Wednesday, January 28, 2009

There has to be a better way...

As I have mentioned, I'm coming off of a long writing dry spell. One of my long term goals over the years has been to write a novel. I've attempted to start and gotten bogged down quite a few times. Over the last few months the idea that there has to be a better way has continually come to mind. I consider myself a character-based writer. I think up characters. I write about characters. I explore them inside and out and get to know them like I know my best friends. And then I start trying to plot around them and I get totally lost. I get halfway through a novel and am so confused I can't remember where I was going in the first place. There has to be a better way. I need plotting help!

I own a book that I bought a number of years ago called The Weekend Novelist by Robert J. Ray. I have browsed through it a few times over the years, but never actually sat down and worked through it until recently. I also subscribe to a blog by Randy Ingermanson ( that I feel always has some fantastic information and help for fiction writers. Both Ray and Ingermanson offer a design process to use before beginning the novel and I've finally come to the conclusion that I need to employ just that type of process if I'm ever going to make sense of this whole plotting thing. Ray has you start with character sketches based on strangers in public places. Ingermanson has you start with a basic plot synopsis boiled down to a sentence. Both agree that it is well worth it to do extensive plotting and synopsis work on the novel before you ever start writing the first draft. One way or the other, I feel that the idea of the advance design process is the Better Way that I've been looking for all along. goes nothing. By choosing to learn a new way of novel writing I will gain, if nothing else, a new perspective on this craft that I have chosen as a way of life.

For those interested in more information on these methods, here is the info. Randy Ingermanson devotes a page on his website to his process called the Snowflake Method. You can look at it here: Be sure to check out all of the other great information that he gives away on his website and blog as well. Robert J. Ray's original edition of The Weekend Novelist is no longer in print and from what I've read in the reviews at Amazon, the second edition (with a co-author) is not nearly as worth the investment. You can, however, still purchase used first editions on Amazon ( For a great review of this book check out

Monday, January 26, 2009

Poetry Contest

Here is a poetry contest that I thought some of my regular readers would be interested in. The contest is sponsored by Writecorner Press. Poems must be a maximum length of 40 lines, the entry fee is $5 for the first poem and $3 for each additional poem and the awards are a $500 first place award as well as some $100 editor's choice awards. The winning poem and editors' choices will be published on and are eligible for inclusion in the permanent website anthology. (By submitting work to this contest, authors give permission to Writecorner Press to publish the award winning poetry and editors' choices on the website. Authors retain all other rights to their works.)

For full entry guidelines, take a look at

(I'm already trying to decide which poems I'll submit!) :-)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

New Year, New Opportunities

It has been about six months since I posted anything on this blog. I can completely identify with my fellow blogger Gina Conroy calling herself a Writer Interrupted. Six months is a long interruption. My writing has not been totally interrupted during that time. But this blog unfortunately was. Since we have an active three year old living with us and are expecting a new born in May, I imagine that much in my life will continue to be interrupted for some time to come. I am going to do my best, though, to keep up with regular postings here. I just went through a long writing dry spell starting just before the holidays and lasting until just last week. I know that a regular schedule of posting on here will help to combat that. Coming up with great new ideas to share here always jump starts my brain and gets me thinking of new and great things I can write in other areas. I've also decided to write a personal blog. Once again, I think that any writing, including the diary type, helps to get the fingers moving and the brain going. If you want to check out my personal blog, you can take a look at I look forward to starting a new year here with all of you!