Sunday, January 19, 2014


Oh. It's Sunday already?

Time flies when your... uh... back to work.

Hey, everyone! I'm trying to get into a posting schedule here. I thought I would make Sunday the day to post here at the Journal. This is where I spew things about writing, and about my WIP. When I first started this it was merely an exercise in yammering about writing. And then people came and began to follow. I even get a comment or two, which is great, and I thank you so much for stopping by in your busy day.

Hey, do you do this? I often write down words, phrases (or a whole sentence) into a spiral notebook from books that I read. I might like the way the author phrased something. It might be something that helps me down the road when I come to some point in my writing where I need something that describes a feeling, or some physical act. I can't tell you how many notebooks I have on this. Some are rather small, and I have a ringed binder or two that I might pull out from time to time to help my tired (scatter-brained) mind to jostle it into working.

Last night, I think it was before I went to bed, I had a line come to me, and I wrote it down so that it wouldn't loop around in my brain all night, and keep me up.

A stab of recognition jarred him.

Okay, that was nice. But I looked at it this morning and began changing it.

A jolt of recognition jarred him.


Sudden recognition jolted him.

I like to play around with a line because the meaning can change with the words, like these verbs above. The first line is fine, but the word jolt really defines it and placement in that last sentence helps to show that whoever is doing the recognizing, it's really blind-sided them.

Descriptions of Characters

When it comes to description it's good to have something handy to put down. Since I'm working on my detective's character and description in this story, I needed some handy phrases to consider. Is he granet-jawed? Yeah. That's a good one to have. My detective, Jan Vladislav has Gypsy blood and so his eyes are a little different. I also have the color rather extraordinary, since he's a dhampire. I mean he has to be special, otherwise he'd be boring. So, his eyes are tilted at an exotic Slavic angle. And he wears brown-tinted contacts because the color of his eyes are like a lions--gold. That would definitely put people off seeing golden eyes, wouldn't it? And as background, I wrote that his eyes began changing from hazel to whiskey by age 15.

Yesterday I decided to write up something that happened when he was 15, since I'd barely wrote of it in my original manuscript--and it came way too far back in the book. I wrote the scene (a flash-back), when his uncle explained to him the events before he was born and what it means. Since the book's title is now Dhampire Legacy, I had to bring in somewhere in the first 1/4 of the book what the word means, and that Jan is the off-spring of his father who was turned into a vampire--which was something he didn't know, so this revelations is jarring to him. His father, who became a vampire, went to his mother and had carnal relations with her, and that was how Jan came to be born. The word dhampire is Romanian, and it basically means exactly that, the off-spring of a vampire. It also means vampire slayer. He is someone who would recognize a vampire when he sees one, and is the only human strong enough to fight a vampire. At this point in Jan's life, he doesn't believe in all of this, but he's been schooled in the idea that it is possible, and his belief system is about to get a little shock, since he abandoned the Gypsy beliefs of his family. Also, his uncle had given him a tattoo that night that will help thwart a vampire's thrall--it's the equivalent of an evil-eye to a vampire.

I have gone back to add a few things to the beginning. I couldn't continue with the climax until I got all this other stuff down in the manuscript. I don't know. It was like seeing a picture on the wall askew and I had to go and fix it. So, I'm working through the beginning to add some description to some of the main characters. Today I think I'll try and work on Vince Tobin, the senior detective. Decided he's a John Wayne fan, and wears cowboy boots. He also has the habit of snapping his fingers, but the sound is more like a popping noise because his fingers are large and blunt-ended. He also gives people nick-names. Jan's is "Vlad". Once I decided on that, I could see him in my mind. The original had him slightly different, but not strong enough of a character, and so I'm working on his description.

I'm sure that everyone is different when it comes time to describe your characters, how you decide what they should look like, their foibles (strange behavior, particular to an individual), and other traits. With this book, since I'd written it many years ago, it needed a boost in some of these characters, so, that's something I need to address when I feel ready.

