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Monday, October 30, 2017

Writing a Novel- Step 2

Once you have an idea, what do you do?
Oh that's easy. Brainstorming! But because everyone does this differently, I'm going to talk about a few things you can ask yourself to see what kind of writer you are.

There are two kinds of writers in this world, and to be honest, I am both of these.

1. A pantser- A pantser is a type of writer that goes to a white sheet of paper, having planned nothing out, and lets the story come out the way the writer feels. It is a very freeing type of writing. There's no rigid schedule and no direction that you main character has to follow. It's kind of amazing to see how the character will lead you to what they need their story to be. It tends to be creative and out-of-the-box thinking.

Downside: A writer, especially a new one, can lose their way very quickly and get writer's block more often. Consistency is also a weakness for this writer. What they may have put in about the main character in the beginning of the book, look a character flaw, may not be even mentioned toward the last half of the book because it was forgotten. It does create a bit more (ok- a lot more) editing in the end.

Either way, pantsing is good to do every once in a while to keep creative juices flowing.

2. A plotter is a writer who plans out how the story is going to go. Every writer does this differently and they key is, try to do this in a way that works for you. I usually have a scenes mapped out with goals for each scene. Then when I have established all of my scenes, I go back and write what other things I want to happen in the scene to accomplish the goal.

Downside- It's hard to break out of the mold if the mold is already written down and you have chosen to go that path. Sometime you can create a mold and then realize and editor, publisher, or even beta reader has found some flaw in the mold and you have to redo and start over. It is much more discouraging if you have taken the time to plan that mold.

Let's talk about a few ways that you can plan as a plotter. A lot of people like to write out their scenes, what they want to happen in the book. Some writers even go to the extent of writing out their goals for a scene, what the action and reaction will be, how to leave your readers hanging at the end of each chapter, and how to resolve any conflict within a chapter. I myself am a bullets kind of planner.

Here is what a section of my Nanowrimo outline looks like (Nanowrimo is a challenge in November to write a 50,000 word book...and yes of course, I am doing it!)

Scene 1
a. Meet/cute with Cambria on the track on a mile run (cute banter and some attraction/meet cute)
b. Decision to run home, come back and sketch him

Scene 2
a. Introduce him on the Baseball field
b. Show personality/love of baseball/superstitions

c. Get annoyed at the person in the bleachers staring at him, taking notes

I am still a little bit of a pantser in the fact that I don't know a ton of what's going to happen within a scene so that when it's time to write, I have a rigid chapter. I like to have a little freedom for magic to happen :) So I plot a few points in an a, b, c manner of things I want to happen in the chapter. Recently, I have found that even by writing a paragraph about each scene helps open up that scene even more. Most are notes I want to remember or try out to see if it works.  (Forgive me....notes are hastily written and usually make no sense to the reader. Good thing we write this stuff out in words, sentences, and paragraphs later :)

Scene 1-
Cambria is out for her daily walk, looking for inspiration in someone’s eyes. She knows sketching is her healing balm but lately she only sees blank faces when she goes to draw. She is talking on her phone, trying to assure her mom she is okay after the big move and no she hasn’t talked to strangers yet and no she hasn’t kissed any boys. She slightly reveals here that she is a widow and moving on is not going to be so easy. The mom encourages her. It’s been a year. You were only married a few months and engaged for even less, go find someone new. She continues to argue with her when someone is running toward her.  As he passes she say, You have a great face.” The guy spins around…and the mom is saying, What I have great taste? NO mom, I’ll call you back. Then she repeats that he has a great face. The guy smiles and goes back to his run, except a moment later, he runs off the track and down toward the baseball fields. So she decides to run home and find her binoculars and her sketch pad, spy on him, and sketch him as he plays.

