Chapter Four

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Unfortunately, it’s taken me about two months to finish Chapter Four.  In that time, I’ve decided to change the genre of my story to Romantic Drama, instead of Romance.  The Romance genre has an implied sexual undertone that readers have come to expect.  Some authors have achieved success with these types of novels, but I don’t want my writing to be put in that category.  I never intended it to be sexual and I realized the Romance genre label was misleading.  I want my story to have a more substantial message.

Other than that, I’m now at 22,880 words, which is about 44 pages in Word.  I plan on making a few changes to some of the earlier chapters, when I’m in the editing phase.  I decided to have the main character, Charlotte, quit her job, instead of my initial idea of having her retire early.  I also want to make the opening line more captivating. Also, as my husband suggested, I want to give some of the main characters more time with the protagonist.  For example, in Chapter Three, I missed an opportunity to introduce a possible love interest, when I used a supporting character instead.

Overall, I think Chapter Four is my favorite chapter so far because Charlotte gets some one-on-one time with a different potential love interest.  Needless to say, there’s going to be a bit of a love triangle, which I wasn’t planning on doing, but I think it’ll allow more opportunities for complex character development and tension.  I hope to elaborate more on this in Chapter Five, which I expect to be done in a couple weeks.

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Chapter Three

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I hoped to have Chapter Three done in two weeks, but the last couple weekends have kept me busy.  It’s taken a little over three weeks to finish and it’s my largest chapter yet!  It’s about 6,800 words, before editing.  I’ve learned a lot since my last post and I’d love to share.

First, to reiterate, this is my very first attempt at writing a novel.  Other than a handful of poems and journal entries, the only other writing I’ve done was academic.  Some may say I’m not qualified to write a novel because I don’t have experience or a graduate degree, but the beauty of writing is anyone can do it!  Whether it’s good or not, in my opinion,  depends on natural talent, a willingness to self-teach, and an ambitious attitude.  There are several accomplished authors that either didn’t finish school or didn’t study English in college.

Anyway, with that in mind, it goes without saying that I’ve had to do a lot of self-teaching.  I’m like a baby bird jumping from its nest to see if it can fly.  I started with an idea, then have spent the last couple months fleshing it out into a story.  With the help of the internet, I’ve discovered that writers seem to be categorized in two ways: the Panster and the Planner (a.k.a. Pantser and Plotter).  I started as a Panster, which means I just wrote to see where the story pans out.  Now that I’m three chapters in, I think I’m going switch to being a planner, which is pretty self-explanatory.

I’ve found that being a Panster, while offering free-flowing ideas, leaves me without direction.  I ended up staring at the screen thinking, what happens now?  I know how I want the story to start and end, but I wasn’t sure what should happen in between.  I plan on doing some brainstorming and creating a loose outline moving forward.

Other than that, I noticed that my story tended to be very linear: A to B, then B to C.  It lacked depth.  In reading other novels, I picked up on the different literary devices that help enhance a story.  I absolutely love a good analogy, so I’m going to make a point to pepper them in.  I also love foreshadowing, so I’m going to plant little hints, then have them bloom later on.

To summarize, writing is hard!  I found a quote online that read, ‘Easy reading is hard writing.’ and I have to agree!

References:

Famous Authors Who Didn’t Graduate College –  https://www.pastemagazine.com/blogs/lists/2013/11/10-famous-authors-who-never-graduated-from-college.html

Panster vs. Planner (Pantser or Plotter) –  https://www.autocrit.com/editing/library/plotter-or-pantser-the-best-of-both-worlds/

Literary Devices – http://literary-devices.com/

 

Chapter Two

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I finished Chapter Two last weekend, but in a lull of inspiration, the integral part of the story turned out weak.  It was the part where the two main characters meet, so I felt it was important to rewrite it.  Actually, I initially thought it was good, but my editor, (my husband,) pointed out that it snuffed out the tension, which is important to a romantic plot.  He also mentioned that the introduction of the antagonist was mediocre.  Obviously that’s no good, so I went back to it with a fresh prospective and now it’s much more on point!

