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THINMOM5's Photo THINMOM5 Posts: 2,039
12/15/07 1:35 A

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That's a good idea to have a specific goal. That definitely takes some of the worry away. I'm really impressed that you can make your living writing (I've heard that corporate writing is much more profitable). Do you find it hard to write your own stuff after writing for your career all day? How do you balance that?

Donna
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CD750530 Posts: 5,444
12/15/07 1:28 A

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I earn my living as a food writer/consultant. I don't query periodicals much anymore, because I can make so much more money doing corporate work than writing for magazines and newspapers. However, for both I've tried to set emotion aside and commit to sending out x amount of queries or new business appeals per day. If I commit to one a day, I seem to be able to just do it, without agonizing over the whole issue, because the decision has already been made -- I will send out one a day.

I'm so happy with this thread; I hope more will join us after the new year. I will send out another email then, reminding all the members of this team about our thread.

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THINMOM5's Photo THINMOM5 Posts: 2,039
12/15/07 1:27 A

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That sounds like a good plan. My approach has been to work from the top down. Pretty much all these agents were top, top NY agents. You're chances are even slimmer than normal with these people. But I didn't want to limit myself. I thought, they can reject me, but I'm at least going to ask. I'm slowly getting into slightly more reasonable agents now. It's still such a long shot, but that's okay. I'm just going to keep going down that list until I've asked every legitimate agent out there. I have no idea how many agents that puts on my list. I kinda don't want to know.


Donna
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THINMOM5's Photo THINMOM5 Posts: 2,039
12/15/07 1:17 A

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LOL! I'm so curious to know who that author is!!

I'll put together a list of sites tomorrow. My notebook is on my lap and I'm getting back to it. (If I had any sense I'd get away from the computer, but I'm such an email/SP addict!)

Donna
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EVIE13's Photo EVIE13 Posts: 1,904
12/15/07 1:17 A

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Ha, ha! We must be. I'm working on my story right now too. ^_^

And I'm thinking maybe I should just send out to like 5 people. I'll wait a month and it'll give me time to add to my list of potentials.

Edited by: EVIE13 at: 12/15/2007 (01:17)

_./'\._.**..**.*
*. .** Queen Evie
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It's Our Imperfections That Make Us Beautiful.
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EVIE13's Photo EVIE13 Posts: 1,904
12/15/07 1:10 A

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I would Love some sites! I only have a couple, but I know there has to be more out there.

I'm still working on my 30+ minutes a day. Not getting anywhere fast (just like with weight loss) but progress is progress.

I'm not giving up on an agent, but I do need to find that fire that I had before I got my second rejection.

*Hey! I just tried that author + agent search and it worked! Too bad it's for an author I can't stand. :|


_./'\._.**..**.*
*. .** Queen Evie
/.*.\ ..**., .**.*.*
It's Our Imperfections That Make Us Beautiful.
^_^


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THINMOM5's Photo THINMOM5 Posts: 2,039
12/15/07 1:07 A

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Evie, we must have been typing our posts at the same time cuz I didn't see yours at first. If you're doing a novel, it is very common practice to send out multiple submissions. Some do prefer you don't, but they're in the minority. If you get more than one person saying yes, then you'll get the joy of them fighting over you. I'm not even kidding. I like reading agent blogs and this one I really liked (who sadly rejected me) was talking about trying to get a client, but she was competing with another agent. When the author called with her decision, the agent asked "Did I win?!" It was kinda cute to see an agent in a position of anxiety like we are all the time. :) Anyway, the advice I've read in many places, including agent and editor blogs, is that you send out in bunches, 5-10 at a time. That way you're not 80 before you get an agent (LOL), but also if you get any kind of constructive feedback and want to make changes to your novel and/or query packet, you can do that and you still have agents left to send to. It's totally what you feel comfortable with though. Logically, I know I should be sending another batch out by now, but I just don't want to deal with it. Since I still have a small handful out there, I'm willing to let myself procrastinate it for now. Either some more time will pass and I'll be ready one day, or I'll get another rejection or two and be motivated to do it just so I can feel like I'm doing something proactive about it. We'll see.

Okay, I really am going to go write now. ;)

Donna
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THINMOM5's Photo THINMOM5 Posts: 2,039
12/15/07 12:58 A

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You're right, the acknowledgement page is a good place to get agent names. If they don't list an agent, you can google the author name plus "agent" and sometimes find it that way. If anyone wants good sites for researching agents I have a few recommendations. :)

So I just realized I haven't written at all today. It's been busy, that's part of the reason, but I just wasn't thinking about it either. I'm going to go do that right now. How's everyone else doing with their writing?

Donna
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EVIE13's Photo EVIE13 Posts: 1,904
12/15/07 12:58 A

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I'm looking for a novel. ^_^ I'm saving my short stories for when I'm already published. I've read to that it's okay to send out multiple submissions, but I've also read that it isn't to some agents. In the event that everyone I send it out to says yes (whee!), I'm always afraid that they would all say no because they're mad that I sent it out to so many people. I have overlapped a couple of submissions, and I'm trying to get my courage up to send two this next time. Wait a couple weeks and then do one or two more. I'm afraid of running out of options. I'm going to run with the encouraging part though. If they think it's interesting, then someone else is bound to think so too. I sure do. ^_^


_./'\._.**..**.*
*. .** Queen Evie
/.*.\ ..**., .**.*.*
It's Our Imperfections That Make Us Beautiful.
^_^


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CD750530 Posts: 5,444
12/15/07 12:47 A

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How wonderful and inspiring the posts are! I'm so grateful for you all sharing.