Scene 2-
Brian starts his baseball playing with a few superstitions to show his quirky, superstitious personality. He’s not a star but he’s a pretty good player. The team likes him a lot, especially his new friend Rob. He’s only been in Texas for a few months and right away he joined up with as many teams as he legally could and signed up to coach some little-league teams. He’s a billionaire by chance, so I want to show that right away. Only Rob knows his secret. He ran from his past after his girlfriend revealed she had been dating him so she could write an article in the newspaper about his billion dollar lawsuit win against one of the most renown cancer hospitals. The doctor operating on his only living family member left, his father, was drunk during the operation, botched his surgery, and the hospital was sued for negligence. Since the hospital had made exceptions for him in the past and they were later discovered, Brian decided to go on with the lawsuit. Because of that, Brian got a lot of bad press and people hated him. He started dating a girl around that time and she betrayed him. He moved away to get away from it all. This background will not be shared in this chapter. Only glimpses of it.

Anyway, he sees Cambria in the stands but doesn’t recognize her as the girl who he saw on the trail. She’s wearing a black baseball hat and has binoculars and immediately he is suspicious. He turns and glares at her every once in a while.

The big point is that everyone plans differently, and whether you are a plotter or pantser, you have to begin writing somewhere. The next step is to look at how to write one scene in your story and what a scene of writing is even made up of. But that is for next time. :)

In celebration of Halloween, my Mindgames Anthology eBook is only 0.99 on Amazon. Check it out :)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Unspoken Words Anthology

Check out my newest project releasing tomorrow.

Sometimes the most important words are unspoken.

This collection contains fourteen short-story romances featuring established and up-and-coming authors. There’s something for everyone to enjoy from historical to young adult, movie stars to bodyguards, work place romance to friendships deepening into more.

What happens when you find the courage to say what needs to be said?

I am excited to be included with eleven talented authors in this romance collection. We have an amazing group, full of talented authors. This is our 2nd anthology of the year and I'm just excited with the progress the members in this group have made.

Here is a little bit about the short story that is being featured in this collection:
My story takes place in a college town with two best friends, Danica and Austin. Together they experience the ups and downs of dating, especially when they're both with the wrong person.

It is very similar to something that happened to me in college.  I liked this guy…like a lot. I even told him when he kissed me for the first time that I finally got that song “Weak” by SWV (Sisters with Voices). Check it out if you haven’t heard it. You’ll enter my 90s love phase. This kind of music was my jam!

Anyway, I can’t believe I told that guy he made me weak in the knees…but I did. And he kissed the girl from upstairs and I found out because I found them making out at the drive-in.  Good times. Hurt me…and I’ll write a story about you. And you’ll be the villain in my next story. 

Join me Thursday, October 26, 2017 for our online Book Launch Party on Facebook. The fun starts at 5:00 Mountain Time (that’s 7:00 p.m. Eastern for those of us out here). My featured time is at 8:30. :) See you there.

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Writing a Novel- Step 1

Image result for writing a novel

One of my favorite reasons for teaching at Venture is that they have adopted the Lucy Caulkin's curriculum. Some say it is abstract, too hard to teach, too detailed, and requires too much time, but to me, none of those reasons prove that it is an ineffective way to teach writing. In fact, all it proves is that it takes the teacher a little more effort to understand and teach really amazing writing concepts.

Her curriculum is one of the reasons I started writing again. As I taught my students each lesson, I always took the time to write and apply the practice to my own writing. Makes sense, right? We should never ask our students to do something we're not willing to do ourselves. Playground Treasures, my debut novel., is actually a product of a Lucy Caulkin's lesson.

So just for funsies, I thought I would review the steps I took to write my novel. These will be in a series of posts, but this one will explain how to get a story idea in the first place.

The first step to writing a story is to get an idea.

Funny right? Like that's so easy, Jenny. But it is. Authors for the most part are very observant people, or they have trained themselves to be. E. B. White got the idea for Charlotte's Web because he was sitting in the barn and looking up at a spider wen. The little spider was weaving its web, and he said the story literally popped in his head. So, takeaway from that- 

1. Observe the world around you.

2. Read other people’s writing, and better yet, read your own writing.
They say if you want to be a great writer, read a lot. And not just a lot of others' writer. Read your own musings as well. Look back into an old notebook and gather story ideas from what you have already wondered about in the past. Chances are there are some true, golden nuggets. 

