Too Focused

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Okay, okay, I think I know what part of the problem is. I’m terrible at description. That’s the main glaring problem with highschool draft of Epic Novel. It’s all very terse, very telly, all action and dialogue. In my current draft, I have really focused on description. Perhaps too much. One compliment I always get is that my characters are good and I know them well. Except, they don’t seem very engaging in Part 2. I spend so much time trying to make my description good that I’m neglecting my strengths—the characters, the plot. In highschool draft, the characters were friends, geniune, and funny, too. They seem awfully drab in current draft. Maybe I can pull some of my stunning lines out of the mess that is highschool draft and insert them into current draft. Maybe they will inspire me.

Under the Couch . . .

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Da da da da! Last night, I officially finished typing the rough draft of Epic Novel Book 1 Part 2!! Except for the last page which may be hiding under the couch. . . .

I haven’t exactly met my self-imposed deadline of submission ready by the end of July, but I feel certain satisfaction from having a draft ready by the end of July. Massive revisions must now ensue, but I’m getting a handle on the emotional arcs. More on that later (I hope).

Better Writer

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Argh! Is it possible that I was a better when I was 17 pre-MFA—pre-any-kind-of-creative-writing-class-ever? I keep looking back at my highschool draft of the Epic Novel. Yes, in many ways it was terrible. Yet, the characters seemed more real, more authentic. They certainly seem more like teenagers, which I suppose shouldn’t surprise me. What really shocked me was when I compared eulogies.

The current draft, I had so much trouble knowing what to say for this memorial that I finally just put in a placeholder, something along the lines of. “Today, we lost one of our own. A brave, bright, hardworking soldier. The squad won’t be the same without her. We now honor her sacrifice.” O_O I mean, it’s a placeholder, but that is really, really bad.

Contrast to the eulogy I wrote in highschool: “We all knew Jen and loved her. Jen was not only a great soldier, she was a great friend. Her spirit kept us all uplifted. When we got down, Jen always had some joke or encouraging word to cheer us up again. When times got tough, Jen got tough right along with them. She kept us going. I can’t say how much we’re going to miss her. She never flinched when going into battle. Jen just held her head steady and took the blows as they came. She stayed brave to the last, and she died a noble death.”

Um, why can’t I write that today? I’m beginning to despair. What happens when I finally finish the Epic Novel and write something new? Something for which I do not have a highschool draft? Sigh.


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I’m not exactly jealous, I just wish I could be there, too. This week is the Writing for Children and Young Adults summer residency at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Oh how I miss those days!The comraderie, fellowship, and breadth of knowledge/experience are a winning combination. Plus, these people are a lot of fun. One of the administrators once told me she could always tell when the Writing for Children program was on campus because of the laughter.

I would definitely recommend this program and hope that perhaps next year, I will make it to the residency.

Good Day

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It sort of makes your day when a highschool English teacher tells you, “With the way you write, you won’t have any trouble getting published.”


Intense Emotional Climax

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Why are the intense emotional scenes such a challenge to write? I’m talking about climaxes. I spend the whole manuscript just trying to get to those intense scenes, but when I finally arrive, I find myself floundering around. The writing is often surface and too quick. A scene that should probably take several pages (since it’s the climax of a 150 page book . . .) is done in just a couple pages. It’s as if I have this momentum that makes me write only the bare bones, the action and dialogue, without dipping into what the characters are feeling.

I usually have to rewrite these scenes around five times before I get them to the same stage of revision as the rest of the manuscript. I’m struggling right now with the end of Book 1. It seems too trite (?). Part of the problem is I don’t want to go into too much gory detail. I don’t need to make the book R rated just to get the point across. I think what I have to do is really delve into the characters’ emotions. That’s hard because they are going through intense pain. How do I describe that? How do I describe the despair, the physical symptoms that accompany it?

Sigh. I’m on revision two right now. Just three more to go until the climax hits first draft stage. Back to the grinding wheel!


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So, writing my query letter worked!  For the first time, when someone asked me, “What is your book about?” I was able to give a cohesive answer! Wow, that felt good.

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