June 6, 2009

BLOGCATION -- How I'll Spend My Summer Vacation


After nearly two years of continual blog updates, I'm taking a short summer vacation. But know that while I'm away from the blog-o-sphere, I'll be . . .

1. Beginning a new novel.

2. Preparing my speech and humor writing workshop for the S.C.B.W.I. conference in L.A. this August.

3. Working on a promotion plan for my new novel -- HOW TO SURVIVE MIDDLE SCHOOL (without getting your head flushed), DEAL WITH AN EX-BEST FRIEND, UM, GIRLS AND A HEART-BREAKING HAMSTER. (It'll hit shelves April 13, 2010.) I'm so excited about this one!

4. Celebrating a birthday. Whee!

5. Enjoying time with family and friends at the lovely, relaxed pace that only summer offers.

Play nicely while I'm gone.

Happy summer!

June 1, 2009

Novel Writing 101 -- Plot

I love to read books about writers and writing. I always wonder, "How do they do it?" "What's their schedule like?" "How do they juggle competing demands?"

So when NPR's Three Books was titled: Get That Book Deal, Three Books Tell You How, I was excited. Sarah Pekkanen suggested these titles: On Writing by Stephen King, Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maas and Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell.

Since I've already read and loved On Writing, I got the other two books.

The main thing I took away from Writing the Breakout Novel is that it requires hard work, perseverance and digging deep, deeper, deepest with character development and layered plotting during revisions.

Plot & Structure may not have the sexiest title, but James Scott Bell writes in the most accessible way. I feel like I'm sitting down with a good friend every time I open the book. A good friend who knows A LOT about writing.

I want to share one exercise in the book that I think will help clarify your novel's plot.

(From page 21 of Plot & Structure)

Fill in the blanks for your novel.
  • My lead (main character) is a _______________.
  • Her objective is to ________________________.
  • She is confronted by ______________________ who oppose(s) her because __________________.
  • The ending will be a knockout when _____________________.

According to the author, if you fill in the blanks, you'll have the skeleton for a solid novel.

What book about writing most inspires you?