Camp Nanowrimo: Who is going to join me?

Camp-2017-Participant-Twitter-HeaderLast summer I wrote 50,000 words of my WIP progress, EVOLUTION, as part of CAMP NANOWRIMO 2016. Since then, I’ve added another 10,000 words.

I’d like this novel to be around 80,000 words, meaning I need to write another 20,000 words.

Doesn’t sound like much, except when I think about launching Feedback  (A New Online Tool That Guides Fiction Writers Through A Big-Picture Story Edit), releasing my latest novel, LOOK THE OTHER WAY, published by Imajin Books, and the rest of life that keeps interfering with my writing.

Screen Shot 2017-06-25 at 1.02.08 PM

I decided I would join Camp Nanowrimo with the modest goal 20,000 words, so I can finish this book. Then, maybe I can join NANOWRIMO in December and write 50,000 of another book.

So who else is doing Nanwrimo? I’d love to connect and encourage each other. Let me know in the comments below.

Here’s an excerpt from my WIP.

I shut the refrigerator door for the fifth time. Why did I keep looking inside the box for answers? Food wouldn’t solve my problems.

Fatigue wrapped its heavy blanket around my shoulders, muting my strength. The sound of the grandfather clock intermixed with sleet hitting the windows in the early morning hours made me want to lie down on the kitchen floor and never get up.

The clock chimed past the time of day I now hated. A family heirloom that had belonged to my parents and before that my grandparents. Somehow I’d inherited it. My guess was my dad didn’t want the noisy contraption in his house, so when Nick and I had moved into our home on Loughborough Lake, my dad had “gifted” it to me, Jaz Cooper. Some gift.

Two weeks ago I was happy. Today, well, today was different. My stomach tightened. I wasn’t sure I could move away from the fridge. I didn’t know how to spend my time. And who would care about what I did, anyway?

I’ve never been one to feel sorry for myself. That’s not who I was, and it’s not who I would become. I bit the inside of my lip, mostly to refocus the pain in my gut. It was too early to go to work, but coffee might help.

I plodded across the empty kitchen, the floor creaking underneath me with each step, and hit the power button on the coffee maker. The timer wouldn’t go off for another two long hours.

Coffee was my new habit. Nick and I used to drink tea together. But no more. I was slowly getting used the strong aroma that wafted from the beans and to the acidy taste. It was the caffeine I needed, not a feel good drink.

Out of habit, I opened the bottom cupboard door and reached for the dog food, then my mind caught up to reality. An overwhelming sense of loss ripped at my heart. That horrible knife of pain.

I slammed the cupboard door, walked to the living room, and lowered myself into the dog bed. I curled into a ball and inhaled Bandit’s smell, like that would bring him back. At night, he used to sleep in my bed, tucked behind my knees, soothing me with his deep breathing. During the day, he’d slept here. Most of my waking hours were filled with the company of dogs. I only had Bandit as a pet, but I ran a dog training school, so I could have many dogs in my life.

Unable to bear the real reason from my grief, I focussed on the dog. I’d always known I would grow old without Bandit. Dogs owners all know that awful truth. They don’t like it, but they live with the knowledge.The dog’s loss I could handle. The other would break me.

Through the tapping of the sleet on the living room window, I heard a howl. I held my breath and listened. The wind rattled the trees beside the house and drowned out any other sound.

I waited.

Another howl followed by slapping water. I shuffled to the window but couldn’t see anything. I stepped onto my porch, a mere thirty feet from the lake, and concentrated on the sound.

A bark. More slapping water.

The moon broke through the clouds, streaming light onto the lake.

A dog had gone through the ice. Without thinking, I bolted outside and ran toward the lake. My slippers stuck in the snow and were ripped from my feet. The sting of cold hurt my bare skin, but that didn’t matter. I reached the icy surface and kept running.

Daisy, the neighbor’s Great Dane, battled the edge of the ice. Her rump was underwater. Her front claws strained against the snow. Her nostrils were flared.

My heel slid across black ice, and I tumbled backward. My tail bone slammed onto the hard surface, and my elbow cracked. I rolled onto my side, then onto my stomach. I slithered forward, closer but not close enough to grab Daisy’s paws.

