Thursday, April 2, 2015

When working on a manuscript, what do you do when you get stuck?

I’m a verbal processor, so talking out my ideas works best. God granted me the most wonderful gift—a husband who is a reader and who has wonderful plot advice, as well as several excellent friends who are willing to let me chatter at them. Typically, if my husband is home, I can brainstorm some ideas with him, and I’m quickly back to writing. If he’s not available, I contact one of my friends.

Do you ever read your dialog aloud to see how it sounds?

I often read my writing aloud. It’s helpful to see how things flow. If I get tongue-tied in trying to speak what I’ve written, there’s often a problem that needs to be tweaked.

Have you ever performed an action you want one of your characters to carry out in order to help you visualize or describe it?

Again, I often choreograph my writing by acting things out. I like to write westerns with lots of action scenes, so I often get up and try to act things out. My husband comes in handy with this also, since he teaches me some of the self-defense moves he’s had to learn for his job in law enforcement.

Have you ever embarrassed yourself doing this?

Well, sort of. Fifteen years ago, I rolled out of bed one morning with ideas flowing for my next scene. I set my toddler son down to watch cartoons and got busy writing. It wasn’t long before I stood up, put on my cowboy hat, and started acting out a scene. It was then I realized that my border collie wasn’t right under foot. UH OH! I yanked the front door open to see my mostly-white dog smeared black with mud from digging out under the back yard fence. He trotted down the sidewalk like he owned it. I put my son in his crib and raced out to chase my dog. We got to the end of the street, right in front of a house that had just sold. Of course, I hadn’t met the new neighbors yet. I reached for the dog’s collar when up goes the neighbors’ garage door. My dog raced into the garage…and right past the suit-clad neighbor into his house. I was forced to blurt out a hasty introduction and apology. Of course, I was a mess to behold. Bed head. Cowboy hat. Threadbare pajamas. Bare feet. Not the best way to meet your neighbors!

What aspect of being a writer is the most challenging for you? Why is this difficult, and what steps have you taken to overcome this hurdle?

For me, the hard part isn’t writing or editing. It’s having the patience to keep going in the face of rejection, disappointments, and endless waiting. To overcome, I ask God to help me hang on. I look for others whom I can encourage. I keep writing. And I try really hard not to think too much about it.

If you felt the Holy Spirit urging you to quit writing, would you do it?

I have already given up writing once. God called me to teach school for a period of three years. I’m not trained as a teacher, and never wanted to teach. But who am I to tell God no? So when he called me to that job, I did it. I was so busy for those three years that I had no time or inclination to write. Thankfully, He rewarded me by sending me home to write full time after that.

Do you prefer writing the initial draft, or do you enjoy the revision process more? Do you revise as you write, or do you first produce a big mess that you later have to fix? If your first draft is rough, do you usually have to cut out a lot of dead wood, or add flesh to the bare bones?

I prefer writing the initial draft to the revision phase. I tinker as I go, so I’m constantly tweaking wordings, fixing typos, and correcting plot problems. My biggest issue with my first draft is that I am far too wordy, so I have to do at least one pass to chop the word count down.

Award-winning author, Jennifer Uhlarik, discovered her love of writing as a pre-teen. She majored in writing at the University of Tampa and now lives outside of Tampa with her husband, teenaged son, and four fur children. Her first traditionally published work, Sioux Summer, is one of nine novellas included in The Oregon Trail Romance Collection, available from Amazon.   Her second work, Wedded to Honor, featured in The Convenient Bride Collection, is available for preorder now. Connect with Jennifer at


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