Sunday, July 22, 2012

4th Sunday Suprise: My 1st Writing Book

Labyrinth Trail, Washington
I've always avoided writing manuals or books. Yeah, I've taken numerous workshops both at conferences and online for writing, but my philosophy is that if I'm not putting into practice what I learn at said workshops, what's the point? Most books I find to formulaic for my taste. Yes there is a formula to writing but it is also a creative process. So I take a class and then I write like hell applying those concepts. With each novel I've written my work gets better and better, but with the current WIP I've hit a plateau.

I know how to write. I know how to plot, even though I'm a panster. I know how to write hooks and where they should go on the page. I know where to place the inciting incident, the point of no return, and the black moment in my stories. All of my novels have all of these elements. Yet here I'm writing my 7th book and I'm not published and as I reached the dark moment in my story, I realized the whole thing is crap like the last six books sitting in the proverbial drawer.

I talked to my crit partner about my dilemma, she pointed out my story isn't focused and there is too much going on but nothing really happening--which is the same feedback I got last year from the editors and agents who rejected my vampire novel. Funny thing is I knew this, but how do I fix the problem? None of the classes I've taken or articles I've read online have helped me in this. They always say "what is your protagonist's goal?" or "what's her motivation?"

Yeah I get that, but how the HELL do you write that? And really what does that actually mean? So last week on Monday (a week till RWA, where I'm hoping to pitch this project to an editor & agent) I came to a halt. I didn't want to add any more words, because it was flat fried crap with ketchup gone south. Why would I want to waste any more time? 

That afternoon I got an email notification on my phone that my dear husband had gifted me a Kindle book. (This is the first time he's bought me a book in the 8 years I've been with him & that's saying something given the fact most of the wall of our condo are dedicated to bookshelves.) When I accepted the gift I realized that it's a book on writing. Great, I thought, that's what I need. But when I got home he said it really isn't about writing but more about story telling

Wired for Story: The Writer's Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence by Lisa Cron is the first book on writing I have ever picked up and actually read. At this point in the game I was ready to throw in the towel and give up my dream of becoming a published author. I really had nothing to loose. That night I read the first chapter. Everything she said resonated with me like the perfect song coming on in the car as I'm driving into the sunset. Yeah that is how powerful this book is. 

Maybe it's the science geek in me that started dancing, but when she started talking about how our brains react to story-telling I rejoiced. FINALLY someone who speaks my language. I went back to my first chapter and applied everything I had learned. BAM! my opening when from fluffy puffy flat cotton candy to in your face, who is this girl, and what is going to happen to her. Even my crit partner said it was much better. I've read four chapters in Wired for Story and just the few concepts I've learned so far are transforming my novel from the rubbish to something someone might actually want to buy and read.

The coolest part about all of this: I'm revising for the first time. In the past, every time I go to revise I don't make it past the first two or three chapters before I scrap the whole thing and start from scratch. I'm on chapter 11 now and am actually really enjoying the process. I feel I have achieved a new level in my journey towards publication. Yay!

I won't be blogging next week since I'll be at RWA, but I can safely say expect some cool posts next month including a blog anniversary giveaway. :) Thanks so much for stopping by. *back to writing*


  1. Melania,

    I gave up on writing manuals a long time ago. After awhile, all those "shoulds" and "shouldn'ts" was paralyzing my writing. However, this book sounds like such a useful tool. I'll have to read it. Thanks for the recommendation.

  2. Wow! It sounds like you've found a great tool. Have fun at the RWA. If you want, when you have time, I tagged you in the Next Big Thing Blog Challenge. It provided me with a great chance to talk about my writing.

    1. Hello Jess! I have know idea what the Next Big Thing Blog Challenge is all about but will have to check it out later. Right now I'm trying to get my stuff together for the agent/editor I pitched to at RWA. :)