Wednesday, July 25, 2012

That AHA! Writing Moment


Everyone has AHA! Writing Moments. Those times when what was confusing suddenly becomes clear. It could be with the principles and elements of writing itself, or perhaps the writing journey.

I've invited some friends to share their AHA! Writing Moments, and hopefully they'll inspire you!   And if you're like me, curious about the term AHA Moment, itself, the New York Times has a brilliant article on the topic, here.


"My own AHA Moment was when Associate Editor Rachel Burkot explained to me that every single scene must show how it relates to the hero and heroine and their journey. Episodic writing had been explained to me but I never really got it. This explanation made me understand I could keep my scenes, I just had to turn them around to make this point clear, thus advancing the story development." Tina Radcliffe




"I had sent in several submissions to Love Inspired when editor Emily Rodmell kindly took the time in a rejection letter to explain to me what exactly Love Inspired books are about regarding tone, plots, etc. Though I'd been reading Love Inspireds, I'd missed the boat on some key elements to their stories. Sometimes you just need something laid out in black and white to "get it". That rejection was my AHA moment." Jessica Nelson




"My AHA! moment was during edits on my first book with Heartsong Presents. The copy editor (Donna Maltese) told me that a good way to stop telling, and SHOW was to stay in the moment and describe what was happening. That is when the showing vs. telling really kicked in for me." Rose Ross Zediker




"Sadly, I have AH-HA moments every day of my life, but how long they stay is questionable. My first came when I was talking to my editor for the very first time on the phone and asked her if she remembered the pitch I'd given her two years prior at ACFW (yes, apparently I really was that stupid not to realize editors come away from conferences glazed and with very little memory after a gazillion pitches). But I thought she might remember the crazy woman who blathered on about Gone With the Wind and how she'd begun writing her own novel (A Passion Most Pure) at age twelve after reading GWTW. Nope. When I realized that the manuscript I sent her was still sitting in a slush pile in the corner of her office, the proverbial light bulb went off in my "pitch" dark brain, illuminating my first AH-HA moment: Go for an agent first, publisher second. Sigh. Sure wish I'd paid my electric bill earlier ... :) "
Julie Lessman




"I'm not a jealous person. If you get to wear high heels every day and sip on a latte at work while I do endless loads of laundry, I'm happy for you. If you have your own indoor Olympic pool and heated tiles in the bathroom while I once scraped frost from the INSIDE of my living room windows, I'm thrilled that such wonderful things exist. If you can play symphony level piano while I struggle through Bach, I'm ready to applaud. I love being happy for other people and their gifts, because it shows the unbelievable, crazy generosity of our God.  But a few years ago, when Camy Tang wrote a blog post on 12K in one day, I struggled. I moaned. I groaned. I was never going to finish my book. EVER. And it was everyone's fault but mine. I spent two weeks whining, resenting every small interruption, and generally making my family miserable.  Then I prayed.  (I know. DUH.) And I saw those word counts as mansions. I saw them as exotic vacations. I saw first chair violinists and math geniuses.   AHA.

The high word counts are a gift and we should all be cheering when someone gets there. (Thank goodness this was before I joined 1K1hr or I'd have jumped from the roof before I got to the praying part!)" Virginia Munoz




"My AHA moment dawned while listening to Randy Ingermanson's recorded Continuing Education workshop from the 2011 ACFW conference. In essence, he was talking about characters and how every character in your book believes he/she is the hero. Even the villain, no matter how evil, believes he's doing the right thing. In just a couple of sentences, Randy de-mystified the whole GMC thing. The concept of characters having a life before Chapter One of my book became crystal clear and I saw how each character maintained their values and goals - their very identity - while confronted by conflicting ideals and how, by having their beliefs pushed to the wall, the unavoidable self-examination makes them grow." Audra Harders



"For the longest time, I couldn't get what seasoned writers meant when they bandied about the term "deep POV." I felt like I had POV down, but I wanted to go deeper. I read everything I could find about deep POV, but all I got was a glimmer of understanding at first. One day the floodlights went on. POV is "seeing" everything through a character's eyes. Deep POV is "thinking and feeling" everything the POV character thinks and feels without any explanation or "telling" words. It's "showing" how a character perceives the world so intimately that readers feel as though they're one with the character. That flash of insight was illuminating and helped me take my writing to a new level." Keli Gwyn




