Welcome to Day #4 of the Of Better Blood Blog Tour!
To celebrate the release of Of Better Blood by Susan Moger (2/1/16), blogs across the web are featuring exclusive content from Susan and 5 chances to win a SIGNED copy of Of Better Blood, as well as a chance to win a 6-book YA Prize Pack in the Grand Prize Giveaway!
by Susan Moger
For me, cluster diagramming and freewriting are the two best ways to get started on a writing project and to solve problems at any point during it. You can read about these techniques (and more) here. As far as I know, Peter Elbow, author of Writing Without Teachers, invented and named “freewriting.”
4 Powerful Techniques for Fiction Writers:
1. Interview Your Characters (10 minutes, no stopping)
Write both sides of the interview. Decide on questions in advance. I find wide-open questions—“Who are you?” “What do you want?” “What do you fear most?”—are best for getting to know a character. But when you’re figuring out a character’s motivation in a scene or story or novel, focused questions can be useful: “How are you feeling about [another character’s name] in this scene?” “What’s your motivation for doing this [an action] in the novel?” “Why do you always avoid an argument?”
Write the answers without stopping! That means keep your pen or pencil or fingers on the keyboard moving (draw circles, type Xs) until a thought comes (it will)! Let the character’s answers spill out, don’t worry about making sense. There’s gold in that river of words. Let them flow. Then look for the nuggets that will help you move ahead.
2. Draw: maps, charts, diagrams
I drew maps of Loup Island for my novel, Of Better Blood. This one was drawn before I had decided that the lighthouse in the novel would be on the point of land on the bottom far left side of the map. I adapted my map from a map of an actual island in the Gulf of Maine. I hung it over my stand-up desk and referred to it often to visualize where scenes took place and how characters got from one place to another. Obviously, you don’t have to be an artist to make a map that makes sense to you.
Charts are useful for planning the changes a character needs to go through by the time your novel, or story, or scene ends. Diagrams help you keep complicated relationships straight and connect characters with actions.
3. Shine light on every scene.
In 1996 my writing instructor, Mary Bargteil, gave me this brilliant advice. Since then I have made every scene better simply by mentioning the light. Is the sun blinding a character? Does lightning illuminate the scene in brief flashes? Is the light rapidly draining from the sky?
Light creates a mood; it lets you surprise readers, and characters; light reveals and creates shadows that conceal. Remember, every scene in a play or film has some kind of lighting. Make that true in your writing.
4. Try Dr. Wicked, Write or Die 2
This powerful tool/app isn’t free and it isn’t for the faint of heart. But I have found it to be a useful investment. The Write or Die app counts the words as you type and counts down the time to the end of your pre-set session. Maybe you need a 1000-word scene and have only half an hour in which to write it. You set the time (30 minutes) and number of words (1000) and start typing. You also set a warning to go off whenever you pause in your typing. In one warning mode, “alarming” sounds go off and the screen starts to darken until you resume typing. In “Kamikaze” mode, the app starts deleting words you have typed until you start typing again! Find out more about Write or Die 2 here.
Stop by Parajunkee tomorrow for the last day of the tour!
Blog Tour Schedule:
March 28th – The Book Cellar
March 29th — Once Upon a Twilight
March 30th — Good Choice Reading
March 31st — Reading Teen
April 1st — Parajunkee
Buy: Albert Whitman
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Add on Goodreads
Follow Susan: Twitter | Facebook
Teenage polio survivor Rowan Collier is caught in the crossfire of a secret war against “the unfit.” It’s 1922, and eugenics—the movement dedicated to racial purity and good breeding—has taken hold in America. State laws allow institutions to sterilize minorities, the “feeble-minded,” and the poor, while local eugenics councils set up exhibits at county fairs with “fitter family” contests and propaganda. After years of being confined to hospitals, Rowan is recruited at sixteen to play a born cripple in a county fair eugenics exhibit. But gutsy, outspoken Dorchy befriends Rowan and helps her realize her own inner strength and bravery. The two escape the fair and end up at a summer camp on a desolate island run by the New England Eugenics Council. There they discover something is happening to the children. Rowan must find a way to stop the horrors on the island…if she can escape them herself.
- One signed copy of OF BETTER BLOOD
- Enter via the Rafflecopter below
- US only
GRAND PRIZE GIVEAWAY
One (1) winner will receive a 6-book YA Prize Pack featuring AW Teen's spring lineup (Of Better Blood by Susan Moger, Girl Last Seen by Heather Anastasiu and Anne Greenwood Brown, Hurricane Kiss by Deborah Blumenthal, Future Shock by Elizabeth Briggs, Dig Too Deep by Amy Allgeyer, and South of Sunshine by Dana Elmendorf).
- Enter via the rafflecopter below
- US Only
- Ends 4/3 at midnight ET