Friday, September 23, 2011

Writing to the Middle

I love it when I have an opportunity to teach writing at the school where my children attend. Last year I had the opportunity to work with the 6th graders and we did a project where they each brainstormed and wrote their own story. It was great to see how they each came up with unique ideas and developed them into stories.

One of the the techniques I taught them was to write to the middle. I've come to believe that the more tools I have in my writer's bag to pull out when I need help writing a story, the better. So this has been fun to play with. Here's what you do.

You are writing a story where you know kind of how it begins and ends but are struggling with those details in the middle. Write your beginning at the top (just an idea of how it is going to begin) and then the ending at the bottom.

Look at the top again. What happens right after the thing you wrote down? Just jot an idea of what you think is going to happen.

Now look at the bottom. What happens right before that very last thing that happens, the thing you wrote on the bottom of the page? Write it in the space before that last thing that happens.

Now go back to the top. What happens after the second idea you wrote there? Write it.

Back to the bottom. What happens right before the last idea you wrote there? Write it.

Get the idea? Basically, it helps you work through all the possibilities and find the story hidden in all those ideas.

I probably ought to go use this particular tool with my story again, I keep trying to figure out what Asher and Mya are up to in their adventures. I haven't tried it with a chapter yet, but that would probably work really well. I'm so excited to see it all come together. It's rewarding when the pieces fall into place and the story takes shape a bit at a time.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


I'm a daydreamer.

I was the child the teacher always told to stop daydreaming. At every parent-teacher conference.

Daydreaming comes in handy as a writer.

Here's what I love about writing and dreaming about sharing my work with others. It fits with the rest of my life. It meshes with the rest of my dreams. I can live an interesting life and enjoy every moment and then call it research. In fact it makes my writing more interesting.

Last week it was a wedding cake. Three weeks ago it was getting the rest of my garden planted. Hopefully this week it will be more intensive writing to get this book done. But every moment of my life I find something to write about.

I've been thinking about my characters and having conversations with them while I am building cakes or watering the garden. Anyone watching might think I'm crazy. But usually the only ones watching are my family and they know I'm just trying to write a book. They are excited about the book.

A couple weeks ago at bedtime my youngest daughter asked if I wanted to know who her favorite author is.

"Who?" I asked.

"You," she said.

I guess I'd better keep writing.

Monday, June 20, 2011

My first post - WIFYR

I've been thinking about doing this. I've listened to other writers talk about blogging, but it's taken a bit to decide I was ready to start my own. Having gone to WIFYR last week has me pretty motivated. It seemed like a good time to start. So here goes...

The Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference stretched my brain in many directions. I was fortunate enough to be in Kathleen Duey's class in the mornings. She really helped us all to understand what it takes to get inside a character's head and keep their viewpoint consistent.

I've heard of interviewing the characters in your story, but have never been successful at this. I was trusting the generic list of questions you can find in many books and lists. But Kathleen encouraged us to interview our characters as if we were sitting on the bus getting to know them. This really clicked in my head and the questions I am asking are now specific to my characters and their situation. Questions about why they made a certain decision or felt a certain way about something that happened in the story. It's very exciting. My characters are beginning to show real emotion and personality that was lacking before.

So excited to live out this dream and finish this novel.