Writer for Hire

June 29, 2016writing

Tomorrow marks two months since I moved from the woods in the Adirondacks to the little city in Vermont. Although it has been only 60 days, I feel like I’ve lived here for a long time. In other words, that’s how at home I feel in Brattleboro. There’s a bit of everything to keep me occupied from art galleries, bookstores, coffee shops to all the services I need in case of mechanical or medical emergencies.

Now that I am 100 percent settled in my pretty big abode, it’s time to start knocking on some doors for work. Yes, that’s right, I need more work.

I’m a firm believer in asking the Universe for help. When Greg died, the Universe came to my rescue via various ways: the generosity of friends, more work that came through the pipeline, social services that allowed me some respite in the house’s upkeep and a childhood connection that led me to Brattleboro.

I am grateful and humbled. The outpouring of love from friends and family has changed me. I am less critical. I keep the snark in check and I thank the Universe on a daily basis for its help.

But I need help again and that’s finding more writing gigs. I am asking the Universe to give me the strength to become a skilled networker. I’m not very good at it. Most of the time, I feel my persistence is annoying and I back off. I’ve come to the realization, though, that if I don’t ask for work or help, I won’t get any. That’s why I am pinning to my shirt a virtual Writer for Hire sign.  Do you need web copy for your company? I can write it. Do you need a pitch letter or a press release? I can write it. Need content for client blogs? I can write it.

If you have an opportunity and need help, please feel free to get in touch with me. I can provide a resume, numerous writing samples, and we can discuss rates.

And now…back to work.

Writing The Breakout Novel, Chapter 1: Adding Heroic Qualities

August 20, 2015writing

 

In addition to working through the exercises in Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook, I’m re-reading the sections in the book that relate to the assignments.

The current objective is to create characters that are larger-than-life. Chapter 1 of Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook starts off in a seemingly easy manner. Name a personal hero. Well, that’s simple. If you’re a reader of this blog, you know how much I admire Alvah Bessie. If you’re new and are following this latest folly and don’t know who he is, you can read about him here.

I mentioned three of Alvah’s heroic qualities:

“What speaks to me about Alvah was his persistence to keep true to his radical idealism, his loyalty to the Marxist cause, and to his comrades. He fought Franco’s Nationalists in Spain as a volunteer of the Abraham Lincoln Battalion. Later, he stood up to HUAC, refusing to name names that ultimately led to dire consequences: Contempt of Congress and incarceration at the Texarkana Federal Penitentiary.  In spite of the hardships of the blacklist, and his struggles to find work, he continued to write non-stop. Alvah believed in fighting with the pen for what was just and telling the hard truth about our political leaders and government. ”

So—my protagonist, Corinne Sand, is loyal to her cause and fellow travelers, and persistent in getting her message out. That’s all very nice, but none of these qualities shows when she makes her first appearance.

I’m waffling a bit because it’s all shown indirectly—told by other characters in the story. The challenge is to show some of these qualities when she first appears. Serendipitously, this happens to be a chapter that needs an overhaul (again).

After thinking some ideas through, and with my notes in hand, I have a better notion of how I can work in these qualities and change the pace of the story.

Lastly, Maass asks, prior to the climactic scene, to find six points, in a small way, in which the protagonist can demonstrate heroic qualities. Thankfully, most of the action occurs in the latter middle part of Part 2 and in Part 3 where I can pinpoint them.

Lessons learned:

  • Think larger-than-life character.
  • Introduce traits early on in the story.
  • Show readers why they should like and admire this character.

Sticking With It

August 13, 2015writing

In late June, I rejoined the Internet Writing Workshop’s Novel List to have part one of Julius critiqued. So far, I’ve submitted eight chapters, and the comments have been positive.

Sometimes I get questions about the story that seem obvious to me. My first impression is the reader missed the point—because it’s right there in black and white—but I promised myself to not get frustrated and not allow ego get in the way.

For example, yesterday I received a critique peppered with questions from a reader. This crit was a bit harsh, and I felt she didn’t get it. I realized later on—in spite of what I thought was to the point writing—it wasn’t clear to the reader. So it’s time to rework it again and again until I get it right, and my reader can say to me “Aha, now I get what you’re conveying here.”

While I submit my work, I’m also reading books on the craft of writing. I’m being choosy with what I have in my vast collection, but I decided to tackle Donald Maass’s The Breakout Novel Workbook because I see some of the problems I keep running into in Julius.

I should mention I have a love-hate relationship with many of these books. There are moments I think, “Eureka! A breakthrough” only to discover I’m still missing a crucial element within the story.

I admit I get frustrated with much of what I read in many of these books. I end up writing it my way, but I also know if I want to finish this story I should make an effort to become proficient in the art of story-telling.

In some ways, it’s back to school. Instead of rushing through the exercises—as I have a tendency to do—I plan to take my time and make Julius as solid as possible.

For those of you interested in the process and who haven’t read  Don’s book, Writing the Breakout Novel, give it a looksy. In the meantime,  I’ll report on my progress. Maybe you can learn with me while I stumble around.