Thursday, April 28, 2011

Think, think, think.

It's video time again! In this episode I talk about...well I don't want to spoil it for you, go ahead and see for yourself.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Twist I Didn't See

This has been such a fantastic week for me. I got the website out there with some wonderful response to the video, I passed the 50,000 word mark in my book, and I surprised myself by writing two chapters I had no plans of putting into the book.

I've read that there are two types of authors, the first likes to let the book unfold as they write. This type of author does not want to be confined to outlines and wants to just dive in and allow the current of the story to push them out to the finish. The second type of author spends time planning out the details of the story, what will happen and when it will happen. There are no surprises for this author, they know where it is they are going and have a clear road map on how to get there.

I have always believed that I fall squarely in the ranks of the second type of authors. With my short stories I know all the details before I begin, and certainly the screenplays I have written are clearly planned out down to the angle of the camera in each shot.

So you can imagine my surprise, even utter shock to discover that I had not properly planned out every part of my book. I have been laboring to finish this chapter that would place my antagonist firmly on the path of hunting down my protagonist and I couldn't do it. It was like pulling teeth. I was slogging through this chapter having to pull each word from the grimy depths. In short it wasn't working at all. And so I sat thinking about the characters, the nature of their backgrounds and the impossibility of the chapter I was writing. I could not suspend my own belief in the situation that I had planned that would allow these events to conspire. To make it work I had to do something different.  I suppose that the article I was reading may have neglected to mention that in fact a third type of author exists, a hybrid between the two. So instead of writing up new scene cards and redrafting a new outline I just began to write.

I took my two FBI agents, Steven Howards and Doug Martin and dropped them into the building of the character that was the weak link in connecting them to their prey and let them run wild. They unfortunately didn't have much luck breaking Joe Suthers (the security contractor who's business deals in intelligence and the occasional assassination) so they took another approach which lead them out into the slums of Los Angeles. Here Howards introduced Doug to a real scum bag that had the ability to give them the key to get the dirt on Joe Suthers and lead them on to their target.

These chapters simply fell from my pen. The flow was fantastic the character development was amazing. I was discovering possibilities that I had never imagined and it felt fantastic.

This trip into the unknown was very rewarding but it doesn't mean that I threw out my outline. In fact I've gone back to it included these two new chapters and made some adjustments to some future chapters as well. I think if you've always only written using one of these methods you ought to try out the other; you may find like I did that it can be a real treat.
In the end what matters most is that you are writing, sharing your ideas, creating on paper what has always been trapped in your mind.

So here are two exercises to try out:
  • If you are a classic planning style author ask what if? Take your characters and place them in a one line what if scenario and just write. No other planning allowed.
  • If you are a classic free writing author sit down and write an outline. If you can't write it out chapter by chapter at least write down a synopsis of all the major events that happen from the beginning to the end.
Drop me an email or post a response here sharing how it went for you.

This next week I'll be pushing my characters onto the same road where they'll be running and dodging each other while trying to find out the answers to the secrets. I'll also be posting a new video and sharing what's going on Write Now with me. So I hope to see you back here soon!

Friday, April 22, 2011

My new book revealed

Okay this is the moment you've all been waiting for. I sat down today and shot a short video describing everything in my new book, and let me tell you I do mean everything.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Antagonist Within

I am currently working on my first full length novel and for the most part I find it to be a real joy. I get excited knowing that when I finish my day job I'll come home and will be able to start working on something that I want to do for me. However there are times when I arrive to my little room after a long day of work that the antagonist inside of me places several obstacles in my path that some days I overcome and other days defeat me. Now the antagonist inside of me is not like the one in my book. No I don't have to battle wits with a psychopathic killer or solve mysteries, no it's much worse. I have to battle the desires that the antagonist within me places in my mind, and believe me there are times it is difficult to beat his logic. He might suggest sitting down on my bed. I agree, Certainly a few moments of rest would do me good before I write. Then he might suggest that some television would help me to unwind. That sounds reasonable I respond. And then to finish me off he suggests enjoying a few cookies. Capital idea! Before I know it I have sat through two hours of television and I realize I've been bested again! As you can see the antagonist inside of me is much more deadly than anything I can dream up and put on paper because the antagonist inside of me is stopping me from what I want to achieve.

