Revising with scene cards

finished scene cards

Hello everyone. It appears my hiatus is over as I’m excited to get back to Experience Writing. But I’m not going to get back to the planner pages quite yet. While I took an extended break from blogging and social media, I finally found the excitement and energy I needed to return to revising my novel.

I will be following Janice Hardy’s “Revise Your Novel in 31 Days.” It looks like exactly what I need to stay motivated and do the work every day until it’s done. With that in mind, I read her workshop prep and set out for the store to pick up colored 3X5 cards. However, my local store had moved their office supplies and by the time I finished shopping, I had forgotten all about them.

Making scene cards – the design

I was positive I had some in the house somewhere, so I began an extensive time-suck search instead of just returning to the store. And I’m glad I did because I found a bag of paper supplies I had stashed and forgotten about. In this fabulous bag I had card stock and resume papers of many colors. They gave me an idea. I could make my own index cards with guiding questions already printed on them. This way I will know exactly what I am trying to do in each scene and be able to evaluate the scenes in the same way each time.

Making scene cards tools

Here’s what I did:

  1. I created a word processing file with the page in landscape and separated the page into four sections.
  2. I used the scene evaluation questions that Janice Hardy proposed in her prepping lesson “How to create an Editorial Map” and fit them with plenty of space to write answers  repeated in the four sections.
  3. I printed onto different colors of the resume paper
  4. I glued the resumed paper onto the card stock
  5. I cut them apart

And voilà! Custom scene cards.

 

Using the scene cards – they work!

Using the scene cards has helped me see my draft differently. I’m finally understanding the big picture edit process more clearly. As of today, I’m half way through my draft and I’ve already found:

  • Unintended POV shifts
  • Chapters that do not move the story along  (completely removed)
  • Places to split a chapter to increase suspense
  • Places to rearrange chapters
  • Places to add character development and tie plot lines together
  • An unnecessary character and a character that is necessary that needs more development

Here’s an example of a scene card I filled in:

filled in scene card

Things to remember when using scene cards

Chapters may and often do have more than one scene. Fill out a card for each scene. You may have many cards for one chapter.

I’m filling my cards out in pencil and it’s freeing. My original answers to my POV character’s goals and motivations are often not the correct answers after I think about it for a while. Also, I like to number the cards in the top right corner and as I cut scenes and rearrange scenes, I can easily renumber them.

Having several different color cards can be used as a great organizational tool. Because the novel I’m working on has different POV characters in different chapters, I’m using different colors to represent my POV characters. That way when I’m done, it will be easy to look at each of the different narratives by putting same color cards together. You may want to use different colors to represent your main plots and subplots, or different settings if you’re writing a story that takes place in three different countries for instance. There are a bunch of fun possibilities, but remember that the color of the cards is also a tool, so be consistent in whichever plan you choose.

Other Uses

I’m going to try using these scene cards to plan and outline my idea for NaNoWriMo this year. In the past, I haven’t been great with outlines, but that could change. Knowing my POV characters goals, motivations and conflicts for each scene ahead of time should make writing that draft a lot easier.

I also had some star-shaped paper, brads and stickers I look forward to adding to the cards in some way. If I have an epiphany, I’ll let you know.

I hope you find using scene cards as helpful and motivating as I do.

Happy Reading and Writing!

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The Planner Experiment: The last week of June

Hi all. I had the daily planner pages for the last week of June ready to go yesterday, but I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to talk about. And . . . I still haven’t, so I’ll let the pages speak for themselves.

2019 Planner June week four

It’s the last week of the quarter, so reach hard for those goals and make time to reflect on your achievements so far.

Have a good week.

The Planner Experiment: The Third Week of June

ordeal-for-the-tiny.jpg

How was your week? I hope you got some good writing done, enjoyed a good book, poems and stories and sent out some submissions. I had a pretty good week. I typed up my poems, worked on a story and read a lot.

This summer has already shaped up to be the summer of a house full of water and tiny black ants. It seems like this house is desperate to fill itself with water. Every hose that can bursts, the water tank got a hole in it, and this week I had mystery water creating a damp spot in the carpet that I have no idea where it came from. The ants, usually a creature that hangs out in a line, so you can see where they are coming from, seem to just drop down from the ceiling to appear, one at a time, on this computer, a table top, or my arm.

The Pages

This week, I finally experimented with printing the pages as a booklet. I had to add an extra page at the front for everything to line up. I used the blank page to break down my goals for the week into achievable tasks. I like the idea of leaving the page blank, so I can use it in different ways each week.

I also tried out the writing prompts in my morning pages. I ended up with a good story idea and about a half of a story draft. I’m excited that the prompts I made up inspired my writing. I’ll continue to try them out in my morning pages.

2019 Planner June week three

Happy Reading and Writing!

