Kelly Flowers

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How NOT To Write A Novel – Drunk

drinkingErnest Hemingway once said “Write drunk, edit sober.” Write_Drunk_Edit_Sober-1517

One of my writerly friends says, “Write drunk, edit on caffeine” Pret-ty kitschy and more up my alley. I already edit on caffeine so…

I decided to test this theory, like, track it, test it, tie one on. 🍺🍻🍷🍸🍾🍹🍶  Oh, the things we do for science. 🤷🏼‍♀️

alcohol 1

(Side note: There are A LOT of really great drinking memes. Don’t writers have better things to do? Doh. Guess not.🙄)

To be fair, I’ve inadvertently tested this drunk writing theory back in college. The result was lackluster and barely legible poetry. Overall, a fail. But I’ve grown, evolved, matured. Obviously. 

Testing drunken-writing is probably not a true measure of maturity.
If alcohol lubricates social anxiety, couldn’t it also grease the wheels of creativity? Then, it occurred to me that many great and brilliant authors are/were alcoholics. This is either a 👍🏻 for alcohol or a 👎🏻 for writing. Funny-Alcohol-Meme-I-Will-Just-Have-One-Beer-With-Lunch

For sake of research, let’s hypothesize that alcohol triggers creativity (with a few grammatical errors) and set the experiment parameters. This is very scientific after all.

1. While writing, I will track the time and alcohol consumption in 20 minute increments.

2. I’ll have to judge the material myself, with a sober set of eyes, because I can’t imagine letting someone else do it. Unedited?!?! Chah!

3. No distractions. This is no party! This is a rigorous experiment that requires I imbibe alone and diligently. No funny business.

4. When I sense a particular profoundness happen, I’ll mark it. My college inebriated poetry always felt brilliant… Until the next day. So here, I’m testing my drunken judgement of quality. Think beer goggles. (This could be the most embarrassing part of the experiment.)

5. Lastly, as I write, I’ll note the speed and ease (or maybe incessant brain-stalling) with which ideas are hatched as well as the inspiration to keep going. All the creativity of JR Tolkien doesn’t help if all you want to do it watch “This Is Us” and eat Red Vines… Not that I would know or anything.

Ready… Commence the spirits! And remember, I’m doing this for you. Stop-drinking-meme-joke

 

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How To Write A Book – 5 Tips For Using Beta Readers

Screen Shot 2018-01-08 at 8.36.58 PM

*Note: This blog is for those using FREE beta readers, as in.. favors from friends or friends of friends. If you are paying beta readers, many of these points will not apply. But you’re not paying for beta readers, are you???

  1. That Which Should Not Be Named

The first time I asked a couple of people to beta read my book, I sensed their hesitation. I wasn’t sure if this was because they thought I was a terrible writer (because as a writer, I ponder this question Every. Single. Day.) Maybe they didn’t want to devote time to what could be an awful read. I knew they liked to read, after all. That’s why I chose them.

Then one friend said, “I don’t think I’m qualified to beta read.”

To which I replied, “I just need you to read it and give me feedback on things like plot and character and such.

“Oh!” she said. “I can do that!”

And I realized the problem. The term “beta reader” implies some prowess of critical reading that only a professional would have. But the fact is, beta reading is giving an overall impression of the work. Maybe just scrap the term unless your beta reader is in the writing world.

I told my friend. “Just imagine you’re one of those reviewers on Amazon.com who leave detailed and scrutinizing criticism of the books they’ve read. (And your feedback might save me a few scathing reviews someday)” Now, if I could just get my hands on a few of those Amazon reviewers! They would tell it like it is! Which leads me to my next point…

  1. Don’t Ask Your Mother

Mothers Make Better Fans Than Critics

Or

Mothers Make Better Critics Than Fans

mother dear

Either way, your mother (whether she be adoring or unpleasable) will never be your target audience because she changed your poopy diapers and listened to your lisp until you were 5. She is too close to you and your work. (Maybe she is even IN your work a little.)

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New Years – How To Find More Time

After drinking our champagne at dawn, my husband could not stop congratulating himself on his artsy photography skills.


It’s that time of year again! Time to careen into January full of gusto and resolve. So what if we sputter halfway into February. That’s a whole month (and one twelfth of a year) of progress. That has to be worth something!

It seems like just yesterday I was writing last years new years blog, “Resolutions” Don’t Work. I get really excited about this. My readers, all five of them, know that New Years is one of my favorite holidays.

Once, I saw something on HONY (for those of you that are not up on HONY, I’m obsessed with him. It stands for Humans of New York and this photojournalist, Brandon Stanton, walks the streets and takes people’s pictures, telling little bits of their conversation. I’ve followed him for years and its always poignant and powerful and I feel he miraculously reveals a bit of soul in two or three lines of conversation. Readers, all five of you, follow him! You’ll thank me.)

So back to my point… Years ago, there was a post of a woman. She said something like… (Excuse the lack of verbatim. This is how I remember it.)

“I have this theory. We are all given the same amount of time but time is a subjective concept. So if things in our lives are always changing, it feels like we get “more” time.” Continue reading


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How NOT To Write A Novel – No Pressure, No Progress

Writing, for most, is not their day job. I do write for a living and therefore feel entitled to this sketchy analogy.

Writing for work (aka your day job) and writing for fun (aka your literary masterpiece) are like having a child or a puppy, respectively. With your child, you have a schedule. School, dentists, doctors and soccer games. If you don’t make your deadlines, you’ll have CPS or a truancy board after you.

