Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Tuesday, April 7, 2015
Earth split and cracked
The Edge crumbles
Put the land together
Quench the rocks”
at 1:14 PM
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Great news! I made it into the advanced comedy writing classes at Second City! The writing program is a year long. The first eight months you get in by signing up. The last four is by audition. And I got in! Yey!
I wrote about Second City back when I signed up for the second set of two months.
What does that mean? Over the course of the next four months, my fellow students and I are going to compile sketches that we've been working on over the past eight months, audition actors and ultimately put on a show that will run for four weeks at Second City.
Zander (I'm also pregnant and that's the baby's name, short for Alexander) is due to be born about half way through that process, so that will be interesting. :)
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Theme is not just for literary work. Genre fiction and mass market novels can benefit from the extra layer of dimension that theme gives a novel. We all have unique points of view, and our characters ought to as well. Even if your work is purely genre or mass market, a theme can add substance to your writing. Theme is the deeper meaning underneath the events of your story.
In both cases, I'm not trying to answer anything, but ask questions. Is war ever okay? Can you be truly in love if the other person doesn't know your past?
What is theme?
It's the overall message of the story. I think Dean Koontz put it well when he said "Theme is a statement, or series of related observations, about some aspect of the human condition, interpreted from the unique viewpoint of the author."
Some examples of possible themes:
- Ethical questions (death penalty, charity, honesty, etc)
- Unrequited love
- The importance of family
- The importance of friends
- War's impact
Why is theme important?
Even if you are writing something meant for enjoyment, you are still writing to communicate. You are still expressing your thoughts and view points. Theme is deeper than the events of your story. It's what will keep your characters in your reader's thoughts. It is also what can tie your characters and events more closely to your reader's life by giving your reader something to think about.
I would argue that a novel without a theme is small talk. A novel with a theme is a conversation. Theme adds substance to a novel. And you may already have a theme without realizing it. Readers will pull out themes from your writing, maybe even some that you did not intend, which is great. Your work is speaking to them.
Is there a deeper concept or theme that you are trying to convey in your current work? Or even if you aren't trying to convey it, does one exist?
at 5:55 PM
Saturday, February 8, 2014
Heroes are partially made by the events they come in contact with, but great heroes have special qualities that are apparent from the beginning of the story. These qualities help us care. These qualities get us to care about the main characters.
Here are just a few examples of some of my favorite characters in books and two qualities that I admire in them. These aren't necessarily the top or most obvious traits, but but I personally like about these characters.
- Atticus in To Kill a Mockingbird. Driven. Integrity.
- Phedre in Kushiel's Dart. Smart. Sensuous.
- Anne in Anne of Green Gables Optimistic. Kind.
- Dresden in Storm Front (Dresden Files Series) Honorable. Helps Others.
- Lyra in His Dark Materials Cunning. Tenacious.
Also, many of these good traits end up getting in their way. Dresden rushes into situations that are over his head in order to help people. Phedre can be a bit too sensuous (well, she is a courtesan) which gets her in very interesting and dangerous situations and causes friction with her lover. Atticus is so determined to do the right thing for a wrongly convicted man but this puts his children in danger.
Any strength taken too far can become a weakness. Persistence can become obsession. Optimism can keep people from seeing life's realities. Integrity can become unbending. Each character's strength taken too far can be their greatest weakness or if not a weakness, can add consequences and conflict.
- What are some of your favorite characters? What are two traits that you admire in them?
- Can you add one or two of these traits to your protagonist?
- How can each of these traits cause problems for the protagonist?
at 6:56 AM
Thursday, January 16, 2014
I am a very slow writer during the drafting process. According to the notes that I have kept, I write at less than 500 words per hour. That means that this first draft is over 100 hours of just writing time. That does not count planning or thinking time.
How do I know this? I track my writing time and my word count increases during that time. I'm trying to notice patterns in when I am more productive. Here is my log from September through this weekend.
- I mostly only write on the weekends. But, I could tell you this without tracking my time!
- Sometimes I am very bad and miss almost a month of writing.
- Word count per hour is slightly higher if I've written within the past few days
- If I write every day, the count per hour does go down after a few days (I think because I've not spent as much thinking time in between)
- Some scenes are just easier to write.
- Dialog is fastest for me.
at 7:15 AM
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
This was a big year for me. Here are just a handful of highlights.
February - Finished my first novel to what I think is print-ready. Took four or five years, with many starts and stops.
May - Visited China
August - Decided to self publish once I have three print-ready books.
June - Started second novel, The Lioness.
September - Found out I'm pregnant with my first child
October - To Maine and back road trip for fall foliage
December - I'm within spitting distance of finishing the first full draft of my second novel. It's at 45,000 words right now and I have three chapters that need plot. Well, two and an "epilogue" chapter. Maybe I can do it today!
at 6:56 AM
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
It has slowed down my writing clip. NaNo became a 5,000 word month rather than a 50,000 word one. But, it also gives me some motivation to wrap up my novel before the kid shows up. Last weekend was the first time that I had the mental energy to write since early October. It's been tough.
My WiP is about 30,000 words done. My goal is to have it 100% complete before the baby comes. I'm a slow first drafter, which is very blocky and the revisions is where I really start to add words at a decent clip. So, I'm feeling pretty good about that goal.
I'm not sure how much I'll be able to write with a newborn.
For any of you writing Moms out there, how long after giving birth until you were back to a writing habit?
at 2:11 PM
Thursday, October 31, 2013
I'm not doing that. I'm going to try something a bit different.
My goal is to revise my very rough first draft. My goal is to polish up a chapter a day, starting today. I've got 31 chapters, so starting a day early will let me get through everything by the end of the month.
I'm a very basic/outliney draft writer. I don't write much prose. I write tight dialog with a few sketches of who is where. So I need to go back and fill in the lines. Also, all of my battle scenes current read something like A fights B or A fights and wins. As I said, basic/outliney. It's just my process. I even still have a few chapters that are a couple sentences long.
So, one could argue that I'm not even done with my first draft. But, I'm excited and ready to take it to the next level using NaNo as my driver.
Anyone else out there doing a modified NaNo? What are you doing?
at 5:19 PM
Monday, August 19, 2013
|From the Second City Website|
I'm not going there to change my career nor my writing focus, which is fantasy. I'm just hoping that it will add a new dimension to my writing. Even though this class focuses on Sketch Writing, there will still be some improv. I'm hoping that it will translate to faster writing and better dialog. I took Writing I almost a year ago and then didn't continue with it. I've also taken a couple of Improv Classes as well. After seeing a Second City performance on Saturday, I decided to look into continuing. Low and behold...classes start today.
Here's my first and only sketch ever, it's what I wrote in Writing I. What do you think? If you like this, I can post all of my sketches as I write them. I'd love to hear your feedback!
As an aside, Second City offers an online writing class if you feel sad that you don't live nearby the LA, Toronto or Chicago training centers.
Please note that this contains expletives.
by me...Lauren Amundson :)
(Sara is sitting in a chair behind a desk. There is another chair on the other side of the desk.)
(Jimmy enters; both look shocked to see each other)