Day 156 – Using humor in suspense/thriller fiction

Day one hundred fifty-six of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 1,100

I started Chapter 18 tonight, and although there have been some lighter moments scattered here and there in the previous seventeen chapters, for the most part the story is serious. It is, after all, turning out to be a suspense/thriller novel (I’m not even sure how to classify it yet). Despite this, tonight I ended up writing a couple of lighter moments with some humor mixed in.

A few questions come to mind as a result: 1) Is it appropriate to include some humor in consideration of the serious tone of the rest of the book? 2) Will the reader get stuck on this change and think it odd? 3) If it is okay to use some humor in this type of book, how is it best received? In small doses? In obvious ways, or more subtle ones? 4) What are the risks involved in attempting to transition between these two very different tones, and how does one reduce or prevent those risks?

The answers to these questions may be more obvious to me when I read the first draft. But of course, any input from you seasoned writers is always appreciated.

Day 155 – The closure that comes with ending a chapter

Day one hundred fifty-five of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 900

I had planned to write at least 1,000 words tonight, but I reached the end of Chapter 17 at just over 900. There’s no better place to end a writing session than at the end of a chapter. I love those last moments of reflection about the state of a character or characters, foreshadowing of what is to come, and closure of what led up to that point. I finish a chapter feeling satisfied and eager to start the next one. And that is exactly how I hope the reader will feel in that same moment before turning the page.

What the reader won’t experience is the closure from finishing a part of the book that allows the writer to put it behind her for a period of time. I enjoy thinking about the story as I write it, but I also enjoy letting go of each scene, each chapter after it’s done. I have more writing to do, so to be able to set past chapters aside – to shelve them for a while to let them steep before I get into the reading, re-writing and editing process – is in many ways a relief. I have written seventeen chapters totaling 139,182 words. I still have more to go, but right about now this kind of closure feels pretty damn good.

Day 154 – 7 benefits of writing while standing

Day one hundred fifty-four of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 1,000

Writing late at night is tough. Staying awake is probably the biggest challenge, but the best way to attack the sleepy spells is to stand up to them. Literally. I have written standing up the past two nights and I have decided: it’s my new thing.

Last night I kept nodding off while writing, fingers on the keyboard, head bobbing. I got up off the couch, set my laptop on the kitchen island and proceeded to write the rest of my session standing. It was great. Now that I have done this two nights in a row, I have figured out some instant benefits from writing while standing:

  1. It kills the sleepy spells. It’s hard to fall asleep standing up. It’s also funny how much more writing one gets done when one is awake. And alert.
  2. It is hard not to be alert standing on one’s feet. Different ideas – good ideas, come quicker. The creative juices flow more easily while writing standing up. Why? Maybe it has something to do with unblocking chakras. Beats me.
  3. It is more comfortable to type. I lose feeling in my fingers, hands and wrists when I’m typing at my laptop for extended periods of time. Sitting with my laptop in my…well, lap, really exacerbates this. Typing from a standing position alleviates this problem considerably by creating a better positional relationship between the writer and the keyboard.
  4. It promotes faster writing. Again possibly something to do with chakras, but I write more in less time therefore getting to bed at an earlier hour. Now this cycle is one I can get behind.
  5. It is better for one’s posture. When writing from a sitting position it is easy to slouch something terrible over a laptop. Standing up? Slouching is much harder to do. I found myself actually holding in my core while I was standing at my laptop. Hmmm…exercise while writing…
  6. It’s less distracting. Writing while standing in the kitchen took me away from common distractions such as the TV, my cozy, snoozing dog on the couch, the mesmerizing flicker of the fireplace. What is going to distract me in here? The toaster?
  7. Location, location, location. A change in scenery or location for writing can do wonders. Just moving into a different room and standing instead of sitting incited me to do some good writing the past two days. If floundering, change it up.

Day 153 – A foreshadowing of a series

Day one hundred fifty-three of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 1,200

Once again, the organically creative process of writing fiction surprises me. I suppose I should stop being so naive, but that would take all the fun out of the experience of writing my first novel. Tonight, I had a general idea of where the story was going to go, but I wasn’t sure how it was going to get there. It evolved on its own, as I am finding is usually the case. And this time, a little nugget of possibility appeared for a second book to follow this one. A series? Quite possibly.

It was born out of the recently introduced character I couldn’t resist adding to the story (read about that here). He is a wise, old eccentric named Lyndon, who I have taken a real liking to. When the protagonist, Skylar, was forced to depart with him, I didn’t want their interaction to be over. So I included a foreshadowing of a future experience with them. It really excites me to know it doesn’t have to be over. Ironically, I considered Lyndon to be my closer for this book. It turns out, he’s just the opposite.

Lyndon doesn’t have to disappear into the past, never to be heard from again. He’s too damn interesting to do that. And while I know he won’t appear again in this book, at least there is the possibility that he will be back in a second book. That idea really excites me, and is likely to induce a thousand ideas to start writing when I finish the first book. Or sooner. Since I’m not sure I can wait.

Day 152 – Slowing down to make room for writing

Day one hundred fifty-two of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words for Days 149, 150, 151 and 152: 2,200

It was a nice break from reality the past few days. Not having to get up and get kids off to school and daycare, go to work, and meet all of the usual daily obligations has been a much-needed respite. It has been busy in other ways, but much less intense. It is nice to be able to say that about the holidays. I know for some it can be even more intense than ‘normal.’

