As Promised

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Second half of critique group questions from last week’s post:

6)  CONFLICT:

* Are character motivations powerful enough to create sufficient conflict?

* Is a potential for conflict established that is strong enough to move the story forward?

* Are the motives understandable?

7)  DIALOGUE:

* Is the dialogue between characters natural, purposeful, interesting, engaging?

* Does the dialogue contain emotion in a way that narrative cannot?

* Are the character’s voices distinct? Does each one have a different way of expressing themselves? Are their voices appropriate for the setting, genre, and time period?

* Is the dialogue believable?

8)  NARRATIVE AND POINT OF VIEW:

* Is the narrative well-placed with the dialogue, not overwhelming the reader?

* Is background information presented at appropriate times and in the correct POV?

* Is POV clear and consistent?  Are changes smooth and logical?

*Should I use a different POV?

9)  PACING:

* Has the author dropped the reader into the action?

* Does the story flow smoothly, freely, and logically?

* Does every scene move the story forward?

10)  STORY:

* Are the story ad plot elements compatible with the genre?

* Can you picture each scene in your head?

* Is the purpose of each scene clear?

* Does each scene move the story forward?

* Does the story hold your interest?

* Does everything in the story build logically, plausibly, and believable toward the end/climax?

* Where do you feel the story is heading?

* Do inspirational elements grow organically out of character or plot?

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Sharpening the Ax

When reading my friend Dee Kincade’s blog a few days ago, I decided to ask her if I could have her permission to reprint it on my site this week. She has hit the nail on the head with her ideas on the importance of time spent in preparation for writing. Thanks, Dee!

A quote from Abraham Lincoln “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.” 

The first time I read this quote by Abraham Lincoln I thought about the mountains of Colorado where my husband spend many hours each summer getting wood for the winter.

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When we decided to use wood as our only source of heat, my husband talked to friends, researched the best chainsaws, and studied the different types of axes. Before he went out for the first time, he had to learn the art of where to cut the trees—uphill side or downhill. Do you notch the tree on the side of its lean, or does it matter.
I took the liberty to change President Lincoln’s famous quote to fit authors: “Give me six months to write and I will spend the first four learning how to do it.” Though it doesn’t quite fit, there are some basics that we all need to know before we sit down to write. What about the following? I didn’t know about ALL of them when I started writing.
Genres?
Age group?
Three acts?
Point of view?
Show vs. Telling?
Manuscript set-up
What is acceptable in the current market?
I’ve seen people who’ve decided to write for the first time sit down and do just that. Later, after spending several hundred hours and dollars they have their book line edited. Only to have the manuscript rejected because they hadn’t taken the time to learn before they went out to chop the keys of their keyboard. Now they had to do back and learn the skills.
After the first year, my husband would spend a weekend each summer filling the gas cans, cleaning out the stove and flue, and sweeping up the wood chips from the previous year.  Next, he’d oil the chain saw, and sharpen the chainsaw and ax. Then he was finally ready to go to the forest and cut down the dead trees. The preparation, took as much time as it did to chop the trees. However, it was time was well spent.
As writers, not only do we have to learn the craft, but we need to continue learning, stay up to date with changes in the market, and study new techniques.
How do you stay current with new trends and stay in learning mode?
 A note from Dee:  I write Christian fantasy books for Young Adults and the young at heart. If you’d like to
find out more go to www.deekincade.com   I hope to see you there!

Balancing Act

If you’re anything like me, you have a stack of books somewhere in your house that keeps getting taller. It seems like every book you read is replaced by one or two more!

The fact is, writers like to read. Need to read.

I’m not just talking about pleasure reading, which is a “given”. Every writer I have ever met has told me that it was the love of reading that sparked within them the desire to write.

No, I’m talking about reading about writing. The craft. Punctuation and grammar to be sure, but also reading about genres, point-of-view, voice, character development, plot and hundreds of more things we need to consider—need to master—in pursuit of excellence.

Once I started writing, I quickly realized the necessity of erecting two stacks of books. One I dubbed “Pleasure”; the other, simply “About Writing”. I have a rule concerning these books: Read from both stacks, simultaneously, so that I fulfill my need for learning AND for enjoyment.

So, what’s next on my stacks? James Scott Bell’s How to Write Dazzling Dialogue and Steven Pressfield’s Turning Pro are on top of the “About Writing” stack. And for pleasure, next up is Chapel Springs Revival by Ane Mulligan.

So, whether you keep an actual physical stack of books, like I do, or simply a list of “Must Reads”, my suggestion is that you try to balance your reading. After all, didn’t you hear this expression as a child? “All work, and no play, makes Jack a dull boy.”

 

Please visit http://www.spiritual snippets.com and http://www.5scribesandtheirstories.com to see what is going on there.