With regards to an agent, I haven't tried to find one yet, but an idea I had, which perhaps all of you have already had, is to look at the acknowledgements and dedications in published novels of the type I am writing and to see if I find agents' names. It seems to me that would be a way of eliminating agents that don't handle the type of novel you're writing, thus saving time, postage, and rejection.

EVIE13, I know rejection can be very hard to take, but it is simply part and parcel of trying to get published. I respect your feelings but hope you will just keep submitting until you find an agent/publisher or you decide the novel is not up to par, and you start another. I posted someone else that I've read in several places that *Gone with the Wind* went out 35 or so times before it was accepted. Hang in there, girl!

Edited by: CD750530 at: 12/15/2007 (00:54)
THINMOM5's Photo THINMOM5 Posts: 2,039
12/15/07 12:40 A

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Evie, it's actually encouraging for an agent to say it looks interesting, even if it isn't right for them. Even within a genre, there are so many different tastes, so I wouldn't assume you don't know your genre. That kind of response means you have talent, so keep pushing. :)

So are you looking for an agent for a novel or for short stories? I'm thinking you said you're doing it for short stories but I didn't think you needed an agent for that - that you just send them in to magazines. But I don't write short stories anymore, and I've never tried to get short stories published, so I don't really know that much about it. If you're doing it for a novel, you might want to send more than one letter out at a time. That's what I've read lots of places anyway. That way if you get rejected on one, you still have more out there and it's not so bad. Plus they take forever to reply. It would have taken me a couple of years to go through these 16 agents if I had done them one at a time. This way it's just been since early August.

I'm impressed that you wrote your synopsis in 30 minutes. The only thing I had after 30 minutes was a bunch of crap worthy of fire kindling! ;)

Donna
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EVIE13's Photo EVIE13 Posts: 1,904
12/15/07 12:07 A

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Wow. That's so great that you're still fighting. My therapist was telling me that the other day when I was in his office crying over my stories. We have to fight for the things we want. I've been hearing that a lot lately.

My first rejection was a standard rejection and that one made me the most mad. I was SO offended that they wouldn't even take the time to write "No thanks." My next one, and I don't count it, said that she wasn't reading anything new right now. I thought that it would have been nice if she had put that on her website to save me some time, but that's okay. My next one said that it wasn't right for them at this time. And the last one said that while it sounded very interesting, it wasn't right for them at this time. Getting two of those in a roll made me feel like maybe I really don't know my genre and my story doesn't have a place in the world. But like I've said, I really need thicker skin. I'm not at all tough. I thought I was. I have a long list of people to send stuff to. I should just get on it. I don't have any excuses left.

Synopsis definately suck. I had to write one for one of my submissions. Did it in about 30 minutes. It wasn't perfect. I had no idea what I was doing. I just sat down and was like, "What's my crap about?" and wrote a page and sent it in. I spent over a week obsessing and stressing over it and then I sit down and write out some crap. I read over it. It sounded okay. And whether okay is good enough really didn't matter as much as getting that submission in. It was so detailed. They wanted a summary AND a synopsis and so many pages and my favorite line from the story and a standard query letter. My summaries are always much better. For whatever reason it's so much easier to sum up my story in two paragraph, then it is to sum it up all detailed like in a page. I know I can do better, but I have my first draft all ready to revise for next time.


_./'\._.**..**.*
*. .** Queen Evie
/.*.\ ..**., .**.*.*
It's Our Imperfections That Make Us Beautiful.
^_^


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THINMOM5's Photo THINMOM5 Posts: 2,039
12/14/07 8:10 P

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So generally speaking I try not to think about my agent hunt too much cuz it's too hard to deal with, but after my last post I've been thinking about it more. I decided to count how many rejections I've gotten. 15. Not including the agent who rejected me after requesting the partial, so that puts it at 16. Only one agent was interested enough to ask for more. All the others have just been those form rejections everyone gets. In a way the number was not so bad to see, cuz I kinda thought I was in the 20's. So I'm glad it's less. It's FELT like a lot more. But 16 isn't SOOO bad I guess. For some reason 30 is the magic number in my mind. Once I get past 30 rejections, I think I'm going to be taking it a LOT more personal, instead of just trying to tell myself rejections are just an inevitable part of the process. Honestly the whole thing has been emotional, and the whole reason I did NaNo was to make myself write - a lot - in the hopes of getting loose again. And that did work. But for about two weeks now I've been saying I'm going to send out more letters (I only have 5 I'm still waiting to hear back on) but I can't bring myself to do it. I think it's because I finally feel normal again and can write and have fun and I'm afraid that paying too much attention to the agent hunt by sending out more will start to freak me out again. Anyway, I don't know why I'm telling you all this, but there it is. I want to send out more letters, but I don't. I want to hear back from more agents, but I don't. I want to find an agent to represent me, but... no, wait, that's all. I do want to find an agent to represent me. LOL. Okay, I'm just rambling now, so I'll shut up and go. Talk to you all later!


Donna
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THINMOM5's Photo THINMOM5 Posts: 2,039
12/14/07 4:20 P

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Exhausting but fun is a great way to describe the editing process! I love it too. I backup my files on one of those keychain zip drive things (I have no idea what they're called, if you can't tell LOL). I also send it as an attachement to my yahoo email address in case my house burns down. I have another online site with restricted access that I can save files on. I'm completely paranoid about losing everything. I try not to think about all the handwritten notes, binders, etc that I have that would just be gone forever if there were a fire. Too bad I can't afford fireproof filing cabinets! LOL. Maybe when I'm rich and famous...

