Tag Archives: Writing

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group March

It’s that time again, the first Wednesday of the Month

Insecure Writer’s Support Group

“Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting! Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post.”

March 1 Question: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

I have thought about it-pulling out an old piece and reworking it. Something always comes up; a new idea or project and I move forward not looking back. I have to admit- I have a piece I have been working on forever.

(In my head  I  hear “forever” sounding like a teen trying to get out of washing their clothes.. Do I have to! ! Double exclamation point with an extra dangling whine. )

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I have a lot of unfinished pieces. For one reason or another I just can’t find their endings. Those never really get done. I can’t seem to get close to the mid-point. Once I hit that rising action all my characters start falling off Freytag’s pyramid. I find that simple line isn’t enough to hold them, they start dangling by their toes….then the whole thing gets pushed back in its folder, stuffed in the back of a drawer or hidden between the pages of a book on writing.

 

I was told once, that I wrote too fast… and to slow up so I could think about what I was writing. That was the worst advice to give to anyone.  Writing and getting that story out is the most important part- at least for me- once I have my thoughts on paper, then the real writing and rewriting starts. But, it has to be on paper. Not in my head! Not swimming in a fog of ideas, for once that fog clears, I can end up with ‘nothing’. Pooof!

I have been reading Stephen King’s, The Dark Tower series. In the introduction for the first book, The Gunslinger, King tells how long and to what extent, he had been working on this book and how he got the idea in the first place. He read J.R.R Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings in 1966-67, which sparked his wanting to write his “own kind of story.”

Stephen King said, that when he writes, “his method of attack” is to “plunge in and go a fast as I can” and “…keeping the edge of my narrative blade as sharp as possible by constant use, and trying to outrun the novelist’s most insidious enemy, which is doubt. Looking back prompts too many questions: How believable are my characters? How interesting is my story? How good is this, really? Will anyone care? Do I care myself?”
Then he goes on to say: “I put it away, warts and all, to mellow. Some period of time later six months, a year, two years,…” Then adding, “…I come back to it with a cooler (but still loving) eye, and begin the task of revising.”

 

So pulling out old stories and reworking them is on my list for 2017. Time can only sharpen my eyes, and my ability to tell that story with a slightly different twist.

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The Insecure Writer’s Support Group-January Blog Post

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group

 http://www.alexjcavanaugh.com/p/the-insecure-writers-support-group.html

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

January 4 Question: What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard? ~TheIWSG

There isn’t a writing rule that I wished to have never heard of: whenever someone mentions rules, I tend to fall asleep….

I have found that the more I read and delve into an idea; even those rules become more convoluted. I have a need to bricoler (tinker) inside those flow of words, meld with the colors, feel the whispers and to see how those rules were (are) played with by artists and writers, to see how they used them or didn’t.

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I wonder if I missed the rules on writing this post…

Truth be told, I believe that all rules need to be broken. Every red button labeled ’don’t press’ needs to be pressed just so I can see what would happen: a rainbow car tumbles out a Clown Alley of critics with their trusty red markers, taking it out on my imagination.

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I got past worrying about state of being verbs. Stumbled over commas, I add one every time I exhale; is that worse than using none. Or counting every ‘the’ … twelve,  just saying.

I started wondering about the path that forks out towards a Quotidian world or Balzacian or Bourgeois, let’s not forget Jamesian and Metaleptic telling or told. I started scratching my head over Metaphysics to show existence, then wiggling over to Ontology: straining to hear Social Realism whispering in dark corners. A few shakes of empty soup cans, rattling with dried peas, a sorry imitation of bongo drums. All the while looking confused at the honing steel hanging out in Kitchen Sink scenes, pointing down the hall to the fogged up mirrors of Romanticism.

The best or maybe my grandparent’s favorite was ‘bathtub gin’ it helped them not to worry about rules.

 

Video lesson 13 Writing Suspense James Patterson’s MasterClass

Friday’s, Writing with James Patterson MasterClass

 

Lesson 13 writing suspense
Lesson 13 writing suspense

Video lesson thirteen 13 Writing Suspense. James Patterson starts out this video lesson with a bang. He talks quickly, enthusiastically, what I saw from James Patterson is the energy that you ‘need’ to see in your writing.

