is considered good luck and a double rainbow would bring double the good luck. Then imagine a character seeing a rainbow to the 200th order.

What a story that would make. Will make.

Does writing exhaust or energize you? What are some common traps for aspiring writers?

 

Traps for new writers? They are all mental:

  • Thinking you’re not good enough, which is a trap because writing is a craft that, like every other craft, can be learned.
  • Thinking that your writing is good enough ‘as is’ and falling in love with your own work to the point that you’re not willing to change a single word. Or sentence. Or paragraph. I can’t count the number of times I’ve mentored a new writer whose work would have been wonderful — and more than up to publishing standards — IF they’d have been willing to rearrange or eliminate a few words. Okay, a LOT of words. Because new writers tend to use way more words than are necessary!
  • Thinking that you just write what you want to write and it will be published and read by interested readers. Wrong! Publishers — and readers — want to be able to find what they are looking for easily and that means looking in familiar categories for something that they will like. So if what you write falls easily into some genre — any genre — you’re good to go. If not, you’ll struggle to find readers.
  • I’m sure there are many more but those are the ones that come immediately to mind.

What’s the best way to approach writing the second draft of your novel?

 This is kind of a hard one. Everyone knows how to write a first draft. Just write it. But most novels published by major New York publishers go through 10 rewrites. Tenrewrites! That’s a lot of drafts.

But one way to get started on that dreaded second draft is to refer back to the outline, mental or otherwise, that you made before starting to actually write your novel.

Does what you actually wrote fit what you planned to write? Did you succeed in staying on task? Did you say what you wanted to say? And so on with whatever questions are right to ask about your own story.

If something strayed from your original intent, was what you said better than what you thought you’d say? If so, then redo that original plan and then make sure that your new, revised story fits your new, revised plan. Mark places that need changing so the story as a whole fits the new, revised plan.

If your original story is what turned out to be right after all, then does what you wrote stick to that plan? If not, then make notes of which parts need to be changed.

This isn’t an exercise in futility. It’s a way of making sure your story works and moves forward smoothly. And it doesn’t require changing a single word. Yet. (That will come later, on rewrite number 3, when you do the same thing with each chapter, and then each scene, and then each paragraph.)

Another interesting factoid about black cats. (They are healthy.)

THE GENE THAT CAUSES BLACK FUR MIGHT MAKE THESE FELINES RESISTANT TO DISEASE.
The mutation that causes a cat’s fur to be black is in the same genetic family as genes known to give humans resistance to diseases like HIV. So perhaps their color has less to do with camouflage than disease resistance. Scientists hope that as more cat genomes are mapped, we may get a step closer to curing HIV.

Hummmmm. Any black cat owner could tell those scientists that black cats are — well — special.

Why sailors like cats. (And why I like them, too.)

Cats are sailors’ best friends. Have been for hundreds of years.

Not only were cats welcome aboard British vessels to hunt mice, but sailors generally thought  a black cat in particular would bring good luck and ensure a safe return home.

A few of these kitties have been enshrined in maritime history. Tiddles traveled more than 30,000 miles during his time with the Royal Navy. His favorite pastime was playing with the capstan’s bell-rope.

I’m not surprised at these facts. My partially black cat, Smoky, who has some white and is called a ‘tuxedo’ cat because the white makes  him resemble a cat wearing a tuxedo, is a fairly normal cat. (Except that he’s a total coward, but that’s another story.)

He’s a welcome addition to the family. He’s my first cat ever and he’s taught me a lot about cats in general. Like the fact that they know exactly what they want and also know that they deserve whatever that is. That they like laps. And windows. And naps. And sometimes other cats and dogs and household pets in general. And that they don’t age like dogs. They don’t go gray and the only sign of old age — Smoky is 11 years old — is that they don’t jump quite so high as they used to.

Just like Little Guy, the cat hero of my latest clean small-town romance, who not only knows what he wants, he goes after it in the most polite but dogged manner possible. Of course he does. He’s a cat.

Check it out. A Very Black Cat is available now on Amazon.  http://www.Amazon.com/dp/B07BTGN58M

Black Cats. Gotta love ’em.

