Tag Archives: Story Structure

Making Changes

Hello, everyone!

I’m sorry I haven’t posted my monthly journal series since September, and so sorry that I haven’t let you know why, until today.  

When I planned my monthly journal series, I had no idea we were going to build a new pottery workshop. When I started my monthly journal series in January of 2018, I still had no idea. Then I got my miracle on January 15, 2018. I will never forget that day, not ever!

We started construction on my workshop the last week of February of 2018 (I really shouldn’t say we, I didn’t do any of the work, my husband did) So, I thought I could continue doing my monthly journal series and I did, until it got to be too much for me. Once my husband was done with most of the work, it was my turn to work in my workshop. I had to unpack a bazillion boxes, twenty-eight years worth of pottery stuff, inventory and equipment. OMG…there were so many boxes. Sometimes, it was overwhelming. I started unpacking my workshop around August 28th I think. There were times when I over did it, and ended up paying for it. That’s because I live with chronic pain and several autoimmune diseases. I have Fibromyalgia, Arthritis ( I either have Rheumatoid Arthritis like my grandmother or Psoriatic Arthritis like my father, without the Psoriasis. My dad had both) I don’t want to get tested, because I am not taking those meds. Have you heard about the side affects? Yeah, not doing it! I also have a herniated disc in my back, between L3 & L4. So, basically, I take two or three steps forward, then one of two steps back. When I over do it or have lots of stress, it’s four or five steps back. That’s when I have to stop and rest for a while. I’m always doing this dance that I don’t want to do and it drives me nuts sometimes! I have so much to do, and my body just won’t let me do what I want to do.

I seriously wish I had a time machine, so I could go back to October 25, 2000 and tell myself not to go to the Chiropractor on October 26, 2000. That day, my life changed forever, because the Chiropractor herniated my disc, and shortly after that I developed Fibromyalgia. My life is broken up into before October 26, 2000 when I had a normal life and after October 26, 2000.

So, by the middle of September I realized that unpacking and organizing my workshop, plotting my book series and doing a monthly journal was too much for me. So, I stopped posting my monthly journal. I also stopped plotting for a few months, and just focused on my workshop and my new pottery designs. Then it was the Holidays, and I found out that shopping at the last minute is not good for Fibromyalgia!!! I’ve been going into Fibro flare-ups over and over again for the last seven months.

There are times when I feel lost, and stranded on a rock with miles and miles of ocean in front of me, with no way of getting to where I want to go. 

It’s been a difficult year and a few months for me. So busy, so much stress, so much work! But my workshop is getting there. I still have a few things to organize before I can start working with clay again. I can’t wait!

After taking some time off from plotting, I realized that The Snowflake Method was just not working for me. I’m back to plotting and I think I found just what I need.  I’m reading Save The Cat Writes A Novel by Jessica Brody and it’s helping me. Every time I read a few pages I get ideas, things are starting to fall into place, something magical is happening. Over the weekend I wrote a new beginning for chapter one and I really like it. I’ll just place it right before, my original chapter one beginning. My first plot point needed to be pushed back a little. So, now my book opens in Maine, a week or two earlier than it originally opened.

I found a life boat!

So, I’m no longer going to be doing a monthly journal. I just want to focus on plotting my book series and not putting any pressure on myself. I need to find a healthy balance of working with clay during the day (once my workshop is finished), writing at night, and getting enough sleep. And most of all, not over doing it! I also want to start on my character name blog series. That won’t be a monthly thing though. I’ll just post when I can. I just have to keep reminding myself to take baby steps…I’m not wonder woman anymore.

I’ll let you know how things are going with Save The Cat Writes A Novel

Thanks for stopping by!

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Monthly Journal – May 2018 part two

Hello, everyone!

Welcome to my blog series, Monthly Journal. This month, I’m right on time…Yay! I can’t believe it’s the end of the month already. This is part two of this months blog series. Here is part one…

https://melindamariealexander.com/2018/05/31/monthly-journal-may-2018-part-one/

A few years ago, I started making inspiration boards for my story. I loved making them, they were very motivating while I was making them, but they would just end up in a photo file on my PC, on my blog, and in albums on Facebook. I certainly didn’t look at them everyday, so I stopped making them. I decided it was a waste of time. They are pretty though!

