CR Guardian

Guild of Four

Work, Vacation, and Death

So, I've been kind of quiet for a month or so. I fell behind on some of my goals, but I'm not too upset over it. Life got in the way as it so often does. I still plan on getting my book done before December.


Work has been crazy. We’ve been opening several stores on top of preparing for Black Friday and Christmas. For part of this time we were down my top player because she was on maternity leave, throwing six weeks into chaos. She'll be back this week, so that should unbind my hands ‘til she has her next baby. She's at the bottom of the bunk beds here:

Then my grandmother died. I was worried her funeral would be sad but, in truth, it was filled with joy. The night we buried her, the stars were brightened by our laughter for my family loves telling overly exaggerated stories. Doris would have absolutely loved it! You can read more about her on my Creative Shout-out.

A week after the funeral, my wife and I went on a much needed vacation to the Riviera Maya. We wrote while we were there but mostly swam and visited the “cocodrilos” outside our building. We had a blast and will definitely go back! If you ever get the chance to visit, you should! Do not miss visiting the Mayan ruins at Chichén Itzá. They will rock your world!

Below is what we woke up to every morning!

With all that behind me, I have a few weeks to catch up on my manuscript. That will be doable once my right-hand woman returns to work, allowing me time to iron out the remaining kinks in my book. WISH ME LUCK!

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Be at peace and keep writing. You can only get better.

~ CR Guardian

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Artistic Partners

I'm not saying everyone needs a spouse who understands what it's like to be an artist, but it's definitely a plus.

My wife and I are both writers. There are nights we're up until three tapping away at our keyboards. Neither complains the other hasn't come to bed because we're both sword fighting our craft. If one of us is blocked or having trouble, we can turn to the other for input.

We have artistic friends who are bombarded by complaints from their significant others.

They get questions like . . . 

  • "Why are you still typing if you're frustrated?"
  • "Are you mad at me? Then why so quiet?"
  • "Are you still awake?"
  • "Are you about done with that?"
  • "If you're not going to make any money writing, why are you doing this?"
  • "Why is the woman in this book blonde? I'm not blonde! Is a blonde what you want?"

They get comments like . . . 

  • "Seriously? You can't be pausing the movie during the fight scene to write something down."
  • "You did not just write what I said for a character in your book!"
  • "You just got home from work and you're already tapping at your keyboard."

It's amazing to not have to explain any of this to someone because they're obsessively caught up in their craft, too. 

My wife is the most amazing woman on this planet, but she would drive me crazy if I weren't a writer. After work, she'll often feel her artistic juices flowing and be tip-tip-tapping or sketching by the time I get home. I don't question it. I start dinner and bring it to her if she doesn't feel like taking a long break.

There are things you know as a writer or artist that others may not understand. For example, what certain facial expressions mean. The other day, Priscilla walked in and walked right back out because she recognized that my eyes narrowing, leg jackhammering, and fingers blurring meant I was in the middle of a fight scene. If she misses the subtle differences and asks if I want to take a break, I will shake my head or raise a finger. When that happens, she knows I'm so focused, the only response I can muster is that simple gesture. She's not frustrated because she knows where my head is at. Not only that, she wants me to be in that space. When you're so deep in your story that the world around you barely registers, you make the breakthroughs you've been searching for. It's those moments when everything comes together as naturally as breathing.

If you don't have an artistic spouse, that's all right. They will learn to be supportive. But you'll have to explain your process to them. Pray they'll be patient and be sure to make it worth their wait when they are.

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Be at peace and keep writing. You can only get better.

~ CR Guardian

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Visceral

Something I've been working on lately is adding the visceral to my manuscript, those moments where the body has a purely internal reaction to what's happening. You get in an accident and your heart beats so hard you can feel it in your fingertips. A pulsating rum-pum-pum-pum against the back of your eyes. Your temples throb so intensely you swear they'll burst open to allow the blood to flow in carmine rivers down the sides of your face.

