Sunday, March 27, 2011

Time To Regroup!

I decided yesterday that it was definitely time to regroup on a minor turning point in my WIP - a mystery with its roots in the past. My characters are connected by a friendship that began in the Haight-Ashbury era. Certain things happened "back in the day" - two people disappeared, literally overnight. They left behind them an organization that ... well, it folded completely, leaving lots of questions.

One of those individuals has returned to the area, under another name. He is a high profile person that has been headquartered in New York City for years - partially to avoid recognition, although he did change his appearance. I had to have a reason for him to return to the west coast - with his wife. I gave him the occupation of a high end art dealer, and had him going after an antique statue. I know nothing about antiques, and was wasting way too much precious time researching the background for this statue, how it got to this country, and what it looked like.

The light-bulb finally lit up - change the statue to a small painting! Change the origin of the painting to Europe! Much easier to research, much easier to sell to my readers (the story, not the painting!).

Lesson learned. When I have spent too much time on any one thing, and it is blocking my progress, I am going to at least allow room for changing whatever needs to be changed so that the story works, and I can move along.

The good thing is - I hope to make this set of characters into a series. The stronger I make them in this first book, the easier it will be for them to continue to run amok in future books.

Who knew that a small point (figuratively speaking) in a plot could wreck such havoc!

(c) March 2011 Bonnie Cehovet

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Where Is This Book Coming From!

I am on my way with completing my 2010 NaNoWriMo project, which is intended to be the first in a series of mysteries. Lots of revelations, let me tell you! I knew that I had chosen to base my characters in an area that I had not only never lived in, but that I had never been to. What I didn't stop to think was how much research that was going to entail! From the little things, like how the city is laid out, to slightly more involved things, such as street names, freeways, and where other physical places are in relation to the city they live in. (i.e. Would they be driving 'up to" a given location, or "down to" said location.)

I made the decision to "upscale" my characters, way out of where I am in life, so here goes more research on where they would live, where they would dine, where they would shop, the designer cloths they would wear, the cars they would drive ... the list is endless! Incredibly interesting, but endless.

I am having a great time giving my characters background, placing them in interesting career fields, and moving them around the globe. Think kid in a candy store here!

A sneaky thought is becoming stronger and stronger, and is something that I did not expect. My characters are not based on myself, or on anyone that I know. That is just not how this book is developing. However, I have three major female characters (well, four in this first book, but the fourth character has not been introduced "in person" yet, just referred to), and while their physical characteristics are very different, I am coming to realize that their personalities are very much alike. They could be different aspects of the same person! I am going to have to watch that closely, to make sure that they come across as individuals.

I am beginning to think that it is a very good thing that I have already decided to have this book professionally edited. I am going to need massive help on this! The good thing is that I have a friend who has asked to read the book, and possibly submit this to an editor that she knows for with an online publishing company. If it gets accepted, it will of course get further editing and polishing, and I will be ready to move on to the next book in the series. If it doesn't get accepted, I will self-publish.

You have to love the process!

(c) March 2011 Bonnie Cehovet

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Manuscript Makeover


I am speaking literally and figuratively today. The subject - manuscript makeover - the editing, rewriting, re-editing that goes into putting a quality product out to the public. In my case that product might be a niche article or book, or it might be a nice, quiet little mystery. Both categories need all the assistance they can get!

I am in the midst of finishing and editing my 2010 NaNoWriMo mystery opus. Much to my joy, I had the very good sense to purchase Elizabeth Lyon's book "Manuscript Makeover". Life is ever so much easier now! I love this book! Her talking points - on the front cover (great idea!) are:

* Enhance style
* Clarify structure
* Deepen characterization
* Clean up punctuation and syntax

You could not ask for more! She backs up her talk with her walk - writing in a concise, reader friendly style, talking about writing for a more universal theme, matching style and structure to your chosen genre, strengthening both beginnings and endings, and creating good movement and pace.

Her suggestions are simple and doable - read your story out loud ... in listening to it, you will hear and feel where something doesn't work and needs to be tweaked. Silence the inner critic - it is not helpful. Guess what - the inner censor may be the cause of that icky "drawing a blank" moment! Free write, and write from your own truth.

More simple revisions include modeling favorite authors, revising for sentence variety and revising for impact. Then we move on to restructuring from the inside, with the use of metaphors, similes and mixed-metaphors. Oh, yes ...also the avoidance/removal of cliches!

Lyon also talks about defining genre and sub-genre, Now we get to the cool stuff - such as the five stages of structure:

* A character has a problem.
* Complications arise and conflict intensifies.
* Crises culminate in a climax.
* The problem is resolved.
* The hero or heroin learns something about self or life.

I am very into mythologist Joseph Campbell's work,and was fascinated by the chapter on structure and the Hero's Journey. What a great way to tell a story! Other structures include epic, vignette, flashback and double plots.

There is much, much more to this book! Actually, this blog was never intended to be a review,but there was so much great information to share!

At the end of each chapter is a checklist that helps the writer to implement the suggestions from that chapter. What a bonus! How often do we end up being "bobbleheads" to good suggestions, then realize, after we have walked away, that we have no idea how to put them to use!

Lyon is also the author of "The Sell Your Novel Tool Kit" and "A Writer's Guide To Fiction". Her blog can be seen at http://www.ninc.com/blog/index.php/archives/editor-elizabeth-lyon. Her professional site can be seen at http://www.elizabethlyon.com/.

(c) March 2011 Bonnie Cehovet

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

March Madness

Normally the term "March Madness" refers to the NCAA basketball free for all (yes, I love basketball - preferably the NBA, but the collegiate boys take over in March!). On to my personal form of March Madness - today I start the process of finishing my 2010 NaNoWriMo project, editing it, then sending it out for editing. Then I am going to self-publish - digital and print.

Speaking of editing - I should be getting back the editing from my very first print book -a Tarot book coming out from Schiffer Books in fall of this year. Hope that I understand the process and can get through that!

I also have to keep a closer eye on my monthly deadlines - one guest blog for one site, two guest articles for another site - all three give or take 1,000 words each. A monthly blog as promo for my upcoming book, three blogs a week for the #SHINEonline project, at least one flash fiction piece, and an attempt to put up one article here each month.

Once I get my NaNoWriMo piece published, I plan to start writing my next Tarot book (outline already done). Come November, back to NaNoWriMo and the second book in a planned series of mysteries (the first book being the 2010 NaNoWriMo opus).

What is it that they say ... writers write? Yes, indeed they do! Now, to keep all deadlines straight! (And fit in my other projects!)

(c) March 2011 Bonnie Cehovet

Christmas Books That I Love!

Christmas is a lovely time of year! I look forward to decorating my house, playing Christmas music, cooking, baking, and, of course, read...