Archive for December, 2010

The Dangers of Find and Replace

December 28, 2010

Don’t get me wrong.  I truly love the editing tool of Word that allows me to replace character names with a few keystrokes.  But keep in mind that some truly amusing and annoying problems can crop up if you don’t think through things carefully enough.  For example, let’s say that you decided that a character should be described as skinny instead of thin.  So you type:

Find what: thin
Replace with: skinny. 

Suddenly ‘thing’ and ‘think’ become ‘skinnyg’ and ‘skinnyk.’  Not good!   

So writers beware!

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Narnia in Reverse

December 15, 2010

Many writers like Google alerts.  It’s a great way to see what’s going on with their latest book, especially for those of us who aren’t New York Times bestsellers.  After all,  people don’t feel the need to put up a bad review for relatively unknown authors.  But today a review of SAVING THE GRIFFIN popped up in my mailbox.  Since I resemble the elephant child in my insatiable curiosity, I checked it out here.   She compared it to “…Narnia, only in reverse, as a young griffin accidentally ends up in our world.”

Narnia in reverse–that was at least part of my intent when the idea for this book came to me.  The Edward Eager books were also a very strong inspiration since they showed bickering siblings dealing with the consequences of magic.

Typing “The End” on Calyn’s Story

December 10, 2010

I have a ritual for finishing books.  I don’t type “The End” until I reach the end.   While I was really, really close to having a complete draft of Calyn’s story, I just spent a goodly chunk of the morning editing the last 44 pages by hand and then getting those changes into the computer.  In the process, I came up with a last line.  Perhaps it will be a placeholder.  I have a sneaking suspician that some people might demand another chapter at the end.  And I’d have to take them seriously since one of the complaints on SUSPECT was that it ended too quickly. 

Now I still have a lot of polishing to do.  There’s more than one spot with the words TRANSISTION NEEDED HERE.  But I should be able to get this printed up for one of my local groups next week for a January evaluation.  I also want to get this to my kids for Christmas reading.  Ho, ho, ho!

I will be doing a bit more sanding and varnishing before sending this to some of my other readers though.

Tracking Red Herrings

December 9, 2010

I enjoyed my time fielding questions during my time as guest author during my time at The Writer’s Retreat.  One question about pacing made me think about how to use Darcy Pattison’s shrunken manuscript technique as a way to make sure that red herrings and clues are being distributed throughout the manuscript.  In that post, Darcy suggests highlighting the strongest scenes.  For mystery plotting and pacing, you’d be able to see your mystery progress with respect to the suspects’ means, motives and opportunities.

Guest Author at “The Writer’s Retreat”

December 5, 2010

I’ll be serving as the guest author for THE WRITERS’ RETREAT December 6th-8th at the Institute of Children’s Literature’s website.   The basic topic is mystery plotting, but I’ll also go into setting, characterization and so on.

Ten New Chapters

December 2, 2010

I was fiddling with the ending of Calyn’s story again today and noticed that I was supposedly working on Chapter 16.  I knew that wasn’t right, so I went back to discover which chapter I was really on.  Interestingly enough, I only had to switch a “2” for the “1” to transform the heading  from 16 to 26.   So apparently, I wound up writing ten new chapters in this revision.  Of course, some chapters might have been combined and others might have split as I recast the story.    

I spent most of the day coming out more of the tangles in the last twenty-five pages.  Many more remain.  Usually things aren’t this messy when I reach the end of a manuscript since I tend to comb through a previous days material in as a way to put myself back in the story before pressing forward.  But I was experimenting with the NaNoWriMo model of getting things down and moving on instead of getting trapped in a single paragraph for an hour.