Here is a part of Mr. Patterson’s opening lines for lesson 13:

“Obviously, with mystery and suspense, it’s all about suspense. It’s constant non-ending fireworks. Its an adventure that starts and, –it’s gonna hold you at the edge of your seat right to the end, it starts big and gets even bigger….”

And even more…

Got to be genuine. If it feels like, to somebody throwing in devices, if you feel the manipulation, you lose them there too. If the readers going, ‘this is just crap.   This is just the usual somebodies, you know, trying to manipulate me.’

I love this line: “People kind ah want to be manipulated, but they want it done well.”

Know Your Genre

Read the books you want to write. You will learn how to write them, and you won’t write the same book. Write your own story. 

“Be aware of what’s out there. Not to imitate it but to avoid it.”~ James Patterson

The Da Vinci Code the complexity in the story is in the puzzle. It felt fresh to people.

The Da Vinci Code is a mystery-detective novel by Dan Brown.

Now, the secret to suspense is…

Ooops! Sorry, I will not tell you what James Patterson revealed in his video. I will give you a hint. It is common sense. If I reveal it to you, you will lose out on hearing it being told by James Patterson.

James Patterson does get around to answering that question. He pumps up the energy in this class with intense energy.

If you listen, really listen, you will hear all the good advice being given. But you have to listen. Remember when you sat in school  staring out the windows and not listening…well, don’t do that here. You will miss a great lecture. So a little advice, listen to these videos. Listen over and over so you can hear when that  advice is given.

Click on the link to James Patterson’s MasterClass you will find it on the top left-side. Just look, for Mr. Patterson’s picture.

Lesson 12 Building a chapter James Patterson’s Masterclass

Lesson 12- Building A Chapter

Lesson 12 Building A Chapter
Lesson 12 Building A Chapter

Friday with James Patterson’s MasterClass

James Patterson starts this lesson saying:

“Mike Connelly said, What Jim does, is, every single chapter moves the characterization and the action forward. -Every chapter. And turns on the movie projector in our heads.”

Then James continued.

“That movie projector in our heads means, that I can see the scene. I can hear the scene. I can smell the scene. I taste the scene. Something about it, I was getting enough information that sets me in that scene. So I can be there ‘with’ that character. And that’s really, really useful.”

He tells us to hear, smell, and see the scene- be there with the character. My take on this is –get in close– and personal. Chapters can be one scene or a few scenes. It all depends on what you have in mind for your story, your novel.

Choose a View Point

James Patterson likes to write in 1st person and 3rd person limited

Then he tells us, ‘It is your creation you can do whatever you want to do if it works.’ There are no rules that’s says you can’t use 1st and 3rd in the same story.

He likes to follow the villains and some secondary characters – you can switch off and write from a different character’s point of view. Who makes it more interesting? Which point of view feels right? The victim? The Detective, or the Killer? What is the best point of view you need to make the chapter come alive?

Other points of view emotionally how do you want your reader to feel? What is going to make it sad, happy, scary or sexy – then write in that point of view or rewrite it?

In ‘1st To Die’ all the main character are introduced in that first chapter. 1st to Die (Women’s Murder Club #1) by James Patterson

Starts with a murder of a couple, in a hotel, while on their honeymoon. We are introduced to Lindsay Boxer who is a police officer. The medical examiner, Claire Washburn. We meet Jill Bernhardt an assistant D.A. We see their connection. In this first chapter, we met three key characters. Then we meet a young reporter, Cindy Thomas, the fourth member, and she doesn’t belong there. She lies her way in. By the end of the book they are a unit – James Patterson says, “good shit”

This lesson has a PDF, a comments section, and an assignment.

 

Lesson 11 ‘Writing Dialogue, James Patterson’s Masterclass

Lesson 11 ‘Writing Dialogue, Friday’s with James Patterson’s Masterclass

James Patterson's Masterclass
James Patterson’s Masterclass

“All of your key interchanges with your characters, I mean, they gonna be good, bad or indifferent just because of the dialogue. And how they talk to each other it is gonna reveal who they are. Who’s smarter, who’s taking advantage of who? Who’s lying? Who’s telling the truth? Who’s in charge? And who’s really in charge”. ~James Patterson

Mr. Patterson used Lush Life by Richard Price,  his example of  what great dialogue can sound like. I have that book. I need to sit down with it, read and learn, pull the dialogue apart , examine its details. And figure out its ‘hows and whys’ .  This is definitely the type of dialogue that I would love to write.

