Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Plot Points and Pacing

One advantage of reading eBooks is that you can see the percentage of the book at the bottom of the screen. Some books on writing offer suggestions as to what plot points should occur at what points in the story. It's cool to read a certain event, look at the book percentage, and realize, "Oh, yeah, this is about the time that should happen!" It gives me hope that even a pantser like me can internalize plot structure.

Of course, the scenes in between the plot points are where your characters develop and "earn" the next plot point. While developing the highlights of a story is important, it's also critical to make sure the rest of the story supports it. For example, once a character makes a decision to do something, I want her to do it. When it takes her half-a-dozen chapters after making a decision to do something, it can be a frustrating read, even if the intervening chapters wrap up subplots and increase the stakes. (That said, in a book I read recently, one character asked the protagonist to do something, but later sent her a message saying it was okay to wait. The message definitely worked against any sense of urgency the author was trying to create.)

Pacing at the beginning of a story can make or break the sale. For most eBooks, I download a sample first before buying it. If the story is supposed to have a speculative element, but the sample just sets up the normal, everyday world without a hint of fantasy or SF, I'm far less likely to read the entire book.

Do you have plot pointers or pacing peeves? Feel free to share them in the comments.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Milwaukee Trip

My family and I took an overnight trip to Milwaukee this weekend. My son is on spring break, so we thought it would be nice to take a short trip somewhere, even if we do end up revisiting the same attractions. After checking into our hotel Saturday, we had dinner at the Milwaukee Public Market and bought some games at a store we went to the last time we were in the area.

Sunday, however, we managed to check out some new places. One of the main reasons we went to Milwaukee was to go to the Milwaukee Public Museum. Although it's not as big as some of the museums in Chicago, it has some interesting exhibits, we have reciprocity with our Field Museum membership, and Alex likes a type of candy sold at the museum that he can't find elsewhere. However, they didn't open until 11:00 a.m., which left us with some free time in the morning. We wound up going to the Mitchell Domes. Eugene and I went there a long time ago; Alex has never been there. They had a special event going on to celebrate the spring equinox this week, so in addition to touring the different habitats, Alex also got to pet snakes and llamas. (The top picture is a sculpture in the Desert Dome.)

The museum did have a special exhibit this time. It was on the Mayan culture. We toured that, along with the butterfly exhibit (you can see pictures from both exhibits), but we didn't go through as much of the museum as we normally do. Instead, we left a little early to go to a rock shop in one of the suburbs. My son picked up an arrowhead and a few fossils, then we returned home.

When you travel, do you like to explore new places or revisit familiar ones? Feel free to share in the comments.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Short Story Sale!

The contract is signed and mailed, so I suppose it's safe to make this announcement: I sold my urban fantasy short story "Henry's Harness" to Otter Libris' MCSI: Magical Crime Scene Investigation anthology. This is only my second sale to an anthology; the last one was so long ago my author byline for that story ("A Reptile at the Reunion" in Firestorm of Dragons) is my maiden name. I don't want to say too much about my current story, but it's set in my beloved city of Madison, Wisconsin, and the main character is a former pet detective. Further details about the anthology will be coming out soon, as the publisher is planning to start a Kickstarter to fund the project. I'll share more details once the Kickstarter is live. I'm excited to be part of this project and am looking forward to reading the other stories in the anthology. Hope you are too!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Project Updates

I have so many things going on right now it's difficult to keep track of them all, but here's a quick summary.

I'm continuing to crochet Star Wars characters and other items.Here's a TIE fighter I finished last week. My son thinks the wing arms are too long, so I'll make them shorter the next time I try this pattern. The Porg, of course, continue to be popular. At least they don't take very long.

Since I crochet so many Porg, I've decided to create a "Mother of Porg" outfit for C2E2 when I'm not in my Imperial Officer uniform. (I may leave the Jawa costume at home this year to simplify packing.) I have Porg-themed clothes and accessories from head to toe--though I'm still waiting for some of them to arrive. I'm planning to sew a skirt from Porg-print fabric in case the skirt I ordered comes late. When everything is complete, I'll post pictures.

All these other projects do take time away from my writing. Although I'm nearly done drafting a short story for Uncanny Magazine's Dinosaur issue, I don't expect to have it ready by the deadline, which is this Thursday. Maybe I'll save it for my newsletter subscribers. Hopefully I'll have more news to share about my short stories soon.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

IWSG: Celebrating Goals

It's the first Wednesday of the month, so if you've been following my blog for a while, you know it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group post. You can learn more about the IWSG online, Facebook, and Twitter. Our cohosts this month are Mary Aalgaard, Bish Denham, Jennifer Hawes, Diane Burton, and Gwen Gardner.

For March, we've been asked the following question: How do you celebrate when you achieve a writing goal/finish a story?

 I don't do anything to celebrate finishing a short story, but I have a tradition of finishing first drafts of novels with these lines: The End! 
The Very, Very, Very End! (Amen!) 
A Book Report on Peter Rabbit!

Rather than ask people to guess where that came from, I'll tell you: it's from "The Book Report," from the musical You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown:

I saw the musical performed when I was in school (I think middle school), and the final lyrics just stuck in my head. Of course, I do remove them during revision, but it's still a fun way for me to mark the end of the first draft.

As for celebrating other goals, I treated my family to dinner the first couple of times I published a book, but I don't think I've done that for the last few. I didn't plan anything special for completing the Season Avatars series last year, probably because I was too busy with the marketing. It's never too late to celebrate, is it?

What do you do to celebrate your goals? Feel free to share in the comments.

Site Meter