Getting My Acts Together (Maybe)

Story Quest

I’ll confess, I don’t think much about story structure while I’m writing a first draft of something.

I usually know where I want the story to end and can generally figure out where the beginning is within a few chapters, but I’m usually fine with winging the journey.

Until I start editing.

And then I’m forced to either justify or cut (noooooooo!) all those metaphorical ninjas I threw in when I thought the pace was dragging, or the philosophical discussion about nose hair that went so well with the story I thought I was writing, but not so much with the one I seem to have written instead.

Which is why I’m wondering if I might want to try a little planning for once.  Run up a little outline, give pre-structuring a try.

I’m a bit worried about losing some of the fun—see image above—or that structure might equal predictability or (oddly) loss of control over my own story.

But  the imaginations of poets and composers thrive within some pretty rigid forms.

And there are some fundamental physical laws that have to be followed when you design a building, but that doesn’t mean everything has to look like the Taj Mahal.

And you can make pretty much any muffin you want, as long as you get the basic proportions right.*

Plus, I’ve been re-reading Alexandra Sokoloff’s excellent blog posts (scroll down past the books, though I recommend those, too) about structure and story elements and getting one’s Acts together.

She makes knowing what you’re about to do sound easy, fun, and creative.

And Lord knows that would be a novel—pun totally intended—experience for me.

Anyone have any experience with outlining? Story structure?
Comparisons between writing and other art forms?
Awesome muffin recipes (looking at you, Dee)?


*Although that’s no guarantee they’ll  be edible. Or that your family will touch ’em.  Thus endeth the analogy.

(Thank Tom Gauld for the excellent image and Watson for finding it somewhere)


Random Thursday: Scattershorts

Janie recorded the Hannah Montana Movie a week or two ago and has been replaying the “Hoedown Throwdown” segment until I found myself chanting the lyrics, or a version of the lyrics, this morning at work.  All morning.

I’m still doing it—not even R.E.M.’s  “Stand”—the universal earworm eradicator—is shifting this one:

Pop it, lock it, polka dot it
Countrify it, then hip hop it
Put your hawk in the sky, move side to side
Jump to the left, stick it, slide.

I know it’s a wholesome, fun song with no profanity or suggestive imagery, but won’t someone please think of the parents?


My copies of R.E.D. and the first season of the BBC’s Sherlock arrived yesterday, but I remained strong and stuck to my writing schedule instead of opening them—which, considering standard DVD packaging, would have taken most of my evening, anyway.

I did position the latter so that I could gaze at Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman every so often, as a reward.*  Neither are actually my usual physical type—as my husband pointed out—but this does not appear to pose a problem.


Yet another newly-discovered time suck!**

Daily Routines explores  the ways well-known writers, architects, painters, politicians, and other individuals of note get, or got, through the day.

These examples can be either comforting or a little frightening, depending on the quirks you share and with whom you share them.

Just remember:  famous people are eccentric.  The rest of us are still plain weird.


Genevieve Valentine’s take on Oscar Red Carpet fashions was marvelous, as always.

Can’t say I agree with her assessment of Cate Blanchett, who appeared to be wearing an embroidered peekaboo tabard, but I always enjoy Ms. Valentine’s posts. And her short stories, too!


Gary Corby has a fascinating post about ancient Greek tax laws over on his blog.

No, seriously.

We have to try this system over here in the States—Televised.

Heck, if the IRS  made it pay-per-view, we could settle the National Debt.


*My adoration of John Malkovich is slightly more cerebral, though not by much.

**I’m going to have to start a new link list for these.

First Reader’s Blog and a Rad Bromance

I think I mention First Reader once or twice a week around here. for those of you who are new, I call her First Reader because she’s even better than a beta–she’s a plot-hole finder, life saver,  nag (in the best way), and a very good friend.

She’s also a supplier of Great Things to Read. She writes amazing paranormal YA and truly marvelous steampunk.  Her werewolf novel is being shopped around as we speak—in my opinion, it’s only a matter of time.

And now she has a blog: Semi-Educational Reviews.  It’s only about a week old, but it already features an interview with Tessa Dawn, author of Blood Destiny, and a restaurant review that’s making me crave woodfire-grilled pizza. 

Have a look!


And now for a Rad Bromance:

I shamelessly swiped the vid from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books*  because, frankly, I am amazed.  I swiped the “Rad Bromance” thing from a YouTube comment because it’s absolutely perfect and risked my keyboard this morning.

Interesting fact:  Patrick Goble reminds me of my brother-in-law, in looks, humor, and creativity .  My BIL is a natural  entertainer (though no guitarist) who once worked out an arrangement of “How Much is that Doggie in the Window” for forklift-horn octet.  An Applause tattoo would not surprise anyone in the family.

Have a delightful weekend!


*Who received it from Pam G.


Don’t pet me, I’m reading Tawna Fenske’s blog

I have no idea how I first found my way to Tawna Fenske’s blog, Don’t Pet Me, I’m Writing—maybe the Debutante Ball?—but going by her posts, her books are going to be comedy gold, with the kind of smokin’ romantic scenes you dogear* so you can go back and tell all your friends while fanning yourself with a free hand.

Please note that in the above sentence, Ms. Fenske would no doubt find at least two double entendres and be speculating on what was going on with the other hand while giving a low, evil laugh.  This is a woman who trolls Home Depot for dirty puns and innocently loses her wedding rings in her underwear. 

Not only can she make tears of laughter squirt out of my eyes with minimal effort, she’s undeniably reassuring when it comes to this writing thing.  The long, bumpy, potholed, orange-coned, eight-year road to the acceptance of her debut novel, Making Waves, would lead anyone to believe that Fate has other plans—but here she is, sharing every step and having a great time. 

Douglas Morrison interviewed her** for Novel Road recently, and if I hadn’t been a fan before, I would be after reading the answers to his questions.

I’m not a plotter. I may have some faint idea where a story is headed before I start writing, but I generally like to be surprised along the way. I was on the phone with my editor a couple weeks ago when she praised the cleverness of a certain twist near the end of my debut novel, MAKING WAVES.

 “I didn’t see that coming!” she said. 

 “Me neither!” I replied.

  There was this long pause where I could tell she was trying to figure out if I was being funny. I wasn’t. 

  I’m constantly figuring out plot points and character traits halfway through the book and then having to go back and layer them in so they feel like a natural part of the story instead of the product of too much Chianti.

 See?  I’m not alone!

There’s something about fresh air and beautiful scenery and picking up poop in a little bag that stimulates me as a writer.

Stimulates. We’re back to the sex thing again, aren’t we?

Okay, that one’s pretty much just her—but you see what I mean.

Making Waves is due to be released August 2 of next year.  It’s already on my list of too-early-to-be-pre-ordered romances for the library—I’m sure we’ll need at least two copies for each branch. 

Meanwhile, I highly suggest reading Ms. Fenske’s blog archives.  But first, install a keyboard cover—you’re gonna need it.


*No, I don’t dogear—I’m a librarian.  The thought of creasing a book gives me heart palpations—I use my unpaid Visa bills, just like everyone else.

**And Gary Corby, Sean Ferrell, and several other great authors.