What do you do to figure out what your major characters will look like, act like, belief systems, etc.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The "Dreaded" Edits

Hi, everyone. Well, the WIP is coming along. I'm into the climax portion. I keep on ratcheting things up for my main characters. Every time I think I've done enough to them, some evil plot hatches into my brain and I can't resist.

Well, this post isn't about those evil plots, but I do hope you are finding ways of making things horrible for your heroes and heroines.

Today I wanted to show you a portion of what I'm working from here and how I would change it, or why, or maybe you'll see something and think it should be changed. I'm working from typed pages from the old manuscript.

I've got Rachel Mohr in a vehicle with Erik, who is a vampire, only she doesn't know it. She just knows that she really shouldn't stay with him...and you'll see why.
All corrections are on the typed page and I'm writing it as is--the strike-throughs are on the typed page.
(the following is from Vampire Legacy, 2004-05)

"I heard a noise under the truck when I crossed those tracks. I'd better check it out." Erik pulled into a parking lot and made a tight u-turn and parked it. He killed the lights, and turned off the engine.

Rachel wanted to believe him, but everything inside her was sending up red flags. His eyes, his skin tone, now this. It just didn't feel right. In fact he didn't sound like the Erik she knew. She sat in the truck, watching him walk around the truck (it), bend low as if to look under it.

Headlights blared suddenly. Blinding her, and then the beams rocked up and down as they went over the tracks, and again speared their way. <toward them.

She watched the vehicle turn into the lot. She hoped it was a police car. But it wasn't. It was long, and sleek. {and gray] She was perplexed to see a stretch limo enter such unsavory parts of town. In fact she wasn't all that crazy about being here herself.

Okay, this is about all I'll go through for now.

The highlighting are areas that need to either be re-worded, re-worked or taken out. In a way this creates the backdrop, but it's rough and possibly we need more emotion from Rachel, because basically she's been abducted. The word perplexed also doesn't fit here at all. Perplexed is too soft a word. Maybe "shocked" would be better.

A rewritten version could possibly go more like this:

"I heard a noise under the truck," Erik said. "I'd better go check it out." Erik pulled into a parking lot and made a U-turn and parked. He killed the lights and turned off the engine.

Dubious, Rachel sat assessing the situation. Everything about Erik sent up red flags. His eyes, which glowed oddly in the dark, and his skin tone, which was white, not the nice tan she remembered--all of it making him look more like a stranger. She sat watching him walk around, and dip down, looking at the under carriage. Right, something wrong with the truck, like he's never used that excuse before.

Headlights blared into the cab, blinding her. The beams rocked up and down as the car went over the tracks, then turned back to spear her eyes again.

The vehicle turned into the lot. She hoped it might be a police cruiser, but it wasn't. Long, gray and sleek, she was startled to see a stretch limo in this part of town. I'm not too crazy about it myself.

Well, that's better, I guess. I wanted to show those of you who aren't really sure about edits, what can be done, and what you might want to look for. Since I'd written this several years ago, I've coached myself in how to find places in my writing that is weak. Not saying that I don't still have weakness in my writing, and that's what your beta readers are for--to point these out to you.

I've added the Italics for Rachel's thoughts, here. The addition helps in creating suspense here. That's what you want to build in a scene like this, if you are building up to something--which I am. Who's in the limo? Why is it here?

Next time I'm going to show you how to add suspense to your scenes. To build the suspense takes a little trick I've learned from reading Writer's Digest for years. It's not hard and for now I'll give you the four basics:

and to that I want to put with dialogue, "internal thoughts".
I'll try and find an excerpt to show you an example.

Okay, until next time--happy writing!

Let me know what you think, what stage you're at in your WIP, anything you like!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Do You Have The Guts to Kill?....

I'm talking about killing scenes, chapters, booting characters out of the book--"Get out! I don't need you any more!"--in your WIP, of course!

Do you have a manuscript that got out of control, has copious amounts of pages, and many chapters and yet it goes nowhere?

"I know I have an 800 pound gorilla on my back! Got a shovel?"
Well, hey. It's a new year! Go ahead and shake 2013 off your back. Clean the belly button of your mouse out (seriously, mine was clogged up. I had no idea you could open it up and clean out the cakes of dust it accumulated over the years!), and get to work!