I had a roller coaster of these responses when I was younger due to my vivid imagination. Since I’m literally crazy, this imagination gave birth to angels, monsters, and demons all around me. Now that I’m writing, my imagination helps. I’m able to think a world into existence and plunge in headfirst. Need a forest? I’m in it. Need a giant scarab? Its wings beat the air above me. As it lands, dry leaves rustle at my feet. I love having a vivid imagination. But when I was a child, it was terrifying. Many a night was spent hiding under the covers.


I remember one night when the angels abandoned me to fight in Colorado. Moonlight illuminated most of the room, but a shadow was cast by the dresser. Within that darkness, red eyes peered back. The hair on my neck and arms stood at attention. I brought the blankets to my chin.

“They’ll be back soon,” I promised, hoping the threat of my protectors’ return would scare the creature off.

A form materialized, its head tilting. It left the shadows as though stepping from one plane of existence to another. It was slumped over and short, a creature with small, curved blades dotting the forehead. It approached the foot of my bed, smooth scales reflecting the moonlight against the walls. A long, spiked tail tore up chunks of carpet. A second pair of eyes opened to glance at the window while the original two remained locked on me. The creature smiled, a zipper of interlocked teeth splitting its face in half. Its mouth opened to reveal three more sets of sharp, pearly whites.

My throat throbbed as though my heart was crawling to put distance between itself and the monster. I could barely breathe, let alone call for help. I had to get away, get out of the room, make a break for the stairs.

I sat up. The creature crouched, preparing to pounce. I dropped, throwing blankets over my head.

Minutes passed. I choked air around the heart that stubbornly clung to the inside of my throat. When nothing happened, I peeked from under the sheets.

The monster was inches from my face. It shook, scales rattling, and opened its mouth again. 

I grabbed my blankets firmly, yanking them in the direction of the beast. I bounced to my feet and made two lunging steps for the foot of the bed. I sprang, landed outside my room, and stumbled the final few steps to the stairs. My hands and feet met each step, clambering up. At the top I made a beeline for my parents' room. Not once did I look back. I knew the creature was already free. I knew it was right behind me. Knew it wanted to devour me whole. The moment my feet crossed the barrier to my parents' room, I swung their door shut.

SLAM!

My parents sat straight up in bed.

I pressed my back against the door to brace for the beast’s impact, still unable to call for help.

“Who?" my dad said. "And why?” He didn't yet realize which of his five sons had burst into the room.

“Me!” I answered between gasps. “Demon.”

A lamp on the nightstand flooded the room with light. My mother squinted at me. “It’s a dream. Want one of us to pray with you?”

It became painfully obvious the creature had not followed. It had scared me up the stairs and was probably laughing at me for waking my parents. I looked like a fool pressed firmly against their door. The dread melted into an embarrassed anger. Heat welled behind my eyes and my heart climbed back down to rest behind my rib cage. “I’m fine. Sorry.”

I opened their door and did some praying of my own. I asked God for one favor: “Tear the monster limb from limb. Spike its stupid head outside my room as a warning for all who dare follow.” Okay, two favors.

Over the years, many more did dare. Most failed to leave alive.


Adding the visceral response puts the reader in your character's shoes. If done correctly, the pages will turn rapidly and your readers' heartbeats will quicken.

Upadate: 07/07/2015 Found an amazing article by Margie Lawson on this here

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Be at peace and keep writing. You can only get better.

~ CR Guardian

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Don't Be Afraid to Cut!

I once had trouble with word cutting. I'd write a scene, edit the crap out of it, then realize it wasn't needed. But I'd think, I can't cut after all that work. Wrong!

Once you realize cutting is your friend, writing becomes fun again. You're no longer afraid to make mistakes because all you need to do is revise. We aren't ancient scribes, and typewriters are old school, so why fear this?

I hadn't even looked at my novel's word count until my wife said, "Make sure it's around 100,000 words when you query." I was like, "I'm sure it is." I put my chapters together and took a peek. I subsequently spent weeks in the hospital while doctors worked endlessly to fix my frozen expression of crippling horror.