Daisy slipped backward and into the water.  Her head dropped below the surface.

I froze.

She burst through the surface, snorted water, and scraped her paws over the edge of the ice. She barked. Her nails clawed at the ice but couldn’t grip the surface. Terror in her eyes? Pleading? Whatever it was, the message was clear. Get her out of the water.

I crawled forward on my stomach, ignoring my throbbing elbow. I should have grabbed a rope. A hundred-pound, panicking dog was not going to be easy to get out of the water. Sleet soaked my back and neck. My pajama bottoms clung to my legs.

I grabbed one paw. Daisy’s nails dug into my arm, and I let go. The dog had power in her limbs. I knew I shouldn’t, but I had to get closer. I’d have to leverage her out of the water.

Her rump remained below the surface, but her head stayed above water. For now.

Another howl. Anyone listening would think I was torturing the dog. I slithered closer. I could join her. Slide past her into the water. Moments would pass, and the pain would end. But then Daisy would drown, too. Selfish.

I could pull her from the water, then drop in. The darkness below welcomed me.

Crack.

The sound sliced through me. There wasn’t much time to save Daisy. One big shove with my feet, and my arms slid underneath her pits and around her shoulders. She dug her claws into the back of my neck. A warm liquid trickled across my skin. She’d cut me, but I didn’t let go.

I was living the nightmare of anyone who walked on a lake at the end of the winter season. Adrenaline pounded at my temples. My skin prickled. I felt her terror. The emotion was so strong, I gasped.

Daisy dug her claws deep into my neck and shoulders, gaining traction. She hefted herself out of the water. Her rear paws grabbed at the edge of the ice. She tumbled over my head, across my back, and away from the hole in the ice.

I knew I should get off the ice, but I couldn’t move. I lay on my back, panting. The black water called me. All I had to do was roll over and slide in.

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Learn How To Self-Edit #AuthorToolboxBlogHop Emotional Impact of Setting

Nano Blog and Social Media Hop2Thank you, Raimey Gallant for organizing the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop. Today is the third post of this new series, and I’m very excited to be part of it.

This is a monthly blog hop on the theme of resources/learning for authors: posts related to the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, blogging tips for authors, reviews of author-related products, anything that an author would find helpful.

To continue hopping through other great blogs in the monthly #AuthorToolboxBlogHop or to join, just hop on over to Ramey Gallant!

I’ll focus this entire series on self-editing. The first blog in my series covers Why Learn To Self-EditThe second blog covered Characters In The Context of Editing.

Today’s topic is setting.

THE EMOTIONAL IMPACT OF SETTING

I once read a book where I didn’t skim any of the setting descriptions. Afterward, I wondered why. Engaging settings generate emotion.

I admit I’m impatient with too much description. To learn what captured me, I re-read the book and highlighted every sentence that described the setting. I realized the author only described things or places that were relevant to the plot.

That was the moment I went on a mission to learn everything I could about setting and how to use it to make my novels more enjoyable.

Location

Location is the place where a scene happens. 

When describing the location, ask yourself: Is the location important to the plot, characters, or theme? If no, fewer details are required. If yes, be more generous with the details.

Once you’ve determined the location for each scene, ask yourself if the setting is the best place for emotional impact. This one little question helps you:

  • Increase or decrease conflict
  • Increase or decrease tension
  • Set the mood
  • Highlight emotion
  • Show characterization
  • Slow down or speed up pacing

Thinking about location in terms of emotional impact will wake up your creativity. Let me give you an example.

Suppose you have a character who is afraid of the dark. Imagine the character is about to have a confrontation with an employee. If the character feels confident being in his office and you want the character to be in a position of strength, then use the office as a setting.

If you want him to feel vulnerable during the confrontation, try locating him outside, at night, in an isolated parking lot. And make it very dark. The streetlight is broken. There is no moon. Maybe it’s windy, so a yell for help won’t be heard.

Do you see the difference? The location can help you bring out emotion in the scene by showing conflict, tension, mood, and characterization. Conflict is action that is happening. Tension is the suspicion/dread something will happen.

You decide what emotion you want the reader to feel, then decide how the location can help elicit that emotion.

If you think the location is not the best place for emotional impact, it’s time for a rewrite. Set the scene where you can elicit strong emotions, then rewrite the scene in that location.