Early in the writing process, I decided my method would be to write the novel in it’s entirety, then go back and edit.  This is to keep the creative momentum moving forward and not get caught up on rewriting.  Although, since their meeting is the foundation of the rest of the story, it has to be solid.

Aside from that, I’m now at 11,210 words.  Chapter Two is about 2,000 words longer than Chapter One, which had me thinking if chapters need to be similar in length.  After reading a few articles, it seems to be the consensus that there aren’t any established  rules on chapter length.  According to Brian A. Klems from Writer’s Digest, chapters should be just long enough to serve a purpose and, once that purpose is served, it should be cut off so a new chapter (or mini-story) can begin.

With that in mind, I’ll be starting Chapter Three today and hope to be done in a couple weeks!

 

REFERENCES:

http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/long-novel-chapters

http://allwritefictionadvice.blogspot.com/2012/05/chapter-novel-lengths.html

http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/blog/2010/06/08/how-long-must-a-chapter-be-in-your-novel/

The Start

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I started writing the first draft of my Contemporary Romance novel on June 18, 2016.  It’s now been about 3 weeks and I’m halfway through Chapter 2.  So far, the story is totaling 6,441 words.  According to Writer’s Digest, an adult novel should be  between 80,000 and 89,999 words.  Similarly, the Writers & Artists website claims that a typical novel is 80,000 to 100,000 words in length.  Although, the Manuscript Appraisal Agency website states that romance novels are expected to be between 50,000-100,000 words.  I don’t have a specific word count goal, but I’m shooting for at least 80,000 words.

To summarize, the story is about a single, misfit, yet successful family lawyer who retires early to escape city life and move to a place of serenity where she encounters someone unexpected.  It’s kind of an adventurous and somewhat thrilling love story.

I started the manuscript using Word, but discovered a downloadable software called Scrivener that works even better for long text.  It allows me to break the text down into chapters and scenes, so I can refer back to them easily.  It also has an option where you can put two sections side by side to see if you’ve already used a certain phrase or if you just want to make sure you’re keeping the story cohesive.  I highly recommend it for writers.  It’s currently $40.00 to download on Literature & Latte’s website.  It’s also great for keeping your notes, pictures, and research in one place.

I’m really hoping to finish Chapter 2 this week.  A typical week day for me includes: working full time, reading on my breaks, writing after dinner, then working out.  At this pace, I have no idea when I’ll finish the novel, but I’m hoping no longer than a year.

 

References:

Writer’s Digest – http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/word-count-for-novels-and-childrens-books-the-definitive-post

Writers & Artists – https://www.writersandartists.co.uk/writers/advice/33/preparing-for-submission/how-to-find-a-literary-agent/how-long-should-my-ms-be

Manuscript Appraisal Agency – http://manuscriptagency.com.au/word-count-by-genre-how-long-should-my-book-be/

Scrivener – https://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.php

 

Sidebar: Underrated Lyrics

I was in fifth grade when I received my first stereo, complete with CD player and tape deck. It was silver, medium sized and oblong shaped with purple accents around the speakers and buttons.  Little did I know, this would be the start of my life-long love of music.  It began with the suspected radio hits and the carefully constructed mix tapes.  Then, in high school, I was introduced to the world of independent music.  It felt like I found my soulmate.  It ignited an insatiable  appetite for the underappreciated.  Most of the music went beyond the usual subject of languished love.  They dared to dabble in areas such as religion, politics, family dynamics, and tragedies.  They read more like poetry, in my opinion.