I’m happy with the amount of writing I did over the past few days of holiday celebration. Sure, it isn’t really all that much, but I had planned on much less. It was nice to surpass my own expectations. Slowing things down made all the difference. I wasn’t on my normal schedule. I wasn’t stressed about the next day. I just was. This removed the sense of urgency and “I have to get this done” that is usually hanging over my head when I sit down to write. I had more room, so-to-speak, to be a writer. The result was a feeling of pleasant contentment for me, and more colorful writing for my manuscript. I have more days off next week so I hope to maintain this slower pace. What is better for me is better for my writing.

Merry Christmas – enjoying my writing gift from Santa

I hope everyone is enjoying the day. I’m very excited to be testing out my new portable iLepo 360 Flyshark keyboard, which I am using to type this post. This little keyboard is awesome. It folds in half to a size that is just a little larger than my iPhone. I can carry it in my pocket or purse and write anytime, anywhere. I can use the WordPress app on my IPhone to write and create posts when I don’t have my laptop. And I can write and work on my book at times and in places I would otherwise not be able to. Writing every day just got a whole lot easier. What a world of possibility this opens for me!

THANK YOU, Santa Claus. And Merry Christmas to all!


Day 148 – Unexpected interludes keep the story interesting

Day one hundred forty-eight of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 1,100

When writing fiction, it’s easy to veer off from the planned story line. This can be good or bad. I’m never sure about it while I’m writing it. I suppose whether it works or not will be clear to me when I hit the editing and re-writing stage. But what is clear to me now is that sometimes an unexpected interlude – unplanned even by the writer – is just what is needed to keep the story interesting.

As a new writer – someone who is having her first experience writing a novel from start to finish – I’m always pleasantly surprised at how fulfilling the creative process can be. A meaningful writing session never fails to leave me with a light heart and mind. Going to bed in that state is invaluable. I rest easy after I write. I wake up refreshed and full of new ideas. And it is no surprise after that kind of experience that I look forward to sitting down to write again each day.

Day 147 – Writing sometimes gets pushed down the list of priorities

Day one hundred forty-seven of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words for Days 145, 146 and 147: 700

No, that isn’t a typo. I only wrote 700 words this weekend. With Christmas just days away and plenty of other things in my schedule (I won’t bore you with details), writing took a distant back seat. Don’t you hate it when that happens?

That’s just how it worked out for me this weekend. I expect the next two weeks to be equally challenging, with holiday celebrations and visits with family and friends. But I will be writing every day, even if only a couple of sentences (which is all I did yesterday.) Since I started this project, writing has become a life priority. The discipline it has taken to find time to write every day has evolved into a habit I never want to break. So if my writing gets bumped down to the bottom of my list of priorities for a while, you can be sure I will still be writing daily if only on a lesser scale.

Day 144 – What the reader doesn’t know

Day one hundred forty-four of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 500

I had a very long, exhausting day today that left me struggling to keep my eyes open tonight. l was feeling unaccomplished as I tried to write, because I wasn’t sure how the current scene should continue. I was also feeling unaccomplished about only writing 500 words for the second day in a row. Which is really pretty good, all things considered. (Note to self: Any amount of writing is an accomplishment, as long as you are writing every day.)

I have had this ongoing feeling of being a disappointment to future readers because of difficulties I am having as I write. Doubts about the scenes. Concerns about the characters. Struggles with word usage, flow, sentence structure, description, etc. Tonight it occurred to me that none of that stuff matters right now. I will be editing and re-writing and polishing my manuscript many times before future readers lay their eyes upon it. One hopes that by then, the difficulties and doubts will have evaporated. They will be non-existent. And the readers will never know that I struggled with this part or totally bombed that part. They will only see the shiny end product.

I must remind myself that it doesn’t have to be great yet. It will get there. I don’t have to be a writing maniac shattering word count goals. I’m still writing and my book is nearing the end of its first draft. It will get there. And trying to please future readers now, at this early stage, is pointless. They won’t read it in its current state. The book they end up reading will be very different from what it is now. The doubts, struggles and difficulties will be gone and they will be none the wiser. What the reader doesn’t know won’t hurt them.

Day 143 – The moment is over; it’s time for reflection

Day one hundred forty-three of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 500

After such a good time writing last night, tonight lacked the same luster. I don’t know why, but I’m always surprised at how much the content of the story affects my writing process. Yesterday I was writing a scene of supreme significance in the story and my fingers flew along the keyboard. Lovers were reunited in the midst of difficult conditions. It was both exciting and touching, and equally enjoyable to write. Today, the moment is over and the characters are in a sort of recovery/waiting period before venturing out for the next scene. Reflection and rest. It’s just not exciting to write, although I would not go as far to say that it isn’t enjoyable.

There must be parts in the story when the action slows down and there is time for introspection. Those moments allow the build-up to the more intense moments to be more fulfilling and thrilling. There is always the promise that it will get exciting again, but for now the lull in the action is slowing down my writing process. And that’s okay, as long as I’m still writing and the story is still moving. Check, and check.