Here are a few lines from, page 6 of Lush Life.

“What do we got…”

“Two males in the front.”

“What do we got…”

“Neon trim on the plate.”

“Tinted windows.”

“Right rear taillight.”

“Front passenger just stuffed something under the seat.”

No dialogue tags. Just fast paced dialogue. Short, tight writing. It moves along. In just these seven lines I can feel and see the movement as the cops check out the car they stopped. I felt like I walked around that car.

My thoughts on this: check out your favorite authors and see how they write their dialogue. Read it out loud. Get the feel for it. Then ask yourself if you learned anything new about that character from their dialogue. Where did the author take you in this dialogue?

James Patterson doesn’t write realism. His dialogue is heightened – but it feels real. Without being ‘literally’ real dialogue. Because real dialogue is boring…

Listen to how people speak when you are in the store, at work, on the bus.

This class has a comments section, where you can post your lesson and a video critique by James on his office hour’s page where he will answer questions.

Enroll by clicking the link on the upper left sidebar.

 

I binged watched Netflix STRANGER THINGS

I just finished binge watching on Netflix ‘STRANGER THINGS‘.

I loved it!

I don’t want to give out any {{spoilers,}} so go watch then come back here. *SPOILER*

Creators; Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer

I can compare this movie to other writer’s work and past shows, but only if I want to nitpick at a really great Netflix original.

When the show started I didn’t love the character of  Joyce played by Winona Ryder. I started complaining at how she didn’t even seem to notice her teen was making breakfast. Later on, she redeemed herself by accepting responsibility for her shortcomings.

Winona Ryder played a stressed-out, guilt-ridden, divorced mom running through stages of grief. She had me believing  she was heading for a one-way-ticket to a nervous breakdown and living in a cardboard box. Her house is a mess, her life is a mess, she is a mess. I felt sorry for her.

Police Chief Hopper (David Harbour) his daughter died of cancer before this story started. He is dealing with that loss with beer and pills.

The show has four preteen kids. Gaten Matarazzo  who plays Dustin Henderson. Caleb McLaughlin as Lucas Sinclair the  lifelong next-door neighbor of Mike Wheeler, played by Finn Wolfhard. Lastly we have Noah Schnapp  who plays  Will Byers, the character that everyone is searching for or believes is dead.

These boys are friends, who live by a code of chivalry that they learned from playing Dungeons and Dragons.  They prove their  friendship, with cooperation and  using strategy to find the real enemy.

I wondered about the accuracy as they played the game, especially when they ran into  Demogorgon. No one faces Demogorgon and lives. So tossing a fireball at a creature that is from a flaming pit/the Abyss/ it is Hell’s most powerful demon, well, that won’t kill it. When Demogorgon pops in, you run for your life. Just… RUN!

The boys meet Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) while they are out looking for their friend Will

Nancy is a teenage girl, who now has two boys who are smitten with her. Here we see normal teen hormones running rampant. Nancy’s little brother, Mike, takes in Eleven and she hides in their basement.

Nancy (Natalia Dyer) has a crush on Steve (Joe Keery), a popular boy at school. Jonathan Byers played by Charlie Heaton, has a crush on Nancy. Jonathan’s little brother is Will.

I hope you followed me as I set up the characters.

Everyone has something they want or something they are trying to overcome. The government has their own agenda, which is capture Eleven, they will go to extreme measure to accomplish this goal. Eleven wants away from ‘bad people.’  The creature wants to feed. Joyce wants her son back. The boys want to find Will. Police Chief Hopper he couldn’t save his daughter, he needs to save Will.

Nancy wants to find her friend. Without being able to read Nancy’s mind, I can only guess she wants both boys. Steve wants Nancy. Jonathan wants to save his brother and maybe end up with Nancy.

The mentioning  of,  Hugh Everett the American physicist who came up with the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics-multiple universes, gave this story  believability.

Now, I wonder if someone or something is trying to communicate with me,  through my flickering hall light.

