The Page a Day Writers Group

Posts Tagged ‘details

Wow! Here I am, rolling into week three of Kathie Giorgio’s 12-week Book-Writing Workshop (www.allwriters.org/on_line_classes.asp#BOOK-WRITING WORKSHOP).

The class has lit a fire under my chair to polish my weekly submission allotment of 15 pages, which we discuss and critique in an online chat each Monday night. No class tonight, due to Memorial Day.

At my last blog post, my big task after my first 15-page section was to solidify point-of-view (POV). I honed and reworked my second section. I re-read each sentence, pondering, am I walking in Agave’s shoes? (Agave is my main character.) Not just observing her walking in the shoes, but actually walking in them? Can I feel each step? Okay- not in a psychotic way. But you know what I mean! I can truly say I immersed myself in each page. The cliché “blood, sweat, and tears…” Yup! That was me. And if you had read my second section, you’d know I’m not kidding. Blood. Check! Tears. Check! Sweat. Mmmhmm!

So, I eagerly awaited the chat last Monday, perhaps even more nervous than I’d been the first Monday. I am wearing a very cheesy grin now when I tell you, according to Ms. Giorgio, I nailed POV! She didn’t have to take out her POV paddle once! Woo hoo!

But, do you hear that pop? That’s the sound of a momentarily inflated ego popping. I somehow neglected to illuminate the reader with a couple of entire scenes, crucial to the plot. Other scenes need to be filled in with more detail. Still other scenes were confusing in spots.

My ego, though, has matured. After it pops, I patch it and it re-inflates, determined, even if a bit nervous. I’ve also become skilled in chucking my harsh superego out the window during the writing process itself. This allows me to be wobbly, awkward, and very rough in my first drafts. Such freedom! I have faith in the revision process, a faith strengthened by the experience of this class.

I submitted my third section today. This time I rewrote my pages in first-person, as an exercise in POV. I’m not sure I would want to write the entire novel this way, but I would consider it. I look forward to class next Monday.

Write on,

Ondine Brooks Kuraoka

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Lynn Vincent, one of the most sought-after ghost writers in the U.S., cracks the whip with her clients and reaps the rewards. Since 2006, she has co-written nine memoirs, two of which are currently listed as New York Times best-sellers. Her latest, a co-authored memoir with Abby Sunderland (relating Sunderland’s attempt to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world) will be released April 12th.

In a San Diego Union-Tribune article yesterday, 4/3/11, Vincent shared the details of her process. Foremost was her relentless pursuit of details. She meets a co-author three or four times in person, and continues the interview process by phone up to three times a week. She probes for feelings and plumbs the depths of meaning in each topic they explore. She coaxes, pushes and pulls, drawing her clients out, sometimes ad nauseum, according to her clients. But the details are what make it possible for Vincent to weave spell-binding text. So she peels away with determination, through the discomfort and tears (I can’t resist alluding to the onion metaphor).

As a veteran of hundreds of in-person and phone interviews in my freelance work, I considered the effort and time Vincent expends in her ongoing quest for details. She earns every penny. I applaud her success and commend her example that bylines aren’t necessary as a definition of success in the
world of writing.

Read the San Diego Union-Tribune article here: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/apr/02/lynn-vincent-most-successful-writer-youve-never-he/

Write on,

Ondine Brooks Kuraoka

www.sandiegofreelancewriter.com

My husband and I have been enjoying the series Foyle’s War. Set in Britain during WWII, it’s an engaging, suspenseful, and thought-provoking drama revolving around the primary character, Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle. We recently listened to an interview with the series writer and creator, Anthony Horowitz, who shared his insights into his writing process. Horowitz also adapted Caroline Graham’s novels for another series we love, Midsomer Murders.

Horowitz, who reads widely as background research for WWII context, weaves real events into every episode. He explained that the details of daily life which he gleans from his research give him enormous pleasure. His enthusiasm in sleuthing details was contagious; it motivated me to get busy unearthing more details for use in my work-in-progress. When watching the episodes, these bits and bobs of life add flavor and a palpable sense of “being there” to the story.

I also found Horowitz’s thoughts on plotting Foyle’s War useful. He visualizes the plot as a bull’s-eye with concentric rings. He starts with the date and primary historical event of the episode. The first series starts with the fall of Norway in May of 1940. He then focuses on the core of the episode- who’s murdered and why, and who’s the murderer. So, the bull’s-eye is the murder and the outer ring is the larger context, the world in which the murder is set. Horowitz then works on filling in the rings with satisfying details.

“Every story we tell is based on truth, possibly excepting the murders themselves,” Horowitz says. “I always think of the murders as being the engine of the script- the reason for it but not the heart of it.”

I’m not a big history buff, but I can’t get enough of this series. Horowitz brings this era alive with characters that evolve in ways that continue to surprise. He sees his four leads as rays of light in the darkness of the WWII era. Of course, it helps that the series is superbly cast, including the fabulous Michael Kitchen as Foyle. But even the best actors can’t do much without a solid script to support them. Horowitz crafts one memorable scene after another, like a dependable book of matches sparking a flame every time. Plotlines merge seamlessly as characters grapple with moral questions without ever turning into clichés.  

Hats off to you, Anthony Horowitz!

For more on Foyle’s War: www.foyleswar.com

Happy Writing,

Ondine Brooks Kuraoka


Who are we?

The Page a Day Writers Group is a diverse collection of wonderful writers based in San Diego, CA. We've been meeting monthly since 2004. Our primary function is in-depth writing critique, marketing and brainstorming, but there's usually some wine, chocolate and ribaldry involved too. We write fantasy, humor, literary fiction, nonfiction, romance, thrillers and YA. Join us on our journeys to publication and the wonderland beyond!

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