"My AHA Moment happened as a result of my agent, Natasha Kern, strongly recommending I read Stanley Williams's book The Moral Premise. The concept wasn't exactly unfamiliar to me. I'd been picking up on MPs in novels and movies without really realizing that's what they were. But Stan's book helped me understand how writers can begin to identify the underlying MP of their story and then learn to consciously use it to deepen and strengthen both character and plot."
 Myra Johnson





From Missy Tippens: "I had an "aha!" moment while taking Shirley Jump's online writing class, Good to Sold. On Shirley's checklist, she says to make sure each scene has a goal. Well, duh! I've always known that. But she showed us ways to check each scene and to fix those that didn't have an obvious character goal. I've found this exercise helps me make sure each scene serves a purpose (thus, less episodic writing!)."




"POV was a real struggle for me. It just took me forever to get what it meant straight. Now that I do it seems strange I couldn't understand the concept.
I remember reading a Jennifer Crusie romance and there was ONE paragraph in it with two different people having dialogue, something that's almost never done, which is why it was memorable.And with my neolithic understanding of POV I thought she'd changed the Point of View character within that paragraph.And I loved it.

I was saying back then, "SEE! Big star authors don't obey this rule, I don't have to either!"But later...much, much later...I re-read that paragraph and realized that even with those two dialogue lines it really wasn't in two people's POV and that clicked a light on. AHA! I started to see what POV really meant." Mary Connealy




"My AHA moment was when I finally figured out what agents and editors meant when they said to show not tell.  It was during a workshop with SCBWI actually and we had to print out our manuscript in the smallest font size.  We had to highlight all of the action scenes in one color and the dialogue in another. We were in a large room and were told to lay out our whole manuscript on the floor.  The visual was astounding. You could see where action occurred and all the unhighlighted sections were generally telling.  Woo Hoo!  I finally got it."Sandra Leesmith




"I thought the external and internal things that stand in the character’s way of achieving his/her goal was the conflict. My AHA moment was when my critique partner Shirley Jump said that the ROMANCE should also create another layer of conflict to the hero and heroine’s internal and external Goals, Motivations and Conflicts. The result: the romance complicates everything." Janet Dean




"A big AHA moment came to me via this post by Jenny Crusie. The gist is that when you’re writing, you must strike a balance between juice and craft. Juice is the pure joy of writing—the ideas, creativity, emotion, and excitement. Craft is the container for the juice—the thing that holds it and gives it structure so it’s not spilling all over the place.  Both are essential to a good story, and you need to get the proportions right.  For me, drafting = juice, and revising = craft.  But the bottom line is: You gotta bring the juice! "
 Anne Barton




"We only get one "aha" moment? Because I think I might be the "Aha!" overachiever, with folks bashing me over the head to point out the obvious regularly!  Like Tina's words of wisdom on episodic writing, a big one for me was re-thinking sentence structure. We all have a voice. A style. Our own flare. But words are words and if you're using too many words to describe things then you're wasting kissing time. Wasting kissing time should never be taken lightly!!! Reading a Seekerville post by Cheryl Wyatt, a light bulb went off... If I could re-structure my sentence the way she demonstrated, and cut ten words/page, that would be cutting 3,000 words WITHOUT CHANGING THE STORY. A whole candelabra of light bulbs went off. Ping! Zang! Zook! I re-visited the story and averaged 20 words/page. I cut over 6K without losing a thing. Now I do it automatically as I do my initial edits... Cut. Slice. Chop. Dice. What a wonderful lesson learned for this long-winded author!"
Ruth Logan Herne




From Glynna Kaye "A significant AHA! moment for me was when someone (my now-agent Natasha Kern) explained PREMISE to me in a way I could understand and apply it. From that moment onward, I can't imagine writing a story without laying that strong foundation, applying the glue that ties all the scenes together. In addition to a outer-level concept, I create an inner-level  sub-text, a "what's this story REALLY about?" statement of premise that helps keep me focused from beginning to end.  

At its most basic structure:   ______ leads to ______.  But ______ leads to ______. 

Examples:  
1) Basing self-worth on the ability to please others leads to self-dissatisfaction and the pleasing of no one. Basing self-worth on what God says about you leads to peace and self-acceptance.

2)  Fear of rejection leads to self-imposed isolation and superficial relationships. Embracing relational risk leads to acceptance and deeper connections.