The Planner Experiment: Second Week of June

the mountain in the morning

This week, I had a tough time choosing journals for the planner. I’m not sure why, but I found it extra challenging. I ended up with an eclectic group of journals ranging from the well established like the Chicago Review which celebrated 50 years in print to the brand new Visions a graphically-oriented science fiction magazine that looks really interesting.

So here you have it. This week’s pages. I hope you have a great week.

2019 Planner June week two

Don’t forget to order your copy of America’s Emerging Fantasy Writers: Pacific Region for some fun summer reading.

“Are You Guilty of Isms?” inspires a new game of Pessimistic Moustache

While reading the article “Are You Guilty of Isms” at Psychology Today, I realized I hadn’t played Pessimistic Moustache in a while. Pessimistic Moustache is a game I made up inspired by the wonderfully descriptive phrase penned by Agatha Christie. The idea is to use an ism (like pessimism, thus pessimistic) to describe things. Diana Rose Wilson and I pretty much stuck to mustaches (moustache being the way Agatha Christie spelled it) when we were playing.

The way we used to play was Diana or I would post a picture or gif of a mustache and then we would come up with isms to describe it. While reading the article on Psychology Today this morning, I thought the opposite might be fun: Come up with the description first, then send pictures of mustaches that fit the description. For instance:

What does a speciesist mustache look like?

Who has an ageist mustache?

baby stache

What shape is a nationalist mustache?

french mustache strike

Find pictures of a sexist mustache.

girl with mustache

If you would like to play along, feel free to post your pictures and descriptions in the comments, or head over to #pessimisticmoustache on twitter.

I hope you’ll join me in some fun when you need a distraction from your writing. You might find the perfect description for your character’s mustache.

The Planner Experiment: First Week of June

Deadly Again This Summer(3)

Looking for some fun summer reading? I hope you’ll check out this new anthology of twelve fresh, fantasy stories from Pacific Northwest authors, including me!

The Planner Experiment

Quick recap: I started the Planner Experiment at the beginning of the year with the intention to find homes for all my stories by learning more about literary magazines and increasing my submissions. I set a goal of 100 rejections this year in an attempt to change my feelings about each rejection and continue submitting through rejection after rejection. Toward this end, I designed a daily planner that organizes the year by quarter and month.

I post these pages as weekly experiments, making little changes as I come up with new ideas to see what works best to motivate me to write and submit my stories. My hope is that you will also try out the pages and share your experience, so that by the end of the year, I can compile the best planner to help writers get their stories into the world in 2020 and beyond. I hope you will join me in this experiment. You can hop in at any time. I look forward to hearing your experiences.

The pages

2019 Planner June week one

This week’s pages have writing prompts that can build on each other. I’m enjoying this idea. Did anyone try them out last month? Did it help you write a draft?

What do you think of the colors, background, fonts? Are you finding that you use all the different sections, or are only a few of the boxes getting filled in? Which ones are you finding most useful? Which ones would you get rid of/replace? With what?

This week’s pages start with a couple of heavy hitters that I highly recommend submitting to: Ploughshares is one of the top literary journals and it is open for fiction and poetry; and Granta is open for poetry for the next four days. Send them some poetry!

I hope you are feeling motivated.

Have a great week!

 

Exciting News!! Deadly Again This Summer is out today!

Deadly Again This Summer is a story I wrote as an exploration of why young, athletic people drown in the lake each summer. It is a modern-day fairy tale in that it’s a cautionary tale of magical realism. This story is very close to my heart and I’m so excited that Z Publishing chose it for their first Fantasy anthology series. I want to thank Diana Rose Wilson  and Andrick Schall for their thoughtful critiques and suggestions.

I could not be more excited that this story found a home and is now available in this great anthology of fantasy. I hope you’ll order your copy today!!

Happy Reading and Writing

The Planner Experiment: A New Month Begins

June month plan

So here we are. June is upon us. We’re looking at the midpoint of the year and the days keep flying by. How are your submissions going? Are you finding ways to use the daily planner to stay motivated?

Last week I admitted I was having trouble submitting and hoped that I would find that original energy again and I think writing it here really helped. I finished the month strong, entering two contests and submitting to ten magazines.

I received a wonderful, personal rejection with feedback from the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. You couldn’t ask for a nicer rejection. In other words, keeping with it is paying off.  As a friend of mine recently said, “You keep pounding and pounding at that wall, eventually you’ll break through.” I can see cracks forming in the mortar.

Contests

As I mentioned, I’ve started looking into how contests fit into my submissions goals. I entered three short story contests last month, paying a total of $47 in entry fees. I won’t know if it’s a good investment or not for a while, but I am still focused on learning more about how to select contests, so I did some searching and found 30 contests with deadlines in June. At an average of $20 each, if I entered all of those contests, that would be $600 in entry fees for only one month of contests! So how am I going to choose?

