Tag Archives: writing fiction

Writing Tips: Keeping Track of Time

11 Mar

How many times have you been following a television show, and there is a full moon every episode? Or their clothes don’t change? Or the weather stays the same all year long, unless snow, rain, or sunshine is used for symbolic enhancement?

It’s unrealistic, and it drives me crazy. It may be a personal pet peeve of mine, but I doubt it. Even Florida doesn’t have sunshine every day, but writers seem to set weather and time aside, especially when they’re more focused on the storyline. At first, I completely agree. Write. Don’t worry about small details. However, I really think revision is necessary for situations like this. Time needs to be tracked. 

When I do revisions, I actually label each chapter with what day it is, what time it is, and how long the chapter lasts. Then I move onto the next chapter and then the next. At the end, I count how many days have passed, and I make sure my characters’ speech correlate to it. I wouldn’t want my protagonist to say, “You haven’t left me alone for weeks!” when it’s only been four days.

My best piece of advise? After writing every chapter, track how much time passes and make sure EVERYTHING correlates: time, seasons, moon cycles, etc. 

When I was writing November Snow, this was initially really easy, but for one reason–each chapter was labeled by a date. The only thing I had to do was print a November, 2089 calendar and follow it. It would’ve been difficult to mess up. But, when it comes to the other novels I’ve written, I had to pay attention much more, because chapters weren’t labeled. Time passed differently, and I had to pay attention to everything: days, seasons, moon cycles, etc. Some say the moon cycle is extreme, but, really? You can’t have a full moon every chapter. I’ve seen this happen one hundred times, and, as a reader, I notice, so I strive to pay attention to these things, extreme or not.

2089-11

This is an example of how I kept track of November Snow. Each chapter is on there, blue represented the viewpoint of Daniel, while pink was Serena. The yellow star is the full moon.

Not only should you keep track of time passing in the present moment of your novel, but you need to track your characters’ past. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written something, went back, and realized I contradicted myself on when one character did something. For instance, I might say Protagonist 1 met Side Character 1 at birth, but ten chapters later I say they met as teens. Even though we, as writers, like to believe we memorize everything we say (because it is so real to us) we don’t have perfect memories. As humans, we don’t even remember everything about our own lives, let alone hundreds of stories and characters we’ve created.

This is an example of what I create to keep track of a childhood. Daniel's list shows year, age, and interactions with other characters are bolded.

This is an example of what I create to keep track of a childhood. Daniel’s list shows year, age, and interactions with other characters are bolded.

I normally create tables, and they save my life during revision, especially if I take a few weeks off between writing and revision to clear my head. I really recommend trying this. It will help you solidify your world, and you will feel more confident about your creations, because you will KNOW–for a fact–that everything fits together perfectly.

~SAT

Check out my cover photo on my Facebook Author Page by clicking here. Don't forget that you have the opportunity to display your name and website here by joining the book cover contest before March 18th!

Check out my cover photo on my Facebook Author Page by clicking here. Don’t forget that you have the opportunity to display your name and website by joining the book cover contest before March 18th!

Writing Tips: Titling Your Novel

18 Feb

I’m so glad you all enjoyed my Events page. I’m really excited to show my timeline with you (and, to be honest, digging through my portfolio was such an encouraging adventure! I hope you are inspired to do the same. It’s a confidence booster. I hadn’t realized how much media I’d done until I spread the articles across my desk. Plus, I’d love to see what all you have done and are up to!)

Through you all, I received a few emails regarding one line in particular: December 4, 2006—Finished writing November Snow (originally titled It’s Only a Matter of Time.)

Many of you were interested in why the title changed, how it changed, or what the title reflects, and I think this is a great aspect to consider when studying your own piece of work. 

Originally, of course, my novel was titled It’s Only a Matter of Time. The reasoning for this is a funny thing: it’s the last line, and I didn’t have a title for it while I wrote it. I’m a strict believer in not deciding (for sure) on your title until the entire piece is written. I think it’s smart to have an idea, but, many times, a book changes as you write it. You may write an entire manuscript and realize your characters aren’t who you thought they would be. Maybe you have symbols you never even considered. Maybe your setting changed. Your ending may even change. Either way, writing is a journey and it changes, even if you have a plan. Think of writing like life: You may have a plan, but things happen, and your path changes.

This is what I had to consider when I realized my novel was being published. 

I knew It’s Only a Matter of Time wasn’t appropriate. It didn’t describe the tale, it didn’t relate to my characters, it didn’t describe the setting, and it didn’t summarize my overall message. So I set out to discover what DID describe all of these things.