3) Blind ambition leads to destruction of relationships. Love-motivated sacrifice leads to enduring bonds. 




"My AHA moment, by Cara Lynn James, or When I learned about Show and Tell. I thought I understood the concept of Show and Tell, but my editor didn't think I got it. She suggested I incorporate the information I wanted the reader to have in a scene, not in a sentence. For example: my heroine can't find a job. Instead of saying no one would hire her, I wrote a scene where she went from shop to shop and was turned down. I showed the effort she made and her discouragement. It takes up space to show something, but the reader should remember it much better than just a passing reference."




"My AHA moment came when I realized listening to well-meaning critiques won’t necessarily make my writing better. After following the advice of some great people, I made changes in my writing that ended up deleting my “voice.” Before that experience I really didn’t know what it was about my writing that made it unique and gave it the flow I was looking for, but by examining what I had changed and slowly bringing those elements back into my writing, I found the balance I needed to bring the music back into my writing. I also learned how to read critiques – with one eye on where I want to be, and the other on their recommendations." Jan Drexler




From Mia  Ross: "I’ve had plenty of AHA moments, but the biggest one occurred in 2009. I’d only written single titles up to that point, and my agent had mentioned (more than once) that it would be great if I wrote a series. Translation: if you could figure out how to give editors and readers what they’re looking for, we just might be able to land a publishing contract. My AHA came when I dusted off an old project that I still loved. Through more experienced eyes, it was easy to see the story had some merit but no focus. The supporting cast was distracting, and there was no underlying structure holding everything together. Once I realized those secondary characters could take starring roles in other books, the series concept finally made sense to me. If you’d like to see the results of my AHA moment, check out www.miaross.com."



 "My AH-HA involved scene endings.  Early on, I wrote long, long, long chapters to get to the big-bang, cliffhanger chapter ending that I knew would keep the readers engaged.  Trouble was I meandered through those long chapters with details that slowed the pace instead of moving the story forward.  Author Rita Herron critiqued my work and suggested shorter scenes with a hook at the end of each section.  EUREKA!  I didn’t have to include everything the character did each and every moment of his life. Instead I only needed to write the important scenes that moved the action or revealed his inner conflict or motivation or change of heart or all of the above.  I also needed to end each scene, as well as each chapter, with a hook." Debby Giusti




Share your own AHA! Moment in the comments for an opportunity to win a ten page critique for a writer and for a reader their choice of a copy of Ruth Logan Herne's A Family to Cherish or Janet Dean's Bride's of the West.  (one reader winner, one writer winner) Winners announced in the Weekend Edition.

101 comments:

Ausjenny said...

I enjoyed the aha moments and the images. I dont need to be entered I have the books (albeit ones on the computer and hard to get to) and I am not a writer.
I think even us readers have aha moments. Like learning about what it takes to be a writer and different things. five years ago I would have no idea what POV was let alone other abreviations. When I worked on out and what it meant it was AHA!
Its like a friend telling me a book isn't edited well cos shes an author she sees it and understands the issues. I read the same book and dont see its not edited well but I notice things like it takes forever to read. or seems to and its moving so slow and I am waiting for something to actually happen. She told me that means the pacing is off (I had no idea what it meant but I now know we readers dont have fancy names we just know the book is moving slow). Another one was so bogged down in retelling the same story from the different POV, and it just felt like the author thought the reader was slow and couldn't get the point. I was at the point if you tell me one more time why such and such happens I will scream.
ok I need to go and try and cook some pasta sauce which I haven't in around 20 years Dan then it was only twice.

Helen Gray said...

I had worked my way along with using/understanding POV, and I thought I got it. But I didn't really get Deep POV. Then a post back in March here in Seekerville gave some excellent examples that made me say, "AHA!"

Coffee's ready!

Helen

Melissa Jagears said...

I'm very thankful for the very early AHA moment I got in a crit group. A critter said something to the effect of "this is nice, but you need to rewrite it like this"(showing vs. telling) and seeing her take my scene and rewrite it as showing gave me that aha. Reading about show vs. tell and seeing someone's examples hadn't worked-- it was seeing my material changed that turned it into complete sense.

Whenever I crit a newbie writer that does telling out the wazoo, I always rewrite a section as an example. They may hate me for it, but I was so grateful someone did it for me that if it helps someone understand then I'd be happy.

