In my short time as a writer, or wannabe writer anyway, there have been three game changing moments that have altered my fate as a keyboard pounding, blank page staring, why-can't-I-get-this-story-out-of-me writer. These moments have ironically all happened in the course of the last five or so months.
The first happened when I happened to leave PBS on after all the children's shows were over and found myself curled up on the couch listening to an interview between Charlie Rose and Joanne Rowling. It seems silly, because I'm not trying to write the next Harry Potter or anything -- that would be an impossible feat -- but what Ms. Rowling had to say left me completely riveted. She said something about how she never wrote for others. She just writes the story that is inside of her. That just begs to be set free. I'm sure she said it more eloquently than me, and in an English accent of course. Whatever it was she said, it was exactly what I needed to hear because I felt exactly the same way about my story and exactly the same way about my writing. Which is kind of a big deal. Afterwards, I found myself at my computer scouring the Internet for information on how she organized her world and her characters. I found this.
|JKR's clever, life-changing way of outlining.|
A fool-proof way to outline an entire book. A row for each scene/chapter, a column for the plot and each subplot. We're talkin' Major 'Aha' Moment over here.
Game-changer #2, Scrivener. A word processing program designed specifically for writers. Just trust me on this one folks. It's genius.
And finally, my current game-changer. Writing Irresistible Kidlit by Mary Kole. I've been following Mary Kole's blog for quite some time and spent a good portion of my Christmas reading her new book. I devoured it in less than three days, which is saying something since it pretty much reads like a textbook -- the perfect, all-inclusive, inside scoop, kiss the cover kind of textbook. I have been in a rut with my book since November. You read that right. November, folks. Mary Kole's book helped me refocus and really get my head in the game. I realized many of my weaknesses (the explanation on physical telling vs. interiority may have changed my life), but also felt proud of my strengths. I'm almost there. I can feel it. Almost. As in, almost to the point of revision when I'm sure I'll tear my hair out all over again. I have profound respect and gratitude for Ms. Kole for this work of pure genius. The inside scoop. The MFA in Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults in 279 short pages. That may be stretching it, but you get the idea.
Last night I found myself alone in my house full of sleeping children. My husband had stolen my laptop. I couldn't find the pen I needed to complete a drawing I'm working on. I couldn't fathom the thought of working on my book. There's so much work to do, it's painful. But I knew it's what I had to do. I picked up Ms. Kole's book and began on some exercises designed to add depth to my protagonist while at the same time strengthening my first ten pages. Since I knew a rewrite was in order for my first chapter anyway (again) I got to work. I stayed up until two in the morning. And then woke up at seven with an eager knot in my stomach, leading me straight to my notebook where I left off. I have a direction, a guide and a compass. Writing Irresistible Kidlit is my new best friend. And it is an absolute game-changer.