Tag Archives: Donald Maass

Weekly writing check-in: story within the story

Morning walk before the rain

I’m continuing with the exercises in The Emotional Craft of Fiction (and still loving it). Another thing I’m doing with this story is weaving in (or trying to) a story within the story.

I love books that have stories within the main story. I sort of did this with The Fine Art of Holding Your Breath, with the journal that the main character’s mother writes.

This time, I’m looking at a journal, some letters, and possibly some other documents, and the mystery of that will unfold into the overall mystery of the first couple of books (at least) in the series.

Well, in theory. Mind you, I’m still at the let’s see if I can do this phase.

So in addition to the work I’m doing with the exercises, I’ve been doing some research into World War I (or rather, more research, since I’ve read a fair amount already) and looking at how I’ll structure that story.

This also means I’ll have three points of view to handle (at least): the journal writer, the letter writer, and, of course, Poppy, the main character.

If nothing else, this gives me plenty to think about on long morning walks.

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Weekly writing check-in: Diving in

Hamilton, the (possibly magical) cat

This week, I jumped feet first into the revision. First up, I created a book map, which is essentially a list of all the chapters and scenes in the draft.

Or, in my case, just a list of scenes, since I figure out the chapters at a later point.

From there, I made another list, this one of all the big events. I looked at what might happen if I moved some of those big events around, and had a couple of Oh! That might happen! moments. Those are always nice.

As I’m looking at the big pieces, I’m also working through the exercises in Donald Maass’ The Emotional Craft of Fiction (and so far I’m really, really liking it).

Finally, I drafted a description of the story, which might not be a final description. Mind you, it might not be the description at all. Also, the story doesn’t have a title yet or the series a name. I’m kind of hoping one will magically drop from the sky as I work my way through the revision.

Five years ago, Poppy Jones left the necromancer community and all its ghosts. Now she’s back, degree in hand, homeless, jobless, and nursing an aching heart. She’s seeking the solace only a big brother can give.

When her brother vanishes—suspiciously and without a trace—only Poppy is concerned. As she pieces together clues to this current mystery, one from the past seduces her.

Jasper Riley, the sinfully sexy warlock, might hold the key to both mysteries. His professional opinion, as a private investigator, is that she doesn’t have a case, never mind a missing person’s one.

That’s before someone breaks into her home, before Poppy stops a supernatural onslaught with her bare hands, before either one of them realizes she’s a witch.

Even with the help of Jasper, his ex-girlfriend, and a (possibly magical) cat, Poppy may be too late. Because her brother has crossed a line, crossed the wrong necromancer, and may have crossed over to a place Poppy can’t reach.

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I see myself in this …

Courtesy of Lara Zielin, one of the fantabulous 2009 Debs, comes this video:

While I haven’t knocked on anyone’s door … yet, I’ve been known to sing the praises of “The Donald” more than once. Okay. A lot. All the time. Actually, I probably need a 12-step program, the one where I promise not to annoy my writing friends.

But, but, but … their (writing) lives would be much more fulfilling if only they listened to Donald Maass. Try the gateway drug Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook. Just one exercise. Or two! How could it hurt? It’s an exercise, silly, not a way of life.

That comes later.

And look, he’s going to be in Madison, WI in November! I may have to make a pilgrimage.

Seriously. I used Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook extensively with Geek Girl. But you know, writing craft books are just like any other book–they work for some people and not for others. For me, voice and tone go a long way in whether I simply enjoy a writing craft book.

But, yeah. I’ll try to stop curb the proselytizing.

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Filed under 2009 Debs, Reading & Writing, Video, Writing, YA