Erin Ritch

Writer, Blogger, Mom

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Tag: writing (page 2 of 3)

Spring Cleaning – Weeding Out the Darlings

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Editing by computer monitor light…yay?

If I fall a bit radio silent over the next few weeks, it’s because I’m diving into Draft Three of “Myth.”

I’ll still be posting “Late Night Writing Prompts” and a few other pieces I have in mind, partly because this helps keep my sanity when I’m doing heavy editing. If you haven’t guessed, editing is not my favorite thing in the world. While some writers love it, I see it as a necessary evil – like going to the dentist. (No offense to any dentists out there.) You’ve got to go. You’ve got to get your cleanings. You’ve got to hear the bad news about what needs pulled or what needs taken apart and put back together.  (Yep, seeing a lot of similarities here.)

But this is all worth it, because I am so excited with the direction that “Myth” is going – I have some amazing things to share soon. Summer will be great.

Now just to survive the work that spring is requiring in order to make summer great.
(By the way, I also need to go to the dentist. For real.)

Late Night Writing Prompt – “Clarity”

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Image credit: Tuncay

This rain brings me a feeling I have had before. Of a cold afternoon where we parted ways for the last time. I’ve already told you a thousand goodbyes – through my eyes, my demeanor, my words, and my actions. But still you call for me through the glass, asking me to break through and come back. But life is just not that simple for you and I. Wait and see what the rain will bring, maybe some clarity as it has for me.

“Myth” Cover Art Concepts

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Recently I’ve been gathering together images that capture the style I’d like for the cover artwork for Myth. Here’s a few examples above! (Have I mentioned it’s a Fantasy novel?)

Tearing Down the Block: When Your Characters Fight

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Put on your war paint.

Image credit: id-iom

I’m in the midst of working on my next novel (The Reanimation of Robert) and really hit a big ol’ block. I was looking for every excuse to get out of writing. That’s what I get for yammering about how swell this book was going. *KARMA MOMENT*

I’ve suffered from enough moments of Writer’s Block to look for a few key things that signal what’s triggering my block:

A) I need a break and should go to bed.

B) Go back in the story to the most recent part I love. Delete everything that happens afterwards.

 (Editor’s note: This is dangerous territory. After a recent *ahem* over-deleting episode, I’ve started a messy compilation of “deleted scenes” that I can reference back to if needed.)

C) Look for a wrong direction I’ve taken in the story. The best clue for this is…my characters start arguing with each other. Over nothing important or essential to the story. I’m talking really. Stupid. Stuff.

I can’t describe it any better than the below: An example of both points B &C – a deleted excerpt from The Reanimation of Robert. I’ve had to remove a few things to avoiding giving away too much…because hopefully you’ll read the finished book. Void of blather like this.

-Begin dramatic episode-

At work, Piper opened shop solemnly, only half listening to Zelda’s recount of her adventures the night before. She watched the clock until around the time that Robert would be expected. The bell rang and Robert appeared, right on time.

“I need to take -” Piper started.

“I know, I know. You need your break. Just go,” Zelda sighed impatiently.

Before Robert could even order, Piper came and took his arm. He faltered, completely set off track by this change in routine.

“I think I may have made a mistake,” Piper whispered, pulling him against the wall.

“How so?” Robert whispered back.

“The____. I don’t think you should go back.”

Robert blinked, his expression going from confusion to surprise. “You know I went to see____?”

“Yes, I’m sorry,” Piper continued. “I thought ___ would help. But I think, actually I know, ___ believes you_______.”

Everyone thinks I ______,” Robert said coldly.

Piper sighed. “___ told me…some things. About your appointments.”

Robert set his jaw. “Thank you, but ____ helping me,” he said with finality.

Piper raised an eyebrow but shook her head. Robert turned to join the long line that had grown at the counter with only one barista working.

“So did it work?” Piper asked loudly from behind him.

Robert looked over his shoulder. He paused for a long time, his mind clicking over the question again and again.

“____’s homework for you. Did it work?” Piper asked again, walking up to Robert.

Robert looked around, suddenly aware of the eyes turning to look at him.

“Soy latte, please,” he said simply.

Piper sighed sharply and pushed past him. Disregarding the next in line, she quickly prepared Robert’s latte and brought it to him. She walked up to him and shoved the cup in his face.

“Here. Because I know you never hear me.”

-End dramatic episode-

What do you think – should I stop writing novels and write scripts for soap operas instead? Complete with “impatient dramatic sighs?” *Sigh* Oh well, it’s out from the book. It took me a few days to realize “What in the world are they fighting about? This is so dumb. Get that crap outta my story! Onward!”

I guess my point here is to take cues from your story. It may sound simple, but sometimes simple is easy to miss. These characters are supposed to be comrades. The few paragraphs before this excerpt contained a key moment that was a wrong direction for the story. So, in response, I suppose my characters decided to bicker in the coffee shop and it flagged me. And removing that wrong direction got me over my block.

So thanks, Piper and Robert. For fighting in a coffee shop for the good of the story.

Word Beats and Sentence Tempo

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Image credit Tekke

I had a film school teacher tell me once about the “right” way to edit music to a film. That when pairing up your music track, the best way to reach an audience in a scene was to have the emotional beat/upsweep of the song or score hit right after your actor’s knowing glance. You know what I’m talking about, that horrified “What did you just say? look” or that moment of realization that turns your character’s story upside down.

