Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere


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The Rebirth of a Story

Before I forget, have you had a chance to check out the Meet Your Main Character website? Pop on over and give it a gander. It’s freshly minted, so if you have any suggestions, let us know. We’ve got a great guest blog post soon to be featured on our site. Princess Bride fans will love it! Our first main post will give you a glimpse into the daily life of an immigration attorney/mother/writer. Our members are globetrekkers, and we’ll be posting pics from our more widely-traveled writers from time to time. It looks like Jan is sharing a moment in time from her trip to Peru. Come take a look!

Have you ever planned out a story in your head, and even went so far as to start an outline, or even (gasp!) writing it, then discovered the story arc doesn’t work. Or the plot line is way more complicated than it needs to be? Or the timeline just doesn’t make sense? If you haven’t, I envy you.

I’ve been working on the outline for my February self-imposed NaNoWriMo project, and I was struggling a bit with the second half of the story arc. I like to talk the story through while taking my walks outside. It’s been really mild here for January the past week or so, so I’m trying to take advantage of the weather before the January thaw is over. It feels like March! Anyway, as I was trying to work out the second half of the story arc, following the original arc I created a couple years ago, I realized why I was having trouble with it.

It was stupid.

Seriously. Here I am trying to work out how the characters would travel halfway across the country to work on an investigation for a crime. How would the characters get there? Why would both characters be there if only one is actively investigating? How could I work the “crossed paths” in without being too manipulative? And then, as I’m walking, mental head slap. Okay, it was accompanied by a physical head slap.

Duh. Why do the characters have to travel out of state? Why can’t the whole thing take place in the same state? There was no reason for the trans-continental travel, not really, except that it created extra activity. So, now I am working on a revision of the crime, which leads to a revision of the suspects, which leads to a revision of the story threads. (Shut up, Muse. Stop gloating. And you don’t have to remind me you told me so and that’s why the original draft didn’t work.)

Sigh. For those pantsers out there (you know who you are), what do you do when you get to that point in the story where any direction you want to go seems forced? Do you back up and rewrite an earlier scene or two? Do you just soldier on and make notes on what to revise later? This is one of those times I’m glad I went from pantser to outliner. I can’t help but wonder at the amount of work I’d have to do to revise the story arc after I’ve written half the novel.

So, back to the drawing board. How often have you written a novel or story that you initially thought had a great timeline and storyline, then realized it doesn’t make sense? How did you go about fixing it? Did you rewrite the whole thing? Rewrite the second half of the project? Maybe you changed a character or two to make the timeline more realistic. Does your muse try to tell you ahead of time the story isn’t working? Do you listen?

Enjoy the week, everyone!

Write on!

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Meet Your Main Character–by writers, for writers

Our website is now live! Meet Your Main Character

As writers, we strive to create realistic experiences for our characters to draw our readers in. We write what we know, but often we want to write about things we don’t have first-hand knowledge of. Okay, no one I know of has ever flown on a dragon or battled an ogre, but I do know an immigration attorney and a former counterintelligence analyst. Writers can gain knowledge through research, interviews, or spending a day doing the things you have your characters do, but what if you don’t know anyone who’s ever milked a cow or moved to a whole different country on a whole different continent? What if you aren’t even sure where to go to find someone who does have the knowledge or experiences you want your character to have?

Enter the Meet Your Main Character crew. We are a group of six writers with innumerable experiences in many different areas, from growing up in South Africa to setting up orphanages to surviving a hurricane. We can help you bring authenticity to your scenes by relaying our own personal experiences. If we haven’t lived it, we can help you find someone who has.

Every month you’ll learn more about each of us and the things we have done on our life’s journey. Send us a question, and we’ll try to help. Our guest bloggers will share some of their adventures as well. We’ll also have a special page featuring contributions from a group of young writers who are great sources for insight into the lives and interests of young people making their way through junior high and beyond.

You can also follow us on Twitter at: @mymc_writers

Stop by and say hi!


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A New Year, a Writing Project, and a Renewed Focus

Now that everyone has (hopefully) recovered from the New Year revelries (you have recovered, right?), it’s time to take advantage of this last “holiday” weekend before getting back into the normal rhythm of everyday life. You know what I mean. Daily schedules have been thrown out of whack since Thanksgiving due to shopping, parties, preparing for parties, cleaning up after parties, more shopping, cooking, etc. And can’t forget the kids being on Christmas break. I’m so glad school starts back up on Monday!

Okay, got your New Year’s writing goals set?

No? What do you mean, no?

Can you write 500 words by tomorrow night? Really, 500 words isn’t much; this post is about 570 words long. It doesn’t have to be anything specific, even a recap of the kids opening presents under the tree, or watching the ball drop on television, or the less-than-tasty fruitcake your “favorite” aunt brought to the family gathering. I’ll bet you can do it. Describe in detail the delectable dessert your sister made, the luscious chocolate one with hints of raspberry and mocha. Compare it to clouds, write how the flavor reminded you of that Christmas years ago when Grandma accidentally burned the ham and had to substitute sloppy joes, and how the dessert totally made up for it.

Write a never-to-be-seen-by-anyone-who’s-related-to-you vignette about how embarrassed/pissed off you were when your brother showed up to watch the bowl games with six of his buddies in tow when you specifically told him the kids had the flu and you didn’t want any extra company because you weren’t feeling too good yourself. And how you knew you should have told him not to come over at all. Make sure you tell him he’s hosting bowl game day next year.

Set a writing project target. Take that pristine 2015 calendar, and put a sticker on January 31st, along with a note to write the first chapter of that book you’ve been meaning to write for the past decade. Just the first chapter. Give yourself an extra bonus if you get two chapters written. There’s your writing goal for the year: two chapters a month. Bonus points if you write more. One hour of writing a day: a half-hour while drinking coffee in the morning, and a half-hour before Jimmy Fallon comes on in the evening. And yes, recording your dictation of the chapter(s) during your commute to and from work counts, once you type it (or let the speech-to-text program do it for you).

Sound doable? Call up your best friend, the one who knows you’ve been talking about writing forever, and tell them they’re in charge of keeping you honest. Make sure they’re also the friend who can inspire you to keep going. I’m rebooting a mystery from NaNo 2013. My target is a complete rewrite by Feb 28, NaNoWriMo style. That boils down to 2,000 words a day, every day, in February. I’ll keep you posted.

Have you ever wondered what an immigration attorney’s day looks like? What does a South African think about MN winters? Ever wonder what a counterintelligence analyst does? MeetYourMainCharacter.com will be a resource for writers searching for details about everyday experiences, and some not-so-everyday experiences, to help you round out your characters and bring authenticity to your work. Ask us to help you. If we haven’t lived an experience ourselves, we probably know someone who has. Watch for news of the website launch in the next week or so.