So the table of contents didn't help me write the synopsis at all. The synopsis - in case you didn't know - is a form of torture invented by the devil himself. You have one page to sum up your story without it being confusing or sounding trite, to give your characters depth, to give the emotional ride of a story arc with climax and all, and to convey your personal voice. One page. When that agent asked for it (along with a partial) I literally put my entire life on hold for the next 2 1/2 days and did nothing but write that stupid thing. It has to be perfect. It was so friggin hard! But let me tell you, when I finally nailed it, it was a feeling of accomplishment similar to the first time I wrote an entire first draft beginning to end. I wanted to tell the whole world!!! (By the way, this agent - she's at Writer's House - ended up saying that she "enjoyed it and found it very descriptive and engaging" but that it wasn't right for her list, and she encouraged me to keep trying. According to what I've read, that's the nicest kind of rejection you can get, cuz they WILL be honest with you, but it still sucked cuz I still don't have an agent. I mean, it's nice that she liked it but what if every interested agent - if there even are any more - end up saying the same thing? My story will still end up languishing at the bottom of my closet. Sigh. Oh well. I'm just pressing on and whenever all these stupid form rejections get me down I just tell myself again that this top agent liked it and someone will want it. I may never get published, but it won't be for lack of trying. Meanwhile, I'm working on the next one...

Donna
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EVIE13's Photo EVIE13 Posts: 1,904
12/14/07 2:59 P

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^_^ That's why I'm So glad that I found this team! I've calmed down considerably just talking to you guys, and everyone's been such a big help and so inspiring! ^_^

I always read aloud when I edit. First I go through and make changes. It used to be on paper, making marks, but now I just do it right onto the computer on a seperate document in case I change something then change my mind and want to put the original back. When I finish the first major revision, I go back and read the whole thing aloud to my cats (or at them if they've fallen asleep) beginning to end, making changes when it's necessary. At this point I'll usually let someone read it. Then I'll go through their comments, make changes, and re-read the whole thing again out loud. I do an out loud read through after every revision. It's exhausting, but I love doing it because I know my story gets more and more fantastic with each read through. ^_^

Thinmom, I love that you have that table of contents. It sounds like a great way to stay organized and keep tabs of the progress you're making. It probably makes it easier to write a synopsis for agents who want them. I have a sticky note system. Whenever I'm edited-out I'll make a note of what page and paragraph I'm on and stick it to my computer. I do this mainly in case the cats trip the power supply while I'm passed out. Or in case the lights go out.

Foodgroupie, I really like your tips for staying organized. I have to stay organized or I find myself using that as an excuse not to work on my story. I'm somewhat paranoid when it comes to losing my stories thanks to movies like "Little Women" and "Duplex". I cry every single time I watch those movies and thier stories get destroyed. I back all of my files up automatically on an external hard drive, including my stories. Then I also back my stories up on a pda and a flash drive.

Fyi: I've had my computer crash before (the motherboard shorted out and computer wouldn't turn on at all) and thankfully I was able to extract my hard drive, hook it up to another computer, and get my files back. I already had my stories on a flash drive at this point, but I hadn't updated them since putting them on there so I would have lost all of my revisions not to mention all of my songs, pictures, and other files. So anyway that's why I do all this backing up now.

Edited by: EVIE13 at: 12/14/2007 (15:02)

_./'\._.**..**.*
*. .** Queen Evie
/.*.\ ..**., .**.*.*
It's Our Imperfections That Make Us Beautiful.
^_^


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THINMOM5's Photo THINMOM5 Posts: 2,039
12/14/07 12:43 P

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That sounds like a great plan. You'll have to keep us posted on how that works for you. I also have a binder I use, well two actually. I have a smaller one that grows as I go through the process. I don't use it at all in the beginning. But by the time I was done with my other book, I had what I called a table of contents at the front. This was just a few pages long and just a list of chapters and scenes. It made it easy to see the whole thing at a glance, and as I was working my way through the final draft I would check them off on the list. It helped me to see my progress, because when you're spending three days editing five pages, you start to feel like you'll never get done! Then I have a HUGE binder that I put the final draft in as I finished it, with little post it notes sticking out with the chapter numbers on them. I never printed out my first draft, though I saved it as its own file before I went back to edit it. So I have a file saved as "first draft," another as "second draft" etc. I did print out the second draft, cuz at that point I was ready to start editing and I like to make changes on the hard copy and then put them into the computer. Sometimes I'll do it straight into the computer, but sometimes not. I have a clipboard I use for editing. This is how it works once I'm at final draft stage: I'll print out a chapter at a time, put it on my clipboard, curl up on the couch and mark the crap out of it until it's too hard to see what's what. Then I'll enter it into the computer, print it again, and mark it up again. When I get to the point where I'm not making marks anymore, that's when I start reading it aloud. I always find more changes to make, mark it up some more, print out another copy, and repeat until I can read the whole thing aloud without my ears taking offense to anything. LOL. My other criteria is I have to be in love with the scene or it's no good. There have been times when I'll finish editing a scene, see that there's nothing wrong with it, but then realize it just doesn't excite me. So then I have to go back to square one and figure out what the problem is. Sometimes I have to make a pretty drastic change and then start the editing all over again. But it's worth it.

Oh, and I'm glad to see there are "real" writers posting on here too. I've been so hungry for fellow writers to talk to. It's been fun!