Bright Eyes – Digital Ash in a Digital Urn

“Arc Of Time (Time Code)”

You can make a plan
Carve it into stone
Like a feather falling
That is still unknown
Until the clock speaks up
Says it’s time to go
You can choose the high
Or the lower road
You might clench your fist
You might fork your tongue
As you curse or praise
All the things you’ve done
And the faders move
And the music dies
As we pass over
On the arc of timeSo you’ll nurse your love
Like a wounded dove
In the covered cage of night
Every star is crossed
By phrenetic thoughts
They separate and then collide
And they twist like sheets
’til you fall asleep
And they finally unwind
It’s a black balloon,
It’s a dream you’ll soon
DenyI hear if you make friends
With Jesus Christ
You’ll get right up
From that chalk outlineAnd then you’ll get dolled up
And you’ll dress in white
All to take your place
In his chorus lineAnd then in you’ll come
With those marching drums
In a saintly compromise
No more whiskey slurs
No more blonde hair girls
For your whole eternal life
And you’ll do the dance
That was choreographed
At the very dawn of time
Singing “I told you son,
The day would come,
You would die, you die, you die, you die…”To the deepest part
Of the human heart
The fear of death expands
’til we crack the code,
We’ve always known
But could never understand
On a circuit board
We’ll soon be born
Again, again, again, again…

 

Bright Eyes – Lifted or the Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground

“Let’s Not Shit Ourselves (To Love And To Be Loved)”

Well, the animals laugh from the dark of the wilderness.
A baby cries hard in an apartment complex,
as I pass in a car buried under the influence.
The city’s driving me out of my mind.
I’ve seen a child is caught in the sad trap of gravity.
He falls from the lowest branch of the apple tree
and lands in the grass and weeps for his dignity.
Next time he will not aim so high.
Yeah, next time, neither will I.
Now a mother takes loans out, sends her kids off to colleges.
Her family’s reduced to names on a shopping list.
While, a coroner kneels beneath a great, wooden crucifix.
He knows there’s worse things than being alone.
And so I’ve learned to retreat at the first sign of danger.
I mean, why wait around, if it’s just to surrender?
An ambition, I’ve found, can lead only to failure.
I do not read the reviews.
No, I am not singing for you.
Well I stood dropping a coin into the pit of a well.
And I would throw my whole billfold if I thought it would help.
With all these wishes I make,
I should buy something real, at least a telephone call home.
Well, my teachers, they built this retaining wall of memory,
all those multiple choices I answered so quickly.
And got my grades back and forgot just as easily,
but as least I got an A.
And so I don’t have them to blame.
Well I should stop pointing fingers;
reserve my judgment of all those public action figures,
the cowboy presidents.
So loud behind the bullhorn, so proud they can’t admit
when they’ve made a mistake.
While poison ink spews from a speechwriter’s pen,
he knows he don’t have to say it,
so it, it don’t bother him.
“Honesty”, “Accuracy” is just “Popular Opinion.”
And the approval rating’s high,
and so someone’s gonna die.
Well ABC, NBC, CBS: Bullshit.
They give us fact or fiction? I guess an even split.
And each new act of war is tonight’s entertainment.
We’re still the pawns in their game.
As they take eye for an eye until no one can see,
we must stumble blindly forward, repeating history.
Well, I guess we all fit into your slogan
on the fast food marquee:
Red blooded, White skinned oh and the Blues.
Oh and the Blues, I got the Blues! That’s me! That’s me!
Well, I awoke in relief.
My sheets and tubes were all tangled weak from whiskey and pills,
in a Chicago hospital.
And my father was there, in a chair, by the window, staring so far away.
I tried talking, just whispered, “…so sorry…so selfish…”
He stopped me and said, “Child I love you regardless
and there’s nothing you could do that would ever change this.
I’m not angry. It happens. But you just can’t do it again.”
So now I try to keep up, I’ve been exchanging my currency.
While a million objects pass through my periphery.
Now I’m rubbing my eyes ’cause they’re starting to bother me.
I’ve been staring too long at the screen.
But where was it when I first heard a sweet sound of humility?
It came to my ears in the goddamn loveliest melody.
How grateful I was then to be part of the mystery,
to love and to be loved. Let’s just hope that is enough.

