Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Moving Forward in your Novel

I was surfing fellow writers' blogs the other day and came upon two I really liked. One is by Rebecca. I like that her blog is honest about the daily triumphs and miseries about being a writer. The ups and downs are shared in her blog about writing, and revising, and when we feel on top of the world and why we all do this crazy thing - writing stories. But it also shares the truths about those all too familiar rejection letters and how sometimes criticism is just too much to bear.

Then I happened upon Rachel's blog. Rachel wrote about a class she is taking and a new way of thinking called scenes and sequels and it has made me STOP and take notice of this now sixth revision of my middle grade novel. She says... think of your scenes in terms of goals, conflicts, and disasters. And I thought that this made perfect sense. Of course your story has a much broader goal, conflict and disaster. But each scene should have its own mini arc if you will. So there is a rise and fall within that crescendo of your story and it's grander rise and fall. Like the constant rolling of the waves within the constant rise and fall of the tides.

She then went on to speak about sequels - the emotion, thoughts, decisions, and actions of your characters within each scene as seen through narration, speech tags, actions tags, etc. It is these emotions, thoughts, decisions, and actions that color your canvas with layers. My favorite example of this is from an article in the Writer Magazine, Shtick it to Them, where Arthur Plotnik says this about adding those layers and using action, emotions, etc. to speak volumes for your characters. Some of his examples are....

"I love you," he said.
She blew smoke in his face, "How nice."


"I love you," he said.
She checked her cell phone, "Gotta take this."

In both these examples, it was the actions that spoke for the characters. The author did not have to say something expository like, but Susan could careless as she answered her cell phone. How dull that would have been? By using action to speak for the character, it gave the character life.

All these layers, what is unspoken in your words, the rise and fall of the arcs within the arcs, they are what breathes life into your stories. I can't stop thinking about it and am excited to use scenes and sequels in my hopefully (but I know it won't be) my final revision.

Happy writing!
Sheri ks, ks


♥♥♥ A- Licious ♥♥♥ said...

Hi Sheri!

Thanks for the tips! And thank you for the lovely comment! :o)
I truly am enjoying your blog and I will be back to visit OFTEN! I too am a writer (and so is my mother, who has written a few children's stories - just hasn't been able to get them published - i told her to take a look at your blog) :o) I am more about poetry - but have thought about writing a children's book myself...I love to visit other writers - all thank you so much for sharing!

Here is a toast to your pen! ;o)
(pen to pen *clink*)

Amy xoxox

Sheri said...

Thanks Amy. And now I know what the A stands for in licious. You might have said it before but I had kids and barking dogs homework all around at that time.

I can tell you're a poet when I visited your bog. I began as a poet - I still write it when it takes over me - and that is what it is - a siege. Then I moved to picture books and now I am onto novels. I still do PB and poetry, but this novel is like a plague at the moment - all consuming.

Thanks again for stopping by and happy writing!

Rebecca said...

Hey Sheri,

Thanks for the comments about my blog! It's nice to know that it's appreciated.

And thanks for the blogger tag. You can stop in at my blog again to see my five random things.

♥♥♥ A- Licious ♥♥♥ said...

Thanks Sheri! Yes it is a little silly nickname a few call me in a cozy caring pick on me sort of way. ;o)
I have such a passion for writing, I always have, well at least since high school. :o) Growing up with my mom and her writing truly inspired me - she really has a gift! I haven't blogged much poetry on this blog site (there are a few stuck in the middle of all the other blogs)I guess being a new mother has kind of taken over my blogging right now- I have been using the blog for updates and things on my son...but I am getting back into my writing now that he is a little bit older.

I love WORDS. :o)

I re read this blog again today - what wonderful advice, I love the examples - thank you! I will have to check out the bloggers mentioned on your blog as well.

So happy I stumbled across your page!

Until next time....peace forward~~

Blessings, Amy xoxox

Sheri said...

Thanks Amy.

Rachel said...

Wow, very eloquent post. You can tell which of us writes novels and the other PB's :) I will add your blog to my Link to Writers section.

mary said...

dear sheri,

what are some tips for not getting stuck in your book


mary said...

hi sheri its mary again,

how do you start a blog

please respond,


mary said...


is it hard work having a blog?>


Sheri said...

Can you be more specific about what in your book is making your stuck? I would be happy to help you with tips that work for me.

Blogs take a lot of time and devotion. So if you don't have time, than I guess you could post on a monthly basis instead of weekly, or even more frequently than that.

But I will tell you, you might have to be 18 or older to start a blog...


unlikelyhero said...

I would love to be a writer one day!!!!!!! I'm currently in the process of writing my 1st full length teen novel, it's fun but takes a lot of strength... please check my blog

Sheri said...

Dear Unlikely,
If you are currently in the process of writing a YA novel, then you ARE a writer. I used to be afraid to call myself a writer until I got paid for being one. Now I even though I do get paid to write copies for real estate, and technically I can say I am a writer, I have to tell you - pay check or not - nothing really has changed within me. It's not like some beam of writer light now shines on me as an official writer... I have always been a writer, pay check or not. So... if you are writing, then you are a writer.

Thanks for visiting my blog. I tried to view yours, but am not having luck getting on it for some reason... I will keep trying.

Best of luck,

“Personal limitation exists only in our ideas of who we are. Give up all notions of who you are and your limitations will vanish.”

- Anonymous