Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Downton Abbey series 3 press pack

The Downton Abbey press pack for series 3 is now out: Press pack. Interesting things are going to happen to our beloved estate and characters in 1920.

For those afraid of spoilers, the press pack doesn't necessarily spell everything out, exactly. There are new characters this season belowstairs as well.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

These are probably crazy girl hormones talking, but god, my novel is horrible. My prose is even worse. Who am I even kidding?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Tower of London

My characters take a trip to London in my novel and as one of the prime tourist attractions of London, even in 1801, there is a scene at the Tower of London.

For those who watched the Olympics in the last few weeks, the Tower was pretty much front and center whenever NBC showed the sites of London, along with Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, and the London Eye. Visual porn for Anglophiles.

The Tower of London--officially known as Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress--has become a symbol of its country. It was founded by William the Conqueror in 1066, when he had the old Roman city walls torn down along the River Thames to make room for the White Tower, a stone keep, in the center of the complex. Building the White Tower (which gained its name when it was whitewashed) was begun in 1078.

The Tower is an official royal residence of the monarch. It was also infamously used as a prison, especially in Tudor times. The Royal Mint was also within the Tower and of course, the Crown Jewels are kept there.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Troublesome Plot Line

I doubt that novel writing by polling ever actually works, but...


Okay. I'm revising. You know that. I had this storyline (which I expressed my doubts about here). Basically, the daughters of my protagonist: the older one is white. The younger one is half black. They have different mothers. Stir in a merchant father, the year 1800 and the English countryside and upper classes and you have my novel.

I had a plot thread that was winding around my novel, that the girls, who are quite young, were never told that they had different mothers--so they believe that they have the same mom. For some reason, in the draft, this plot became kind of important and the revelation to the older one that Mama isn't her Mama was going to be part of the almighty hard to reach climax.

The more I'm dealing with this plot, the more ridiculous and soap opera-like it feels.

BUT... the more I'm revising, angsting and hating this ridiculous book (and hacking, cutting and relooking at sources), another plot line has come to mind.

Choice B
When I found this resource, which has helped me immensely with how to place my characters within their sphere of society, there were numerous examples of illegitimate, mulatto children who were sent to England to be educated and to live; usually they were sent to boarding schools, sometimes they lived with their white relatives, other times they were apprenticed or became domestics.

Many of these children ran into legal trouble trying to gain their inheritances because they were illegitimate or because their relatives claimed the money or property for themselves.

I wondered whether Miles could be a trustee for a fellow merchant who had a half-black child and now, Miles has to work through legal issues to make sure the child gains his or her father's money. It would go along with the reasons why Miles wanted to move back to England, to which he and his family are still adjusting, and it would be a foil to how Mady is treated. It would highlight more about the era, too, I think.

On top of this, of course, there are Miles's daddy issues and his affair, which is revealed by the village social climber to all and sundry.

So, in summary:

Choice A or Choice B?

(And, indeed, Choice C or Choice D)

Write your choice in below.

Also, what kind of troublesome plot lines have come up in your stories?

Downton Abbey 3 clip

The Dowager Countess being oh-so-delicious again.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Little Fanfiction Interlude

As I'm slogging through revision--and debating whether to completely delete a particular storyline in favor of something a little less melodramatic--I got some creative renewal last week by going to see Once the musical on Broadway.

All of this means that my friend and I made up a mini-fanfic in the middle of Times Square on the way to the subway.

So here's part 1.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Plot & Climax

Remember when I wrote that I wasn't sure exactly what the climax of my story was because my first draft was crap and fell apart toward the end (as usual) and then I wondered about the plausibility of a particular story line anyway?

I am in the home stretch of this revision, so to speak (about 23, 000 words to go) and because the first draft falls apart at this stage, I've had to think harder about how to wrap it up and end it. I worry that the story threads are predictable, cheesy, feel unrelated to other aspects of the story or are just plain bad. 

But I've been most worried about the climax. It has to happen naturally. It can't seem forced. The rest of the story has to build to it then lead out of it. It's a big deal and I don't know that I've ever written an effective climactic scene. 

Book the First didn't really have a peak. The first incarnation of this book had a neat climax purely because it was a romance--obviously, the hero and heroine are in danger, but they also realize how much they mean to each other in those scenes. 

I read an article on Writer's Digest which has helped me decide how to approach this important portion of my novel. It's called 4 Ways to Improve Plot/Climax in Your Writing. And it's actually a helpful, clear article. 

The article says that the climax actually has four components: 

  1. The run-up to the climactic moment (last-minute maneuvering to put the pieces in their final positions)
  1. The main character’s moment of truth (the inner journey point toward which the whole story has been moving)
  1. The climactic moment itself (in which the hero directly affects the outcome)
  1. The immediate results of the climactic moment (the villain might be vanquished, but the roof is still collapsing). 

Reading this succinct article has actually helped me think of the components and identify which scenes correspond to which parts of the climax. What do you guys think? How did you learn how to plot? 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Post-Revision Outline

A few months ago, I read a post on Kristin Nelson's blog Pub Rants about her method of creating an editorial road map to highlight plot points for her clients.

I thought it sounded like a good idea. Writers divide themselves into outliners and pantsers--those who outline a little (or extensively) and those who go with the flow of whatever they are writing. I'm in the middle--I have a short, vague outline or a couple of paragraphs with the premise. Sometimes, I have bullet points telling me what the major points are, even if it turns out not to be very helpful sometimes.

The last time I had a draft to revise--Last Request, I think--I forced it on some friends to read, I gathered their comments and questions and emails, printed out the entire thing and read two of Margie Lawson's packets. I scrawled all over the pages, highlighted in every conceivable color, and then found at the end that I had no idea how to fix the problems in that story.