 

More Self-Editing Advice

 

BIG-PICTURE Editing
If you’re looking for more help on self-editing download the free eBook, BIG-PICTURE Editing 15 Key Elements of Fiction To Make Your Story Work and learn how big-picture editing is all about evaluating the major components of your story. We call these components the Key Elements Of Fiction.  Our eBook shows you how to use the key elements of fiction to evaluate your story and become your own big-picture editor.

 

Interested In An Automated Approach To Big-Picture Self-Editing?

 

Feedback Innovations (which I happen to be the CEO of) is building the Feedback app .

COMING AUGUST 2017! We are now testing with authors and you are invited to a free two-week trial. Just let me know if you’re interested.

Feedback is the first web app to help fiction writers evaluate their own work with a focus on story, not words.

With Feedback, you can focus on plot, character, and setting. You can evaluate on a scene-by-scene basis or on overall novel structure. Feedback will show you the most important structural elements to work on first.

Feedback will guide you through the rewriting process by asking you questions specific to your manuscript, enabling you to evaluate your own story.

Feedback helps you visualize your manuscript. Forget about yellow stickies or white boards. Feedback will draw character arcs, provide reports on scene evaluation, and show your rewriting progress.

Happy editing and thanks for reading…

10 Benefits of Feedback for Big-Picture Editing – Feedback For Fiction

One of our early testers asked: “How will Feedback help my manuscript?”

What a great question!  It made me think about a better way to explain the benefits of using Feedback and becoming your own big-picture editor.  Read on for my answer. I hope this helps you think about your manuscript in new ways!

 

Feedback can identify and help you fix problems within your manuscript by focusing on the structure of your story, not on the words. Some of the critical structural areas are:

  1. Pacing                 
  2. Character names and appearances
  3. Point of view characters and goals
  4. Story arc
  5. Plot holes (scenes without a clear purpose)
  6. Flow from scene to scene
  7. Absence of tension or conflict
  8. Empty stage syndrome
  9. Confusing timelines or missing objects

 

The 10th benefit of using Feedback comes from the built-in Rewrite Tips. These tips provide you with specific advice on the area of the manuscript you are working on just when you need it! No more endless searching for writing advice.

 

1. Pacing

Problem: The pacing is not working in your novel. The story is too slow or too fast.

Knowing your word count per scene helps you control the pacing in your novel. Sometimes you want to slow down the story, using the time to build tension and suspense. Sometimes you want quick action to drive the story forward. Use longer scenes to slow the pacing and shorter scenes to speed it up.

The word count per scene insight lets you quickly visualize the pacing.


2. Character Names and Appearances

Problem: Your readers are telling you they don’t feel a connection with your characters or they are confused by your characters’ names

Scenes Per Character and Cast of Characters help you visualize all your character names to ensure you don’t have too many characters per scene and that your main characters are getting enough time in your novel.

When you can see the cast of characters in one place, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to see if character names are too similar.

 

 


3. Point Of View (POV) Characters and Goals

Problem 1: You’re not sure if you’re giving the right number of scenes to your POV characters or if you’re using them in the best order for dramatic effect.

Problem 2: Your characters don’t have strong goals that drive the story forward.

See how many POV characters you have and what order they appear in. You control who is telling the story. Everything that happens in a scene should occur through the eyes of the POV character. The reader will connect with the POV characters if you don’t have too many. The reader will also get to know your POV characters by how they experience the scene. The longer a reader spends with each POV character, the more time they have to like or dislike them.

 

You can see the Point of View character goals per scene and ensure your characters have strong goals in every scene that drive the story forward. The novel shown is written from one point of view. Multiple points of view can be shown too.

 

 


4. Story Arc

Problem: Your readers don’t stay engaged for the entire story. Are your key scenes in the correct place? The story arc will show you where the inciting incident, plot points, and climax should be. You’ll be able to place these key scenes for the highest dramatic effect.

 

This story arc shows my work in progress on Evolution (my latest novel), along with several of the character entry and exit points overlaid.

 

 

 

5. Plot Holes (scenes without a clear purpose)

 

Problem: Some scenes cause plot holes by not being connected to the story.