This is what I've been doing with an older manuscript of mine for the last six weeks. Some of you might be working on something more recent than mine, which I originally began in 1999, and thought was finished in 2004, but at some point was 800 pages with scenes and characters that I didn't need. I reduced it to 400 pages, and I could still write a whole new book from what I'm taking out!

I've been working on this these past few weeks we've had off--a glorious 2 weeks (no pay), and I've gotten over 72K words down in the new mss.

But how? How do you take a mss. and cut from it things you don't need?

You would ask that question, wouldn't you? It's called "tough love", or  Kill Your Darlings--and this means characters, even great chapters you're in love with, and so forth.

Ask yourself: Will anyone miss this if I chuck it? If you can take a chapter, a character or a whole thread out and it isn't missed, then you need to do that, my dears. Take those sections out [put into another file] and then put the thing back together and do a read through. If something is needed you put that something back. But if you can read through and the message/story is still there, then you've done the job! Have a beta reader read it too, someone who hasn't read it yet, to make sure you've done it right. They ask what happened here, or to such and such, then you know you need to add something back, or rewrite it.

Since my mss. (Vampire Legacy/Dhampire Legacy), was something I hadn't seen since before I had the Internet, but I did have typed copies from both a typewriter and a printer from a computer, I took it out and went through it. Although what I had wasn't like the picture above, it was close. I realized that I had many drafts/rewrites. There might be as many as 4 different versions of any one chapter, and I had to separate these versions. I used tables, chairs and a couch, and at one point the floor, to separate the chaff from the wheat--or something like that. I found chapters with people/characters who were not the main ones that carried the story. I had to chuck them.

You have to remember that in order for anyone to care about your story, and how it ends, you have to develop your characters! If you introduce new ones, somewhere late in the game, readers may become confused and slam the book shut, and might never buy your books again.

I realized had a whole other story going (which was why I set it aside and went to other things for a decade). I had scenes that prolonged the whole story, in fact, and I could see--now that my writing has matured--that the actual climax was getting bogged down, pushed back, and the middle part where there is what we call a "lull" was drawing the story into another direction. Can't have that. The plot must keep going toward the climax. The upward movement to the CRISIS has to be there and then you go for the lull, and after the lull you make things even worse for your main characters. (See below-yeah I just drew this so you guys know what I'm talking about! Hey, it's free for the grabbing, be my guest!)
Lorelei's plot graph

I knew that portions of it was salvageable. My two main characters are detective (Jan Vladislav), who is from Gypsy stock, and a man (Phil Green) who left his home town for at least three reasons to seek his fortune. They both are, or become, a vampire slayers. These are my two main guys, and one teenage girl--Lucy, the daughter of the detective--who by no real fault of her own, is snagged by the vampires. I have a romance angle, two actually, but the romance between Phil and Collette doesn't bloom right away--but the posibility is there since they once had been engaged, and she is now divorced. Problem for him is that she has come under the master vampire's thrall, and her daughter is taken by another vampire.

The town is terrorized when people go missing, a baby and its babysitter is abducted at the beginning of the story, and eventually the baby is found dead--blood drained from her--in a graveyard next to St. John's Church, which as been burned down prior to the opening of the story, and on the other side is the Lockwood Mansion, which a mysterious wealthy man has bought. I made this harder on my detective, as the baby is his sister-in-law's, and his wife died of lung cancer a year ago. So he's trying to deal with this, and has a real reason to get this murderer.

My work in going through each chapter is still underway, I've got it corralled to two tables--one holds the chapters I'm working from, the other holds future chapters. And one box has my discarded material, and one other place has chapters which I won't use in this, but could be used in some other future project.

In some cases I have to write a scene from scratch, not using any material at all. That's what I had to do yesterday and managed to spit out more than 2,000 words.

So, my dears, do you have a mss. in a bin, or are working on that needs a little help? You need to disassociate yourself from it first, and be brave. Take that editing knife and cut, cut, cut!

 Let me know how you're dealing with a wayward manuscript! I would love to hear from you!