There is a good lesson in learning patience.
This year I had planned on finishing the edits on my second book, I AM THE SECRET, in the spring actually. Little did I know that I would not be able to complete my goal. Yes, cry with me here.
Now that it is snowing outside and practically time for the big red man to come down the chimney (boy, I sure hope he brings me some more books this year!) I am finally able to sit down, and I can't tell you how glad I am to be writing again! Breaks can be great to get that creative energy flowing. So, maybe that's the lesson of the day. Don't get so over-worked that you lose sight of your objective. But I'd say six months is definitely too long of a break!
I've also had a chance to read some more for a critter friend of mine (hope my Critters don't mind me using them as examples!). I just love reading their work. They definitely see things different than I do and that gives me a broader prospective. One lesson I learned from reading--and you really learn a lot about your own work when you read others'--is that it is very easy to fall into a dead zone. A dead zone, as I will call it, is a section of your book that you somehow overlook. It is mundane, nothing really happens and it sounds like everything else out there. Or worse.
I do this. You do this. We all do this. (hmmm... seems like I've said this before).
How do we fix these? Well, most agents will say to just cut it out. Which might be the best thing, but what if it IS integral to your story?
What I've done that helps is try to infuse the scene with emotion. What emotion can you build? What drama can you drum up? Can you build a relationship between two of your characters? Maybe the Principal really does love the cafeteria worker wearing the hairnet! Look at your last scene and see what it was all about. What should naturally come next that the reader will expect to read? Or better yet, not expect.
On Kristen Lamb's blog (I just LOVE her!), she pointed out the structure we should be following for each scene in our stories. (I just love reading her blog after a long break, it gets me into the grove of things.) The two things you need to keep repeating are called 'Scenes' and 'Sequels'. I have this note posted above my desk now so that I don't forget a step. She goes on to explain that Scene's include a 1) Goal, 2) Conflict, and 3) Disaster. (I've probably posted about this before, but this was a great reminder for me, myself, and well, you).
Now, we've been told that we should make each chapter it's own unique story, and then pin together these chapters to follow the over all arc. The 'Scene' is the most important part, not so say that you should ignore the Sequel, which includes, 1) Emotion, 2) Thought, 3) Decision, and 4) Action. We should ultimately build the bulk around the Scene and then spend just enough time, maybe a couple of paragraphs on the Sequel. We really don't want to go on and on and on and on and on and on about someone's emotions.
"Oh, Tommy left me! I'm all alone! What will I ever do without him! It's all my fault, and this is why...
Blahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahrambleramblerambleramble, then I ate breakfast and I had eggs, and toast and oatmeal, and fruit, and chocolate syrup mixed with sprinkles and peanut butter, yadayadayadayadayada!!!"
Yeah, no one wants to hear that for ten pages. (Also, you should never use that many exclamation points). Sum things like that up in a sentence or two and then move on with the story. Interiority is important, but it shouldn't take place of action when applicable.
Here's a helpful clue: If you don't get a chill down your spine, or swoon, or giggle, or whatever when you read your own writing, then try, try again. (BTW, giggling is only a good thing when it's a humorous part of the story. If you're giggling during the climatic shoot-down of the bad guy, you better not be laughing unless you're laughing through tears of joy. Am I right, or am I right, right, right, right??--to quote Groundhog Day, of course.)
Also, I think I noted this before once upon a time, but I love (and also feel exceedingly guilty since I haven't been around lately), that so many people come and check out my blog every single day. Please tell me why you do this?? Are you crazy or something? No, no, please come back! And tell me about your Shiny, sparkly, bloody, werewolfy, vampiress, shapeshifter, gooey-romantical, kidlitty, chicklit, lover of all things scientific and nerdy book that you're writing, -k-?!
AND, if you send some friends my way, I may bump my contest sooner. You know, the one where I said I'd mail a book of choice to someone when I reach 300 followers? Maybe we'll do 299 followers, or okay, 250 (what am I at anyway???). It's no rush, really. Just some innocent begging. Not that I care (shrugs it off and twirls a strand of hair, and chews some super shiny, pink bubble gum like only blonds can). I'm not blond, just, yeah...