Wednesday, March 25, 2015

March Madness Check-In — Day # 25

With all the distractions and disappointments the day job has brought me in the last year, I have had to double up on creative outlet time whenever I had the chance. Photography has been my outlet and my jell-time. That is when I take off at sunrise and scout around the nature parks for creative inspiration and gratification, take pictures, and think about whatever WIP I'm working on. It seems as if I have two endeavors competing for my time:  photography and writing. My hope is that they will find harmony together.  At the very least, I am finding my voice in two places now.

A couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to win first place in the last art show I entered. The piece was not a technical tour de force. I could have deepened my depth of field a little, sharpened my focus a touch more. Nor was it some dramatically compelling subject like that of a pulitzer prize-winning journalistic picture. What it did have was attitude.

Yes, I lined up some tiny (I'm talking size-of-my-pinkie-nail tiny) chocolate Santas and played with the depth of field to focus on one imperfect specimen who was second in line. He had a little hole in him and he was far from perfectly sculpted. I titled the piece, The Line-Up. Ghost Hunk calls that my wry sense of humor.

How does this relate to my writing? Well, in both places, I am searching for my voice, and I'm never sure where I stand. This photograph is not perfect, but it has some spunk. It has a voice that says, "Look at me. Yes, it's okay to have a little chuckle. This is who I am."

Our last few check-ins have brought up the issues of comparison and jealousy and that urge to quit. Every time I enter an art show, I see how everyone else is doing and focus on why they are better than I am. Inevitably, I have no sense of the good work I am doing. The same goes for my writing. The only way to handle this is to get lost in whatever dream I'm dreaming when I write or when I take pictures and listen to that inner voice. I have to embrace my WIP without editing or comparing my work as I go or surely I will drown.

So, for my last post of madness, I encourage you to club that green monster in the head and stuff him in a box and tape it up tightly. Then demand a serious hug from your WIP, because once you feel those arms around you again, you will want more. Only you can tell your story. So tell it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

March Madness Day #18—Attack of the Plot Bunnies

How goes the madness, Wipsters? Here we are on the other side of the halfway mark, and I've had another epiphany. My current WIP is much more character-centered than my last ms, but as a graphic novel, the action needs to be solid and clear and dynamic. No, it doesn't have to be like a superhero comic or anything, with a POW! KABOOM! kind of action, but there is less room for long, introspective passages. While the plot bunnies were biting my butt last week, my brain was trying to get a firmer grasp of my plot, and it just kept coming back to the 5-act structure of a Shakespearean play.

Of course, much of what we see in the visual media of television and movies seems to rely on a 3-act structure (which is why much of it sucks), so I was struggling. Which way do I approach this? My gut said go with the 5-act structure, but it didn't offer any details or confirmation that I was right. So, I googled it.

Holy cow! I found several conversations about plot structure, but very few about the 5-act structure. Mostly it was the same little mountain graphic we all learned in grade school about conflict and rising action, yada yada yada.  Until I hit a certain foul-mouthed but ingenious HULK. As I read his rant about the Myth of the 3-Act Structure, bells were going off everywhere. Yes! Yes! That's exactly what I was thinking but couldn't put into words! He is talking about movies, but the same principle holds for any good story telling really.

After taking notes and creating a fabulous chart for myself (because visuals/storyboards rock!), I decided to relieve myself of the burden of finishing one or two chapters this month and focus on getting the structure more concrete so I can actually complete the journey with a clear path in mind.

So have any of you made a sharp turn on your goals this month thanks to an epiphany? If you have, dance in the magic of it. Even if it turns out to be the wrong direction later, it will lead you somewhere. And somewhere can show you amazing things that nowhere can't.

So onward we go, Wipsters! May the plot bunnies be kind to you, and may you all have a good dog to herd them in the right direction!

We'll see you at the check-in tomorrow with Carol Garvin.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

March Madness Check-In #11

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It's funny how we got onto visualization in the last few March Madness posts, but absolutely on point for me. One of the hardest elements of this whole graphic novel adventure is giving up control of a significant element of expression in my writing. My literary heroes include people like George Orwell, who was a master of description, and Neil Gaiman who can build amazing worlds that, no matter how terrifying or strange, transport us and make us glad to be on that ride.

On this WIP, I have to trust someone else to read my creation and accept it but also give him the opportunity to explore his own image (literally) of the story. In the long run, I will have to prepare myself for whatever deviation from my own vision might arise when the artist takes my script and runs with it.

Of course, this doesn't just pertain to an illustrator. All of us will need to face the disfigurement of our manuscripts at the hands of an editor or an agent. For the most part, it is probably for the better, however devastating it might seem at that moment we get that evil editorial email.

I am still in the initial crafting of my manuscript, but I have already spent ages on the original novel version, so it feels vibrant and real. Ironically, I am the one with the cleaver right now. Hacking off this and that. Remodeling these and crushing those. Somewhere in there, is that bright clean soul that will still emerge from the rubble.

What is harder for you? Drafting or revising? I have to say, this time it is a harder call.

No matter what, keep searching and keep creating. She will rise.

Now, I hope you are still reading, because it is time to announce another prize. And the winner is:


CONGRATULATIONS!  Pop on over to Denise's blog for a list of prizes and email Denise with your choice at d(at)denisejaden (dot)com.

And don't forget to check in with  Carol Garvin tomorrow for more Madness!

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

March Madness Day Four — I'll Take the High Dive

Welcome to the Day 4 Check-in!

As a writer, I’ve always had lots of stories swimming around in my head, and with a little luck, they eventually splash onto the page, imperfect and wet behind the ears. That is the hardest part—getting that first draft out there. Then comes revision, that fabulous stage where I have some wet clay in my hands and I can shape it and get it ready for its final big show.  

Something strange has happened this time around, however. After writing 16 chapters, my poor little WIP felt stagnant. I had fallen into a bog and I wasn’t sure how to pull myself out. Eventually, I started climbing, higher and higher, past what I thought was my best work yet, until I reached the epiphany. My dear little WIP needed a transformation. And so...I’m going to write a graphic novel. 

Holy crap! Yes. I actually said graphic novel. Now, I am standing on a springboard 10 meters in the air and I’m about to jump. 1-2-3...GO!

March Madness Wipsters, are any of you venturing into new territory this time around? What brought you there?

I’ve taken the leap and at the moment, I’m still suspended in mid-air. Free falling.  Once I get this first chapter done, I’ll consider it breaking the surface and then I’ll be swimming. 

If you are just joining us for March Madness, don't forget to stop by Denise Jaden's blog to post your goals for the month and see the list of Prizes. And tomorrow, Carol Garvin continues the madness!

Write on, Wipsters!