Thursday, April 10, 2014

Most of my writing starts during prayer. While I love on God, that wonderful part of my brain where my characters live, I see and hear them move through the next scenes and hear the exchange between them. It comes in flashes sometimes, full blown scenes in others, as though I’ve already experienced them. Then later, after a half a pot of coffee or so, I move to the computer armoire and get serious about pounding out what I’d seen and heard earlier. That’s when the work begins.

Fashioning the telling words into show words. Thinking of active verbs to replace all the passive ones. The first time, it’s all about getting the story down, but no one gets excited when there’s a was, were, have, or had in every sentence, not when they can live vicariously through my characters. And of course, I always need new words. First time through there may be four ‘little’s on a page, but after this time through, one is changed to ‘small’, one to ‘tiny’, and one to ‘runt’! Who wants to read the same word four times on a page or three times in a paragraph?

Another thing I check is my proper name ratio to the pronouns used to replace them as often as possible. But I also want to be sure the pronoun refers to the last proper name mentioned. On rare occasion, as when position clearly identifies who the pronoun is referring to, I will leave a pronoun without repeating the proper name. Too many proper names annoy me.

Write and rewrite.

Maybe a character has something to tell me they forgot to say earlier.

I check the start of each paragraph on a page and make certain they are not a proper name, pronoun, or dialogue. If they are, I haven’t done my job well. This can often lead to figure out what senses I might add in this scene to start some of those starting sentences. And rearranging a sentence can also work.

Speaking of the five senses though – sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell – I encourage you not to feel the need to TELL your reader that your POVC (Point of View Character) saw, heard, tasted, smelled, or felt, because that is a shift in POV, and we all know that shifting POV kills tension. As well as confusing your readers. Instead, if you are firmly in a POV, just report what the POVC sees (and all the other senses, plus thinks, wonders, knows, or realizes), and we—your intelligent readers will know who’s doing the seeing! Plus now you’re SHOWING!

And this brings another picky to mind – using the word ‘felt’ when there’s actually nothing being touched with skin in order to ‘feel’. For instance, she felt nauseous. Ask yourself, can I put my finger on nausea and ‘feel’ it? Of course not, and it’s pure TELL. But consider this: Her stomach churned, acids rising in her throat. The bile stung first then erupted into her mouth and tasted terrible. Doesn’t that rendition SHOW that she ‘felt’ nausea.   

At some point, usually at the urging of my two wee house dogs, I get up, stretch, tend to Belle
and Sassy, and grab something to break my fast. Sometimes only a piece of toast, and sometimes, eggs, biscuits, meat, and cream gravy. I’m also an oatmeal mama! And back to the computer armoire. It has fold out doors to block out the mess (piles of papers and whatever may have landed there), but they are almost always folded back.

If I don’t have anything planned for that day, like prayer meeting, book club, grocery gathering, planting in the garden, or taking someone somewhere, I’ll pretty well hang close to the computer most the day, switching out laundry and doing a little house work when I need to move around a bit.

Oh, and I forgot email and Facebook. I often check those throughout the day. But I try not to stay longer than necessary. I click Like a lot and comment when something strikes me. I love checking my FB notifications and supporting my author friends with comments and shares. Always going back to my work in progress to go over AGAIN what I’ve written and add a page or two or four.

Though Caryl McAdoo has 9 titles from 4 publishers, she realized her dream this month when Simon & Schuster’s Howard Books debuted VOW UNBROKEN, her historical Christian romance set in 1832 Texas. The novelist enjoys painting and singing new songs the Lord gives her. She lives in the woods of Clarksville in Red River County with husband Ron and four grandsons.


Don't forget to come back tomorrow, when you can enter to win a free copy of Vow Unbroken!


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