This month, I had an idea! I thought about making a vision board for my office, so I could see it everyday. Why didn’t I do this in the first place? I found a couple of 16 x 20 stretched canvas boards in the garage, that I never used. Years ago, I thought about doing some painting, but I never tried it. So, I grabbed the canvas, brought them inside the house, and started looking for copyright free photos on pixabay.com and pexels.com. I saved the pictures I found to a file on my PC, printed them out, and cut them up like I’d cut paper dolls when I was a kid. I arranged the photos the way I wanted it to look, and then I took a photo of it with my phone, so I could glue it on right. One section has been redacted…it’s for my eyes only.

After taking this photo, I removed all of the pictures and then started gluing the photos to my canvas board with Mod Podge Waterbased Sealer, Glue and Finish (Matte Finish)

It’s almost done, I only have one more thing to add, but it’s for my eyes only…sorry! As you can see, this one is slightly different then the first photo…before I glued everything down. I tweaked it, there was too much going on. I like it! What do you think?

On May 16th, things changed and the rest of the month went downhill. I went to see my doctor, because I wasn’t feeling well. I had a sinus infection, and was put on a high dose broad spectrum antibiotics. It was the strongest I’ve ever had, and I’ve had sinus infections ever since I was 18. The strong antibiotics wiped me out, I had to rest. So, I didn’t do any plotting. It’s May 31st and I still don’t feel well. I hope the antibiotics worked, because I don’t want another round of that…that’s for sure!

My goal for June, is to get to step three, and I can’t wait!!!

June, please be good to me!

Thanks for stopping by, see you soon!

If you haven’t seen all of the Monthly Journal blog posts, I’ve made it easy for you. Just click on Monthly Journal at the top of my blog, there’s a link to each blog post.

P.S. I think I might try plotting and writing next month. The writing will get me back inside my story, and the plotting will give me a road map. I’ll let you know how it works out.

Monthly Journal – May 2018 part one

Hello, everyone!

Welcome to my blog series, Monthly Journal. This month, I’m right on time…Yay! I can’t believe it’s the end of the month already. If you haven’t been following my blog series, and you’re seeing this for the first time, this is why I started my series.

I decided to do this blog series, for several reasons. I want to let you know what I’m doing every month…to be accountable. I also want you to know how…plotting my book series is going. It’s going slow…really slow. Plotting is not easy for me. I feel like a square peg being shoved into a round hole. To be honest, I’m struggling with it. I’m a plotser…not a plotter, or a pantser, and I’m definitely not a planner. At this point, I’m not sure I’ll ever be a plotter or a planner. A few of my friends and my husband, have told me to stop plotting, and just keep writing. I was so tempted to do just that, to give up on plotting and just write. But then, my stubborn side kicked in, and it wouldn’t let me. I really want to do this! I want to become a plotter. I want to write faster. I want to be organized. I want to finish my book! I’m a linear, slow writer, and I edit as I write. I know, I’m not suppose to do that, but I do. I can’t help it! If only I could write as fast as I come up with story ideas. That would be amazing! There’s so many story ideas floating round inside my head right now, I need to get them out, I need to make some room in there.

It’s getting a little crowed!

When I get stuck, and I don’t know where I’m going…I tend to stop writing. When I feel pressured about plotting, I step away from it. I feel like I’m going around and around in a vicious circle. I don’t know if I should go up, if I should go down. I feel like I’m never getting anywhere, and I don’t know how to get out!

I usually take a few notes, then start writing, and somehow those notes seem to get lost in the piles and piles of notes I have. So, I’m working on getting organized. I write like I’m driving down a dark, and twisted road, in the rain. I can only see what my headlights show me, and sometimes my headlights go out, that’s when I can’t see anything at all.

The further down the road I go, the more I see…as long as my lights are still on.

When I got to the middle of my first book…I stopped writing. I realized that I didn’t like not knowing where I was going. That’s when I knew my husband was right. Crap!!! He bugged me about outlining all the time, and of course, me being an ENFP, Scorpio girl…I didn’t listen.

Lacy, my main character, has been stuck in the library for more months than I’d like to admit too. I know the next few scenes, I just haven’t written them down yet. They’re trapped in my head somewhere. When I was writing the library scene, I found out that publishers want the first book finished, and an outline of all the other books in the series. I’m not really sure if this is true, but it derailed me. It derailed me, because I haven’t nailed down my ending yet, and finding out that I have to outline all the other books has overwhelmed me. I’ve tried so many different ways to plot, nothing has worked…so far. Right now, I’m doing the Snowflake Method, and if this one doesn’t work, I have a backup plan. Harmon’s Plot Embryo.