Donna
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F00DIE125's Photo F00DIE125 Posts: 53
12/14/07 12:25 P

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I love that you are ALL real writers. This is awesome for me since not many people around me that are into literature or writing. I'm lucky my husband shares my interest in poetry. I took a poetry course where we discussed writing techniques of other poets & that was stimulating! Sadly the other students in my courses are not as interested since they are trying to just graduate (also much younger than me).
Ok. Didn't mean to get emotional!

After reading all the info in these posts,I'm aiming for organization. This is what I'll try & do:

Attempt to make brief outlines /Synopses for work in progress. I'll continue using my recorder to hold ideas while on the go. Make time to send 'em to my pc. I'll create a file just for potential writing (ideas)& the other for "live", stuff I'm currently working on.

Buy a back-up "something" that can store large amounts of "stuff".(my husband's always reminding me to back files up,which I don't do for my writing,but for some reason I backup my class work.)

Find a good sized binder & make it a point to print out the writing I work on,that way it's in my hands to read. (Maybe not a good idea-might give me reasons to scrutinize writing.)

Attempt to make brief outlines /Synopses for my work in progress. I seem to have only narratives now & lots free writing. I'll continue using my writing style for now (don't know any other-ha-ha), but I won't go back after only 1 paragraph & try to immediately form beautiful sentences. When I do that, I end up w/ pretentious writing.

Set up a tray/basket ONLY for my writing "utensils",right now they're scattered everywhere. For some reason I can't use my desk while I'm writing.

Note to self: This will help me become a stronger writer (definitely an organized one)!

Thanks everyone for all of your help!

Edited by: F00DIE125 at: 12/14/2007 (12:31)
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CD750530 Posts: 5,444
12/14/07 2:40 A

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Evie, I suspect our biggest challenge as writers is to make our readers believe in our vision. I think to cause suspension of disbelief in our audience is critical to a good work, whether in print or on film.
Good night, all, from the Left Coast!
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Edited by: CD750530 at: 12/14/2007 (02:42)
EVIE13's Photo EVIE13 Posts: 1,904
12/14/07 1:07 A

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Oh! and strawberrymoon, I'm so glad you brought that up! I had a teacher once that said by having the characters' descriptions and personalities ingrained in our heads, we would be able to drop subtle clues about it in our story without realizing it, thus fullfilling the reader's need for character description without us having to obsess over it. And he also mentioned that the characters would be more believeable and real. That's especially important in fantasy when you have the added task of getting your reader to believe in not just your characters and setting and whatever, but also in things and places and that might not really exist. I had another teacher say once that "just because you're telling me it's happening, doesn't mean I'm going to believe it."


_./'\._.**..**.*
*. .** Queen Evie
/.*.\ ..**., .**.*.*
It's Our Imperfections That Make Us Beautiful.
^_^


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EVIE13's Photo EVIE13 Posts: 1,904
12/14/07 12:59 A

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It's definately too soon to tell. Right now, it's more of a comfort. I just like knowing that the info is there if I need it.

Before my hiatus, I would have an idea written down on scratch paper about one to three sentences long, a quote or two I may but most likely won't use, and under that I would have the names of my main characters. Sometimes I would have a brief description about them, but usually not. And then I would open a composition and write, by hand, whenever the mood struck me until it was finished. Now I just use the comp books for organizational purposes, keeping up with revision ideas, and to write scenes down in when I'm away from my computer and it isn't thesible to work on it on my pda. I had so much fun transferring the comp books to the computer that I decided that I never wanted to write an entire story on paper again if I could help it. I take my composition book with my everywhere I go in case I get any bright ideas for scenes or revisions. (Or another story idea...that way I already have plenty of paper to write the idea down on.) It also keeps me excited and pumped up about my story.

I write fantasy too! Though I'm really not consistent with a sub-genre. I have one book that would fit great in the teeny-bopper section, but the one I'm working on now wouldn't, and the one I'm wanting to send out is on the fence about it. My main character is 18 and still in high school, though I only have one scene that takes place in the school, and it's only mentioned maybe two other times in the entire story! Everyone else is in their 20s except for one character who's 17. I don't think I want my books to be scattered all over the bookstore though because of one or two books. So I don't know...I guess I'll just have to wait and see.


_./'\._.**..**.*
*. .** Queen Evie
/.*.\ ..**., .**.*.*
It's Our Imperfections That Make Us Beautiful.
^_^


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CD750530 Posts: 5,444
12/14/07 12:45 A

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Thanks everyone for sharing.

With regard to not using detailed descriptions of characters in the novel, itself, (no looking in the mirror, please!), I took a novel-writing class in which the instructor suggested we write descriptions of main characters -- physical, social, and pyschological. He did say, as you implied THINMOM5. that the writer probably wouldn't use a lot of these descriptions in the novel, but by the writing them the author would know the characters so well, s/he would be able to write about them and what drives more authenticly.

I love hearing how each of you work; some great ideas.

THINMOM5's Photo THINMOM5 Posts: 2,039
12/13/07 11:26 P

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Oh and Evie, I'm glad you're not giving up. You can do it!!! :)

Donna
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THINMOM5's Photo THINMOM5 Posts: 2,039
12/13/07 11:25 P

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Michelle, I know what you mean about cutting those beautiful sentences. I forget who said it, but some famous writer was talking about how ruthless you have to be and said "Kill your darlings." That's about it, isn't it? I used to chant that to myself all the time, but I'm so used to it now I hardly even feel the pain anymore, LOL. When I'm working on a story and I'm having a hard time cutting something I know has to go, I put it in a separate document labeled "cut and save" or something like that, that way it doesn't go into the great computer abyss of nothingness and I can put it back in if I change my mind. I've never changed my mind, but it still helps me make the cut to save it just in case. I've never gone back to read that stuff either, so I don't know if there's anything I could use in a different story. I've never thought about it before but the idea is interesting. Maybe I'll have to poke back through them. Hmmm....