Tenth Video Lesson James Patterson’s Masterclass First Lines

Friday with James Patterson

Lesson 10 First Lines
Lesson 10 First Lines

Listening to James Patterson as he teaches this class, has given me a look into the way his words play out in his books. I can hear his voice, his sound is a sort of eastern- Mid-Atlantic accent with a pinch of New England. I could be hearing things,- which wouldn’t be the first time- Well, maybe I should think up an idea for a story just out of a person’s dialect.

Here’s my attempt at that first line: “How long you gonna take stare’n at da map, Jimmy?” “Shda-up , Doris, we can’t just drive up wit old Benny in da trunk”

Okay, my accents need a lot of work. Still, I posted it in the comments section. Along with this: “Fourteen ways into the town, Jimmy had them all pointed out on the map all he needed was one, one that will let him drive into town hoping one would notice blood leaking out of his trunk.”

James Patterson tells us, that first lines, “Can give you an advantage. You are reaching out from that book, grabbing ahold of that reader and sucking them right into your book…or not. …. If you pull them right in you got em! “ The he said, “You’ve got that agent that editor, that reader. ”

FAVORITE FIRST LINES

James Patterson’s favorite first lines:

‘Along Came A Spider’ the first Alex cross book starts like this:

“Early on the morning of December 21, 1992, I was the picture of contentment on the sun porch of our house on 5th Street in Washington, D.C.”

This first line gives you a lot of information.  What it tells me is the feeling, –  “the picture of contentment” then I have the time, “early on the morning” the date, “December 21, 1992” and where it all takes place, “sun porch of our house on 5th Street in Washington, D.C.”

Here is the first sentence for ‘You’ve Been Warned’ by James Patterson a horror book, “Its way to early in the morning for dead people”

If you want to contact James Patterson you can send him a letter at this address from his website

James Patterson  c/o Author Mail  Hachette Book Group USA 1290 Avenue of the Americas New York, NY 10104,

or connect  with James Patterson on Facebook,  Twitter,  and Pinterest

Or sign up with MasterClass. That link is at the top of the black, left sidebar.

Ninth Video Lesson James Patterson’s Masterclass Creating Character

Friday with James Patterson

Creating Characters
Creating Characters

Lesson 9 Creating Character

“If you write something mediocre chances are it won’t get published.” James Patterson

Try to see the world through your character’s eyes, the way that character would see the world. Look through their eyes, their religion, spiritual beliefs, fears, what he hates, loves, and wishes.

What I get from this: If the character you are creating is the antagonist makes sure you give them a redeeming quality. Make them human.Put yourself into your characters, how would you feel in that same situation?

Create a great character by how they see the world. James Patterson doesn’t write realism. He does get into the emotional part of his character, Alex Cross’s  career of being a cop. Get into the emotional feel of your character’s career.

Are you having trouble finding the right career for your character? Here is a link- with a list of careers. – Occupational Outlook Handbook

“Difficult to create a hero that you want to read about- if there isn’t complexity “ `James Patteson

Your secondary characters, the Grandmother in the Alex Cross books is vital, and she is a secondary character.

I am ending this, ‘Friday with James Patterson’ with a picture of Megumi. She is a rescued Ragdoll. She was abused and nearly dead when she was taken in by a local rescue group. I will tell you about her in a future post. I just wanted you to see her. Happy, Healthy and spoiled in her forever home.

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Eighth Video Lesson James Patterson’s MasterClass Writer’s Block

Lesson 8

Lesson 8 James Patterson's Masterclass
Lesson 8 James Patterson’s Masterclass

WRITER’S BLOCK

James Patterson holds up a yellow legal pad and says, “This is the enemy, the blank page.”

Just get that first draft down. Like everyone James Patterson can have trouble getting those words down on paper, getting them down so they sound and feel right.

“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”~ E.B. White

To cut through my writer’s block, I tried a dictation software. Where my  words were typed out for me. That didn’t work. ‘If ‘what I spoke out loud,  wasn’t  what was typed. Which, disappointedly it wasn’t. Instead  it caused more writer’s block and anger at  myself for trying to  do something new, instead of just writing and editing later…I will answer emails or wash dishes instead of writing. So using that software was my way at procrastinating.

Back to James.

If he isn’t getting it, he puts TBD (To Be Done)  then comes back to it. Blocks happen. When you get blocked just move on.