Fingers crossed that this one works!

Another reason why I’m doing this blog series, is to hopefully help someone else, who might be going through the same problem with plotting a book series.

Why didn’t I just write a standalone book first?

Writing a book series is difficult!!!

Another reason why I’m doing this blog series, is to help me get more organized, to help me keep track of what I’m doing, how long it’s taking, what’s working, what’s not working.

Last month, I posted about being in Step two of the

Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson

https://melindamariealexander.com/2018/05/03/monthly-journal-april-2018/

Step two is to write a one-paragraph summary with five sentences. 1) Explain the setting and introduce the lead characters 2) Explain the first quarter of the book, up to the first disaster, where the hero commits to the story. So far…so good, I did this part and then I froze. 3) Explain the second disaster, where the hero changes her/his mode of operations. 4) Explain the third quarter of the book, up to the third disaster. which forces the hero to commit to the ending.

I’m still in step two, but I’m happy to say that on May 4th, I found #3. I found my second disaster. I’ve actually had it all along. I just wasn’t sure about it. Wasn’t sure if it was strong enough, powerful enough. My ending has been getting clearer also.

I can move forward in my story now.

I think I just might see the end of the tunnel!

This blog post is getting long, so I’m dividing it up into two blog posts…part one and part two. If you haven’t seen all of the Monthly Journal blog posts, I’ve made it easy for you. Just click on Monthly Journal at the top of my blog, there’s a link to each blog post.

Here’s part two!

https://melindamariealexander.com/2018/05/31/monthly-journal-may-2018-part-two/

Monthly Journal – April 2018

Hello, everyone!

Holy Moly…I’m late again

Blogging once a month is a lot harder than I thought it would be. It’s the second month in a row, that I’ve been late with my blog post. I should have posted this on April 30th. I’m not very good with time management. I’ll try and do better this month. As I type this…I keep hearing my mother say, “Melinda, time waits for no one!” I would always say, “It waits for me,” as I would continue to go at my own speed. I think, she said that to me every single day, as I was getting ready for school. Looks like, not much has changed since then. Mom, was right…time doesn’t wait for me, but I wish it did. I seriously wish I could control time, or better yet…

I wish I had a time machine.

I hate to admit it, but I didn’t write anything down in my journal…for the whole month of April. It’s completely blank, just like this photo. I’m really not sure why, I didn’t write anything down? The month just flew by. That’s been happening a lot lately.

In all fairness, I started behind the eight ball in April, because my March blog post was late. For some reason, I had no desire, or ambition to write or plot or do anything where writing was concerned. I know I’m suppose to write everyday, but sometimes, I just don’t want to. I really need to work on that. I think there was a reason for it though.

Step two in the Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson…

is to write a one-paragraph summary with five sentences.

1) Explain the setting and introduce the lead characters

2) Explain the first quarter of the book, up to the first disaster, where the hero commits to the story. So far…so good, I did this part and then I froze.

3) Explain the second disaster, where the hero changes her/his mode of operations.

I’ve been stuck in the middle for so long, I’m not sure where I’m going? Writing and plotting is so far out of my comfort zone. Sometimes, I feel so unsure of myself. I never feel like this with pottery, or photography or anything else in my life. Why does writing and plotting do this to me? I don’t really know the answer to that question. I do know a couple of things…I don’t like to plot, I’ve never been a planner or a plotter, and I don’t like not knowing where I’m going, only when it pertains to writing. I’ve been going on joy rides (that’s what my Dad would call them) ever since I can remember. We’d get in the car, and my Dad would just drive. We never knew where we would end up. The same thing happened after I got married, my husband likes to go for rides. We’d get in the car almost every weekend, and just drive. It never bothered me, that I didn’t know where we were going, or where we’d end up. So, why does this bother me?

When I’m stuck, I stop writing and sometimes, I even stop working on my book entirely. I tell myself, I need some time away from my story, so I can come back with fresh eyes. Sometimes that actually works, but sometimes it doesn’t

So, how do I fix this?

I’ve read so many books on plotting, story structure…you name it, I’ve read it. The more I read, the more confused I get. I’ve been unsure about my second plot point for a while now, not sure if it’s good enough, powerful enough. Sometimes brainstorming, or just talking to someone about it helps. I asked my husband about it a few days ago, and he reassured me that it was a good plot point. So, I think I can move on now…phew!!!

4) Explain the third quarter of the book, up to the third disaster. which forces the hero to commit to the ending.

