22 Rules and Monthly Update

I have my final post for Rumpelstiltskin all set, but as it is a New Year I’m going to delay it a little bit and clue you in on the goals for the rest of my month.

I’ve done my first fly by of Embark. It needs a little more work–I see probably two draft revisions in its future. Myrrhlynn got a chance to read it, so she’s thinking about a cover. I’m hoping for a mid-January release, but it might be pushed back to the end of January if I can’t get all my ducks in a row.

When I’m not working on Embark, I’ll be pushing B&B through formatting for its paperback debut, and I have a hacked and slashed edit of Red Rope of Fate to go up when I finish switching a few details. Editor finally got a chance to correct it, and she had a few good points so I’m making some minor adjustments.

I’m working on getting a newsletter up and running. The newsletter will be a once month update that will make sure everyone is on the same page. It will have my scheduled freebies and releases for the month (yes, this means I’ll have to get over my release-date-commitment-phobia.) and it will include polls, contest information, and more. It will be like a one-stop-shop. I’m hoping my first newsletter will go out February 1st!

IMPORTANT: I have so far been using a (terribly unprofessional as my numbers guy would say) yahoo email. THIS MONTH I’m swapping to a new email: kmshea (at) kmshea.com. (For the record, I wanted to go with Philspizza (at) kmshea.com, but then numbers guy would heave a great big sigh, as if I was his red-headed step-child, so kmshea (at) kmshea.com it is.) I’ll be updating all my contact forms so they’ll automatically send to my new email, but if any of you have my email saved, please make the switch.

And finally, it’s been too long since I’ve shared some writing advice! Over my Christmas holiday, I stumbled on this fascinating article: 22 Rules of Storytelling. Emma Coats, a Pixar storyboard artist, posted 22 tweets that contain grains of wisdom she has learned while working at Pixar. I think all of her points are great, but there’s a few I want to touch on.

Pixar, a company that is highly talented at making you cry during kid movies.

Pixar, a company that is highly talented at making you cry during kid movies.

#3: Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite: This is so true. Often times I’ll start the story with a specific theme in mind, but when I finish it a completely different moral shines through. Sometimes the theme you want to tell is not the theme your characters tell. If that’s the case I would say ditch the first theme and run with the second. That being said, you need to make sure your theme is consistent, and its present from the first chapter until the very last.

#5: Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free: This is a very painful lesson, but its extremely important. The basic idea is that you need to cut back the unnecessary, boring information to make the story set a faster pace. Cutting characters hurts. Raven from Life Reader originally had a little brother in addition to her little sister. I decided to cut him because he was entirely unnecessary and did nothing to add to the plot. I thought it would take hours to pull him out of the story, until I realized he was in THREE SCENES TOTAL. Even though I was sad, it was one of my best writing decisions ever.

#9: When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up: Not only is this a fun exercise, but it works! If you try this out and you’re still having trouble, talk to your characters. If I’m in a scene and I can’t think of what to do, I’ll sit down and say “Okay, the scene ends like THIS” and then I will turn to my characters and ask “Why did it end that way?” It can be quite shocking, but so far my characters have always had something to say.

That’s all for today, Champions. I hope you had a happy new year, and welcome to 2015!

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