As far as your other question regarding order of things done, I've only written one synopsis and that was when an interested agent specifically asked for it. I didn't write one as part of the writing process, but I've heard some people do that. What I do is this:

I start a new idea with a cheap spiral notebook. I don't try to write down what my idea IS - I just let that live in my head - I'm really using the notebook as a tool to develop the idea. So I might write something like, "what happens when the guy captures the girl," and write about that for awhile, without ever having written that a guy WOULD capture a girl (cuz I already knew that in my head, if that makes sense) and without even having a name for these people yet. I've noticed that I have to develop a character for awhile before I can name him. Then I get to the point where I can't develop him any further until he has a name, so that's when I sit down and figure it out. Usually by that point several characters are in need of a name so I'll just do them all at once. Anyway, back to the notebook. I write completely at random and just put a space in between sections so I know where the break is. So I might have a section where a wrote about a particular scene or plot strand I'm developing. Then mixed in have sections about the world I'm building (I write fantasy). Then I might have actual snippets of dialogue or descriptions I might use in the story. I don't try to organize the material. I just work on whatever my brain seems to want to do next. I'll fill 3 or 4 notebooks before my idea is finally developed enough to start getting it laid out in an outline. This takes a couple months I guess. I don't really use character sketches. I've tried filling out those lists you see in writing books that ask for height, eyes, mouth shape, blemishes, etc etc. That doesn't seem to help me. I think because you never say in a book, "he was six foot with brown eyes and brown hair." I mean, who cares? But I have a mental image of my characters and just wait until I'm really writing the story to describe them creatively. For a few characters, I'll copy and paste those descriptions into a character list, just to make sure I'm keeping things straight. But mostly, I don't worry about it. I'll freewrite about their background or lifestyle or motivation or whatever as it comes to me in the notebooks. Once I've written that kind of stuff, as long as I like it and it works, it gets sort of imprinted in my mind and I'm good to go. I like to do the outline on the computer because it's easy to move sections around and make changes. And as I add notes to scenes it can get pretty long and almost starts to feel like a rough draft. Although I will write scenes when they come to me in the notebooks, I pretty much write the first draft on the computer. So there's the short answer to your question, LOL.

FoodGroupie, thanks for the reassurance. I don't have anything to post yet either. I'm sure we'll all get to that point eventually. Sounds like we're all in the developing stage right now and not polishing yet. It will be fun to see samples as we go along! :)

Evie, so how do you like doing things that way? Is it working for you or is it too soon to tell?

Donna
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EVIE13's Photo EVIE13 Posts: 1,904
12/13/07 6:02 P

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I won't give up. ^_^
I agree that I haven't even begun to break the surface of the literary world, but I'm definately in need of some tougher skin.

When it comes to my writing process, I rarely write a synopsis. I usually start with a summary that's a couple of sentences long and my main characters. However, the story I'm working on now has a detailed outline that includes a break down of my main plot and character bios for all the important people. I usually don't do this, but I'm trying something different and I thought it would help to stay focused if I wrote down what my plans are for the story. I've read of other writers doing that so I thought I would try it. ^_^



_./'\._.**..**.*
*. .** Queen Evie
/.*.\ ..**., .**.*.*
It's Our Imperfections That Make Us Beautiful.
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F00DIE125's Photo F00DIE125 Posts: 53
12/13/07 3:52 P

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Donna, please don't feel like your post is too long!
I enjoyed reading it and felt relieved that I'm not the only one with these problem! (I was really doubting my writing ability.)Although I didn't touch my two short stories I did work on some poetry (LOL).


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F00DIE125's Photo F00DIE125 Posts: 53
12/13/07 3:45 P

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Hi everyone!

Evie,I really hope you take the other writer's advice and send your work out! I once read an author's bio & she claimed to have boxes of rejections piled under her bed before she was able to find an agent (think it was Jennifer Weiner or someone from that genre).Now she has 3 Novels published,short stories and a movie!

StrawberryMoon: I just started "recycling" my not so right material. Don't know if I mentioned it, I'm in school now trying to study English Lit. and this was one of the "tips" a professor swore by.

A process that I use for almost all of my writing is Free Writing. I try to write a general idea and then go on and on & not worry about mistakes, I find this helps me generate ideas when I write essays and my news recap. (I should mention for my short stories I haven't got past 500 words.)

I find criticism to be a great way to address our weak points. I've only taken one criticism class so far,no expert here. I feel terrible,I don't have "real" material to post here! If anyone is interested in poetry I found a "Poets United" Team where they share poems;I posted 3 of mine if you want to check them out & comment.

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CD750530 Posts: 5,444
12/13/07 2:44 P

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One of the most difficult things for me is to write a sentence or paragraph that I love, but then realize it just doesn't fit in the context of the whole. It's like throwing out a beloved child. I have said I was going to keep a file for them to be used subsequent pieces of fiction. I never have, but perhaps I'll start.

Another thing I'm interested in is the process other writers use, a list of the order of things done, such as:

1. synopis
2. character development
2. outline

...and so forth.

Of course these are subject to change as we get further into the novel/short story. I realize we each probably work a bit differently, but I like the opportunity to learn from others.