3. Think about what stories you wished were in the world.

Imagine- If you could read a book about any topic, what do you wish it would be? Is that story written yet? If it's not, what  stopping you from writing it? What are stories you wished existed in this world? Let this question drive you to write about a character who deals with this issue. This was actually the reason that spurred my Playground Treasures book. I wished there was a book about a boy who ran away from a bad home and lived on the school's playground, the only place he felt safe. So, I wrote it. And even though I'd love for it to make it some day in some hall  of fame of writing, realistically that's not why I wrote the book. 

4. And for those who are not inspired by those three ideas, here's the last idea. Think about an issue that is important to you and create a character to do something about it. This is probably why a politics-driven agenda is on a lot of writers' plates. They want to do something about the political they write about a character that does.

So faithful readers, if you want to write a story and you're having a hard time finding an idea, I hope these four ideas get you going! Have fun writing. It's healing. It's people-growing. It's amazing.

And if you're looking for some clean romance short stories, my group's anthology comes out August 26th. You can pre-order the Kindle version or PM for your own autographed copy.

Watch out, step 2 coming soon!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

My First Blog Interview

Check out this awesome interview Rebecca Charlton did on her blog!!

October 4, 2017

Playground Treasures by [Rabe, Jenny]Jenny Rabe is a true southern treasure in the writing community. She runs the ever-popular LDS Beta Readers writing support group, which currently boasts just shy of 1,200 members. Jenny has helped launch numerous careers. LDS Beta Readers was my first publication credit, thanks to the anthologies her team generously helps to publish each year. We've all waited anxiously for her first novel.

It was worth the wait. Playground Treasures is an adorable and touching novel about two children who find healing through friendship.  Jenny draws heavily on her knowledge of children to create believable young characters. The situations and drama are created through those pure, simple and yet grand emotions. The touching conclusion will melt your heart as it reminds you of the power of children.

Jenny has embarked on a series of motivational speeches to children that encourage finding resilience through writing. Could your school use its own special blend of playground treasures? Reach out to Jenny on Facebook to book her for events or speeches.

Author Interview

Why did you decide to write this story?
I was teaching a unit on writing to my students, and one of the tips was to write a book you wish existed. I wished this book I wrote it.

What do you hope a reader gains from your story?
Friendship helps to heal the little holes in our hearts. Kids are having to go through tougher and tougher situations, and I wrote a book that shows how two friends use what's been dealt to them to lean on each other.

What kind of research did you do for this novel? Is there any detail you found in your research that particularly interested you?
I am obsessed with playground equipment now. Because Kendall lived on the playground at his elementary school, I got to include some of the fun equipment he played on. Georgia had amazing playground equipment and it brought back awesome memories.

How do you feel that you changed as a person and/or writer after completing this work?
One of the big things I learned about writing is that it is a collective skill. You go to a conference, you collect a skill that contributes to your story. You ask for a beta reader who turns your story upside down, you learn to write something completely opposite of what you were planning. You improve your writing skills during a break in your book by working on other projects, and when you return to that book, you have fresh eyes. I am a different writer now than I was the first day I started Playground Treasures. And tomorrow, I will be a little different than I was today. Writing is an evolving skill if you use it correctly.

What is your favorite go-to advice for an emerging writer?
Write, read, and write some more. Be open to changing what you think is already amazing. Cause in reality, someone probably could write that scene better, and if you are trying to improve your writing, why not follow their advice?

What's next for you? Do you have any works in progress?
I am currently in the process of proofing a romance anthology with my LDS Beta Readers group called Unspoken Words and will be publishing a YA romance suspense in the late fall called Diving for Love.

Author Bio

 Jenny Rabe is from a small town in Georgia where she enjoyed wading in the creeks, playing at the South Elementary playground where there were indeed 64 swings in a row, and climbing the two massive Magnolia trees in her backyard. Now that she lives in Utah, she misses the fireflies, humidity, and hearing Southern accents, but loves the wonder of the mountains. When she is not writing, she is chasing her two boys around and spending time with her husband.

Look for Jenny's next releases, coming October and December.


My Final Release of the Year!

Love From Left Field