I haven't. :-)
I'm indeed going ahead with the short involving shapeshifters (although I've decided to call them werewolves). That might change at whatever point I send this out.
I've written this in 3rd POV, from both a female lead and a male lead, with the female winning out. The opening scene was the problem; I tend to stuff a lot of, um, stuff into a little space. Not good, as it results in a lot of head scratching. (That's when I'm in panic mode. When I'm in "yay, rough draft" mode, I write the bare minimum.) Anyway, here's what's helping me move ahead with this short, and will make the transition to the novel.
I received a Barnes & Noble giftcard from one of my bosses, and I settled on a book (duh) - a writing book. Now, I've got quite a few, but the ones that I feel are valuable I can count on one hand. But, the book I ordered was Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain (his student, Jack Bickham, came out with a book pointing out the same stuff; I found it more stiffly written). The Scenes and Sequels idea pioneered (if that's the term) by Swain intrigued me; I picked up the Bickham book first...and didn't like it. There are tons and tons of exercises before you even get to the Scenes and Sequels stuff. Whether you like writing exercises or not, I felt a lot of it was tedious.
Anyway, after deciding on this short story was around the same time I received Techniques. Swain doesn't futz around with exercises (yay for me); he explains things in a succinct, almost business-like way (which is fine by me). I read through his take on Scenes and Sequels and liked what I saw. But I wanted to distill down into a template or a couple of templates so I wouldn't have to keep referring back to the book.
Enter Jim Butcher.
Last week, I was on the Absolute Write Water Cooler when I happened to click on a thread in the (I think) Novel Writing board. Lo and behold, there was a link to Jim Butcher's blog. More specifically, he uses the Scenes and Sequels method! :-) As I'd read and liked his Storm Front, I was happy to find that he used this technique for that and all of his subsequent novels.
Even better, he'd done the work for me! (Yay! I like being lazy on certain things. ;-) Over the weekend, I created two templates, one for Scenes and one for Sequels, using the format he talks about in his blog. (Scenes entry is here. Sequels entry is here.)
I have to say...although I'll have to tighten it some more...the opening two scenes work much, much better. It took me a while to get to it (Freecell, anyone? ;-)), I eventually hunkered down and whipped up some good workable scene goals, questions, and answers.
This might be too much of a "set in stone" mentality for some, and that's fine; everybody's brains are wired differently. But it helped me hone in on what I wanted the MC to accomplish, and to me, it wasn't too rigid. After all, I get to write all the words, including dialogue.
The only work I had published (besides being in Evil Editor's Novel Deviations, heh heh) was a short story in the print edition of Aiofe's Kiss, and that was (gasp!) four years ago.
Needless to say, I'm not mentioning that piece in any query letter.
Oh, and I do intend to join another crit group, a free one this time. :-) I'm going to wait, however, as I want to go through at least a couple of revisions before putting my puppies out there.
Don't give up - keep writing!
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