Category Archives: Writing About Writing

What Dreams Are Made of: A Short Story Revisited

The house is quiet. The baby is asleep, the cat is lounging in a window, and my husband isn’t home yet. My imagination is itching to tell a story.

I scroll through my Pinterest board, looking for a prompt to start everything off, and I find one that reminds me of something from about three years ago.

Back when my husband and I first started watching Dr. Who, I had a series of particularly unusual dreams. They were weird enough to inspire a flurry of story ideas, and upon remembering it, they make my fingers fidgety. So I decide to do something about it. I am finally going to write something based on them.

I remember that I had posted about them, so I search through the blog for that post. But to my surprise, today’s idea isn’t new. I have already begun writing about the strange dreams.

Even more surprising, though, I realize that I never finished the story. All right, so that’s not the most surprising thing since there are several stories on this blog that began to take shape but were abandoned. (Not forever, necessarily.) However, this story already had so much to it. I was sure that I had to have finished it. But I haven’t.

So, it’s time to revisit the story and actually finish it this time. Three years late is better than never, right?

What Dreams Are Made of (Part 1) is available here. Next week, expect Part 2!


A Change of Perspective: Moving from First to Third Person

For well over half of my life now, I’ve been working on the same novel on and off. Each time I think it’s finished, I set it aside for a while, but when I come back to it, I find that there are still things missing. It still has room to grow and change and improve.

Recently, I’ve decided to hop back in again. This time, though, I’m playing with something new: a change in perspective.

Aside from the earliest draft (which looks virtually nothing like the current story), it’s always been in first person. I favored that perspective in my mid to late teens, so most things that I wrote then followed suit.

Lately, though, I’ve begun to wonder what would happen if I move to something new. What if I return this story to its original roots and try third person?

So far, it’s been an interesting experiment. I haven’t written much yet, but it’s a little mind-bending. I’m planning on keeping with a limited POV — focused on my former narrator — but seeing the story in words besides her own has been different. I’m not quite sure how I feel about it yet.

Perhaps, though, this is the fresh technique that will help the story reach the next level. And maybe this time it’ll actually be finished (though I wouldn’t count on that).

Have you ever started writing a story in one perspective before trying another one? Have you seen any benefits to it? Which perspective to you prefer when reading and/or writing?

2018 Goals

A belated merry Christmas and happy New Year, everyone!

Around this time every year, I reflect on the past year’s goals and set some new ones. Sometimes, I find that I’ve done a great job. The past two years, not so much.

2017 Goals

Finish a draft of the steampunk/fantasy/sci-fi novel
I started with a valiant attempt, but the novel still isn’t ready. Unlike most things I’ve written, it’s really comprised of 2-3 stories that come together to make one narrative. The main one — the one I started with — just can’t seem to find its footing. It needs more time to brew. And that’s okay.

Continue to blog at least weekly, but aim for three times a week
I haven’t done awful with this one, though I did change midyear to two posts a week. It seems like a more reasonable schedule with a baby on the way.

Read more books 
I’ve actually done well with this one, considering my previous track record. (It stinks to like books but not feel like you have time to read.) I think, in all, I’ve read 13.75 books. (I’m nearly to the end of Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson, which is 652 pages.) Last year, I started reading works by Inklings besides Tolkien and Lewis. So far, I’ve finished two: Robert Harvard and Dorothy Sayers. There are still plenty more to go. I’m hoping to read even more this year… though we’ll see how that goes.

So what about this year? That’s a good question. Since I’m close to a major life change, it’s hard to say what this year will look like, but there still are things I’d like to accomplish.

  • Continue to blog at least weekly, but aim for twice a week
    (Obviously, I might have to take a short, unscheduled hiatus when the baby comes.)
  • Continue to work on my writing projects at least once a week
    Regardless of what it is, I want to take some time to keep my writing skill sharp and enjoy my favorite hobby
  • Learn to find balance
    It’ll be interesting to see what my reflections are on this next year. Between teaching part time, writing, and being a new mother, life is going to be interesting. But I’m excited. We’ve been waiting for this for a long time, and I’m ready.

What are your goals for this year? How did you do on last year’s goals? Do you make goals at the beginning of the year or prefer to measure your progress another way?

Slow-Mo November

When I decided to focus this NaNoWriMo on my first novel, I determined to let the story take its course. No specific guidelines or word counts. Just an intentional focus on the story because life demands it.