 

This usually means the scene doesn’t have a purpose. If you don’t know the purpose of each scene in your novel neither will your reader, and you most likely have a plot hole.

 


 

6. Flow

Problem: Readers stop reading at the end of a scene or at the beginning of the next scene.

How do you open and close each scene? What are the entry and exit hooks? The flow of your novel depends on leading the reader into and out of your scenes. Feedback helps you work on how you’re entering and exiting scenes. You can quickly see if you’re using repetitive opening and closing types that might bore your reader. You can ensure you’ve used dramatic entry and exit hooks to get the reader into the next scene and keep them there.

You can also see just your scene opening or closing types. Check out how many times you use each type, the percentage of use, and the order the types appear in. You can see quickly if you have the balance right for your genre. Here’s a peek at my upcoming novel, Look The Other Way. You can see I’ve opened almost half of the scenes with action.


7. Tension and Conflict

Problem: Your readers are telling you they are bored or skimming in places.

Do you have enough tension and conflict in each scene? Too many scenes in a row without tension or conflict will bore your reader.



8. Empty Stage

Problem: Your readers can’t visualize your settings and are not moved emotionally by them.

Are you using senses and objects to fill the stage? You’ll know quickly if your stage is empty, and an empty stage means unengaged readers.

 


9. Confusing timelines or missing objects

Problem 1: Your readers are lost in time or complaining they can’t keep track of time.

Problem 2: You’re not sure where key objects appear in your novel.

You can keep track of the time in which a scene takes place. You can also see which scenes important objects appear in. If you want, you can even add a row that shows which characters are in the scene, too. Then it’s clear who knows about the objects and when they know about them.

 


10. Rewrite Tips

Problem: You don’t have time to search through how-to-write or self-edit books to find the knowledge you need to turn your first draft into a great story readers love.

If you’re struggling with finding advice on big-picture editing, Feedback provides this at your fingertips. The rewrite tips are focused on the area you’re working on, eliminating time-consuming searches through books or the internet.

Source: 10 Benefits of Feedback for Big-Picture Editing – Feedback For Fiction

Romancing Your Novel With A Big-Picture Edit

In honor of the Get Social Blog Hop, I’d like to cover editing a romance novel. You can find other blogs on the hop are here.

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Some of you may know, my upcoming book is a mystery, but it’s different from the Stone Mountain Series in that it has more romance in it.

There are many areas to cover when you’re editing your first draft, and today I’ll cover four Key Elements of Fiction important to romance novels.

Screen Shot 2017-06-03 at 9.33.09 AM Point of View

Screen Shot 2017-06-03 at 9.33.09 AM Characters on Stage

Screen Shot 2017-06-03 at 9.33.09 AM Spice (Conflict and Tension)

Screen Shot 2017-06-03 at 9.33.09 AM Purpose of each Scene

Even in real life, romance takes effort. The same is true for creating a romance novel that sizzles.

Screen Shot 2017-06-03 at 9.33.09 AMPoint of View

 

Point of View (POV) is the perspective the story is told from. It is generally accepted that each scene is written from the point of view of one character.

In a romance novel, you have to make choices on who the POV character will be. It can be mostly the hero, mostly the heroine, or an equal balance between the two. By using both points of view, you’ll be showing the feelings and thoughts from both characters.

The Feedback tool for writers illustrates how many scenes each POV character has and what order they appear in. In Look The Other Way, Shannon (heroine) has the POV for 47 scenes, and Jake (hero) has the POV for 37 scenes. The graph along the bottom shows the order of the point of view, allowing me to make sure I’m switching between the hero and heroine regularly.

POV Characters

Screen Shot 2017-06-03 at 9.33.09 AMCharacters on Stage

 

There can only be romance if both the hero and heroine are in a scene together. Keep track of how many scenes you have where only one is in the scene versus scenes where both characters are onstage. The Feedback app does this for you.

Below, Jake and Shannon are both in the scene along with another character Debi Hall. Kendra is Jake’s cousin and is only mentioned in the scene. The scene is from Jake’s point of view, so the reader will see and hear things from his view point only. The reader won’t know what Shannon thinks or feels unless Jake comments on it or thinks about it or Shannon says something.