Thankfully when this happens I get up a little earlier the next day and spend the extra time making up for the writing I should have done the night before. Five years ago there is no way that I would have been able to recover that quickly. Back then I would have used my failure as an excuse to fail again and again until the negativity I was creating might have stopped me all together from achieving my goals. Today I'm happy to report that I achieve the goals I set in place for myself and I do it because they are important enough to me, and I know that a setback is something to move past quickly and I can still continue to achieve my goal.

What I have learned for myself is what I do first is the most important thing. So I may say Writing is the most important thing in my life, but if I get home and sit in front of the television for two hours then my actions are not fulfilling my desire. It takes conscious effort to sit in the chair and do the writing first and then when I'm done I can play or relax. If I try to do it the other way it falls apart and never works.

One of the clear ways that I have found to complete my writing is to set goals. I set goals for myself that are clearly written, that have a time and date to be completed and contain a reward. For instance this week my goal is to break the 50,000 word mark in my novel. When I set this I had just over 40,000 words complete, so I needed to accomplish 10,000 words in seven days. This goal was simple to put down on paper with a clear completion time and reward. I would write a minimum of 1,500 words per day (which for me is less than half a scene). The reward is a slice of pecan pie with a scoop of ice cream. Having the reward is important because it gives me two things to shoot for, in this case: 
1.     Finish 50,000 words (a real accomplishment for my work)
2.     Get to eat pecan pie (a real treat for my taste buds)

So here is how I learned to beat the antagonist within (at least most of the time) 
  • Set goals and write them down with clear dates and times to work on and accomplish the goal.
  • Do the important stuff first. First in the morning, first when you get home. If it's important it needs to come first.
  • Set rewards for accomplishing goals and don't give the reward until the goal is accomplished.
  • Understand that you will not always accomplish what you want every day. Accept it, move on and continue to accomplish the goal.

Stay tuned as I'll be laying out the basis for my book in an upcoming video blog.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

About Me

Well I don't think that I'm at the point where I can write about myself in the third person, I tried it and it sounded a bit pretentious. I believe that you've come to this site out of curiosity. In order for you to stay here a little longer, return her in the future and tell all of your friends about it I need to sell you on the fact that who I am is relevant to your time.

When I turned thirty I'm not sure I could have said anything relevant enough, I was in a place where I had no ambition and really didn't care for who I was. It wasn't always like that. I have wanted to be an author since I was a teenager and even had a few articles and short stories published early on. When I turned seventeen I was living in West Yellowstone, Montana and writing a short story about the Civil War which I knew nothing about. One of my oldest friends read what I had so far and kindly told me the old adage: write what you know. To be honest it hurt a lot at the time but the more I thought about it the more I realized I didn't know much of anything, so I set out over the next few years on a western states adventure, which took me to Montana, Wyoming, Oregon, California and Hawaii. In all these places I was meeting people and gaining real life experience so I could have something to write about.

Eventually I returned to Idaho and attended college and life began to happen with a storm of bills, job changes and family loss and gain. In the end I had a lot more experience and emotion than I had ever wanted to hold inside, but the dream of being an author was so far away from me. The final event that woke me up was the hammer of thirty years striking down on me and I decided that I wanted to be better.

It took a little over a year to set my family affairs in order so I could do it, but I eventually joined the army. I wanted to push myself further than I had ever done so before and gain even more experience to work into my writing. Some guys joked with me in Basic Training that I had a midlife crises and should have bought the car, but I don't regret the choice at all. My journey has now taken me through five countries, introduced me to people that participate in the world of political politics, and has placed me in the center of the most civilian unrest the Middle East has ever seen. I know that it has given me the ability to see inside myself and know that I can succeed at anything I put my effort into.

That is who I am, a man who understands how to succeed no matter what the obstacles are. What you will find when you visit my site is what is going on now in my writing, tools that you can use to improve your writing, and most importantly some encouragement that you too can get what you want out of life.