As many of you know, November Snow ONLY takes place in November. It’s told from two perspectives, and it’s in a made-up land, Vendona, in 2089. November 2089 is ridiculous, and Vendona’s November is confusing, because the reader won’t even know what Vendona is until they pick up the book. I couldn’t use Serena’s November, because it ignores Daniel, and the same aspect happens when I looked at Daniel’s November. Plus, the novel isn’t centered around their lives, but how their lives are effected. So what about November’s Election? Doesn’t work. In my case, I’m American, and our elections are in November; readers would assume it’s a fictional tale about our government systems, and that wasn’t my audience.

So I looked at my symbols. I have plenty–but, ultimately, snow is the most powerful image. Snow hasn’t fallen in Vendona in twelve years, and the snowfall landed on a very detrimental date in the tale. However, during this particular November, the weather is cooling again, and the ostracized “bad-blooded” children realize it may fall again–and there may be another vital moment.

I don’t want to spoil my novel, so I won’t say what happens, but snow does fall again.

Through this, I realized the falling of snow, not only effects my characters, but ultimately symbolizes the effect on my reader.

November Snow was born.

I describe my process in the hopes that you all, whether you’ve already written a novel or not, can decide on the most effective and honest title for your piece. After all, you wouldn’t want to publish it and later regret what the title said. Think of it as poetry: a poem’s title is vital to understanding the symbolic meaning of the delicate words on the page. Without it, the descriptions may seem obscure or confusing. The poem, essentially, may not make sense at all.

Titles ARE important–and the right one is vital. Choose carefully and use your heart to do so. 

~SAT

Because I like sharing little bits of my life with you all: This is a picture of my older brother with his cat, Bella, and my cat, Bogart. Who knew we were so related?

Because I like sharing little bits of my life with you all: This is a picture of my older brother with his cat, Bella, and my cat, Bogart. Who knew we were so related?

 

 

Writing Tips: How I Form Dialogue into Writing:

26 Dec

I separate writing into steps, so work with me here, and read twice if you need to start over after the end. This is an excerpt from chapter thirteen in a writing of mine, so don’t read for content; read for basic instruction to help focus on one writing aspect at a time.

First: Dialogue

Personally, I like to write out my dialogue at once, using an abbreviation for who’s speaking, so I know who’s speaking when I come back. This way, I don’t have to worry about description, but I can simply concentrate on the art of conversation.

In this scene, my protagonist, Amea (A), is crying with her back to the door when Emmy (E) checks on her.

EX:

A—What?

E—It’s Emmy.” “Are you crying?”

A—No

E—Good

A—What are you doing here? Where’s Leena?

E—Still sleeping.” “I was in the garden. I don’t play much, but do you want to come with me?

Second: Conversational Description

This is where I separate the speech, so it sounds more realistic and/or add basic character descriptions.

EX:

“What?”

“It’s Emmy,” she said, and I slid the door open as I wiped my tears away. She frowned. “Are you crying?” she asked, and I shook my head. “Good.” (I cut this dialogue to make it sound younger, as Emmy is nine.) 

“What are you doing here? Where’s Leena?”

“Still sleeping.” Emmy shrugged “I was in the garden. I don’t play much, but—” She grinned with crooked teeth. “Want to come with me?”

Third: Further Description and Edit

This part is where I add the description, placing the basic scene and adding to the dialogue with scenic descriptions

EX:

I slammed my bedroom door and pressed my back against it, sobbing. Water curled down my fingers, and I clutched my face, falling to the ground. I laid my forehead on my shaky knees as my body shuddered, vibrating as knocking rocked my entrance. (All of this is added)

“What?”

“It’s Emmy,” she said, and I scooted forward, (added necessary movement) sliding the door open as I wiped my tears away. She frowned, pulling at the ends of her curly red hair (added childish action), and rocked back and forth. “Are you crying?” she asked, and I shook my head. “Good.”

I smiled. “What are you doing here? Where’s Leena?”

“Still sleeping.” Emmy shrugged, pointing down the hall. (added—hall for scene) “I was in the garden. I don’t play much, but—” She grinned with crooked teeth. “Want to come with me?”

Four: EDIT EDIT EDIT.

It is necessary, so take that beautiful red pen of yours and get to work :D

I hope this may separate your writing into bits in which you can concentrate on important aspects one at a time, rather than worry all at once.

Have fun and write endlessly,

 

~SAT

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