Edited by: CD750530 at: 12/13/2007 (21:22)
THINMOM5's Photo THINMOM5 Posts: 2,039
12/13/07 2:18 P

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Michelle, I like what you said about being the final authority. You're right about that. Ultimately it's our book and we have to like it. I use the same test for myself when developing ideas. Sometimes I come up with ideas that I think are good, useable, marketable, etc. But it just doesn't excite me, so I ditch it. If I'm going to write it, I want to love it. :)

Donna
Live life moment to moment.


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CD750530 Posts: 5,444
12/13/07 2:09 P

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THINMOM5,

You didn't come across as know-it-all at all. I'll try the ideas that speak to me; I'm so glad you shared them. I think it's great to read about other people's methods, then we can take the ideas that are useful to us and leave the rest. For me, the same idea applies to criticism. We use what's useful; we discard the rest. In the end we are the final authorities.

I also took several creative writing seminars in college and learned how to handle criicism without getting my undies in a bunch. I believe it can be candid but not brutal. And I always remember that literary criticism includes recognizing the good elements in a piece, too.

Best,

Michelle

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12/13/07 1:43 P

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Oh I'm so glad that didn't come across badly! I'm glad I'm not the only one who writes that way. I also would sum up a scene in a sentence or two so I could move on and flesh it out later. I think that works really well.

Evie, I definitely think you should send out to more agents. Everyone gets rejected. EVERYONE. Just keep telling yourself that. Don't give up on yourself. It's just a matter of finding the right person to represent you. I think you said in another post you only got 3 rejections. Girl, that's nothing! Add a zero to that before you think about giving up. Three rejections says absolutely nothing about the quality of your writing. That's just not enough to worry about. Think of it this way. When you go to a bookstore to look for a book, you select one or two, essentially rejecting the other options there. Not that other books are bad, or that they don't appeal to you, but that just isn't what you wanted right then. Agents are the same. They have certain things they're looking for when building their lists. Not being right for their list doesn't mean you're not any good, it just means you haven't found the right agent yet and need to keep trying. You go for it girl!! When you're ready, we'll be here to support you the whole way! :)

When you were talking about how that girl responded to your criticism, it makes me think about college. That was one of the most important things I learned when doing all those workshops in school. You learn how to disconnect from your writing once it's out for critique, and to look at it with more objective eyes. It takes a lot of practice, I think, to not get defensive about things, but it is soooo important! A couple of years ago I starting reading the acknowledgement pages of novels and noticed all the people who were thanked for reading and critiqueing the manuscript. That was what made me realize I needed people - a lot of people - to look at my manuscript before calling it "done." Anyway, I think I'm just rambling now, so I'll go. ;) If someone starts a new thread for reviewing their work, let us know! :)

(By the way, I love it when I see other people writing long posts, cuz then I don't feel so bad about doing it myself! LOL)

Donna
Live life moment to moment.


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EVIE13's Photo EVIE13 Posts: 1,904
12/13/07 12:27 A

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You don't sound like a know-it-all at all! That's exactly how I used to approach my writing! In the last story I edited, I had a whole scene where I had just said, (add scene here later about such and such) and moved on. When I went back to write it later, it flowed and fit in with everything so well. Now it's my favorite scene from that story! ^_^ I skipped it originally because something Really exciting was about to happen and I couldn't wait to get to it and I didn't want to take the time to slow down and write something that wasn't as important. And that first draft really was excrement. Lol! It was terrible. I got a quarter of the way through my first read through of it and quit because it was so horrible! But after a nice long break, I was able to get over my disgust and see the good things about it and fix it. Now it is my absolute favorite story. I love everything about it. It's exciting and interesting, it's funny, it's scary, it's even sexy, and I can't believe sometimes that I was able to write something that good. ^_^ But that was the story I mentioned in an earlier post that I spent a year editing. Then I let someone read some of it last July and I went into another long editing session with it just to fix two things. But it was worth it. When I get my courage back, I'm going to continue sending it out to agents.

Foodgroupie: I love writing short stories, even though I don't focus on them anymore. I really enjoyed writing them in college and reading everyone else's. I look forward to reading snippets from everyone's genius. ^_^ I was editing a first novel for my sister's friend about a month ago and the first thing I told her to do was to write some short stories. Writing them helped me alot in relation to overall decription and character development and quanity. She had way too many characters and in a short story, you don't have space for a lot of pointless characters so it really helped me scale mine down a lot and I thought it would help her too. She took offense to my suggestions, which hurt after all the work I put in to help her, but not everyone can take criticism the first time it's dished out and not everyone can write. A lot of people think that just because novels are longer, they can add more pointless crap in and that's really not the case. I have a collection of short stories I wrote years ago all with a similar theme. One day I want to revise them and put them together in a little collection type book. I think it would make a great made-for-tv mini-series. ^_^ I also hope to have collection of my other short stories one day like Stephen King.