The Faint – Danse Macabre

“Ballad Of A Paralyzed Citizen”

I’m paralyzed and things could
Change for you as well
You’re not so bad off now
You can move anything you need
I’m not this way because of an
Emergency I caused
At seventeen I was a guard perched
Above the chlorine floor
When I saw a hand raise up
From just beneath the air
A frantic move for help
I made an instant judgment call
To dive
I arced my feet to dive
I broke the elemental line to save a child.
Dive into the shallow floor
The bottom scraped my palms
And compressed my spine.
Now I’m paralyzed while they just
Move to make amends
The family and the kid
Who faked the drowning incident
I’ve felt the hand of god and that’s
The last thing that I felt
And all below my back
I’ve lost the faith I thought I had.
To dive
I arced my feet to dive
I broke the elemental line to save a child.
Dive into the shallow floor
The bottom scraped my palms
And compressed my spine.

 

Murder by Death – Who Will Survive, and What Will be Left of Them

“End Of The Line”

All the kids have run inside, grabbed a spot under the stairs. They’ve barricaded all the windows and rigged the doorknobs shut with chairs. What are they waiting for? They don’t know. They just keep their fingers crossed and maybe pray to Mary or Jesus Christ. I can hear them knocking down the door. The wait it is over. This bottle is done. So we clench our fists and fight our demons. There’s a girl with a flower pot full of dirt and bullet shells. She puts it by her window gives it sunlight, restores its health. After a month or two, the shells start to grow into branches of barbed wire. They spread across the walls, the windows and the floors and their grip never tires. Lay low. Lay low. Keep your head down. Lay low. Lay low. Listen for the sound of the dusty train that’s comin’ to sweep us all away. I can hear the rails a rattlin’ against the hectic fray, so set the bone with a cardboard split and strike the nail against the flint and set the fields on fire. Let the devil come. Let him come. I’ll be waitin’ for him this time. I am stronger now and I can fight it. I’ll be waitin’ at the end of the line at the end of the line.

As Cities Burn – Son I Loved You at Your Darkest

“The Widow”
Dead man, were you ever alive?
Or was I just a seed buried deep inside
Some woman you wed
Right before you crawled out of her bed and crept down the hall?
Did you think of me?
Did you even for a second hesitate in the doorway?
It’s just something that I’d like to know
Though I’d still love you if told me
That you just walked away
My God, what a world you love
Where men bury their sons
And without thought just walk away
And my mother’s heart breaks
Like the water inside of her
Dead man, is it being high that makes you alive?
It makes you leave behind three boys and a wife in ’89
As the track marks inched their way up your arm
My mother taught my brothers and I not to call you daddy
But to call you fatherBut I believe there is something here to be learned of grace
‘Cause I can’t help but love you
No I can’t help but love you
Even with a heart that breaks
Like the promises that you made
Like the promises that you made
The promises that you made
‘Cause I still love youMy God, what a world you love

Pedro the Lion – Control

“Priests And Paramedics”

Paramedics brave and strong
Up before the break of dawn
Putting poker faces on
Broken bodies all day long

The neighbors heard the fight
Someone had a knife
It must have been the wife
Husband’s lost a lot of blood
He wakes up screaming oh my god
Am I gonna die, am I gonna die?
As they strapped his arms down to the sides
Times like these they’ve been taught to lie
Buddy just calm down you’ll be alright

Several friends came to his grave
His children were so well behaved
As the priest got up to speak
The assembly craved relief
But he himself had given up
So instead he offered them this bitter cup

You’re gonna die
We’re all gonna die
Could be twenty years
Could be tonight
Lately I have been wondering why
We go to so much trouble
To postpone the unavoidable
And prolong the pain of being alive

MeWithoutYou – Catch for Us the Foxes

“Four Letter Word (Pt. Two)”

