Ok- Where do I start?

Writing Class.  Like my teacher.  I think he is really good at giving us helpful nuggets and examples of how to incorporate into our writing.  I think he is making me a better writer.  His critiques are well thought out and reasonable.  I think this was a great choice.  He has explored how to use techniques to get the story moving, and to use details that enhance the characters. setting and plot instead of distracting from them.  He has also helped me look for errant adverbs and adjectives which can make the writing clunky.  I’m writing tighter sentences now that are more impactful.

I presented my work this week.  I’m forming many ideas in my head as to what is critique versus what is opinion.  When I presented the prologue and revised first chapter of my book, I was told my characters sounded too old.  Another classmate told me my characters sounded too young. The critic who complained too old is in her twenties.  The critic complaining too young is in his eighties.  My characters are in their fifties, like me. You tell me?  Valid criticism or opinion?

I also got a criticism that I introduce the conflict too late in the book.  For the record, the conflict gets introduced about 15 pages in, in the beginning of the second chapter.  Pacing wise, I think this is the right time to introduce the “story”.  How much do you want thrown into the first chapter?  Should a little of the scene be set before the plot line starts to focus in?

But that being said, I still struggle with chapters/sections that rely too heavily on scene setting and what is known in my head as &^%$# description.  This frustration is especially apparent in the first section where I am describing the setting.  Though I have revised chapters one and three, they are still the bane of my existence. It took my three days to rewrite chapter three and I still hate it.  I feel that the final version of my novel will contain the plot, but i can’t imagine the exact wording to make it in. The words, sentiments and ideas don’t flow organically.  I am trying to describe the neighborhood in which these women live, yet it comes across as a generic laundry list. It’s boring and inane.  I am happiest when I am writing dialogue heavy chapters, because that’s how I like to get my story across.  I find conversations between people very telling, and it’s where I do my best work.  The extremely necessary conversation in this part is being overshadowed by trees and cars and neighbors.  I have to figure out how to describe the scene without describing it. Ughhhhhh.

I know my goal this month was to find an agent.  Guess what I didn’t do?  I have been researching writing query letters, so I’m getting some ideas.  I found one agent who I think would be a good fit, so I will work on that this coming month.  I’m actually struggling with finding an agent that would be a good fit for what I write.  I’m working on it.

So there you go.  I’m almost halfway through with second draft.  I’m liking the majority of my work.  I’m still meeting with my writing group which is awesome.  I made some great women writer friends.  My class ends at the end of the month, and I think I’m taking Novel Writing Three next semester, a class which focuses on revising your draft.  There is so much to learn about writing.

On a side not_ I am very behind on my blog related activities.  My sister and niece were in from Seattle, so the majority of Friday, Saturday and Sunday were consumed by them. (ahhh…family……there will be posts about this in the future)  Will be catching up this week!!


37 thoughts on “February Writing Update

  1. I haven’t read your book, but Jane Austen is very dialogue-heavy and not descriptive-heavy. I think you need SOME descriptors, of course, but it’s likely to sound clunky and annoying to the reader if that’s how you felt writing it. 😉
    Maybe you’d consider posting a snippet for us?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I wouldn’t worry about the critiquing of you book, after all it’s just an opinion. Not everyone likes the same books. I hate books that go on for pages setting the scene, telling you where everything in a room is, the colour, size etc. I hate page long dialogue, I like the story to be fast paced. My friend likes her books the other way, lots of detail, long dialogue and slow to unfold. Each to their own, if it makes you happy, someone out there will want to read it.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I have to agree with the above statement, however, I also commend you for being strong in the area of dialogue. I have trouble with that area and don’t write hardly enough stories which include it. I can also relate to being lax in the blogging activities, I’ve been working on the website trying to get it right and it’s still not there yet. You sound like you are making progress though, keep on truckin’! 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thanks for this post. I am home sick with pneumonia (Yes! Ugh it is awful!!!.) And reading your blog made me smile and helped distract me from feeling so crummy.So thank you.

    First of all, congrats on taking the class and being brave enough to present your work. That takes courage. So, Bravo!!!
    My take on the age of your characters is to make them the age you want them to be. On a personal note, I am sick and tired of reading about young women always being the protagonists of novels. Often they seem vapid, naive, and boring to me. I WANT to read about interesting women who are vibrant and dynamic and in their 50’s. But that is because I can relate to them better.

    I found myself in the same dilemma a few years back. When my late husband was ill I began writing a novel where I wanted the heroine to be older. I knew that younger people may find it difficult to see a woman in her 50’s as still being sexy, a bit vulnerable, yet strong, and still having all the qualities that YOUNG heroines have. I knew that women my age would get it, but I thought about my target audience and wondered what age they would best relate to. I think the age of your heroine depends on the age of your readers. What kind of people will read your book? THAT is also something you need to consider when marketing it. Not when writing it, necessarily, but it is something publishers think about.

    I have written several stories/novellas with young women as protagonists but decided that in this new novel the main character needed to have more life experience behind her. My book was a paranormal mystery romance and so what I did was make my heroine in her mid 40’s rather than mid 50’s. I thought it worked well into the plot since it was a romance of sorts, making her old enough to have wisdom, yet young enough to appeal to younger readers. I compromised and made my character a bit younger since the plot had a romantic element and I felt I needed her to be rather ageless. Not young and not old, and so I gave her both youth and age at the same time. I compromised for fiction’s sake. That was my choice.