But your novel is like a puppy. It was a choice that brings you great joy and anguish and tests your discipline and resolve. And you can be as diligent as you want (as long as you feed it) If you do a lazy job raising your puppy, you’ll just have a jerk of a dog.

After a long day of parenting, training a puppy doesn’t rank high on the joy list. Just as, after a long day of work, carving out a couple hours to work on our manuscript sounds exhausting (especially if you’re STILL editing 😞)

It’s easy to put it off. And then put it off again. Because there’s always tomorrow, right?

Welllllll, let me tell you the difference between work writing and hobby writing for me.

DEADLINES.

deadlines

This is great if you are UBER disciplined. You have probably already put yourself on a schedule. You’re probably already adhering to your deadlines. (Good. For. You.) and (Whatever.)

But if you’re like me, Continue reading


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How NOT To Write A Novel – To Plan or Not To Plan, That is The Question

tmhnksI began writing a book the way you probably shouldn’t. I sat down and thought, “Hey let’s describe this cool place” and “let’s develop this random character. Yes, this is fun. Look at me! Writing a book!”

I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t even have a plot! There was a character I really liked so I started to write around him and brainstormed as I went. Geniuses write this way, I’m told. I, however, am not a genius so what this produced from me was lots of pretty dribble. I can say that now. And the problem is, it took me a long time to figure out that it was dribble. (I am comforted by the fact it was pretty dribble at least).

There are a thousand ways to go about writing a book. I’ve polled a small population of authors and come to this…

You can Plan. Plan. Plan. Engineers-turned-writers work this way. They chart their course and check their charts and set sail under a favorable moon. The danger in this is that some never set sail at all. Or that its not all that captivating.

Then there’s the creative types, writing freestyle, letting their inner genius keep them afloat in the open ocean. Everyone wants to be this type, I think. I know I did. Partially because I’d love to discover I happened to be a genius and just didn’t know. And also because, I realize now, I’m lazy.

Write an outline and a bunch of character profiles?

Bah. Just start writing and see where it takes you.

Scrawl a bunch of different story arcs? Character arcs?

Isn’t it more fun to just sit down and write? I mean, this is supposed to be fun, right?

As you can see, I had a lot to learn. I do have to say, having employed this method, it kept me going. If I reached a snag in my storyline, no problem. I’d just skip it. I’ll figure it out later, I’d say. Now, let’s describe this weather. (#FunnyNotFunny) But what I was left with was lots of meandering description and no pace. And it is ALL ABOUT PACE. And here I am, post humorously trying to write my story arc and plot points. And you know what, I’m going to be rewriting A LOT.

A friend of mine has an interesting writing technique. She writes half the book, then writes beats (the chapter by chapter synopsis of what is happening) and then she rewrites the whole thing, like new characters, new plot, everything!

“All that time wasted!” I said when she told me her method. “No,” she said. “This is my process. It’s how I write a better book.” So I started to think about that. There have been times I’ve wanted to start all over. Literally, scrap this book and start fresh. That, my friends, is also laziness. Because the real grief is in the editing.

And what constitutes wasted time anyway? What is a long time to write a book? Some people do it in a month. (#NaNoWriMo) Some prolific authors turn out a new book every few months and they’re best sellers. Some craft their masterpiece for years, boiling their ideas down to syrupy delicious prose. If you finish a book… and it is good, is any of your blood sweat and tears (and more tears) wasted?

If you’re like me, you’ve read about Stephen King’s method and Diana Gabaldon’s method and Elizabeth Gilbert’s method. Prolific, best selling authors to learn from. And there is still no right way. We just have to do it wrong a few times until we find the easiest way.

Onward…

laziness meme

 


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Book Excerpt: Gone Dark

The knock at the door made Aiden jump. It seemed like he had barely closed his eyes. But when he looked toward the blackout curtains, a shard of light was breaking through. The knock came again. 

“No thank you!” he yelled. Did the housekeeper not see the Do No Disturb hanger on the door? 

“Um. Hello?” Aiden sat straight in bed. It was the voice from the machine last night. No. This time it really was Sam.

“Hold on!” he yelled and pulled himself to stand. “Just give me a minute. It’ll just be a second.” His brain was fogged and slow.

He reached for the khaki shorts neatly folded over the back of the desk chair and then shook his head. The mirrored closet door opened easily, hit the wall and rebounded slightly. He knew he’d be hot in the jeans he grabbed from his suitcase but he didn’t care. He popped a shirt off its hanger and when he closed the closet door, his reflection surprised him. 

In the low light, he looked older, more angry. He looked like his father. 

The shirt wasn’t even over his head before he reached for the chain on the door. 

“Sorry,” Sam said looking him over nervously. “I didn’t mean to wake you up.”

Aiden looked at the bedside table. The clock read 9:14. 

“It’s fine,” he said. “I was up a little late. Um.” He looked around. “Do you want to come in?”

Sam shrank slightly. “Yeah. I guess.” 

He held the door for her and she hesitated as she stepped into the dark room.

“Hold on,” he said. Pinning the door open with the chair, he walked to the curtains. When he opened them, the day was thick with sunshine. The heat of it hit him in the face and burned his eyes.

When Aiden turned back to the door, he almost gasped. She was beautiful, standing there in the light. Her skin was the color of soap; her hair wavy and fluid like desert sandstone. Continue reading