Since my story is coming along slowly (and I’m a slow writer to begin with), these last few weeks have been spent doing homework. When we last talked, I was making my way through Goal, Motivation, and Conflict by Debra Dixon. Since finishing that, I’ve been playing around with a GMC chart for each of the four characters in the book. Using post-it notes and a white board seems to be the best way to do this, for now. I can move the post-its around as I figure out what is internal and what is external GMC. This has helped solidify what I already knew about the characters, but there is much more room to grow here.
To that end, I picked up William Bernhardt’s Creating Characters. This book was recommended by a fellow author. This book is part of a series of six books called the “Red Sneaker Books.” Each is a short hit with good, concise information and exercises that can be done to help firm up your stories. It covers things like plot, story structure, dialogue, style, and premise, along with the character book. The appendices are loaded with examples, worksheets, and exercise you can do. Halfway through Creating Character, I am finding that I need to give my characters more to do. Every story, Bernhardt says, is “character driven.” He points out some ways of adding detail that I hadn’t thought of yet. Rolling this into my work with GMC is natural and enhances my ability to problem-solve through the difficulties I’m having right now getting my story written.
Of course, if I’m doing homework, I’m not writing, and that makes me feel bad. Both Dixon and Bernhardt insist that you need to write every day. This is so hard for me to do, with all of real life taking much of my energy and time. There are nights I barely have time to get a shower before bed, with a school-age daughter and plenty of other things I need to do. Last night I was up until midnight, taking care of laundry so someone would have work clothes, putting some more time in on a baby quilt that I need to make for someone, cleaning up the kitchen from dinner, waiting up for my daughter to get done with her event at school, etc.. And it’s spring. My workload vastly increases during this time as the gardens need to be worked and planted, there is outside house maintenance to start working on, oh, and yes, my older daughter is getting married in June. I have a junior bridesmaid’s dress to make for the younger daughter, and decorations to create for the wedding, not to mention scheduling all of the little details for the ceremony and reception. And I get to run away to a conference for work at the end of March.
So yes, finding daily time to write is hard, but when so many tell me I need to be doing it, then I need to be doing it. I’m going to take a real hard look at my schedule and see where I can put that time. Even if it is a half hour, it will be better than no writing at all. And I need to keep myself from doing things related to writing and calling it writing (like reading Berhnardt’s book and doing the exercises).
Have you read any of the Red Sneakers books? Have you found them to be helpful? Do you have book recommendations to help me get my story moving? Leave your suggestions in the comments!
Fairest of the Faire – available now!
Schoolteacher Connie Meyers is suddenly a young widow, her husband killed in a horrific car accident. Heartbroken to find out he had gambled away everything they had, she moves to her sister-in-law’s Midwest home to rebuild her life. A trip to the local Renaissance Faire with her nieces leads to a summer job as a costumed storyteller.
Avowed bad boy and fair performer Gage Youngblood is infatuated with Connie at first sight. Despite his deliberately commitment-free life, and Connie’s don’t-touch-me attitude, he soon has her in his arms, realizing quickly she is also in his heart.
When she is threatened by her late husband’s bookie, he steps into the role of protector, his fate forever sealed with hers.
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