One way to quickly sort through is by type of writing. Many of the contests ask for manuscripts: poetry chapbooks or story collects, novelettes, or full novels. Since I have stories in contests and all of my stories are out looking for work, I thought I might focus on poetry in June. I saw that one of my favorite poets, Ada Limón, is judging a poetry book prize. The deadline is the middle of the month and I have been wanting to create a poetry manuscript of my work, so I plan to use this as a deadline to get that work done. Then I can adjust that manuscript to fit other contests.

Another way to choose contests is by researching the judges, the journals or organizations having the contest and previous winners. Researching all of these aspects of a contest will give you information about which contests will be the best fit for your work.

When I was reading advice from contest winners in the last issue of Poets & Writers, one of the winners said to look at what else your contest entry fee gets you. Will you get feedback and critique? Will you get an issue or a subscription to the magazine? Will all entries be considered for publication?

All things to think about when trying to select which contests to dish out for.

Getting In On The Ground Floor

Submitting to the first issue of a literary magazine can be a bit of a gamble–you can’t read previous issues to see what they publish, and they may not last long–but it can also be rewarding. My first publication was in the first issue of Five on the Fifth and I enjoyed the experience and created relationships with the editors.

This morning, while looking over my wordpress reading feed, I came across a brand new ezine from Writer Shed Press called Writer Shed Stories. This is a brand new paying market ($20). I felt like I had a story that might fit, so I submitted. We’ll see how it goes.

In researching this month’s magazines, I also came across The Blend a paying market out of Australia. Their first issue comes out in July.

The Pages

2019 Planner June opening pages

Today, I’m only posting the June month planner page with deadlines and these first couple days. I will update the deadlines as the month progresses. I noticed plenty of errors in last months deadlines, but some of them may have been changes that happened during the month. As I’ve said before, it’s better to submit as soon as the window opens, or in the case of Submittable submissions, at the beginning of the month.

I’ve planned weekly compounding writing prompts for each week in June which will start on Monday, so check back again tomorrow night, or Monday morning.

I look forward to hearing from you. Are you submitting to the magazines in the planner pages? Tell me about your submission experiences.

Happy Reading, Writing, Planning, and Meeting Your Publishing Goals!

The Planner Experiment: Final Week of May and Finding Poetry

Fifth Week of May

I prepared the pages early this week and then spaced posting them yesterday, sorry.

2019 Planner May Week Five

Last Week

I finally typed up the ten unpublished poems from NaPoWriMo. I’m letting them sit a bit before I edit them. At the moment I’m not as excited about them as I had hoped to be.

In the meantime, I tried some collage poetry which was a fun and inspiring experiment. I chose two very different books:The Devil’s Teeth: A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America’s Great White Sharks by Susan Casey and Women and the Law (University Casebook Series) by Mary Joe Frug. I photocopied some pages from each book and highlighted phrased that interested me, creating a highlighter color code as I went. When I had highlighted all of the pages, I cut out the selected phrases and put them in a bowl.

I found a small book I had made from scrap paper and magazine pages in my art supply bin. It was a perfect size. I started selecting phrases and gluing them into the book. Over two days, I turned those phrases into five poems.

This Week

I enjoyed my word collage experiment so much that I’ve decided to continue it this week. I have pulled out seven of my morning pages notebooks and have started photocopying random pages from them. I plan to use the same color-coding I used before while highlighting phrases that grab my attention. I’m excited to see if the creation of the poems and the finished products feel more or less personal when using words from my notebooks instead of from books.

Submissions

I still have not been able to re-invigorate my interest in submitting, even though I get excited about the journals as I learn about them and often think one or more of my stories will be a good fit. Hopefully, my original excitement will come around again. Starting tomorrow morning, I will attempt to make my three submissions my morning priority.

Welcome to Summer

Happy Memorial Day to those of you celebrating. It’s beautiful weather here. I jumped in the lake for the first time this year (late for me). It was tingly and brisk. It’s going to get harder and harder to self-motivate and get work done. I hope these planner pages help keep us motivated and on track to meet our publishing goals.

Happy Reading, Writing, Planning and Submitting!

 

The Planner Experiment: May Week Four

May Week Four

Most of this week’s magazine submission ideas came from New Pages. New Pages Call for Submissions pages can let you know about brand new magazines and other interesting markets. It can be fun to be one of the first writer’s published in a magazine. I’m excited about Alien Magazine, a new literary magazine coming out this fall.

This Week’s Pages

2019 Planner May Week Four

This last week I received my first yes!! I have a short story coming out in a fantasy anthology. I’m very excited. It’s a story that’s close to my heart. I’ll tell you all about it when I have the release date.

I also entered my first literary magazine contest. I sent a short story to Carve Magazine’s Raymond Carver contest.

I did not reach my goal of typing up my poetry and submitting, but I’ll keep working toward that.

I hope everyone is continuing to find useful information and motivation in these pages.

Happy Reading, Writing, Planning, and Submitting!