tagged with: critique group

Well, we are down to the second-to-last letter. I never thought I would be able to get this far. It just shows what a little challenge plus determination can accomplish. I can’t wait to see what my fellow bloggers have come up with for the letter Y. For this post I decided to feature the blog of my friend and critique partner, Yvonne Anderson. Yvonne’s blog is called Ys Words, and as you will see from the entry below, she does give some Ys words on writing in particular and on life in general. Yvonne is the author of Story In The Stars, the first in a series of speculative fiction about life on the planet Gannah. In this entry, Yvonne’s main characters, Dassa – protagonist – and Pik, Dassa’s husband argue about who should be the protagonist. Let’s listen in:

Author: All right, then, ladies first. Dassa, why do you believe the term protagonist applies to you?

Dassa: Since the book opens with a scene in my point of view, it stands to reason that my character is the one upon whom the whole book hinges. Isn’t that some sort of a writing rule? That the protagonist is introduced first?

Author: I don’t know if it’s a rule, but—

Pik: There is no such rule. I’ve checked with a number of industry professionals, and they tell me—

Dassa: Industry professionals? Name one. Probably a guy who drives a forklift in the Book Bargains warehouse. No—more likely, some agent’s dermatologist.

Pik: Not true! I—

Author: We needn’t name names and draw innocents into this. But I’ve raised this question at conferences and such, and from what I’ve been told, there is no hard-and-fast rule. Generally speaking, the reader meets the protagonist first, but there are legitimate exceptions. So I’ll give a point to Dassa for this while conceding that her argument isn’t definitive. And now, let’s move on. Dr. Pik, why do you think you’re really the protagonist?

Pik: First, and most obviously, readers love me best. You said yourself, when you were submitting your chapters to critiquers for feedback, everyone commented on how much they loved my character. And if you hadn’t submitted anything for a while, it was me they asked about. “What’s Pik doing these days?” No one inquired about Dassa.

Author: Well, that’s true, but—

Pik: But more objectively, I think everyone here will agree that my character is the one that shows the most growth. Don’t several reviewers comment on the impressive character development in this book? Which character are they’re talking about? Certainly not Dassa, who remains a cold fish throughout the entire story. My character gives the story its depth and adds a lively humor. It’s my words in the last line that put a smile on the reader’s face as she closes the book with satisfaction. Dassa is merely the straight man, so to speak, around which my character revolves.

Author: “Cold fish” hardly describes Dassa. It’s true that she never gets carried away by her emotions, but she does clearly feel them. And her role is far more vital than that of a mere straight man. Nevertheless, you raise a good point about the character development. Your character shows amazing growth between his introduction in chapter 2 and that last line of the book that you mention.

So what do you have to say about this, Dassa? Pik seems to have scored two points to your one so far. Can you offer another reason why you should keep your protagonist status?

Dassa: Absolutely. It’s true that the doctor shows the most character growth, but plainly, the reason for that is because he had more growing to do. I may be younger than he, but I was more mature at the beginning of the book than he is by the end. No, don’t argue, Pik, it’s true and you know it. However, all that aside, I believe the biggest reason why I should remain the protag is because it’s my character who has the most to gain or lose. You had a life—a career, a family, and a future—before I came on the scene, and if I had never made an appearance, you’d have gone along your merry way without a care in the galaxy. I, on the other hand, lost everything. The story is more about my struggle than it is about your character growth. Clearly, that gives me every right and reason to be the protagonist.

Author: This is quite the dilemma. All your arguments are valid. I think we should put it to the vote. Readers? Who do you consider the protagonist of The Story in the Stars? I’m asking that question on my own blog today, too, so if you don’t mind, would you go to YsWords.com and cast your vote?

Intriguing, isn’t she? To learn more about Yvonne and her writing, you may visit her blog at www.YsWords.com.

Photo credit: clarita from morguefile.com

It’s been a while since I posted anything to this blog and I apologize for that. It’s not that I couldn’t think of anything to write. Far from it. It’s just that my day job has been keeping me super busy and other personal things have been happening and in times like these, sad to say, my blogging is sacrificed. However, thanks to my critique group, Sharpened Pencils, I have been critiquing some posts and have been working on revising my novel, Coming Out of Egypt. Will tell you more about that another time.

So, today I thought I would pass on a few pointers about how we can keep up with our writing when we don’t have enough hours in our day.

1. Prioritize. This is important so you don’t get sidetracked. What is it that you must do today? Write down the three most important things you must do from the night before. They might be as simple as a) Go to work, b) Write blog post, c) Attend parent-teacher meeting. If you work everyday, you might leave off the first one and just write the next two most important ones. Somehow, when you write things down they become concrete and are more likely to materialize.

2. Schedule. Make up a schedule of what works best for you. Again, if you have a day job, you may want to schedule at least fifteen minutes writing time first thing in the morning, or last thing at night, whichever works best. But if you write 200 words in those fifteen minutes every day, by the end of that first week you would have written 1400 words. In a year you would have 72, 800 words, enough for an average length novel. You can finish even faster on the days when you have more time.

3. Be consistent. It doesn’t matter whether the words flow or not, whether your coffee was too strong or too weak or your room too hot or too cold. Michael Lewis, non-fiction author and financial journalist, says ” I’ve written in awful enough situations that I know that the quality of the prose doesn’t depend on the circumstance in which it is composed. I don’t believe the muse visits you. I believe that you visit the muse. If you wait for that “perfect moment” you’re not going to be very productive.” – Robert Boynton, The New New Journalism.

So there you have it. The three best ways to keep on writing even when you think you don’t have the time, or you don’t feel like it. What are some of the ways you remain productive? Share it in your comments below.