There's something totally different about reading a craft book and then having a crit partner point out a section of your writing and say "this is not following this rule, can you see it?" Once those words are out, it's like I have blinders. It's taken a lot of practice to start noticing my own problems.

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

I loved all of these... I think I learned a bunch just from reading the post. I ket scrolling down, flipping to my ms, checking something, coming back...


I have to say, whether the rest of the post was empty, it would have been completely worth the lick just to read the words:

Ping! Zang! Zook!

Ruthy, she's always good value.

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

OOps!

CLICK!

Not LICK!


I was not licking anything. Especially not lightbulbs.

Mary Connealy said...

Ruthy's right about there being more than one.
More like one a month for the rest of your life.

If you're LUCKY!
You keep learning. You keep 'AHA'-ing.

Ausjenny said...

I learnt due to my recent mishap always have an emergency toiletry bag read and make sure there is a comb in it. (that was a be aha moment or was it ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh) If the only thing I took with me was my comb I would have been happy. it was almost 2 days til I got one.

back to spaghetti sauce no idea how long its meant to cook!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Telling out the Wazoo is a particularly visual term.

Tina Radcliffe said...

And here's a list of Shirley Jump's online classes coming up if you're interested. I take her classes whenever I can.

http://shirleyjump.blogspot.com/2012/02/last-chance-sign-up-for-taking-book.html

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, WOW, what a FUN and INSIGHTFUL post, Teenster!!!

And, KELI, THANK YOU!!! I still up until today did not really understand deep POV, so you are the FIRST person to ever really explain it to me in a way I get it. YAY -- another AHA moment!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

RUTHY SAID: "But words are words and if you're using too many words to describe things then you're wasting kissing time."

LOL ... I just may make that my new credo, my friend -- SOOOO true!! Of course, I like to actually use all those words I cut to pump up the kissing scenes, so this is win-win for me! ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Jan Drexler said...

Ah, now I have a day full of AHA! moments!

Mary's right - there's no such thing as just one. There should be several every day...

Another one of mine: The first time someone said to follow the rules religiously in the beginning. When you're an experienced writer you can start breaking them judiciously. (I'm still waiting to feel experienced enough!)

And another one: last night I was re-reading Crime and Punishment. The second chapter is a conversation in a bar between the hero and an alcoholic clerk he just met. It's all the clerk "telling" about his life - but the way he told it was pure "showing". I was just stunned when I noticed that.

It's going to be a great day! I can hardly wait to read everyone else's Aha's!

And Jenny, you must be feeling better if you feel like cooking :)

Cara Lynn James said...

Jenny, I wish I still had the perspective of a reader. You can clearly see what's wrong with a book, but you don't get lost in the weeds. Sometimes it's hard for a writer to see the big picture, especially when it's her own book.

Cara Lynn James said...

Thanks for this great post, Tina!

One of my Aha moments came when I read Beth White's critique of Love on a Dime when it was in it's first version. I was a very new writer--that's my excuse for writing such a wordy wreck. She marked it up all in red. She taught me so much about cutting unnecessary words etc. Having an experienced author critique my manuscript was a huge help!!!

Glynna Kaye said...

Thank goodness for AHA! Moments in the craft of writing so we can continue to grow as writers and aren't stuck where we first began! I look forward to MANY more AHA's in the coming years. :)

Marianne said...

IF AHA moments are moments when we learn something new, then every day should have one. My wise old grandfather said that the day you don't learn something new is the day you could quit living. i am a reader, not a writer, but have found Seekerville a fount of inspiration in doing my reviews! Thank you.

marianneDOTwanhamATgmailDOTcom

Tina Radcliffe said...

Awe, thanks, Marianne. Wise gramps you have there.

Tina Radcliffe said...

We're teaching Jenny how to be a writer..as a reader you have a lot to teach us, dear.

Kav said...

I have a bazillion 'aha' moments -- sometimes multiple times on the same topic -- does that count?

I had two while reading this blog.

First -- Cara's show and tell example. I am constantly wrestling with that but her concise example makes me get it just a little bit more.

Second -- Glynna's 'what's this story really about' premise examples. But on this one my aha moment was quickly followed by a question which makes me wonder if this is really an aha moment or a teensy little glimmer of an 'ah...' moment. Here's the question:

Can there be two of those premises in one story? A different one for the hero and heroine? Or should it be one premise with the hero and heroine modeling the opposite viewpoint of the premise?

