Posted in WriterInMotion 2019

Writer in Motion – Week 0

Have you ever been sitting around reading a book, or a blog, or an article, and you think to yourself, “Wow, this person is really great at writing. It’s obvious why they became a writer and why I didn’t. I could never write like that.”? I know I do. A lot. Yet for some reason, I am about 25,000 words into a novel that I’m writing. I know that it’s hot garbage. I know that it doesn’t compare to actual authors works and manuscripts. I’m just not really that great of a writer.

Or am I?

By the time a story reaches you, especially novels, it’s gone through LOTS of editing. There’s the authors own revisions, critique partners, beta and sensitivity readers, professional editors, agents, and possibly more! The book can find itself in its 10th or 12th form before you lay eyes on it. Unfortunately, that’s also all we as authors have to gauge our own works against.

Even if you’re another authors critique partner, it’s still been through at least one or more rounds of revisions and edits. So it’s really hard to see that within your pile of garbage that you call a first draft, there could be a shiny gem waiting to be seen. Even if you have to pull it out kicking and screaming. That’s what Writer In Motion is all about.

So if you follow along over the next 6 weeks, you’ll see a short story based off a prompt I didn’t see until Nov. 1st grow and evolve and become something (hopefully) unrecognizable from where it started. With all of that out of the way, lets get to the prompt!

I’m not gonna lie, I don’t do great with prompts. My writing ideas generally spawn organically from something I’m doing, or some conversation I’m having, or some situation I’m in and complaining about (so many airport stories from when I was traveling every week for work). So I was definitely nervous to see a prompt. What if I’m not inspired? What if I take it too literally? What if I simply don’t find the image interesting enough?

Unfortunately, at least one of those things happened. Nothing was coming to me at all. I spent a good 30 minutes just digesting what I was seeing. A woman, holding a flare on what could be a pier or a ship mast or something, with a partly cloudy blue sky behind her. Nothing says a story with conflict like a sunny blue sky right? Especially when I had in my head before anything was released, that I wanted to write a middle grade “horror” story, since it was the day after Halloween and I still had all the fun thoughts of trick or treating, horror films, and spooky decorations floating around in my head.

Finally, I saw something I could work with. The entire lower portion of the photo looks like a storm brewing out at sea. Tall, dark, ominous clouds creeping over the horizon is definitely a view I’m familiar with. At the ski resort I used to work at, it was a common thing for it to be sunny and beautiful until about 2pm, at which point clouds like that would race over the mountain and bring their downpours for an hour before moving on further east.

All of this is to say, I had a setting. A dark and stormy afternoon. How many horror stories include a well timed crack of lightning and thunder? Like, all of them! With setting in hand, I decided to break out my trusty laptop and start to pants like there was no tomorrow! In my writing, I’m generally a plantser, so pantsing was definitely not the best thing to do. I found myself 200 words in, with no idea where to go. Like I was spinning my wheels in deep mud.

I did the best thing I could do, and planned out a little bit. All I needed was an idea of where I was going, so I could figure out how to get there. Honestly, y’all pantsers are crazy! I will never understand how you can get somewhere without knowing where you’re going first. It’s madness!

I did finally figure out where I was going though, and I think you’ll be able to see the transition in the draft. I like to think that it goes from “Scooby Doo” to “Goosebumps” in the span of like a sentence. All that really means though, is that I’ve got a great spot to start with revisions come week 2! Stay tuned, the draft will be up tomorrow!

Posted in InFlight

Unwritten – Tara Gilboy

“If you could meet your main character, would they forgive you?”

This is a question that floats around writers circles often. I can’t even count how many times I’ve seen it on twitter. It’s a question that really digs at you as an author. Your characters are your babies. As an author, you spend so much time crafting the characters, back stories, personalities, the world they live in, and so much more. By the time a book makes its way into the hands of readers, it can feel a part of you.

We throw our characters into stressful situations to see how they’ll handle it. Sometimes characters will even surprise the author in how they react to things. It’s happened to me, where a character definitely took on a life of her own, and started driving a way I did not anticipate. I was just along for the ride at that point.

“Once upon a time,” Gertrude Winters wrote, “in a land called Bondoff, in a castle on a hill . . .”

Our characters feel real. But what if they actually were? What if your character was walking around in the world, and you ran into them at the bookstore? What would they ask of you? What would you say to them? Would you even recognize them? This is the premise that Unwritten, by Tara Gilboy tackles. A fairytale storybook character Gracie, is taken from her story by her parents, and brought into the real world, because she is supposed to die in the story.

This story is so amazing. Tara takes this really great premise and runs with it. As Gracie moves through the book, she wrestles with her own emotions, fate, and forgiveness. Gracie’s adventure takes her through the real world, along with her own world within her story. She meets her author, and has so many things to say to her, which are not always good.

Tara does an amazing job crafting a world filled with all the fun elements you would find in a fantasy story, including castles, moats, and even an evil witch. Throwing a couple kids from the real world into a fantasy land has never felt so much fun, at least for one character. Who wouldn’t want their own fantasy storybook after all?

Gracie feels genuine throughout, reacting in ways that any young kid would when faced with the decisions, and the information, that is thrown at her. She wrestles with her temper, and if she can overcome the fate bestowed upon her. Can Gracie become her own person, with a personality not forced upon herself by the author of her story, or is she destined to live out what was written about her within her storybook, never to see the real world again?

It’s a fun adventure I couldn’t put down. Literally. I read the whole thing over the course of two plane flights. The premise felt unique and fresh. You should definitely go out and find yourself a copy right now!

Unwritten – Tara Gilboy

Twelve-year-old Gracie Freeman is living a normal life, but she is haunted by the fact that she is actually a character from a story, an unpublished fairy tale she’s never read. When she was a baby, her parents learned that she was supposed to die in the story, and with the help of a magic book, took her out of the story, and into the outside world, where she could be safe. 
But Gracie longs to know what the story says about her. Despite her mother’s warnings, Gracie seeks out the story’s author, setting in motion a chain of events that draw herself, her mother, and other former storybook characters back into the forgotten tale. 
Inside the story, Gracie struggles to navigate the blurred boundary between who she really is and the surprising things the author wrote about her. As the story moves toward its deadly climax, Gracie realizes she’ll have to face a dark truth and figure out her own fairy-tale ending.

You can find Unwritten here