Blogging Through

There comes a time–and I believe it was when the plumber’s 47th bang rang out–that a person has to throw in the towel and give up on writing anything terribly creative.

However, I am a professional writer. And so–Great. Now it’s drilling.–I shall power through. Because earlier (that would be May 16th), I wrote a terribly creative blog post for The Muffin that you might want to check out. Although to be honest, I only wrote what I heard at a recent SCBWI schmooze (translation: writer’s workshop.)

Thanks to the brilliant Janice Hardy and Shelli Johannes Wells, our writer heads were brimming with plotting and marketing tips and insider knowledge.

And under normal circunstances, I’d elaborate. But now the floor guy is here.

Words of Wisdom (From The Younger But Wiser)

Lots of years ago, after a particularly bad day at school, one of the Junior Halls said to me, “Mom, I know I have a lot to learn, but why do I always have to learn it the hard way?”

I think when we learn a lesson the hard way, it tends to stick in our brains. But sometimes, we get to bypass the really crappy teachable moments because someone else has learned the hard way and is willing to share the lesson.  And so I present these two lovely folks who had sparkling blog posts this week.

Agent Rachelle Gardner (who has an awesome blog, packed with awesome information) shares her words of wisdom for those just dying to get published. Specifically, she shares that the dream of being published may be a teensy bit different from the reality. Read, learn,  and don’t say you weren’t warned.

Editor Cheryl Klein (who also has an awesome blog) shares her words of wisdom all the time. But in this particular post, she shares words of wisdom from Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park,  on writing, and particularly on plotting. She’s posted these guys’ video on the discussion and even tells us where to listen and learn. Now, frankly, if Cheryl Klein is going to go to all that trouble, I’m going to pay attention.

Because it’s getting a bit old, having to learn all my lessons the hard way. Today, I’m taking the short cut (even if tomorrow, it all falls out of my brain.)

Friday’s Fun Find: A Two-Fer One: Alan Gratz and Jeanette Ingold

Gosh, I hope I can squeeze everything into this fun two-fer-one today! So off we go…

On the ride from the airport to the Highlights Workshop, awesome author Alan Gratz went on and on about Dropbox, a free storage service. In fact, he sang its praises so loudly that, even though I wasn’t absolutely sure I understood everything that Dropbox could do for me, I wanted it. I wanted it bad. (And now I have it.)

But Alan also talked about plotting, the three act structure, crossing thresholds, tent poles and how important it is for your protagonist to actually do stuff (rather than have stuff happen to him/her/it). The thing is, you’re probably like me. You know about plotting. But understanding plotting is another thing entirely, right? So I’m keeping all the nifty Alan notes right next to me during this revision. I write and check a note. Then I write and check another note. It’s amazingly helpful.

I wish you had Alan’s notes. But I can tell you the book from which he gathered his notes (and highly recommended we read as well): The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler. It’s not quite the same as having Alan explain it all. But I think it must be an awesome book. I mean, have you seen all the books Alan’s had published? (And the fact that many of them are related to baseball in no way has influenced my glowing recommendation of these books. Um, all right, all right. Maybe just a teeny bit.)

And awesome author Jeanette Ingold shared her words of wisdom about how to tighten a story. (Actually, they were pictures. I love pictures! They appeal to my visual-oh-now-I’ll-remember-this side.) My favorite one was “Just the facts, m’am.”

You remember Joe Friday, right? Yeah, it was Dragnet, and why yes, it was a while back. (And no, that’s not Jack Webb. That’s Jeanette Ingold).

The point Jeanette was making here had to do with dialogue, so let’s move on, shall we? Which, come to think of it, was exactly Jeanette’s point. Good dialogue is the illusion of speech. So leave out the boring stuff, the hemming and hawing (unless it’s there for a purpose). And make sure your dialogue moves the story forward. You don’t want to bury great lines in pages of dialogue.

And if you want to see how expertly Jeannette employs dialogue, read one of her many books. I just finished Hitch (It’s about the CCC) and marveled at how well she captured the speech of those young men in the late 1930’s. But I paid careful attention to the craft of her dialogue, too. And it was mighty fine stuff.

Now, tell the truth.  You got lots more than a two-fer today, didn’t you? It doesn’t get any fun-ner than that.

P.S. BIG thanks to Nanci Turner Steveson for the Highlights Whole Novel Workshop pics appearing in this Fun Friday post!