What I didn’t expect was to reach the halfway point with only 444 words.

I’ve found, though, that this story isn’t in first draft mode, even though I’m trying new things. Words don’t gush onto the screen at a furious pace. Instead, each is meticulously chosen with the obsession that comes with later drafts. It’s like it wants to be as close to perfection as it can be the first time around, and it won’t let me move any faster. It really feels like writing in slow motion.

But that’s okay. The lacking word count doesn’t reflect the amount of thinking that’s gone into the story. It’s more like a butterfly carefully working its way out of the cocoon. Hopefully what emerges is far better than what I would have if I hurried through.

How are you writing projects going? Do you sometimes find that your writing seems to move in slow motion?


Today, NaNoWriMo’s writing prompt was a simple one: why I write. Even though I’m not planning on participating in NaNoWriMo this year, it seemed like the perfect topic for today’s post. 

Why do I write?

I write because I have to. Words flow through me, bidden or unbidden. Simple morning walks, people watching, the silence of waiting for students to finish a test — all transform into narration whispered in my mind.

I write to understand what I’m facing. When I’m afraid, struggling, unsure, my characters face those fears along with me, and we work through them together. Sometimes I invite the characters in so we can confide in one another. But many times, they come on their own, knowing when I need them the most. Together, we fight through and find the answers.

I write because I have something to say. My mouth doesn’t always know the right words, but they flow out of the pen effortlessly. It’s as natural as breathing. I don’t always know if they’re words that others need to see too, but they’re the words that I need to express.

I write because I love it. It makes me feel alive. It’s what I was born to do.

Why do you write?

That Fantasy Element My Novel Is Missing

Years ago, when I thought my first novel was about done (hahahaha!), I gave it to the boy who would eventually become my brother-in-law. He is an avid reader of fantasy, so he seemed like a natural beta reader choice. What I didn’t realize is that he would eventually change some of my thoughts on my novel — though the major piece didn’t click until a couple weeks ago.

I’ll never forget how confused I was when he returned my manuscript, said it was good, and suggested that I read some of Brandon Sanderson’s work. Or at least hear a little about his philosophy on fantasy. I though to myself that I had learned from Tolkien, the lord of the genre. Why would I look to anyone else?

That Christmas, he introduced me to Brandon Sanderson. After a few reluctant pages, I started to get into it and I started to understand what he was saying. But what I didn’t realize at the time — what I haven’t realized for a few years — is that I was missing one of the things that he was sweetly and subtly trying to tell me: I needed some work on the magic in my world.

If you had asked me before, I would have told you there isn’t really any magic in the novel. There’s a supernatural element, but it’s not really magic. What I hadn’t realized, though, is that that supernatural element had slowly transformed from something that didn’t really affect the plot to a major piece, especially in the climax.

In the process of growing, it had taken on a magical role in the story. Certainly not to the degree of the different things that happen in Brandon Sanderson’s works, but it was very different from where I started.

It didn’t hit me until I was reading something — I can’t remember what now — that discussed Sanderson’s Three Laws of Magic. (Read about those here.) For the first time, I realized that there is a type of magic flowing through my novel’s world, and I had basically used it like a deus ex machina in the climax. Finally, I get what my brother-in-law was trying to tell me all those years ago.

What does that mean for my novel? Well, instead of writing, there’s been a lot of thinking going on. It might mean some adjustments to my world’s history and structure, but I think the end product will be much better than what I have now. Maybe this is the final adjustment that my novel has been waiting for before it really is actually done.

Have you ever found yourself in the same place with writing advice? What’s the best advice you’ve gotten for writing in your genre?

How to Make Me Hate a Book in Five Words or Less

Even though my husband and I are adults, we still enjoy bedtime stories. Usually, he picks the book and I read it aloud… though this was the sneaky way that I finally introduced him to The Lord of the Rings in its original form.

Over the years, we’ve read quite a few books. Right now, we’re working on the Myst series, which are all based on the video game world of the same name. He played the part puzzle, part exploration games when he was a kid, and he told me enough about the world while we were growing up that I was familiar with it too.

So far, we’ve finished the first book (The Book of Ti’Anna) and now we’re on to the second (The Book of Atrus). While they’re not the next classics, they have been fun.

That is, until a few nights ago.

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