Tink...tink...tink...anyone out there? Hi! I'm Barbara Donlon Bradley - Author - editor and slightly crazy - ask anyone in my family. I hope to use this blog to talk about writing, editing and whatever pops in my head. Hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Random Thoughts: Is Writing a Joy or a Curse?

I love to write.

Watching my page count get larger and larger shows my accomplishment toward the goal of finishing the book. I get lost in the words flowing from my fingers to the page. I write every day. I start at eight p.m., although I'll start earlier when I can, and work until one or two in the morning. Sometimes I might only get a page or two done, sometimes it's like my keyboard is on fire.

But I also need to have people buy my books so I can continue to write, so I need to promote. I work on that as often as I can. Sometimes every day. I'll write a blog, then do an author interview, I've done chats on loops I belong to. I check those loops for promos I can do and the circle begins again.

I also edit for one of my publishers. Right now on my laptop, which is where I do all my writing, is the book I'm writing, the book I have finished writing and am now editing to send in to my publisher, another author's manuscript that I am editing for the publisher I edit for, a submission I'm reading to see if my publisher should accept it, an interview for a new loop I just joined, and the outline I'm doing for my publisher for the latest book they purchased from me. I don't see it as a lot until I look at how many files I have open at one time.

I need to write, but don't want to ignore anything else so I don't focus on one particular thing for too long before I move onto the next one. This way each gets an equal amount of focus. But there are days where I only want to work on my stories. Feel that joy coursing through my veins. I give myself one day a week to do that, but when the need drives me I'll focus on the one thing that won't leave me alone.


Monday, May 20, 2013

Writing Down the Bones: Who's Talking?

The question I have struggled with is how often do I use the name of my character? Is there a formula? When I was pre-published I had a wonderful critique group through my local RWA chapter and I learned a lot from them. When we first started everyone in the critique group was pre-published, but quite a few of us were able to step over that line and are now published. In the beginning we needed to learn the craft. Each of us had our strong points and we shared what we knew to make each of us a better writer.

At one of these critiques I was told that I didn't use my character's names enough, and when I asked how often I should use them I got an ambiguous answer. No one really knew, they just knew I should have used them more to keep the character's name in their heads.

My thought was great, so how am I supposed to figure this out? Someone did recommend I use them after I used the word she/he six times and I latched onto that. If I used she six times then I used my character's name. I didn't take into consideration that in dialogue I might be using the character's name as well, or that I might have used a pet name to identify the character.

So I continued to learn my craft. I read books on writing, studied other writer's work. I strengthened my writing skills. Then I sold. Happy dancing commenced.

It took an editor telling me I used my character's names too many times in one of my manuscripts  for me to relook at my little formula. By this time I have learned a little more and started looking at how I was using my formula. How many sentences do I start with she or he? Maybe I need to rewrite the sentence so I'm not beating my reader in the head with their name. Do I have a lot of characters in the scene or just two? Am I being very clear in the dialogue? Does it clearly show who is talking?

I still don't have a tried and true way. I don't think there is one, but as I go through a manuscript I do focus on how many people I have in the scene. The more people the more often I'll use their name. Does my characters have pet names for each other that I use to help identify who's in the scene. Does the description help tell who's speaking? Is there other things I'm using to show who's talking or thinking?

What I do is more of a feel now. If the sentence sounds like it needs their name then I use it. I wish there was a perfect formula for this. You need to study, read books on writing, study your fellow authors and see how they are doing it. Keep trying different ways to let your reader know who is talking, and if you do ever come up with a formula let the rest of us know.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Random thoughts: Time

Some weeks I find it easy to write two blogs a week then there are others where I can't seem to get anything done.

Why?

What makes one week crazier than another. I have the same amount of hours in each week. I feel I manage my time pretty well. I juggle everything each day so everything gets done, well, sort of. Enough to keep things going.

Does my mind hit a twilight zone of some sort where I zone out? Do I become distracted too easily? Am I doing more in one week than the other and I just don't realize it?

As a writer there is a lot you need to do. Write of course. There are always stories to tell. Promotion because you need to get your name out there. Social networking, for me it's connecting with other writers. I'm a lurker on most of my loops, commenting every once in a while, but I do read the business posts. Look for free promotion, see who's advertizing with what company. Try to find out who getting the biggest bang for their buck.

Then there's the pay the bill job, dealing with my family which includes being a caregiver to my 85 year old mother-in-law, and taking care of the house.

hmmm...as I read through this I realize I'm doing a lot all the time and some weeks other things take priority.

I wish I could clone myself.

Barb:)





Sunday, May 5, 2013

Writing Down the Bones: The five senses

When I first started writing I was beaten over the head about using the five senses. I always used two to three but never seemed to get the other two. It took me a while to figure out how to do bring all five senses in, but the brow bearing did work.

I'm talking smell, taste, sight, hearing and touching Adding them to your scenes can give your story that three dimensional feel that readers love.

Some of these are easy to use:

Sight is whatever your character sees. The red overstuffed chair the person speaking to them is sitting in. The bare light bulb illuminating the room.

Hearing can be covered by the dialog, because you know your character is hearing what the other character in the scene said but you can also add more by telling your reader about the dog howling outside the open window or the tires screeching in the distance.

Smell might not be something you think about, but when you mention the scent of a trash bin wafting through the window or the musty smell of the hot room.

Taste isn't always easy to work in but you can do it. The salt of the sweat beading on your characters upper lip. If they are drinking then you can bring in the bitterness of the coffee or the welcomed coolness of the iced tea, the tepidness of the water from a rusty tap.

Touch is another one a lot of people leave out. Tell your reader how the red overstuffed chair feels. Is your character leaning on a door jam? Is the wood cool to the touch? How hot is that cup of coffee?

This doesn't have to be done in every single scene, but the more scenes you can put all the senses in the more three dimensional your story will become to your reader.