January 2016, in hindsight

I wont deny it. I think 2016 is starting out great.

I ticked a couple of tasks right off my 2016 bullet list early in January. If of interest you might go and read the posts from earlier the year.

Two more things happened in January that make me really happy. First. One of my characters manages to surprise me big time. And second, even more important, I made progress with my writing habits. Hugely so.

It turns out 4:30 am is just the right time to get up an write. Well ok – its 4:51 by now but one needs to get the eyes open and some coffee into the belly, no?) However. I am sitting. very early in the morning and I write. Without kids interrupting, without husband searching some misplaced item and calling for help. If someone had told 2 month ago I would get up this early I would have laughed. Very loudly. Seriously – late riser and all what I used to be…

But, I had to do something about a meagre output I had at the end of 2015. I had to find some hour I could reserve for nothing but writing and plotting and honing my characters. Turns out, the only time I can possible manage writing in a reasonable reoccurring and stable way are the early hours of the day. Family is still asleep so I can spent time with my “imaginary friends” as my husband has started to call this whole endeavour. (haha, he is not wrong I guess)

I have started the experiment “become an early riser” in the 2nd week of January. And I am not just a little proud to report: it worked. It still works! Other than going to bed at 22pm instead of midnight it was the easiest thing. I cut myself some slack at the weekends – 5am is still good enough on these days. I kept it up for the rest of the month. By now it is not even an ordeal anymore. Guess there is a grain of truth in all this “form a habit in 21 days”- programs.

So.. yay me! I will go ahead and tick off another point on this bullet list.

And yes .. there was this wonderful moment a few days ago I wanted to share. The moment one of my characters kind of … surprised me. I was writing along happily at a scene where she had to draw a lot from a case. A very importand draw. We are talking life changing draw. And what does she do? She takes two. That little b*tch took two lots instead of just one. Cheater! Ha! I loved it. Still do. Worked it into the plot smoothly. I am still smiling when I think about it.

I attribute this headway, one might even call it a success, to one of the advise books I have been reading lately. J.S. Bell introduced me to the method of Voice Journaling to flesh out important characters. Works like a charm.

So … in hindsight. January 2016 has been a blast. If the year goes on like this it will bound to bring more surprises. Let’s see where February takes me. Spoiling us with with 29 days this year! Now more coffee… and back to the blank page.

New submission to CC

There is no part of a story that is as fascinating as the hook. At least for me it is.

The first piece I submitted to the Critique Circle (CC) was the attempt on a prologue. I was already reasonably sure that it would not make it in the final draft – it was however the most revised and self edited piece I had at the time. And the purpose of the first submission was to test the language skills.

So I decided yesterday evening to submit one (of the 2 possible) new beginnings for my WIP the the CC crowd. See, there is a special queue with CC called The Hook. The task for the reader (and critique at the same time) is to read along as far as it is interesting. You don’t have to write lengthy explanations or point out spelling errors – you simply give feedback for the hook. If my hook works, most will read to the end. If I screwed up and the writing is bad/boring/confusing/whatever for the reader I will know where they dropped out and stopped reading. And maybe why. Should be awesome feedback.

I will have to wait for some time for the results. This particularly queue comes up only once a month – next is up the first week of Feb.

First test with Critique Circle

Few days ago I wrote about me picking and joining an online critique group – among the many available I chose Critique Circle.

Right after joining up and getting through the confirmation email process I started their “Welcome to CC” routine which left me with enough credits to submit my first piece of writing. It was up for its one week critique timeframe starting 6th of January. After submitting it all I had to do was wait and browse the forum. And of course – critique other writer’s work.

What can I say? This is fun and help at the same time. I like reading those bits and pieces of other writers. We are all just trying to hone our skills, advance our word-smithing and learn to put onto paper what we think someone else might enjoy reading. After a few days of critiquing several stories in different categories I have noticed that I do learn a lot – from the mistakes of others. Usually, when you buy a book there has been done some polishing going on with the original manuscript. Whatever writer, agent, editor, and publisher possible could do they did to make it as good as it gets. You don’t really get to see writings fresh from the author, let alone examples of the first rough draft.

So sometimes it is (at least for me) a little intimidating because as reader I don’t get to see all the work that went into the manuscript to make it smooth like it is when finally printed. But now I could (can!) see exactly that. And be part of it.

Whenever I notice something off in my fellow writer buddies texts, I learn. May it be a switch in POV, seemingly endless overuse of adverbs, weird dialogue tags, warped sentence structure … If I can spot it in their work, I might stand a chance to spot it in my own one day. I have since realised that spotting these things in the writings of others is a lot easier than spotting it in my own. But I figure writing is a craft like any other. The more you learn, the better you get.

During the week following Jan 6th I got seven critiques for my first submission. These helped me to come to a decision regarding my WIP. Apparently my English skills are good enough to justify me proceeding in English language. This was one of my major concerns.

Happy.