Monday, February 14, 2011

The Story That Won't Go Away

Don't you hate it when you get a story idea that just won't leave you alone? I've got one of those right now. It forced me to write out an outline up to chapter 18 today. The problem is, I have too many other projects going on. I decided last week to do another draft of Time Gangsters, plus I have a short story that I need to do final draft of and submit before the deadline next month. On top of that, BYU's Life, the Universe, and Everything (LTUE for short) is this weekend, where I'll be doing six panels, a reading and a signing in addition to all the other cool classes they'll have.

By the way, how do you pronounce LTUE? My daughter thinks it should be 'Lute' but I think it should be 'Latooie' (like patooie but without the p). Any opinions?

About my story idea, it started as a dream two years ago. I had forgotten about it but fortunately wrote two pages of notes. I stumbled upon them on Friday and read them. They reminded me of the cool world of the dream and got my neurons firing. To sum it up, it's a dystopian/fantasy/steampunk/comedy. I know, I know, I have a problem with just sticking with one genre. Actually, I'm not sure about the comedy part, since so far the images in my mind are kind of bleak and violent. I'm sure there will be humor though, since I can't write anything without it.

Anyway, I'm excited about this idea. Writers go through the gamut of emotions where one day we think our idea is the next Harry Potter, and another day that it is the biggest load of garbage in existence. I'm still in that 'Harry Potter' stage with my excitement level. It's like a new toy at Christmas right now. I just don't have time to work this all out this week! But I'll try to relax, let things come as they come, and keep taking notes. Then, once I have a rudimentary story idea mapped out, I'll follow my advice from three days ago and write out the character arcs and story arc.

Oh, and I also have a blues band gig on Saturday night up in Murray. That means I can't neglect my sax chops, either.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Storymakers: Share the Love


I am a member of a fantastic group known as the LDS Storymakers. Every spring, they host a great conference held in Utah where writers and fans can come and soak up two days of intense knowledge about the art of writing. I attended it for the first time last year and was blown away. I had just joined the organization and, quite frankly, hadn't heard about it until my book was about to come out. I wasn't sure if I wanted to join any groups, but I decided it wouldn't hurt to try it out for a while. All I can say is that I'm hooked. The other members of Storymakers are excellent people who are very free with advice and help for a newby author. If any of you are interested in writing and are anywhere near Utah, I strongly advise you to check this conference out. You can find more info here:

Also, if you do plan to attend, they are having a "Share the Love" contest this month. If you do some of the things I'm doing here, you are entered for a chance to have dinner at the conference with authors James Dashner and Larry Brooks, as well as editors and agents such as Sarah Crowe, Marcia Markland, and Becca Stumpf. Oh, and the grand prize winner gets a 30 page manuscript review by Sara Megibow. You can get more information here:

Friday, February 11, 2011

Cursing Query Letters

I have so many other things I've been working on that blogging just isn't high on my priority list right now. But there is something that I just learned that I want to share. I know for some people, they're just going to say, "Well, duh," but this was a big revelation to me, a discovery writer.

I finished a draft in December of Time Gangsters and started working on writing a query letter for it. First off, I do not know much about query letters, so I did some research on what things you need to include in one. I needed to come up with a good 'hook' for my book, plus describe the characters and how they arc, the conflicts and the consequences. As I mapped out those things, I realized that my query letter was describing things better than how they actually worked in the book. With a loud groan, I realized that I needed to do another draft of my book to make it match the hype of my letter.

Cue February. New draft done. Begin writing query letter again. Lo and behold, I have an epiphany on how I can improve the character arcs even further. With gritted teeth, I realized yesterday that I need to do another draft because the idea was just too good. It made me wish that I had thought of this when I first started writing the book. It might have saved me a few rewrites.

Then I thought, "What if I wrote a query letter for a book before I wrote it. Then I'd have to figure out things like character arcs and conflicts and all that stuff ahead of time." See, some of you are saying, "Well, duh." Okay, but keep in mind that I am naturally a discovery writer. I can easily spin out stories and have no idea about what is going to happen next. It's fun to write like that, but I'm reaching a stage in my development where that is no longer enough. I need to think through things and maybe even do an . . . this is a naughty word in my vocabulary . . . outline. (gasp!)

So, that's my wisdom for the week, er, month: write a "query letter" for your book before you write it. Not that you would actually submit it, because nothing turns an agent off faster than, "Boy, do I have a million dollar book idea for you." It doesn't necessarily have to be in a query letter format either, but just some jotted notes on who your characters are, what they need to learn and improve with, the conflicts they face and how those conflicts can make them better people, etc. So, good luck and make those ou . . . out . . . you know, that 'O' word.