Tag Team Writing – The Benefits of Collaborating with a Partner

Photl - 0010847960R-1920x1280Besides writing, one of my enjoyments is learning something new.  This past weekend, I ran into a couple of articles from Writer’s Digest about collaborative writing.  I had never considered the concept, but thought it quite interesting.  You can read the articles here and here.

Right off the bat I could see how writing with a partner could be beneficial – finish a story in half the time, quicker editing, someone to bounce ideas off of.  The list could go on and on.  But there could be a downside too.  What if my partner and I disagree on the direction of the story or something else significant?

As mentioned in the article, to prevent disagreements from happening, it’s best to discuss potential hiccups upfront and decide what course of action should they arise.  That’s certainly a good idea.  In addition, it may be good to find a neutral party or writing group to run things by.  Overall, I think collaborative writing can be a positive experience, but the partner should be selected wisely.

What do you think about collaborative writing?  If you have collaborated with someone, what was your experience?

Anyone But Me: When Wishes Come True

Originally posted on Musings by Melanie V. Logan:

dandelion_blowing_in_the_wind-t2Janet was having a lousy day at work. First, it was the end of the month – the busiest for someone in the accounting field. She was having a hard time balancing the books, and on top of that her manager, Barbara, needed her to prepare a major report for upper leadership. And just when things couldn’t get more hectic, her mother called with yet another hypochondriac episode. Janet looked at the clock. It was just 9:00am. She dreaded what the rest of the day would entail.

To help calm her nerves, Janet went to the break room to grab a cup of coffee. As she poured, a bubble of hot liquid splashed the front of her pink blouse. She couldn’t believe her luck. She put the cup down and picked up several napkins nearby. As she dabbed at her shirt, she could feel that the liquid was just as…

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Writing & Eating – Fighting the Snack Attack

In Monday’s post, I mentioned how I found a way to balance writing and exercise. That’s definitely a good thing. But what about writing and eating. Could there be some unhealthy habits between the two? I believe so.

I recall a post in a writing community I follow. One of the writers mentioned foregoing food for hours when he’s submerged in his work. Another said she didn’t stop to eat, only drank sodas or coffee. Others ordered pizza or some delivery type food.  And me, well, I’m with the latter bunch. I will eat.

Now, before you paint a picture of me sitting in front of a buffet gorging and writing, let me explain. I’ve recently put the connection together between me writing and emotionally eating. When I get extremely caught up in a scene or character, the emotion can be so thick, exciting, and even overwhelming.  It’s like the ideas rush my mind simultaneously, and create such a thrill. So instead of typing or recording them, I’ll step away to grab some form of junk food. Usually chips or something sweet, but still unhealthy nonetheless.

Though the portions I eat are smaller than what’s listed on the products, it’s still counterproductive to me exercising and losing weight. I consciously kept track over the course of an hour today, and I got up five times to eat. I wasn’t hungry, just wanted to eat. I denied myself the food in three of the instances, which is a good start.  But I needed to know why I was doing this in the first place.  Standing in front of the open refrigerator, I realized I wasn’t thinking about my actions.  Not like blacking out, but more involuntary. On the side of emotions, internally I was on 10 with excitement.

So in a nutshell, I’ve got to get this monkey off my back. That means either making myself sit still, stocking up on healthier snacks, or a combination of both.

What are your thoughts on writing and eating habits? Is it a problem bigger than we think?

Writing & Exercise: Can they go together???

writing_exercise

Absolutely! Now the caveat is that some types of fitness may make it difficult on writing, but options like walking (including the treadmill or elliptical), skating, or bike riding, can help shed the pounds while increasing the word count.

In recent months, it has been beyond hectic juggling the new demands of my job, family life, fitness, writing, and other responsibilities. I managed to get out blog posts each week, but didn’t make much progress on the second draft of my book. And as far as for fitness, I started out strong, but found myself getting burned out quick. So I had to find balance.

That balance came in the form of voice recognition software. This isn’t a new technology or idea. It’s already on most devices like phones and tablets, but for whatever reason I had not considered it for writing.  I only used voice recognition to lazily send text messages or Google something.  The light bulb came on when a co-worker and I discussed an issue with a physician dictating his notes. I still shake my head that I hadn’t put two and two together sooner.

So far, I’ve been doing the writing/exercise thing for a few days. It’s been fascinating so far, though my husband thinks I’ve lost my mind when he hears me reciting dialogue. J

Do you write and exercise? If so, how’s it working out for you?

10 Questions to Help You & Your Protagonist Take Action.

melanievlogan:

Great post Ashley! I will keep those questions in mind while I’m developing my characters.

Originally posted on Ashley Kagaoan:

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While reading, I realized what I connect with most in a story. It is the hero (protagonist). I must feel connected to the hero in order to invest myself in their journey.

I recently read a story that was fun and had a lot of great elements to it but I felt nothing for the characters. I stopped reading because I didn’t care what happened to them. I didn’t care because I didn’t know enough about them. And I lost interest.

I realized, it is the main character(s) that drives the story forward. Outside forces can definitely influence the main character in some way. But the hero is the heartbeat pulsing life through each page. It is their actions that gives the story life and meaning.

Think about it. When you tell people about your life what do you tell them?