There’s a lot to love about these black, fur-balls as evidenced by holidays in their honor. What, you say? Holidays just for a specific color cat?

Yep.

The ASPCA celebrates Black Cat Appreciation Day annually on August 17.

In England, October 27 is National Black Cat Day.

I mention these because my latest clean small-town romance features a black cat. In fact the title is A Very Black Cat. I didn’t know when I sat down to write the book just how the cat would play against the other, human, characters but it worked out just fine.

Of course. Because Little Guy is a cat. Need I say more?

Check it out:      http://www.Amazon.com/dp/B07BTGN58M

 

As a writer, do you sometimes need reassurance that people care about your writing?

 The answer is ‘yes’ and ‘no.’
Because:

Writers, like all creative types, appreciate reassurance that what they are doing resonates with others. (Who doesn’t?”

At the same time, most writers prefer doing their own thing regardless of whether other people like it or not. (Again, who doesn’t?)

I suspect that the difference between the two motivations is in percentage, not in absolutes.

In other words, some writers find their need for reassurance to be huge while their need for doing their own thing is of lessor importance. Other writers may only feel good writing what they wish and only afterwards hoping vaguely that a few people out there like it.

Because, at the end of the day, writers are people.

I’m trying to write a plot line for a book but I keep on overthinking it and eventually hating them. How do I see it through to the end?

2. Describe a second main character in the same way.

3. Describe any other MAJOR characters the same way. Don’t worry about secondary characters, keep a note pad handy to scribble a description as they appear in your story. (This will save time and effort if you never need that character.)

4. Write down the problem that the whole story revolves around. Again, no more than a few sentences, one is usually sufficient.

5. Write down when your main character(s) begin to engage with that problem. No backstory, no long, boring description of scenery, just jump right in with the action that pertains to the main problem of the story.

6. Write down the solution to the problem. This might take several sentences but usually only one or two.

8. Jot down a paragraph describing the scene that will get the story started. That’s number 5. This is the beginning of your story.

9. In a sentence each, describe as many scenes as are needed to get from number 5 to number 8. Number 8 is the ending.

One caveat: long stories need lots of scenes, short ones only a few. If you are writing a novel, look up ‘story-boarding’ and use that template to make sure your reader doesn’t get bored in the middle.

A second caveat: don’t overthink it. A scene can be described in one sentence and not need to be fleshed out until you are ready to write that scene. This way, you don’t get frustrated by trying to get every detail figured out in advance. And you’ll find that many times your story will change as you write it so not having gone into a lot of detail will mean you didn’t do a lot of extra work.

WHY WE WRITE

Did you know?

Written language was invented independently by the Egyptians, Sumerians, Chinese, and Mayans.

Written language was invented independently by the Egyptians, Sumerians, Chinese, and Mayans.

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Which just goes to show that people from many cultures in widely differing parts of the world have felt compelled to write for a very long time.

Including me, though I never realized that writing was a compulsion until I reached a place in my life when it wasn’t required to bring in a check, but rather was something I did ‘just because.’

Because I knew how to put a story together and how to create viable characters and how to weave words together to say something intelligible.

And so I still do it, even though I’ve reached the age of retirement. (Or passed it years ago.)

But that’s me and I’m not everyone and there are as many reasons why writers write as there are writers sitting at their laptops – or scribbling in their journals – or dictating into their speech recognition software gadgets.

So now you know my reason for writing.

What’s yours?

 

 

Can we change the order of writing the sections?

Writers can and do write in any order they feel like writing.

Most writers who choose to skip around and write sections out of sequence make sure that they first outline the complete work so they won’t be writing scenes that later must be eliminated or changed because they don’t fit.

They are more likely to be changed (instead of eliminated) because of changes in the story that the author didn’t anticipate when making the outline.

I once story-doctored a wonderful science fiction book that had sections that were moved all over the place even after the entire book was written and it worked for that book because they could be moved without affecting the story itself.

So go for it. Just make sure you don’t spin your wheels unnecessarily.