Jamie Adams said...

I had several AHA moments reading this post! Some times I find myself having the same AHA moment I had the week or day before. It's not easy to teach an old dog new tricks.

My biggest AHA moment came when taking Cheryl St. John's class on conflict.

She showed us that readers sympathize with characters in conflict. They learn about who the character is by the way the character reacts to the conflict.

"Our characters have to face their worst fears. By the time that happens,we have shown the reader enough glimpses of their motivation to understand why she reacts the way she does."

Myra Johnson said...

Super post, Tina! And such great "aha" moments from everyone!

Glynna! We were on the same "aha" page! Natasha's advice about finding the story's core premise has really helped me stay focused on what's most important in each scene. As a "pantser," I find this especially helpful to keep from going off on tangents.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Good Question, Kav. We'll have to get one of our Moral Premise gals to answer that one.

Jeanne T said...

What a wonderful post, Tina! Lots of great A-ha's here!

I've had many since I first began writing. My first draft of my story was very long and rambly. I hadn't figured out how to incorporate that inciting incident to get the character's on their journey, and they were already in chapter six! :) I attended a My Book Therapy retreat, and learned so much about crafting characters. Understanding the lie they believed and how they lived it out every day helped me better understand my characters and how they would respond to the situations they faced in their story. Does that make sense?

I'm still figuring out how to show not tell, especially when it comes to characters' internal thoughts. Sigh. I need a lot more A-ha's!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Cheryl St. John online classes. Another great instructor. I have taken her classes this year as well.

I've emailed her and asked her to pop in today to let us know her upcoming classes.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Jenny, I love your take on that! You are too funny!

Drinking coffee!!! Needed a sweater early this morning: YAY!!!!

Mary agreed with me.

Today's date is July 25, 2012. Please mark that down.

And I agree with Cara (although that is NOT UNUSUAL like Mary agreeing with me...) that as the author, you sometimes get lost in the telling.

Readers have fresh eyes. This relates to how much I love my editors. Because they help me hone my repetitive nature into something more ENJOYABLE than having Ruthy wah-wah at you for 215 pages.

More or less!

Digging for Pearls said...

Great Aha moments here. :)

Blessings,
Jodie Wolfe

Nancy Kimball said...

I really liked this post. And would really like to win the critique too!
My biggest AHA moment to date, because yes, there's lots of them, was from Stephen King's On Writing.

When you write first draft, you're telling the story to yourself. When you're writing second draft, you're telling the story to other people.

It really helped me to begin just getting the story down in what has become a term I started using with the crit partners "first draft ugly". The internal editor doesn't feel silenced and resentful this way. She feels like she's on the bench waiting to be called in to the game after half-time. =)

Tina Radcliffe said...

Wow! Excellent Nancy!!! That totally resonated.

Nancy Kimball said...

I know, right? =)

I can spend two minutes thinking about the best physiological reaction to show her being hacked off that I haven't overused (unless it's a quirk (waving at Julie!)), then another minute honing in on the best verbs to do it or a really fresh simile that deepens characterization or setting, OR, just write:

She would kill him for this.

And keep going exploring why and what he's gonna do about it. =)

“Books aren't written - they're rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it.” - Michael Crichton

Myra Johnson said...

Kav asked: "Can there be two of those premises in one story? A different one for the hero and heroine? Or should it be one premise with the hero and heroine modeling the opposite viewpoint of the premise?"

According to expert Stanley Williams--WHO HAS JUST AGREED TO JOIN US AGAIN FOR OUR OCTOBER BIRTHDAY BASH!!!--a well-written story will have only ONE Moral Premise that will be played out in different ways for all the major characters.

If you ever watched that TV show "Seventh Heaven," that's a perfect example. One week the show would be about lies vs. truth, for example, and every character on the show had to deal with the emotional impact of honesty or dishonesty in some aspect of her/his life.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Oh, very good Myra. Even Seinfeld and Scrubs and Suits and Royal Pains. All popular TV shows all do that. NOW THAT IS A LIGHT BULB MOMENT!!! The intertwining theme that comes around in a synchronicity circle at the end.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Tina, Loved all the AHA moments. Isn't it amazing how many ways God can teach us?

