Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Keeping Up with Trends, First Drafts and Stephen King


       Our local writer's group met last week and talked about new releases for the fall, from picture books to young adult. Katrina Pollitt, children's department outreach coordinator for the Normal Public Library offered a stellar presentation. She brought stacks of books, summarizing each one and noting the trends she's seeing in books for fall 2013. While it's easy to spot popular themes in young adult by the covers, it's not as obvious in picture books and middle grade. After a good two hours, we were an enlightened bunch!
        So I'm still (still!) working on a first draft and it's giving me headaches. To date, I've deleted more words than written, added characters then told them to get lost days later, and made more fruitless attempts to outline because it SHOULD be easier to work with a plan, right? Then I came across Karen Woodward's post today of a Stephen King interview which appeared in The Paris Review. I should have remembered that he doesn't outline after reading On Writing but it slipped my mind. So for today, I'm content to call myself a pantster and know that I'm in good company.
     And two other recent posts which spoke to me:
     I loved this post by Donald Maass last week at Writer Unboxed. While he reflects on his personal journey mid-life, he offers some questions you should be asking of your protagonist while you write his or her story.
     Since I sometimes struggle to sum up my latest project in the most eloquent way possible, Rachel Gardner's post on How to Pitch was on my radar yesterday.
                                                                                                         Happy writing!
                                                                                                         Dawn

7 comments:

  1. I really should read On Writing- I see it mentioned all the time! Good luck w/your WIP. It'll come together! =)

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  2. Thanks, Leandra! and the book ranks right up there with Lamott's Bird By Bird, IMO.

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  3. That sounds like a wonderful meeting your group had with the librarian! I've attended similar ones, and they're so enlightening.

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    1. Marcia, this was inspired by the great talks which Jan Dundon from Anderson's Books did for years at the SCBWI IL Prairie Writer's Day. Since you're close, you might have come down for one of the conferences and heard her speak?

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  4. I don't outline either, Dawn. Although I did go into my latest project with more notes than ever, and more of an idea of the entire story than I've ever started out with before. Still, it's not helping me get the words down on the page the way I had hoped.
    Thanks for sharing all the links!

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    1. I share your frustration, Ruth! The one time I used NaNoWriMo to power through a first draft was the only time I've not had trouble with that first stage. I've come to realize that having a self-imposed deadline (such as Nano) helps me not wallow in frustration for long periods of time. Now meeting that deadline is another story...

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  5. Dawn, thanks so much for the link to the pitch. I need help with that every time I go to a conference. And I also think it can help with your query letter.

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