_./'\._.**..**.*
*. .** Queen Evie
/.*.\ ..**., .**.*.*
It's Our Imperfections That Make Us Beautiful.
^_^


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THINMOM5's Photo THINMOM5 Posts: 2,039
12/12/07 10:38 P

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Yeah, definitely don't worry about how it sounds. I think it was Hemmingway who said "All first drafts are excrement." He's being funny, but he wasn't kidding. It helps me to remind myself that the purpose of the first draft is to tell myself the story. I can write things like, "Then she went into the shop and sat down and looked around," if I'm just trying to get to the next part and not worry about it. When I'm ready to edit, then I can worry about exactly HOW I want to transition from one place to another in a way that sounds better. In a first draft I give myself permission to use cliches. I can go back later and think of something brilliant. ;) Allowing myself to use a cliche when nothing else leaps to mind keeps me in the groove of the scene without getting bogged down by words. In a first draft I might have a minor character walk on scene with no name. I don't want to take the time to name him right then so I'll use X instead. I'll do the same thing with descriptions. Perhaps I'm writing a scene and I know I want to pace some dialogue with a description of the dinner the waiter just brought, but I don't know (or care at this point) what they're eating. I want to remember my idea for a pacing sentence, but don't want to lose my momentum to figure it all out, so I'll write, "The waiter put a plate of x, x and x in front of her." There is absolutely nothing about that sentence that would survive the editing process, except maybe the word "waiter." Maybe. But at this point, I don't think it matters. I'm just telling myself the story. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of times when the writing gods are with me and I love what I'm writing. It has tone, it has emotion, it flows, I love it. All I have to do is tighten it a bit and it's good. Oh happy day! Don't we love those moments? But if it's not coming, I don't stress about it. My goal - my ONLY goal - when I'm writing the first draft is just to get the story on paper.

Because of all this, I love the different stages of writing for different reasons. The first draft is fun because it goes so fast. It is the pure joy of creating a story and characters and just seeing what is going to happen. It's about plot and the ideas are so fun because they're fresh and new and exciting. I love the second draft because that is when I get rid of all my x's and flesh out anything that I just sort of summarized in the first draft. It's still me telling me the story, but whereas in the first draft I'm wondering exactly how a certain scene will play out, and in the second draft I take the time to figure it out and answer all those questions. The third draft is now the editing part, and I LOVE that because the structure of my story is stable and my foundation secure. Now I get to really look at words and make sure I'm using them to create the tone I want. To evoke in the reader the emotion I want. For the first time, I'm writing to tell someone else the story. I know exactly what this story is supposed to be, so now I'm ready to tell it and the reader will (hopefully) know they are in competent hands. That's what I'm trying for now anyway. Hopefully there are no meandering scenes or pointless characters. I know exactly where the story is going, exactly who these characters are. Now I have the luxury of turning that plate of dinner into something you aren't just reading about but can practically taste. Oh I love that stage of the writing! That's when you get to see words making their magic. That's what it's all about. The editing comes, but my feeling is that you can't rush it. This is just my opinion, and I'm no expert or anything, but I think our creative mind needs the freedom of the first draft.

Okay, I've rambled on and I just got a phone call informing me that I'm 30 minutes late for a meeting I thought was tomorrow night. Ahhh!!

I hope I didn't sound like a know it all or anything. This is all just my experience and opinions, so take it for what it's worth for you. Talk to you ladies tomorrow! Happy writing!

Donna
Live life moment to moment.


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F00DIE125's Photo F00DIE125 Posts: 53
12/12/07 10:00 P

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Thanks for that info, it's really encouraging. I find myself going back to the beginning just about after every sentence I finish! It really winds me up (and I don't need winding).

I'm going to continue writing my lil' short story & not worry (or at least,try to not worry) about how it sounds, syntax,grammar,bla-bla till the end...

I'm all for sharing bits of my writing for critisism, learning, etc. I think it's a great idea.


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EVIE13's Photo EVIE13 Posts: 1,904
12/12/07 8:32 P

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I love that!
I can't count how many stories I've quit because I went back to the beginning, fussed over it, and made it worse.

By the time you finish trying to bake a cookie one ingrediant at a time, it's horribly burnt!

But I definately think more people will find this thread once they get over the bustle of the holiday season.

Edited by: EVIE13 at: 12/12/2007 (20:33)

_./'\._.**..**.*
*. .** Queen Evie
/.*.\ ..**., .**.*.*
It's Our Imperfections That Make Us Beautiful.
^_^


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CD750530 Posts: 5,444
12/12/07 7:43 P

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I like the cookie analogy!

Wonder how we can get more people to participate here. Perhaps it's just that everyone is busy with the holidays, and posts will pick up in the new year.

THINMOM5's Photo THINMOM5 Posts: 2,039
12/12/07 7:39 P

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I think that's excellent advice! You can get stuck forever revising the beginning. Get the whole story down first, no matter how big the change to your beginning is going to be. It is far more productive to edit after the story is down on paper. Trying to write, edit, write, edit is like trying to bake a cookie one ingredient at a time.

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Donna
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CD750530 Posts: 5,444
12/12/07 5:21 P

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Some of you have mentioned not being able to stop from getting bogged down by editing before you have written your first draft.

I'm reading a book called *Plot* (How to build short stories and novels that don't sag, fizzle, or trail off in scraps of frustrated revision -- and how to rescue stories that do.), by Ansen Dibell. It was published in 1988 by Writer's Digest Books. I don't know if it still in print. Anyway here's a section about revision I found illuminating. This excerpt is on the long side but worth reading, I think. The last line really made me aware of the trouble you can get into with premature revision. Here it is:

Remember awhile back, I warned you that every plot will try to go wrong after the first big scene:

It's true. Generally, it's because fiction fatigue has set in. You've been concentrating intensely and now your beginning is complete, doing all the jobs that beginnings need to do.

Back off a day or two, catch your breath, before going any further.

But leave your beginning alone.

That's terrifically important. You'll be inclined to tinker with it, unsure that the hard choices of intuition and craft were the right ones, after all. And much of your second-guessing will be wrong. When you've just finished something is not the right time to revise it. You don't know where it all fits in yet -- what it's leading up to. You story doesn't have a real shape yet that can resist insecure inkering.