    I have also written about women my age, knowing ahead of time that younger people weren’t going to understand or necessarily relate to older heroines on certain levels, just as older readers may want protagonists closer to their own age. It’s pretty normal for people to want to read characters they can relate to. But, a well written character will most likely be enjoyed no matter what. Think Miss Marple. She’s an elderly woman who is loved by mystery fans of all ages. Her age doesn’t matter at all. In fact her stories focus on her age as part of her ability to solve crimes. So, It depends on your plot.

    I say write what you know. And if you are writing about a woman in your age bracket then do that. I just finished reading a novel about a 60 year old widow who solves crimes. I loved it because the protagonist was close to my age. She worried about body image, life ahead without her husband etc. I related to her. I have no idea if a 20 year old would read that book, but I certainly enjoyed it on a rainy afternoon.

    BTW, I probably could have kept my heroine in her 50’s, but was concerned that my audience would be broader if I made her in her 40’s. And so that is what I did.

    Do what you are comfortable doing. An agent will most likely tell you your target audience and may suggest shaving off a few years if she doesn’t think it will appeal to a large range of people. Sadly, books have to be marketable and that is why heroines often are younger. However, in today’s world you can also self publish on amazon or ibooks and make your characters any age you want. I say Just go for it. I’ll read it!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hope you feel better soon!! My heroine is 58, and my story only makes sense if she’s that age. My guess is that there’s a whole world of people that want to read about women there own age

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh, on the details…. I’m a detail person. I LOVE details, but not everyone does. Trust your gut and if you don’t think it flows naturally then cut out the parts that don’t work. BUT, get the opinion of someone you trust. Make sure your descriptions or lack there of create a clarity so they know what is going on.
    I hate reading a book and still can’t figure out what color hair or eyes the protagonist has, or what kind of clothing she is wearing. I want to know if they are wearing sneakers or heals. That’s just me. If the character is wearing leggings and sneakers it says a lot about her lifestyle. If she is wearing embroidered jeans, knee high boots, a scarf, and a flowing top, it tells me she is artistic or an out of the box thinker. So I like those details. But “to thine own self be true”. if your story flows and if the reader is not confused, then you were clear enough and don’t need any extra details.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. If it suits her personality then more power to her! I think you should stay true to your instincts. It sounds like you are in tune with your character and therefore she will undoubtedly come to life as we read about her.


  6. Since I’m wrapping up my fiction writing workshop class at the end of this week, I can relate well to your post! The first question you ask about whether the critiques on too young or too old are opinions, I’d say definitely. I wouldn’t change my characters age for that.

    As far as the conflict and when to start it, it seems from my classes and readings that people expect to be immersed into the action of your story within the first few paragraphs to first page of your story. People don’t have the patience, it seems, these days to let the story gradually build, which is a shame. So, I guess conflict should start somewhere in your first chapter, would be my guess. But that’s just my opinion! If your first chapter is interesting as it is, I don’t see why you have to change it.

    With regards to your liking dialogue (that’s awesome) and gravitate to that to show the action and such. That’s good, I think. Also, since you love it so much, have you considered writing plays for the stage or screenplays? They are heavy on dialogue and that’s what drives the scenes.

    Sounds like you’re going into another great class after this one. I’m starting my next course next Monday in Seminar in British Literature. I’m afraid I’ll struggle through understanding Beowulf, but that’s the way it goes. But, counting that course, I only have four classes left until I graduate! Woohoo!

    Good luck in your next class! I’m sure you’ll do very well!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re going to do great with Beowulf…..my kid did it in high school freshman English and if a bunch of teens can get it, so can we!!

      My story has a few layers friendship and love amongst people in their late fifties, so I was trying not to do an info dump in the beginning…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. How do you find an agent? Are they roaming the streets of NYC? I’ve never tried to find one, but should I decide to, how do I do it?

    Also, a suggestion: if writing descriptions of locations | houses | rooms is difficult for you, then start reading websites that are about home decor or travel. Those writers know how to explain things in ways that resonate with readers. Not saying plagiarize, just learn from them.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. They probably are roaming the streets bu5 keep their capes under wraps. I’m beginning to learn about the process. I’ve been told you find books you like and see the agent is and then send them a query letter. And then you get rejected about a thousand times until you find one….😀I will keep you posted as to my progress, or lack there of….

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I usually leave my writing group with a headache. That’s because getting so much feedback can often muddle my thinking and make me overthink a creative endeavor. My writing instructor, who is writing her second or third novel, did a piece today where she sort of brain-dumped a chapter. It was messy and all over the place, but captivating. Might be fun to play around with something like that if you’re stuck.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, but one of the things this woman said it sometimes it’s OK to do a change of pace chapter just to kind of let a lot of things out. Her writing style is extremely engaging, and what she wrote yesterday almost seemed like a movie….rich details about clothing, scant info on things she didn’t care about it. I may try it myself. Kind of like a different way of painting…going outside the lines.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Have you ever read Julia Cameron’s The Artists Way? She suggests three pages of brain dumping a morning. That’s pretty much what I do every morning on my blog. It’s my own little brain dump journal.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. That’s a great book. I do a brain dump at night, but I’m not consistent with it. I have to make it a habit. And seriously….could my blog be any more brain dump?

        Liked by 1 person

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