Generally, you give them some facts like, where you were born…

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Someone Else is Here – Pt. 3

Image: KidFocus and RecentFashion

Image: KidFocus and RecentFashion

Margaret couldn’t believe her eyes. Last time she saw him, the two were being taken away in separate patrol cars. Now the boy of her youth was standing in front of her as a grown man. She had mixed emotions – love for the person she used to know and happiness that he wasn’t dead. But the one emotion that overrode all the joyous ones was anger.

Margaret felt her face run hot thinking about how Chase somehow escaped the police, and didn’t bother to save her. “What are you doing here?”

“I want to get to know my son, Margaret. Well, and maybe repair our relationship.”

“You have got to be kidding!” Margaret folded her arms tightly across her chest, her jaws following suit. Jake stood between them, looking from one to the other not knowing what to think of the situation.

“No, I’m very serious. I’ve thought about you all these years and even tried to find you. I had to be careful to keep from getting caught.”

“Well you didn’t try hard enough. For goodness sake Chase, I’m in the same town.”

“Yeah, I know that now. But you weren’t always here. “

“That’s true. They locked me away. Felt like being in that group home again. The only bright spot was having Jake…and Mrs. Doyle”

Locked away…group home…Mrs. Doyle.  Jake had never heard these things before about his mother. He was tired of being confused. It was obvious that his parents knew something that he was totally oblivious to. “Will somebody tell me what’s going on?”

Margaret looked at Chase hard. She had hoped she never had to talk about her past. But here it was in front of her. “Jake, honey, let’s sit on the sofa.” Margaret tried to figure out a way to tell the story without it sounding bad.

When she realized there was no way around it, she confessed. “When I was twenty, Chase and I broke into someone’s home and stole a lot of stuff. Unfortunately, a neighbor saw us and called the police. We were both carried away, but somehow your father escaped. Me, well, I spent eighteen months in jail. That’s where I gave birth to you. When I got out, I stayed in a halfway house and that’s how I met Mrs. Doyle. She’s the lady you call Grandma.”

“So, she’s not my real grandma?”

“Not biologically. But she’s been like a mother to me.”

Jake sat for a moment to consume the information given. He then diverted his attention towards Chase, “So, how did you get away?”

“They didn’t have the handcuffs on tight enough so I was able to slip my hands out. When they opened the car door, I kicked the one officer and the other tried to tackle me. We tussled for a while, but I managed to get in a few lucky punches that bewildered them. Then I ran.

“Why didn’t you go back to get Mom?”

“I couldn’t. They would have caught me and thrown me in jail.” Chase felt guilty. He couldn’t look Jake in the eye anymore let alone Margaret. Her angered appearance turned to hurt and disappointment.  Chase noticed.  In a somber voice, he looked up and met her eyes, “I regret it now. She’s the only woman I’ve ever loved.”

Margaret’s eyes welled with tears that she refused to let fall. “Well, we can’t change the past. It’s time for you to go.”

“Mom he can’t go. He’s still a criminal. Don’t we have to call the police?”

Margaret and Chase knew Jake was right. She didn’t want to be the bad guy in this situation, but she also was trying to raise her son to be honest and do the right thing. “He’s right Chase. We have to turn you in.” A single tear finally fell.

“I understand.” Chase’s shoulders slumped.

Margaret quickly wiped the tears from her eyes as she left the room to make the call.

Chase knelt in front of the sofa where Jake still sat, “I know what I did was wrong. There’s no excuse. It’s time to pay the piper.” He put his hand on Jake’s shoulder, “I’m proud of you for sticking to what’s right. You’re a smart kid, and I hope your mom will let you come see me. I meant what I said about wanting to get to know you.”

Jake nodded. He felt awkward and guilty. He had always wanted a father and here he was giving his away. But he also knew that crimes were meant to be punished.

The doorbell chimed and Margaret opened the door for the police. They cuffed Chase and led him out of the house towards the patrol car. As Chase was bent to fit inside the car, he took a last look at the woman he still loved and the son he wasn’t sure he’d get to know. He began to shed tears as the car pulled off.

Margaret’s tears were now coupled with moans.  She hurried to her bedroom and slammed the door.  Jake was left standing in the front yard, watching the patrol car until it was out of sight.

He ran into the house headed to his room.  Jake grabbed all the pieces to the detective kit, and threw them in the trash. He thumped down on the bed crying. He had learned a valuable lesson – criminals weren’t the only ones punished.

Generating Page-Turning Momentum—Characters & The Wound

melanievlogan:

Kristen, I love your post.  I was stuck on the first picture for about five minutes trying to figure out how in the world that happened.  Would be great to hear the one sentence story on that. :-)

As for the character wounds, I have to agree.  A fictional story can be bland without a problem and good reasoning for the problem.  Thanks for sharing the insight.

Originally posted on Kristen Lamb's Blog:

Screen Shot 2012-12-20 at 10.17.54 AM Hmmm, what’s the story behind THIS?

Can we answer the question, “What is your book about?” in one sentence. Is our answer clear and concise? Does it paint a vivid picture of something others would want to part with time and money to read? Plot is important, but a major component of a knockout log-line is casting the right characters.

Due to popular demand I am running my Your Story in a Sentenceclass in about two weeks and participants have their log lines shredded and rebuilt and made agent-ready. Log-lines are crucial because if we don’t know what our book is about? How are we going to finish it? Revise it? Pitch it? Sell it?

Once we have an idea of what our story is about and have set the stage for the dramatic events that will unfold, we must remember that fiction is about PROBLEMS. Plain and simple…

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