And we don't learn something until we are ready or willing to listen. LOL

Have a great day.

Debby and I are getting wound up for RWA. We're registered. We went to the beach yesterday and had lunch. yummmm

Any Seekers here?

Sandra Leesmith said...

Jaimie, You made me laugh. I totally relate. Some of my AHA moments come over and over again. LOL

Debby Giusti said...

Great AHA moments, Tina!

I love when the lightbulb goes on. Hoping I get more of those revelations. So much to learn in this business.

Sending love from RWA in Anaheim. Sandra and I are heading to the Goody Room soon to drop off our Seekerville hand-santizers. Hoping to see lots of Seeker friends today at the FHL meeting. Fingers crossed for our finalist.

pol said...

good post today on "AHA" moments, just goes to show you ladies you are only human. we learn as we go in this life and I am so glad as a reader that you authors have persevered when times were tough for you.
I have just finished reading Ruthy's book "A Family to Cherish" and it was so good. thank you very much....
would love to be in the drawing for Janet Deans "Brides of the West"
Thanks for letting me be a small part of this group. I learn new things it seems each time I stop by.
Paula O(kyflo130@yahoo.com)

Kav said...

Thanks Myra! That does make sense and solves the muddy middle dilemma I've been experiencing. I have too much going on in my speedbo book.(I'm supposed to have the polished product done by the end of the summer...snort)Sigh -- I didn't want to look back, but I think I'm going to have to make a U-turn and clean some scenes up before I continue. Good thing my mind is racing with possibilities now. It's kind of freeing to streamline a plot -- kind of like cleaning out a cluttered closet! I'm considering this an official 'aha' moment.

Cheryl St.John said...

http://www.carolinaromancewriters.com/2012-online-workshops.html

Tina, here is the link you asked for. There was a snafu, and my workshop didn't get posted on their website. But I am scheduled to teach Setting is More Than a backdrop through the month of August at the Caroline Romance Writers.

If this link doesn't show the class immediately, please check back, because they're straightening out the registration right now.

I will post it again to let you know. I haven't been doing classes from my class blog for a while, because in fact I've been working on a how-to-write book and have a nice nibble from a publisher. Please pray for this project's success!

Jessica Nelson said...

Great AHA moments! I think I got some more AHAs just by reading others'. :-)

Written by Susan Codone said...

Jonah Lehrer, in "Imagine: How Creativity Works", says that moments of insight (AHA moments) come most often directly after something relaxing, rather than after struggling to think our way through something. He says when our minds are at ease, we are more likely to direct our attention inward, toward the right hemisphere (creativity/understanding). He says that's why so many connections are made during warm showers. So maybe we all need to take a warm shower just before or just after writing and we'll have more AHA moments!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Thanks so much for dropping by Cheryl!!

Another great workshop to sign up for.

Will be praying for your book!

You're one of the best instructors out there!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Susan! Thanks for that bit of wisdom.

I believe you are right, because the reality is, I don't have AHA moments every day. They are far and few between. I can be saturated in information on plotting and elements of the craft but those AHA moments are when I least expect it.

I never thought of it this way but lol, you gave me an AHA moment.

As evidenced by the hundreds of times I have to watch the Michael Hauge The Heros Two Journeys DVD and re read Deb Dixon's GMC.

Will relax more and stress less in the future.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Hi, Debby and Sandra!!!

WISH I WAS THERE.

Love that Goody Room.

Piper said...

Someone recently told me that writers are always working on their craft, even when they get published and it made me think, AHA, I will be struggling with all of this for some time then......

Praying for Cheryl's book. I haven't seen much out here in the way of craft books for historical romance......
Thanks for the heads up on the classes.

Piper

Tina Radcliffe said...

ABSOLUTELY, PIPER!

Then there is Fraud Syndrome. The fear someone will find out you can't really write, and you will never sell another book-or if you are unpublished that you will never sell a book period. Right up there on the top issues that writers, published or unpublished deal with. Right?

Mary Curry said...

Great post and it's so much fun reading about these AHA moments.

Tina, any chance you can get a LI editor to talk to us about that episodic writing thing. I really need an AHA moment about that.

I think my biggest AHA moment came in rereading an old mss of mine. Arghh the head-hopping. Recognizing it in my own work was a huge help.