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My teacher’s reasoning behind this was that as we are sitting in our chairs in the theater (yep, this was 2003 so everyone still went to the theaters back then), we are going to connect with the actor on screen when that emotional music beat really drives it home. If you bring that emotional beat in too early – too distracting. If you bring that emotional beat in right at the exact time of the knowing glance – too much. Choose the timing of your emotional beats carefully and you’ll rivet your audience without them evening knowing it.

At first I thought this was crazy, no way was this happening without my notice. Second, I thought the guy was a real @#@$%*!% so I wanted to disprove him. (Which always works out so well *insert heavy, heavy sarcasm*) I started watching for it in movies – and he was right. It was everywhere. Watch a kissing scene in a movie and tell me when you notice the emotional upsweep of the music. I betcha it’ll be right after they lock lips.

Why am I talking about this random film school note? There’s more. In another editing class, I was criticized for cutting “along with the beat.” So my cuts were flowing and keeping pace with the tempo of the music. That teacher argued I needed to establish and fight for my own tempo of images to run complimentary with the music. Looking back, this was great feedback. (I wish 20 year old Erin would have listened, le sigh.)

I think about these criticisms from time to time. Not because they bother me (although that guy was a real @#$%) but because of how emotional beats and tempo can apply to so many other forms of art besides movie making. Music, of course. But with writing, I can create a tempo with the length of my sentences. Maybe I’ll use a lengthy “run on” sentence to sweep a reader into a breathless whirlwind of words. Or a sentence will only contain one, two, or three beats (words) to, in a way, trip a reader and cause them to pause. And think.

Time your beats and establish your own tempo, right? (At least 33 year old Erin is listening.)

March in like a Lion – Self vs Independent

Behold - the Middle of Nowhere, CA.

Behold…the Middle of Nowhere, CA.

 

Wow – it’s March!

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been gone for a bit. While I was out of town in California with my family, I had some time to ponder a few things. Well, more than a few things, but specifically my views on “self” publishing.

(*SNORE* right? Well, yes, these are the things us writer-over-analyzer-types think about!)

I’ve been training myself to drop the word “self” and call myself an independent publisher. I write it, I design it (or, for my next book, hire a designer), I publish it, I promote it, I sell it. And in the future, I may coach other authors how to do the same. I realized it was my own insecurities that have driven me to jump and introduce myself as a “self” published author. As though my books needed explaining or didn’t carry the same amount of weight as if they had been published the traditional route. I thought that publishing my book by myself (a story that was rejected time and time again by agents and publishers) was some sort of cop out. You have to think these thoughts before you can get over them.

The thing is, what is known as the “traditional route” of publishing is changing course. It’s evolved so much in even just the last five years. Writers no longer have to invest ten grand for a print run of their books or wait months for a response from an editor or agent. Because instead of waiting on that response, we have the freedom to get our work out there and elicit one. And move onto the next project and the next and the next, being the creatives we should be. I am discovering a new confidence in my writing and new avenues for my stories everyday – which I truly believe stems from the creative freedom I get to keep because I am independent.

 

This is me.

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Reading my first review for “Memories Wait Alone” on Amazon.

Publishing Progress Report

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Image credit Jurgen Appelo

In the interest of keeping readers updated (okay, to keep myself on track), I wanted to start a Publishing Progress Report for my works in progress. Unfortunately I am unable to capture every single thing I have running through my mind at 2 am, as that would require another blog altogether called Crazy Erin’s Checklist.

Here we go:

  • One book thisclose to finishing the final proof edit
  • One short story that is ⅗ way complete (Yes, ⅗)
  • New novel tentatively called “The Reanimation of Robert” (goal is to finish in 3 months)
  • Finished novel that is in need of another heavy edit + more Beta reviews + design concept
  • Shopping “Memories Wait Alone” to local bookstores and online book bloggers
  • Various web and social media projects, such as this blog

Writing it down doesn’t look so bad, but they all seem to be annoying close to being done. Well, except that new novel. And that heavy edit.

Drat, I better get to work.

Memories Wait Alone in bookstores!

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(Can you spot the “Memories Wait Alone” poster?)

 

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Ta da!

 

I’m very excited that print copies of Memories Wait Alone are making their way into bookstores now. The last remaining parts of my promotional materials for the book arrived last week. I hope the poster will attract interest and I consider the bookmarks a great advertising tool. This is a picture of the storefront from the wonderful Thurston Book Exchange in Springfield, Oregon. The owner has been a pleasure to work with – it has been a great experience to partner with gracious professionals in this industry. More to come!

Things I Love…”On Writing” by Stephen King

One of my favorite books on writing is, well, “On Writing” by Stephen King. It played a big role in helping me get out of a past writer’s slump. (There’s a reason the book is having its 10th Anniversary.) King outlines some very specific and practical advice for writers that I found refreshing – none of that “oh, just do what works for you” mumbo jumbo. One of my favorite moments of the book is when he details the phone call he received when he learned of his first book contract – very moving. I recommend it for any writer, maybe especially those that are looking for a good kick over the old writer’s block.

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