Kelly Flowers

writer


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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


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8 Ways To Work The Writing Critique Group

Teenagers and Writing Critique Groups = Creativity Killersscared-face

Remember being a teenager? It seemed you had to hide any bit of individuality from the mob of your peers and their judgy-ness.

Maybe that was just me. It wasn’t weird that I quoted Shakepeare, danced to swing music and carried vocabulary flashcards in my purse. No. Not weird.

I have teenagers now and guess what? They’re still judgy! And I’m still weird. (I’m told this constantly.) But now, I like my weird. We’ve grown attached to each other. We clique off and snicker about our critics. In my head, we ARE the popular kids.

I’m all grown up now. But writing critique groups can kill creativity in much the same way as the high school mean girls can.

The first time I went to a writers critique group. I was young, not much older than a teenager, really. The group met in an adorable bohemian café that had ombre walls, sold forty different types of tea and had jam poetry sessions that packed the place. This is being a writer, I said to myself. How romantic! Continue reading


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Book Excerpt: Gone Dark – The Sirens

Sam’s eyes snapped open. The dark room was grainy with the promise of morning. She lay still as the sound of sirens rose from the fog on the marsh. At first, Sam understood. Just as everything presented while straddling a dream is accepted without question. The sirens somehow made sense.

When the sirens began a second time, Sam bolted up. She stumbled to the sliding door and scanned the light beyond the glass. The Kawainui marsh was the same. The Ko’olau mountains still steepled in prayer beyond it. But it all felt different. A dense shroud of grey pressed its belly into the thickets of mangrove. The trees looked bent like blades of grass.

She stood at the door, pulling the dream back. A woman, her mother but not her mother, her finger circling the rim of a crystal glass. Sam felt like she knew something she hadn’t known before. And then the dream slipped away, a stone sinking into the pond of her mind.

A shot rang out, sending a buzz down the walls. Sam didn’t move. She watched the wind digging into the cane grass. A mango rolled down the slope of the roof landing with a splat on the pavement outside the door. Continue reading


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Sowing The Seeds Of A Novel – Writing and Gardening

Gardens are like books. Ok, gardens are not as delightful as books and, well, gardens have bugs soooo… 😕 But maintaining a garden is like writing a book because…

Both gardens and books need constant care to grow. I liken that perfect, red glittery strawberry to a jewel of an idea you get at 3am. You know you should stop what you’re doing and pick it/write it down but “meh.” You’re too tired.You’ll do it later. Then poof! You turn it over and the potato bugs have swiss-cheesed it. giphy

They both look easy, until you’re on your knees in aguish because grasshoppers have scarfed down your harvest or you discover that your protagonist is just boring.

Aaaand, if you garden (or write novels) only for food, you’re in the wrong business!

Way back when, I loved the idea of food being a simple equation. Seed – plant – stomach. Easy, right?

But after many moons of battling weeds and insects, I’ve realized three things:

1. I have not outgrown my childhood skittishness of all things crawly.  Continue reading