OMG…I’m stuck again! I don’t know this part. It’s so hazy, so foggy…just out of my reach. I think step two in the Snowflake Method is going to take me a while.

5) Explain the fourth quarter of the book where the hero has the final confrontation and either wins or loses or both.

Crap! I don’t know this part either. I’m lost in the woods somewhere.

Someone, please come find me!

I do know one thing though, my hero is going to win.

Yikes!!! I have a lot of work to do, and I can’t let it scare me. I have to push through this step, even though I don’t want to, because I can’t wait to get to step three…Write a Summary Sheet for Each character.

That is going to be so much fun! I love working on my characters. I really wish I could skip step two, but I can’t, because it’s exactly what I need help with, what I need to work on. If I can figure out the second half of the book…I can finish it.

Wish me luck, because I’m going to need it!

In other news, I found some really cool copyright free photos the other day, on pixabay.com that I can use for inspiration for my book series.

Love these!

Well, I hope this month will be my breakthrough month. The month that I finally know where I’m going, so I can finish book one and move on to book two.

May, please be good to me!

Thanks for stopping by, see you soon!

 

 

 

It’s all a blur…

Where has the time gone?

I blinked, and six months flew by.

Wasn’t it July 4th, just the other day?

It’s all a blur, at least that’s what it feels like to me.

I’ve never been good with time.

Ever since I can remember, my mother would say, “Melinda, time waits for no one.” she was always in a rush. I’d say, “It waits for me,” I don’t like to be rushed. When someone rushes me, I move slower. Maybe it’s a Scorpio thing, or an ENFP thing…I don’t know?

Right now, I feel lost. I’m in the woods, and I have no idea where I’m going.

I’ve been a little overwhelmed with plotting my book series ( I’m not a plotter or a pantser ) so, it’s not so easy for me. I feel like I’m forcing a square peg into a round hole. I’m working on a series bible, because even though I’m not a plotter, I need to know where I’m going. When I don’t know where I’m going, I tend to stop writing…which is not a good thing. So, I’m working on getting organized. I thought plotting and getting organized was going to help, but I feel more confused than ever. It’s like when you first start cleaning, you end up making even more of a mess than you started with, but after lots of work it’s clean. I’m still at the…I made more of a mess than I started with stage. Which is why I’m overwhelmed.

I need to find my way out of this mess! Where’s the end of the tunnel?

I don’t know how I’m getting out of this mess? I haven’t found the end of the tunnel yet. I know one thing, every time I look at the overall plot…the big picture. I get overwhelmed and when I get overwhelmed, it stresses me out. So, the other day I decided I was just going to focus on one step at a time.

And focus on one thing at a time.

Since I started thinking about plotting the other books in the series, I’ve made a few changes to the first book. Some characters have had name changes, because I stole their name for someone else, and some have had name changes because the name they had, just wasn’t working. My characters tend to not talk to me, if they don’t like their name. I’ve come up with several new characters (some very important ones) that I have to insert into the first book which is half way done. But, before I do that, I have to flesh them out first. I have so much to do…right now I feel like I’m in a fog.

About six months ago I found out that publishers want the first book completely finished, and an outline of all the other books in the series.

What?

For some reason I thought I could do one book at a time, I don’t know why I thought that? Then I heard that publishers wanted the first book and a synopsis of the other books. Then I found out from a published author, that they want an outline of all the other books.

That’s a whole different ballgame.

When I first started writing Raven Hill, I had no idea what I was doing, or what I was getting myself into. I was and still am a potter, an artist. I didn’t know how to write a novel, as a matter of fact, English was my least favorite subject. I liked Science, Biology, Psychology, History and Art…of course.

So, how and why did I start writing? Let’s just say…due to unforeseen circumstances, it sort of found me. I basically started at the very bottom. My early writing wasn’t very good, but with hard work, help from some awesome writing books and my husband (my editor), I’ve come a long way. When I started to write, I had no idea that my story would turn into a series. I planned on writing a standalone book, but the more I wrote, the more complex and complicated my story became. I had no other choice but to turn it into a book series.

Now I feel like I’m starting it all over again.

I really hope that once I master this plotting thing…the next book series will be easier. Please tell me it gets easier! Anyway, right now I’m getting to know my old characters again and getting to know my new characters. After that I’ll be spending a lot of time with my villains.

Yes, there is so much to do, but I’ll keep working…one step at a time, one scene at a time.