Character in Scene LTOW

Screen Shot 2017-06-03 at 9.33.09 AMSpice

 

To keep the story exciting there must be conflict and tension between the hero and heroine. If you’re writing a happy-ending romance, the hero and heroine will resolve the conflict and tension by the end of the story and live happily ever after.

The two can be working toward the same goal, but maybe they go about it differently and that causes the tension.  This resolution must not happen until the end. Each scene until the end must have conflict or tension or both.

Feedback enables you to see what conflict and tension are in each scene. You can see if the tension and conflict are in line with the purpose of scene. Just make sure you have either conflict or tension in every scene. You don’t have to have both.

Here you’re getting a sneak peek at my work in progress, Evolution.

Conflict Tension

Screen Shot 2017-06-03 at 9.33.09 AMPurpose of Each Scene

 

The romance genre requires a special look at the purpose of each scene. In a mystery, the sole purpose of a scene may be to drop a clue or a red herring into a scene. But in a romance novel, the purpose of a scene may revolve around character development, driving the romance forward, or driving the romance backward.

Here are some of the key scenes you’ll need.

  • Introduce heroine and set up her world
  • Introduce hero and set up his world
  • Inciting incident – something happens in their world that will cause them to meet.
  • First kiss
  • Plot point one – the hero and heroine face something difficult
  • Middle – the characters can’t turn back to the story. They may also decide they are not right for each other.
  • First quarrel
  • Plot point two – their relationship is at its worst
  • Finally get together
  • Resolution

In the following, which is the Feedback insight into Purpose of Scene for my work in progress Evolution, you can see in the first 9 scenes, the hero and heroine meet, there is tension between them and they have their “first kiss.” You can also see 44% of the scenes in this novel are moving the story forward.  This means there is more than romance in the story and the hero and heroine have a goal they are desperate to achieve.

Feedback will help you keep track of the romance and its progression as you self-edit your novel.

Purpose of Scene Romance

More Self-Editing Advice

BIG-PICTURE EditingIf you’re looking for more help on self-editing download the free eBook, BIG-PICTURE Editing And The Key Elements Of Fiction and learn how big-picture editing is all about evaluating the major components of your story. We call these components the Key Elements Of Fiction.  Our eBook shows you how to use the key elements of fiction to evaluate your story and become your own big-picture editor.

Interested In An Automated Approach To Big-Picture Self-Editing?

Feedback Innovations (which I happen to be the CEO of) is building the Feedback app.

Feedback is the first web app to help fiction writers evaluate their own work with a focus on story, not words.

With Feedback, you can focus on plot, character, and setting. You can evaluate on a scene-by-scene basis or on overall novel structure. Feedback will show you the most important structural elements to work on first.

Feedback will guide you through the rewriting process by asking you questions specific to your manuscript, enabling you to evaluate your own story.

Feedback helps you visualize your manuscript. Forget about yellow stickies or white boards. Feedback will draw character arcs, provide reports on scene evaluation, and show your rewriting progress.

Happy editing and thanks for reading…

The Story Arc Automated by Feedback! – Feedback For Fiction

As a writer, it’s important to be two people. One of you is the creative writer. The other is the analytical, big-picture editor. Visualizing your story as a whole will help you edit like a professional.

This is why the Story Arc is so important. It provides an immediate visual of your manuscript. But Story Arcs were always tricky to draw.  Until now…

The Story Arc by Feedback

First, a recommended story arc is drawn based on the word count of your novel. Next, your story arc is drawn based on an automatic analysis of your scenes.

The app estimates which scenes are the inciting incident, plot point 1, the middle, plot point 2, and the climax of your novel.

You can then confirm if the correct scenes were identified. If not, with a couple clicks, you can redraw the story arc with the scenes you selected. Then you can decide if you’ve put your key story events in the right place.

Remember, a great novel contains key story events. A story arc will help you visualize your manuscript to ensure you’ve considered these events and their timing in your story.

INCITING INCIDENT

The inciting incident is a major turning event halfway through the 1st act.  It’s the moment the protagonist’s world changes in a dramatic way and you hook your reader into the story. This should happen before 10% of your novel. Readers are impatient, so don’t wait too long.

PLOT POINTS

Plot is how the events in your story impact your protagonist. Plot points force your protagonist to change behavior.

