Top 5 “Process” Tips

This week, the WWAT Crew tackles the writing process. It can be wildly different for everyone, but if you’re still searching for ways to develop your own, read through some of our tips, and see if any of these might help. Jess –  My process has changed over the years. For a while, with two small children at home, it was multiple notebooks hidden around the house. Whenever I could or had an idea, I’d jot it down quickly so not to forget. Nothing could be left out for little hands to spread food guts on and I couldn’t use the computer without one of them trying to climb up into my arms or delete everything. I never had regular or great nappers :/. So I’d write at appointments in the waiting room. I’d get up early to write while they slept. All the research I had done, notes on craft, everything was shoved into the notebook. When little eyes shut, I opened them, spread out, and got to work. Now, however, I have secured my own space for writing and bought myself a corkboard. I know, it sounds old fashioned. But, I’m very visual. I love to spread my notes and books out in front of me. Now when I get ideas, I write them on note cards and take them to my board. I can easily move them around and get to them when I get to that particular part of the story. I also like that i can visually separate everything into Acts which makes my synopsis and chapter outlining easier. I know there are computer programs in which one can do this very thing, but I enjoy tangible things. John – Like Linda says below, I used to be a pantser, but now I have to outline, BUT one of the most important things I’ve learned to do is write the query first. Even before I outline. What? Why you say? If your goal is publication, and I always assume everyone’s is, then you are eventually going to have to write that query. Furthermore, most of my novels are fantasy, sci-fi, or magical realism–because of that I often struggled with what to put in the query. I found myself saying: Can’t leave that out! That’s too important. OOOO, That too and that and…anyway. Before you know it, I had a bloated query that meandered and ended up being well over 400 words before I even... read more

Top 5 Research Tips

Say the word “research,” and even the most seasoned academic might give you a long sigh. But as authors, it’s part of our job to create a gripping fictional story that seems like it could be true, simply because we’ve done enough research to make it authentic. Whether that’s finding a map of 19th century New York for a historical novel, or learning the intricacies of international flight for a character traveling abroad, the better we can establish parts of our story in reality, the more our audience “buys” the idea. Also, you won’t have to worry about ticking off those who are “in the know” on a subject if you cross your t’s and dot your i’s. Besides, no one wants their book reviews to be filled with comments about errors that could have easily been avoided! In that vein, the members of the WWAT team are sharing their best tips for making sure your research backs your story up…and just maybe, adds something to the plot you never considered before! John: I know, I know, I know the internet has great resources, but when I’m doing research I tend to be old school. I like to look up non-fiction books related to the areas I’m knowledge-deficient in. I read the reviews of the books covering the topic I’m interested in knowing more about and ultimately order the one(s) (e-book or print) I think can help me. Like I said, I know the internet has a ton of free information, but by doing my research this way, I feel like I’m helping a fellow author. Furthermore, when I’m done writing, I have all of those great resources on my shelf to remind me how my work came to be. (Not to mention, if I’m reading a physical book or one on my kindle, I’m somewhat removed from the temptation of surfing the internet. And I struggle with distraction…Squirrel!) Anna: You’d be surprised at all the resources a library can offer you!  It’s more than just books.  There are databases with historical maps, images, and first-hand accounts to help you get a better perspective.  There are videos and documentaries, like everything Ken Burns has ever done, to help you experience the time period, the places, and the people.  There’s music to download or checkout on CD to put you in the right mood and inspire you.  And if you need a more in depth approach, why not ask a librarian!  (It’s... read more

A Grave Longing

Hello all!  My two words for the flash fiction challenge were:  longing and inscription.  Take a look and see how I did! “Blimey, it’s bloody cold tonight!” hissed Samuel as he shoved his spade into the dirt.  “Reckon, Dr. Van der Veran ever come out he’self and dig these up?” “Doubt it.  Now get back to work, ya bleedin ninny before we freeze to death,” Arthur replied in a stage whisper. Arthur was sure to keep his ears peeled for any sudden sounds or rustling noises.  The penalty for body snatching was imprisonment and a large fine.  Best not to be caught when you barely have the money to eat. A loud thunk sounded as Arthur dug his spade into the frozen ground. “There she is!” Samuel smiled. As Samuel reached down to move the dirt aside and open the lid of the coffin, Arthur took a look at the gravestone.  The light of the full moon illuminated the inscription on Miss Clara Berry’s stone: Remember Me As Thou Pass By As Thou Art Now So Once Was I As I Am Now So Thou Wilt Be Prepare Thy Way To Follow Me 1809-1827 A sudden chill raced through Arthur’s bones as he realized Miss Berry was his age.  He had read of her death in the papers.  She was found strangled in the garden of her home.  No suspects.   “You gonna help me or am I gonna have to lug her back to the Doc’s lab me’self?” Samuel hissed, his breath fogging in the chilly night air. Shaking himself out of his stupor, Arthur jumped down into the hole and came face to face with the eternally young Clara Berry.  She looked familiar to him.  Had the article in the paper included a picture?  Her strawberry blonde curls could not draw his attention away from her angelic resting smile.   “She looks like she’s asleep, don’t she?” Samuel asked. “Don’t matter none now.  Let’s get to work,” he replied as he began lifting her out of the coffin.  His eyes caught on the golden, heart-shaped locket hanging around her neck.  It was small and delicate, with roses surrounding a simple gold heart in the center. “Bet that’d catch a pretty penny,” Samuel stated. “Ai,” Arthur grunted as he worked to purge all personal items from her body to be left in the coffin.  It was a felony to take belongings from a grave, even pricier than taking... read more

The Candle

Another WWAT flash fiction. This time a tale for Halloween. My words were hand-picked and candle.   Thrift stores are a trove of the undervalued, unappreciated, and unwanted treasures of the world – kind of like me. I used to love them. As the middle daughter of three girls, I was invisible. My oldest sister was the valedictorian. My younger the musical prodigy. I was nothing. My parents barely noticed me. When they did, it was to reprimand me for not being like my sisters. That was my life. My life before last October. “Hello Ophelia.” Beatrice, the wrinkled shopkeeper’s thin lips curved upward. She was bundled up as if she were on a trek through the great white tundra. It was the warmest October in history. “A brand new donation came in today. I saved it for you.” “Thanks, Beatrice.” The bell on the door jingled with the arrival of other teen girls. I knew their faces. They went to my school and, like everyone else, they never noticed me. Beatrice welcomed them. They ignored her and moved toward the wall of costumes. Amateurs. I knew the best stuff was past the out-of-date prom dresses and never re-worn bridesmaid gowns. In the far corner of the shop, behind a gingham curtain was a room lined with dusty old books and shelves of cracked porcelain curios. I smiled at them like old friends. Then, I saw it. Not the typical cardboard box donation, but an ornate black lacquer trunk. The silver clasps were cool to the touch. My mind fantasized about the hidden treasures inside – precious jewels, ancient tomes, gold coins. The lid lifted with ease. My heart sank. A cheap rubber clown mask stared up at me. The hideous face sat atop a trunk of equally ugly costumes. I dug through them, looking for anything of interest until I reached the red velvet bottom. “Anything good,” Beatrice’s voice startled me. Before I could say no, she clapped her hands. “Oh how fortunate. Costumes!” She bundled them in her arms and shuffled out of the room. I sighed, “At least the box looks nice.” I leaned over the side of the trunk. My eyes caught a glimpse of a black satin ribbon poking up from the side of the velvet. It beckoned me to pull it. The bottom popped up, revealing a secret hiding place. I gasped. A black candle carved with roses and thorns was nestled in... read more