James said, “Like when your trying to do a sport and you get all tense, that’s not going to work. You’re going to strike out.”

Seven days a week, Mr. Patterson gets up early and skims through two or three papers, and a cup of coffee.  It takes him about fifteen minute.  Then he starts writing. He writes in pencil, on yellow legal pad.  He has an assistant to type up his handwritten ideas.

I want an assistant. 🙂  She can help vacuum up all the cat hair. I bet James has a maid to do his vacuuming …yes, I am getting off track.

James Patterson will read what he ‘just’ wrote and edits that only.

What I got from this video is  you need to find a way to make your mind a blank. So you can recharge. This makes sense. When I get stressed, I can’t write. When my mind is full I can’t write.

Stay Focused

James has always been able to tune out the world and focus on what he is doing.

I will need to take all my crazy personalities off to the side and have a talk with them. Maybe I just need to yell ‘Shut up’ not that they will listen…Some people can use music to find that place where they can write. I need quiet. Find your quiet place.

James Patterson can tune out anything. He is able to concentrate. He does one thing at a time. If you learn how to tune out everything, learn to focus on one thing. Concentrate on that one thing. Then you then can get into the story, into the scene.

James Patterson writes seven days a week, he loves it!

 “Do the best you can possibly do.”  James Patterson said,  “Aim for the stars.”

This lesson comes with the PDF workbook and a comments section where you can post your thoughts on this lesson.

 

Seventh video lesson James Patterson’s MasterClass Outlines part 2

James Patterson lesson 7

James Patterson MasterClass lesson 7
James Patterson MasterClass lesson 7

OUTLINES PART 2

“Only his editor has seen this outline,” we are told by James Patterson. “He hasn’t shared this before.”

I am not posting that outline nor the lessons. What I will do is give you my impression of those first three chapters in his book Honeymoon. And their ‘first and last’ sentences.

James Patterson’s chapters are short. His first chapter is only about 700 words. Now that is a guesstimate, 250 per page- guesstimate.

Before chapter one, the page is labeled:

Part One  PERFECT COUPLES

This part goes on and on according to my book.  In the ‘Honeymoon’ outline, Part Two starts with Chapter nineteen.

I posted 💡 in the comment section asking…

In the outline, I saw the book was cut into, not only chapters but, into Part-one, Part-Two, and Part Three. In the (actual) book, Honeymoon, or at least my copy. I only see Part One labeled. If the Parts were only for the outline, why start with Part One? Is this the storytelling arc- with a three-act structure?    

I await my answer. 😎 In the meantime read on.

Chapter one starts with:

“Nora could feel Connor watching her. “

Is this a stalker? We find out in the next sentence, -Connor always watches her pack. We are still getting to know this couple.

 It ends with a sentence that needs no explanation. 

“Now, what was that about tying somebody up?” she asked.

I can see how this chapter connects and then fills in with this couple joking, playing with each other. We see love; we are in love with them. These two, together, feel good. All happy, shiny lovey-dovey, and rich, what could go wrong?  This is the beginning, something has to happen or what’s the point of reading.

Chapter two has nearly 1,000 words in this chapter, which starts with:

“Thirty-minutes later, donning a plush pink terry-cloth robe, Nora descended the sprawling staircase of Connor’s 11,00-square-foot, three-story neoclassic Colonial.”

Nice description.

And here is the last sentence in this second chapter:

“She quickly dressed, and moments later, as the limousine started to drive away, Nora called to Connor out the open back window. “I’m the luckiest girl in the world!”

 All I think here is, Duh!

 Each chapter has its own beginning and end. Each one tells us about Nora and Connor. Each one is drawing us a little further into the story with very few words we connect to the main character.

 Chapter three: Is less than five hundred words. Remember my guesstimate, at 250-per page.

First sentence: “Nora couldn’t stop staring at the dazzling ring for most of the ride to the Westchester airport. “

And then the last two sentences:“Before reaching for the door, she glanced at her watch. It was showtime.”

That word, ‘showtime’ changed the tone of the story. We can hear, see and feel the change.

“The first couple of chapters really set up the third chapter.” James Patterson.

This class you can post comments, videos, and download the workbook. Listening to James Patterson is worth the price of admission.