But I have to agree with Jeanne - the biggest AHA moment I had recently was understanding my character's conflict through the MBT lie theory.

Anyone else having problems finding Shirley's workshops? When I follow the link I only get old ones and when I click the links for new ones, I get a page not found.

Will keep checking back for Cheryl's.

Jeanne T said...

Yeah, Tina, dealing with the Fraud Syndrome now. Sigh.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Try this for Shirley.

http://www.shirleyjump.com/dynamic/appearances.aspx

Jamie Adams said...

I agree with Mary Curry... I could use an AHA moment when it comes to the term episodic writing. Editors on twitter keep saying not to do it... ok but what is it exactly?

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Oh my goodness, the coments are more AHAs. My head is spinning with all the new stuff!!

And, if anyone wants to ogle some PIE, I've got a post up at the Yankee Belle Cafe. Come and ogle. It's pretty.

http://yankeebellecafe.blogspot.com/2012/07/literature-inspired-desserts.html

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Jamie, I'd enver heard that before the editor gave me feedback on my debut (coming Nov 2012).

It was a point where the hero asked the heroine somewhere. And the next scene was her discussing how it went.



Now, I thought it was good to skip scenes soemtimes, but NOT apparently, when the hero and heroine are in them.

So, it seems like anything you mention to the reader that's going to happen between the two, don't go straight to the afterward.

When I revised and included the scenes, that was 'great'. It only took a page or two, enough to make the reader feel like he'd been there. And then I could switch back to the conflict in the story. So, I hope that helps.

Anyone else??

Pat Jeanne Davis said...

Wonderful post, Tina. I had a few more light bulb moments as I read it and the comments.
Recently Mary wrote a post about finding the ghost in your story (can't locate it in the archives). She said to first identify the haunting theme. That wasn't difficult to do. Then if we remind the reader of it where appropriate, they'd be appreciative and grateful. So the object was to satisfy the reader. An AHA moment. Made sense.I went back over my MS with that in mind. Many thanks, Seekers.
Put my name in for the critique, please.
Pat

Jackie said...

I don't think I've had a major aha moment about writing in general.

I've had little aha moments about each story I've written.

I'm making notes on a story I want to write. Last night I discovered a post a friend of mine wrote on the Holy Spirit and our view of God. And it hit me, my character's spiritual journey could be based on this post.

You've given me a lot to think about today. I even made notes. Thanks so much!

Jackie L.

Erica Vetsch said...

Well, fishsticks! I forgot to send mine in to the lovely Tina! Argh!

One of my more memorable aha moments happened at the 2007 ACFW Conference in the earlybird session. Margie Lawson was speaking about visceral reactions in characters. The best way to get your readers into your character's skin is to make them feel the same things as the character. :)

Tina Radcliffe said...

Another great workshop teacher!!! Margie Lawson. Thanks for the reminder, Erica.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Episodic writing is scene after scene that doesn't move the story forward. Hero and heroine eating dinner. Who cares. But if you tweak it to make them eating dinner and conflict or a major plot point is threaded in..Viola, you have a scene that moves the story forward. Every scene should have a Goal, Motivation and Conflict. And getting to know each other is not one.

Mary Curry said...

Thanks, Tina. The problem seems to be with wanaintl's site because every link to that doesn't work.

I'll keep checking.

Rose said...

All of these Aha! moments are great lessons for all of us.

CatMom said...

Enjoyed reading all these AHA moment stories--and could relate to so many. Even though I still have MUCH to learn, I shudder when I think of a proposal I sent to sweet Charlene Patterson with Bethany House. I'd met her at my very first conference and she requested my proposal. Oh my---I had sooo much to learn. When she sent my nice rejection, she took the time to list specific examples from my ms and how I could improve them. WOW! To this day I am still so grateful to her for doing that--a wonderful lesson. ~ Blessings, Patti Jo :)

Tina Radcliffe said...

That's what you call a nice rejection. I like those.

Tina Radcliffe said...

BTW Patti, you should make those changes and resubmit. An editor wouldn't go to that much trouble if she didn't see potential in your story.

Don't let it be a missed opportunity.

I sold on a rejection like that.

Jan Drexler said...

I have an upcoming blog post on the Fraud Syndrome - although I didn't know it had a name!

It will be on the WordServe Water Cooler on Sunday, the 29th.
http://wordservewatercooler.com/

I keep coming back here today and gathering up more Aha moments!