I wrote a four word letter… with post-script in crooked lines,
“Though I’d lived I’d never been alive.”
And you know who I am… you held my hem as I traveled blind,
Listening to the whispering in my ear, soft but getting stronger,
Telling me the only purpose of my being here is to stay a bit longer.
Stealing a bicycle chain as the handlebars crashed to the ground,
And the back wheel detached from the frame, it kept rolling, yeah,
But aimlessly drifting around.
Oh, doubters, let’s go down… let’s go down, won’t you come on down?
Oh, doubters, let’s go down… down to the river to pray.
“Oh, but I’m so small I can barely be seen… how can this great love be inside of me?”
Look at your eyes…. they’re small in size, but they see enormous things.
Wearing black canvas slippers in our frog-on-a-lily-pad pose,
We sewed buttons and zippers to Chinese pink silk and olive night clothes.
If you could someday stop by somehow we’ll show you the pictures and fix you some tea…
See, my dad’s getting a bit older now, and just unimaginably lonely!
Oh, pretenders, let’s go down… let’s go down, won’t you come on down?
Oh, pretenders, let’s go down… down to the river to pray.
“Oh, but I’m so afraid” or “I’m set in my ways”
But He’ll make the rabbits and rocks sing His praise.
“Oh, but I’m too tired, I won’t last long.”
No, He’ll use the weak to overcome the strong!
Oh, Amanda, let’s go down… let’s go down, won’t you come on down?
Mama, Nana, let’s go down… down in the dirt by the river to pray.(A wick to fit the wax… wood to fit the wire)You strike the match… why not be utterly changed to fire?
To sacrifice the shadow and the mist of a brief life you never much liked?
So if you’d care to come along, we’re gonna curb all our never-ending, clever complaining,
As who’s ever heard of a singer criticized by his song?
Though we hunger, though all that we eat brings us little relief,
We don’t know quite what else to do;
We have all our beliefs, but we don’t want our beliefs…
God of Peace, we want You.

Advice from Authors to Authors

Since I decided to try my hand at writing, I’ve been scouring the internets for all kinds of advice.  What I found was several people I didn’t know, (presumably writers, since they had written a post about writing,) spewing tip after tip of do’s and dont’s.  Some points aligned among blog authors, but some were surprisingly contradictory.  After a few days of blog hopping in my down time, I starting wondering what successful, established authors would advise.  Who better to learn from than the pros, right?  That led me on a search for author blogs, which, to my surprise, exist and are very helpful!

Since I’m writing a romance, the first author that came to mind was Nicholas Sparks, most famous for The Notebook.  On his website, under the About section, he has a section called Advice for Writers.  My favorite section, since it meets me where I am right now, is the Learn the Craft section.  He breaks down three pieces of practical advice: Research, Read, Write.  He also has sections on the business side of writing and his own personal experience as a writer.

See for yourself at: http://nicholassparks.com/for-writers/learn-the-craft/

Neil Gaiman, probably most known for American Gods and Coraline, has a similar section on his website called Advice to Authors.  His is much more brief, addressing only three subject matters: publishing, comics and revising.  I like that he not only gives advice, but encouragement as well.

Check it out here:  http://www.neilgaiman.com/FAQs/Advice_to_Authors

David Brin, most known for his SF novel, Existence, has written a lengthy piece on his website called A Long, Lonely Road: Advice To New Writers.  If you don’t have much time, I suggest scrolling down to his ten bullet points.  He addresses subjects such as: point of view, the usage of adjectives and elements of a good novel.

You can find it here:  http://www.davidbrin.com/advice.html

In addition to these single author websites, Shortlist.com has assembled a compilation of concise gems of wisdom from the likes of literary classics such as Twain, Hemmingway, Wilde, and Austen.  These truths, clever quips and timeless thoughts are definitely worth a read.

View the gallery here:  http://www.shortlist.com/entertainment/50-pieces-of-writing-advice-from-authors#