Plot Point One (PP1) forces your protagonist to react to an event. She now has a story goal.

The Middle is different from PP1 in that the protagonist moves from a reactionary mode to taking deliberate action.

Plot Point Two (PP2) will be a low point for your protagonist. Her actions since the middle have caused disaster. At PP2, she becomes more determined to reach her goal.

Plot point one (PP1) typically occurs at the end of Act I. Try to place this around 25% into your novel. The Middle is 50% into your novel. Plot Point two (PP2) will occur at the end of Act II.  This should happen around 75% into your novel.

CLIMAX

The climax (highest dramatic tension) of your novel happens somewhere around 90% into your novel. This is a guide so you can check you’re not writing too much after the climax.

But wait, there’s more…

You can also view characters on the Story Arc and see when they enter and exit your novel.

Feedback: For Writers By Writers

Feedback is being developed by fiction writers for fiction writers. Just as important, the app is now being tested by other writers to ensure it becomes an indispensable tool for everyone with a first draft. Last week, James Osborne, former senior editor at Canadian Press and bestselling author, tried the app and said:

I’ve been privileged with a sneak preview of Feedback. It’s brilliant! Hands down the most innovative structural editing app for writers you’re going to see anywhere anytime soon!

His latest novel is Encounters With Life: Tales of Living, Loving and Laughter. You can find out more about James’s novels at his amazon author page.

If you’re interested in early access to Feedback and testing some of the features, let me know by email or sign up for early access.

 

Coming Summer 2017

You heard that right. Summer 2017! We are targeting to make Feedback available to everyone later this summer. There is so much more to come, and I’ll keep sharing as more features are added.

Source: The Story Arc Automated by Feedback! – Feedback For Fiction

New Feedback App for Writers Taking Beta Testers

Thank you to http://www.GoodEReader.com for the shout out. Here’s what they had to say about the Feedback app…

By now, most serious indie authors understand what it takes to produce a book. Sadly, for most authors, the writing is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

What follows is a time consuming and often expensive process, one that serves as an investment towards a greater final return.

But what if there was a way to maximize the value of paid editing?

Source: New Feedback App for Writers Taking Beta Testers

BIG-PICTURE editing is about to get a whole lot easier! – Feedback For Fiction

Visualize Your Manuscript With The Feedback App – First Unveiling!

There was a lot of excitement at Feedback this week when our development team delivered our working prototype, and we took the app out to the writing community for early testing. We have authors from Canada, the US, and the UK using Feedback on their manuscripts, and the initial response has been fantastic.

Here is what author Donna Galanti had to say:

Hey, for those of you with a finished draft. This is a great editing application tool to use! It can help you make your story that much stronger structurally BEFORE you send it off to a developmental editor so you get the most value out of their service! They also have a handy guide on the 13 Key Elements of Fiction to Make Your Story Great. Check it out

Galanti, Donna 2
Donna Galanti is the author of the paranormal suspense Element Trilogy (Imajin Books) and the children’s fantasy adventure Joshua and The Lightning Road series (Month9Books). Donna is a contributing editor for International Thriller Writers the Big Thrill magazine. Visit her at http://www.elementtrilogy.com.

 

Visualizing My Manuscript

I imported AVALANCHE, my third novel, and seconds later, Feedback automatically showed me the number Scenes per Character.  You can quickly see that Kalin is present in the highest number of scenes. She’s the protagonist, so this makes sense. Next is Roy. The story is about Roy, so this is also good. Then comes Ben, Kalin’s love interest.

You can also look at a scene in detail.  If you want to know who is in a scene, the app shows you that too! So for scene 10 in Avalanche, you’ll see:

 

 

If you’re interested in early access to the app and testing some of the features, let me know!

All you have to do is sign up for early access, then send me an email. The writing community is amazing. The authors testing for us are generously spending their time and providing us with invaluable insights on how to make Feedback an app that will help writers turn their first draft into a great story readers love.

Coming Summer 2017

You heard that right. Summer 2017! We are targeting to make the Feedback app available to everyone later this summer. There is so much more to come, and I’ll keep sharing as more features are added.

Source: BIG-PICTURE editing is about to get a whole lot easier! – Feedback For Fiction