Leave your beginning alone, at least until you have one whole first draft, in the case of a short story or until you're past the middle, in a novel. Until then, you're not in a position to judge the fiction as one unified thing and make informed decisions about the individual sections.

If you have ideas for revision, fine. Jot them down, staple them to page one. Start a file of afterthoughts. But don't try to implement them -- not yet...

I think more stories have collapsed from prematur tinkering than from any other single cause.

Edited by: CD750530 at: 12/12/2007 (17:26)
CD750530 Posts: 5,444
12/12/07 5:03 P

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FOODGROUPIE, I am exploring a free program called yWrite2 that helps organize notes, outlines, characters, plots, scenes, and such. You can see it at www.spacejock.com. I'll let you know how I like it. In the past, I've outlined (tried to, at least) my novel but never short stories.

THINMOM5, I'm not against having another thread for feedback, although if we have only a few members, we could probably use just this one for everything.

Edited by: CD750530 at: 12/12/2007 (17:04)
THINMOM5's Photo THINMOM5 Posts: 2,039
12/12/07 4:00 P

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I'm open to doing feedback. Maybe we could start a new forum, or even a new team, just for that. Each person's piece could have it's own thread. What do you think?

Groupie, I haven't written short stories since college, but I didn't use outlines for them. I use them for novels, just as a way to keep my thoughts straight about such a massive amount of material. I don't let it become the way the story HAS to be, if I start going another way when I'm actually writing. I also find it a good way to weave plot strands together. I can write a series of scene descriptions, each just a phrase or maybe a few sentences, and carry one plot line through to completion. Do the same thing with a sub plot perhaps. Then easily look at how I want to put it all together in the novel. I really like outlines; but I know some writers don't use/need them.

Donna
Live life moment to moment.


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F00DIE125's Photo F00DIE125 Posts: 53
12/12/07 11:47 A

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I'm working on short story, can I join?
Q: Do you all use outlines? I haven't used one for short stories before(although I have used them for Essays & research papers in the past) and was wondering if you found it helpful.

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EVIE13's Photo EVIE13 Posts: 1,904
12/12/07 1:58 A

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Coolness! ^_^
I'm game.


_./'\._.**..**.*
*. .** Queen Evie
/.*.\ ..**., .**.*.*
It's Our Imperfections That Make Us Beautiful.
^_^


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CD750530 Posts: 5,444
12/12/07 12:17 A

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I say go with humorous vampires! Dark humor has gotten me through many dismal situations.

I'm glad you like the idea of posting and getting feedback. That's two of us; let's see what others think. If no one else is interested, perhap you and I could do it through Spark mail.

EVIE13's Photo EVIE13 Posts: 1,904
12/11/07 11:43 P

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^_^ I've thought about that. There are moments where it's creepy, but for the most part it really is funny. I've written short stories for classes in college that I've been told fall into the dark humor category.

And I wouldn't at all mind getting feedback on some scenes sometimes. And I would love to offer feedback to other people. It's another thing I really love to do. I love editing!


_./'\._.**..**.*
*. .** Queen Evie
/.*.\ ..**., .**.*.*
It's Our Imperfections That Make Us Beautiful.
^_^


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CD750530 Posts: 5,444
12/11/07 9:04 P

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EVIE13, Perhaps you're writing a humorous vampire story. I've never run into one; maybe you're on to something.
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CD750530 Posts: 5,444
12/11/07 9:01 P

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How does everyone feel about posting fairly short bits of writing for feedback?

EVIE13's Photo EVIE13 Posts: 1,904
12/11/07 8:41 P

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I have a story where my protagonist goes crazy and kills a few people. (She was a vampire.) Everytime I go through that story, I find myself laughing. I don't know if it's because I wrote it and I think it's great, or for some reason I'm finding it hilarious because the thought of that happening for real is so ridiculous.

I do sometimes wonder if people are going to think I'm completely mental when they read my stuff.

I haven't tried to send that story out though because even though I've edited it several times since I wrote it in high school, it still feels amateurish to me and like it's not quite up to par with a story I wrote just one year later in college. It almost doesn't even match my writing style now. I think maybe I'm just being picky and should wait until I get an agent and let them tell me what's missing before I try to edit it again.


_./'\._.**..**.*
*. .** Queen Evie
/.*.\ ..**., .**.*.*
It's Our Imperfections That Make Us Beautiful.
^_^


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THINMOM5's Photo THINMOM5 Posts: 2,039
12/11/07 3:20 P

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LOL! When I think of really gruesome stuff for my antagonist to do, first I get all excited because it seems like such a brilliant idea, then I wonder what's wrong with me to think of such things! emoticon

Donna
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CD750530 Posts: 5,444
12/11/07 2:54 P

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Great! I did some work today reviewing different ways for my murderer to kill the victim. I feel a bit of a goul! I also did some research online about murders. Hope the authorities don't see the sites I've visited and think I'm really planning to murder someone.

THINMOM5's Photo THINMOM5 Posts: 2,039
12/11/07 2:47 P

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Hey! I've been working on my outline. It's the first I've really looked at the material since NaNo and it's been fun to read scenes I forgot I wrote. I think this will help me get it all organized and get the plot tightened. I took NaNo's advice and took a break after the craziness of November, but I'm ready to get going and take it to the next step.
I'm excited to join you all in the daily writing challenge.


Donna
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CD750530 Posts: 5,444
12/11/07 12:52 P

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Calling All Fiction Writers

I'm purposing this thread to help fiction writers do such things as ask for help with thorny problems unique to fiction, discuss writers' blocks, get support and encouragement, commit to a challenge of writing so much a day, and and anything else that would be useful.
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