Writer Wednesday – Getting to Know my Heroine

In keeping with my promise to ‘strength’ my writing muscles, I have started doing some writing exercises.  In prep for my the next romance suspense I plan on working on, I picked a prompt from 1,000 Character Writing Prompts chefs and cooks selection. My heroine is a pastry chef.

I selected 193 which isn’t really much of a stretch. Cayla Rogin, my heroine, is pastry chef like the prompt, but she doesn’t work in a vegan bakery. Cayla runs her own bakery business. The prompt has her growing up in foster families as did my heroine – it’s in one of these homes she meets the hero. While this doesn’t seem like much of a ‘stretch’,  I still decided the prompt – ‘what would the members of her family think of accomplishments?’ would be character building since I tend to gloss over my character’s. Picking a few events. So what did I learn about Cayla from this???

My newest heroine I'm meeting

My newest heroine I’m meeting

  • 1) I had to establish her bio-parents. Was it a single mother? Did she go back and forth between bio home and foster placement. Was she taken due to abuse, addictions, or negligent? This I would have done without the prompt.
  • 2) How many foster placements she had (I would have never answered this unless it came up while writing).
  • 3) Who she remained in contact with and why – this added a nice subplot twist
  • 4) I flushed out her motive for becoming a pastry chef
  • 5) Did any of her foster parents use her service? No, but I have supplying birthday cakes to one home she stayed at. This would have never developed without this prompt.

I found this prompt much more use than the 3 page character sheets I’ve tried in the past.

Do you use writing prompts? If so as ‘warm-ups’ or to break writer’s block?  What are some prompt books you’ve found useful.

 

Writer’s Wednesday

The word ‘edit’ falls into my bad four letter word column. I have writer friends who claim to love edits. “It’s great to revisit those characters.” Secretly, I think they like to lick a metal bar in the winter because for me it’s about the same.

And while I don’t enjoy edits…I have devised an editing routine that I’d like to share.  This is what I do during my ‘final before submissions’ edits (after I’ve made critique partner changers & filled in any plot holes I’ve realized, etc.)

First, I print the manuscript (I’ve tried to do it vie word & it can be done but I find paper works best for ME) in a landscape, 2 column format. Like a page from a book.  I like this format because it offers nice margins to make notes.

Second, I gather my colored pens. I use red for grammar/typos/left out words, etc. I use green to underline key plot events. Ie for my suspense these are the hints to the ‘creep’ or hints to why my heroine won’t commit to the hero. I use pink for character descriptions. I use purple for ‘promo’ – blurbs, Sunday Six, facebook teasers, etc.

What color is my hero eyes????

What color is my hero eyes????

Once I’ve marked the manuscript up, I’m ready to make the changes electrically. Now I know some writers use excel for their notes making a tab per character and one for settings. I like to use Microsoft Onenote.  I make a tab for EACH character, plot, and promo.

As I come to a ‘green’ marked passages I copy it and past it onto the plot sheet, the promo blurbs and ideas are copy and pasted on the promo sheet. Etc.

Once I’m done with the grammar/typos correction, I review my character notes.  I make sure every time I’ve mentioned a character’s eyes they are always the same color 🙂 Their middle name is the same. Stuff like that. Then if I notice my character went from blue eyes to brown eyes I make the corrections unless the change is due to color contacts 😛

When reviewing the plot notes I make sure I haven’t ‘dropped’ a thread and all my ‘clues’ line up.

The bedroom is down the hallway but now next the kitchen....

The bedroom is down the hallway but now next the kitchen….

The thing I find the most useful is the promo page. This has food mentioned that I can use for my Tasty Thursday blog, scenes, and other ‘promo’ ideas (like the heroine relaxing in a warm bath filled with scented salts – great blog hop giveaway). Once I’ve used a scene/blurb I note where and when.  This has been a proverbial life saver. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve scanned my earlier books looking for a certain scene.

So those are my ‘final edits before submission’ tricks. Do you have any to share?  I’d love to hear them – especially if it includes someway to get a editing elf to come to my house.

Motivation Monday ~

The WIP that refused to be written. While I suffer from shiny object disease and I’m the queen of half finished projects, I can be stubborn to a fault. So when my current WIP drew a line in the sand, game was on. 

I’ve rewritten the first chapter ((5)) times!  I’ve added points of view, taken points of away, added characters and taken characters away. I’ve written the over 18k only to have to dump it and restart. 

I know some writers feel it’s a mortal sin to walk away from a story never to finish it. However, I have a memory stick full of half done, three quarters done, and just started stories. So why not add this to the ‘bone’ yard?

Because now writing is my career – no longer a ‘hobby.’ With my shift to full-time writer, I found I had new responsibilities. I could no longer write just what I want – leaping from project to project. So how does sticking with one project when I should have completed two make me a professional?

 I’m learning the importance of planning or plotting. I don’t have the time to chase rabbits down holes and have tea with the Mad Hatter. Yes, I have more time to write but I need to make my words count. This is now my sole source of income.  To start a story and disregard is no longer an option.

So my motivation for this Monday – to streamline my writing to make it a career.