Why is it so hard to write a novel, and especially hard to sit down and write your first novel?

Because you’ve never done it before.

Any endeavor can be extremely difficult for a beginner.

But the more you do — or even the more you sit at your computer and think about writing even if you don’t do any actual work — the easier the process becomes because you are becoming mentally psyched up to do it.

And one day you’ll discover that it’s not so hard after all.

Is editing the most time-consuming part of fiction writing?

Issac Azimov once said that he learned to write when writers were paid pennies a page, so he learned to write the finished product as his first draft as a way to same time and earn more money.

I do the same thing but it took a long time to learn how to say what I want to say with nothing extra thrown in that’ll be removed or changed later.

And I struggled with the necessary self-discipline to accomplish such a task. How to ignore all those little voices in the back of my head telling me to take this or that side trip because it’s ‘calling to me.’

It worked for Azimov and it works for me. I do very little editing and neither did he.

However, every writer is different and every writing process differs from every other writing process and many, many writers would produce inferior products if they used that same self-disciplined method because their best work comes when they take all those creative side trips that I don’t allow myself to take and when they simply let the words spill out however they wish.

Such writers say their best work happens when they don’t use self-discipline. But they do a lot of re-writing and editing.

A lot!!!

What’s the importance of making story writing a hobby?

When I first started writing as a career, I found that I ‘wrote out’ a lot of things from my past. Okay, I’ve had an easy, comfortable life but, like with everyone, there were a few things that were best gotten rid of mentally. And those memories made great stories.

Then I became a pro and learned that part of being a pro is mentoring new writers and that’s when I learned that what I’d done in the beginning is the norm and is done so much that I now (privately!) call the first part of any writer’s professional journey the ‘cathartic’ phase of their career. And those memories make great stories.

I can’t count the times I’ve read stuff by a new/emerging writer that was based on their life and that was something they had to get out of their system before going on to other subjects. And some of the best writers in history never made the transition. Think Sinclair Lewis and other American writers of that same period. And they were great stories.

The thing is, I’ve seen the same thing happen among people who enjoy writing as a hobby with no intention of ever becoming pros. Because everyone has something to write about that’s based on their life.

Because writing is cathartic. And healing. And even if you had a wonderful life, remembering all that stuff from your past is also fun. And makes great stories even if you are the only person to read those stories.

And when that cathartic phase of your writing journey is completed and you are ready to go beyond your own past and present, stretching your imagination and letting it soar is fun! And makes for great stories even if you are the only person who ever reads them.

How can I write the first chapter of my fantasy novel as a scene that happened 8 years previously?

 There are two ways and either way works well:
  1. Write the scene as a prologue instead of as a chapter. It’s done all the time and it works great. The only thing to remember if you use this technique is not to make the prologue too long because, for some reason, readers are turned off by a really long prologue and will simply skip it and get to the book itself. Even if the prologue is essential to the story and you do your best to make sure the reader understands that fact, they still tend to skip it if it’s too long.
  2. Write the first chapter as a ‘flashback.’ This is usually done by using the first paragraph to set the scene that the present/real action is in and to kick-start the flashback. Then the last paragraph in the chapter brings the reader back to the present.

Red Carpet Dreaming

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Have you ever daydreamed about what you would do if you were invited to a glamorous red carpet event or something as publicized as the Royal Wedding? Because a lot of people were invited and not all were royalty either. So why not me?

Anyway, just in case. I’ll be prepared because I’ve thought about it lots of times and not just for royal weddings. There are movie premiers. Presidential inaugurations. Pulitzer prize ceremony. Opening of fishing season. (Oops, maybe that’s not exactly red carpet though it is at that level of importance up here in the north country.)

What would I wear? My cousin is an accomplished seamstress, would she make me a gown? What color should it be? Hair up or down? Who could I get to do my makeup? How high should my heels be?

Most of all, who would I take as my plus one? My mom? My sister? My handsomest male friend to be arm candy for the cameras? My cat?

You might laugh at my red carpet dreams, but at least I’ll be prepared if the call comes!

When it comes.

(Thanks, http://www.missouriquiltco.com)

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.

Bring back traditional May Day!

The internet tells me that May Day is traditionally celebrated with dancing, singing, and cake. I did have one grade school teacher who taught us to dance around a maypole and braid crepe paper together, but when I think over my life I notice a glaring absence of May Day cake, — as in the dancing, singing and cake — and I have to say I feel a little cheated. I want some May Day cake!

More about black cats. Yep, there’s more.

Black cats are as easily adopted as cats of other colors.

Although euthanasia numbers for black cats have been some of the highest of all cats, their total number of adoptions was the highest of any hue as well. There may just simply be more black cats than other colors.

Furthermore, the Black Panther movie has made black cats so wildly popular lately that animal shelters are often not able to provide all the black cats people want.

So does it surprise you that I chose a black cat as one of the main characters of my latest small-town romance, A Very Black Cat?

Of course it doesn’t and if you read the book, you’ll see why he’s so perfect for the role he plays in the story.

Another black cat factoid. This one about panthers. Black panthers!

 

Let’s get the hard stuff over with up front. And that hard thing is:  there is no  such thing as a black panther.

What? No black panther? What about the superhero? Well, he’s different, of course. He’s real. But actual four-pawed black panthers that kind of resemble tigers? Nope. Not real.

It’s a term used for any big black cat. What we call black panthers are in fact jaguars or leopards and yes, they have spots, too. They are hard to see beneath all that black but look carefully and you can see spots as the sunlight hits them in just the right way.

How can I get readers to relate to a non-human character in a story?

 

I suspect it’s the ONLY way to describe a character because, as humans, we don’t know how to describe anything other than ourselves and, fortunately for writers, that includes a huge range of characters from the most lofty, nicest characters imaginable to the worst scum of the universe.