143,000 words. How did that happen? Wasn't everything essential?

Turns out, no, it wasn't.

Throughout the book, I had dedicated 10,000 words to my main character being a student. Did he need to be? No. Down to 133,000. Did the relationship between the main characters have to get physical so early? Nope. I postponed it, which cut an additional 15,000 words. Now we're cooking with fire! Down to 118,000. Do I need this? No. 115,000. Need that? Nope! 109,000. Speed up the beginning and end? YES, PLEASE! We're at 107,000!

This tactic isn't limited to cutting. When I changed the relationship between my main characters, it added depth where it was needed most. In another scene, I'd written a side character as a selfish person; I mean, she was horrible. I spent days editing the selfish version because something felt off. Then I asked, "What if she were loving?" This added emotional gravitas to the page because everything the reader feels for her becomes twisted and confused. The scene became powerful. This change also served to drop an additional 1,000 words.

Look at each chapter and ask yourself, "Is this the best way this could turn out? What if this happens instead?" You'll save yourself weeks of work if you ask before you write. 

I'm getting my book where I want it and that is exciting. This would not be true had I feared to press the delete key!

Now, before you go cutting, adding, and revising, make a copy of your draft and date it. Do this every time! That way, if you realize you've cut or changed too much, you can easily transition back. If you have Scrivener, which I highly encourage you to use, there are several tools for this including Snapshot, Rollback, and Copy to "Cut Scene" Folder.

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Be at peace and keep writing. You can only get better.

~ CR Guardian

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And So It Begins

I have a blog. What to post about first?

When I was younger, I wrote to get the crazy out of my head. Chaos was my mental state, therefore chaos spewed forth onto the page. (And I use the word "spewed" for a reason. Let's just say, my writing wasn't Tolstoy or Dickens.)

My wife and I were home for the holidays, so naturally I decided to torture myself by picking up an old notebook of mine. I wasn't surprised by how terrible it was. I know I've grown, as we all should. But there was something refreshing about it too. The writing flowed onto the page as thoughts brought to life, relaxed and unhindered. I didn't worry about what other people thought because it wasn't for anybody else to see. It was what I, alone, saw all around me: Angels and demons fighting in the fields during the day, spirits strumming their instruments near my bed at night.

Five years ago, I began writing with publication in mind.

In 2012, I took one of David Farland's workshops and it forced me to look long and hard at how far I had to go. When he told me I wasn't even close to ready, my heart sank. At first, I wanted to believe he was wrong. I'd been writing all my life. Who was he to say I wasn't ready? The author of 50 novels, most of which are bestsellers, THAT'S WHO! I went into that workshop thinking I was ready to query and left knowing I was everything but.

David Farland's workshops will change your life, so take one if you're serious about writing. Also, he has weekly Writing Tips that are aptly named "Kick in the Pants." A kick is what many of us need, especially for those so confident they're blind to their own mistakes.

This year I plan to query my first novel.

I've signed up for a course on how to further polish my manuscript, taught by the amazing Margie Lawson. I've heard many great things about her from my writer friend Tina Gower.

I met Tina a few years back at David Farland's workshop and her work blew my mind. Since then, she's won first place in the 2013 Daphne du Maurier Contest for Unpublished Novels in the Paranormal and the Writers of the Future Golden Pen.  Seriously, check her out, for she truly is a Writer of your Future!

On one hand, I'm scared to take another course. I believe I am ready and Margie Lawson will undoubtedly point out the reasons I am not. On the other hand, I'm excited to develop my craft.

Thank you for reading my first entry. I plan to add a Creative Shout-Out at the beginning of the month and a personal post toward the end. I hope what I write is relevant to you.

I pray you all succeed this year at furthering your craft.

Buy Scrivener for Windows (Regular Licence)

Be at peace and keep writing. You can only get better.

~ CR Guardian

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