Sunday, June 21, 2009

Getting a new start

The minute I mailed out my manuscript for the first of three novels in a trilogy I began to work on the second novel. Actually, I decided at the end of Ramblings that I was going to do a trilogy. It wasn’t enough to send Amaris off on an adventure of self-discovery at the end of one story. So I already was thinking about the second book in the series. I’ve dabbled with ideas involved with the second novel, the continuation of the story. How will I format it? Will it be the same format as the first book? What will be the focus of it and how is it related to the first one? What characters will return in the second book? Who will be added in this one?

I have a LOT of questions about the continuation of Amaris’ story. I can’t discuss any of the three novels in detail because they are not published and because if I put a lot of my passion into blogs and email posts, there won’t be anything left for the manuscript. I also know that theft of works is common on the Internet even if there is a notice at the end, “©2009 Cathy Brownfield ~ All rights reserved.” I know it’s true. Some of my own work has been pirated online. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the links when I get them. It’s that someone somewhere did NOT ask for permission to use my work. That’s the very least they should be doing. Copyright infringement is a serious issue. Writers have the right to know where their work appears on the Internet. Or anywhere else, for that matter.

So, what am I doing with this second in the series of three that I CAN tell you about?

OK. First I thought about what the first book is about: Between the Rock and the Hard Place. It comes across very clearly and strongly. What is the focus of the second book? The Hard Place. And the third book will focus on the Rock. What does all that mean? You’ll have to wait to read the books. ;) Sorry, but that’s just the way it is. I need a clear idea of what I will be writing about. I know what the series is about, I’ve broken it all down into three books. I’ve written a few passages that have helped me to get started with the writing. It comes naturally that questions arise as I let the whole story percolate in my brain. I write down notes to remind me of certain things, things I don’t want to forget. As I’m synopsizing my novel, I am developing characters and plotting their courses. I want just enough drama to carry the story forward, to make it realistic, believable.
I write in a notebook designated specifically for the novel I’m working on. I keep a journal of my days, not every day because my everyday life is boring, but on days that something particularly interesting or related happens. Anything is game for a writer, isn’t it? But I do fictionize characters to protect the innocent. I don’t want to write verbatim what happens in a real life incident. I want to write a good story which requires building tension in ways that my creative mind concocts. That’s why it’s called fiction. It’s not that it isn’t real. It’s that it isn’t necessarily something that actually happened, but similar to something that actually happened, and to which other people can relate. It’s not that it isn’t truth. Writers are philosophers, seekers of truth and wisdom. I needed to make that clear because someone said, “Let me get this straight. Non-fiction is real and fiction is not.” Uh, no. That’s not right. But maybe it’s just semantics? Someone said that to me once, too.

So, I have a tentative title that relates to the whole story: Sounds of Silence. Since nobody can copyright a title, it doesn’t really matter if anyone knows that. I have the main character, the heroine. I have some supporting characters. I know I must develop some other important characters related to the heroine. I have to sit down and visit with my characters so I know them, because I can’t write about what I don’t know. I must be intimate with my characters.

How long a time period will my novel need to complete the tale? I’m thinking 12 months, more or less. So I’ve built a document containing the 12 months. I am summarizing what will happen in each of those 12 months. Just a general, broad summary while I’m building the characterization. I know where it’s going to take place. And I know that Alzheimer’s is going to play a role in the story. Much of my current work does. It’s a devastating illness that hurts deeply. I know that. My mother has Alzheimer’s. I’m learning about it first hand. A lot of people don’t have any idea what AD is like. They haven’t faced it yet. I want other people to understand AD. I want to keep it in the public eye so research will continue and a cure found. Is it my mother’s story that I’m writing? No. It is a work of fiction very loosely based on things I have learned through this experience. A writer has to write about the things (s)he knows. (Sound familiar yet?)

Someone asked me about writing prompts. I will try to remember to include one each time I write a new blog. This week: Think of a happening in your life, one that deeply affected you, that stirs your passions. Why did it affect you as it did? Don’t take a lot of time to think about it. Sit down and write it out fully. Don’t think about changing words. Just set a timer for 10 minutes and write for all you’re worth, without thinking, of that event. If you aren’t finished, keep writing for as long as the words come to you. Don’t think about it. Just write, beginning, middle and end. Stop writing when you have described the entire event. Then put it in a drawer. Don’t read it again until the next day. When you read it the next day, does it project the very same images you described when you wrote it? Why? Why not? Now you can work to improve it. That’s the editing process. How does it impact you? How can you make it better, stronger? Are you using passive or active verbs? Are you over-using adverbs? (Hint: adverbs are words that end in –ly.) Why did you select the words you used?

Don’t overwork the piece. Tuck it away and read it again in another day or two, and repeat the process until you are satisfied with it. Why are you satisfied with it? What point does it make and are you successful in making the point? Write from the heart. Write from your passion. Write from your pain, your delight. Feel the feelings from their deepest depths.

Write well.

©2009 Cathy Thomas Brownfield

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