Tina Radcliffe said...

OOH, THANKS FOR THE HEADS UP, JAN!

Ausjenny said...

Jan yes starting to feel a bit better. the cold is easing and I actually walked down the street. its about 10mins both ways but its the first time in about 4 weeks. I was tired after but I did it.

The Spaghetti sauce tasted ok so I think I did ok. I have meals now for 6 more feeds.

Will be glad to finally get rid of the cold and have all my energy back still in bed early which doesn't leave much reading time. but I am doing much better.

Janet Dean said...

Tina, I love your post! I relate to so many of the AHA moments.

Sadly, over time my light bulb clarity can get a tad dim. So I keep lists of things I want to remember about craft.

Love all the comments. Seekerville is full of wisdom!!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Sandra and Debby, hello!! Keep us posted on who you see at the FHL meeting!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Jenny, I'm delighted you're doing better! Congrats on the spaghetti sauce. I make a spicy sauce I love--my brother's recipe, but in a pinch, I like store bought Prego.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Cheryl, wahoo on the nibble from a publisher on your How To Write book!! How exciting!! Said a prayer for this project.

Janet

Vince said...

Tina:

I like the Freud syndrome. That’s when you think that anyone who doesn’t like your work should see a psychiatrist.

Vince

P.S. Please say a special prayer for all those in Anaheim. There is potential danger.

Vince said...

Ruth:

RUTHY SAID: "But words are words and if you're using too many words to describe things then you're wasting kissing time."

Just change ‘kissing time’ to ‘money’ and you might make a great copywriter. When you have to pay $500 a word for a national ad, you really learn how to say the same thing in the fewest possible words.

I think if writers had to pay $5 a word, all their words and all their scenes would move the story.

Vince

Piper said...

Yep, Tina. The fear of having a drawer full of manuscripts that never see the light of day is a biggie.

It was funny, though, after my last rejection how it made me more determined to write--just to see what would happen to the characters. That made it fun, and I wrote it just for me...

Maybe that was an AHA.....

Piper

Jillian said...

I LOVE - LOVE - LOVE this post!!! Tina, I'm still waiting for the AHA moment you had....so much to learn!

Vince said...

Tina:

I’m enjoying all these Ah Ha moments. This should be a question asked of every guest blogger. Each comment is very good.

A 'Nah Ha!' Moment!

BTW: I just had a 'Nah Ha!' Moment. That’s when you think you know a lot about something and then you find out suddenly that you don’t know almost anything at all about it!

I thought I knew a lot about POV in general. (I’m doing an analysis of Deep POV). Just to be sure, I decided to read ”The Power Of Point Of View: Make Your Story Come To Life”, by Alicia Rasley

Pow! I’ve never seen so many variations of POV! Alicia has done a serious philosophical analysis of the entire scope of POV. The topic is about writing but she is doing first rate philosophy. The book is excellent.

I think this should be the first book a new writer reads. Just check it out and you'll see what I mean.

Vince

Connie Queen said...

My brain is taking the day off so I can't think of a good AHA moment. I know have several...

But I love reading all the others.

This is not exactly an AHA moment, but I keep waiting for it be easier to eliminate "was" from my ms. I can stare at a sentence for 5 min and nothing sounds right. Send it to my critique partner and she sends it right back w/several options.

I tend to write like I talk, and that is soooo wrong.

Connie

Tina Radcliffe said...

Across the board Alicia Rasley is an awesome instructor. I use her post here in Seekerville (you can find it in the side bar under her name) to edit proposals. EXCELLENT.

Julie Hilton Steele said...

Just now getting here after spending days setting up a standing desk. Wow.

Gotta say finding out critiques don't hurt was a big plus for me.
:-)

Great post to be saved and printed.

Peace, Julie

Tina Radcliffe said...

Well Julie, some days critiques do hurt. However the pain is overridden by the desire to succeed.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Jenny, Spaghetti each day, Keeps the doctor away. Vitamin C in them thar tomatoes.

Ausjenny said...

Tina the mince, is also full of iron as are tomatoes also. I get about 5 stars from this serving. which is good considering how much I am meant to eat.
The carrots and celery must have some good too! (and I dont even like either veg but will eat them this way.)
I am going for a walk now just to see if I can make it to the church without feeling I need to rest.(I can get a ride home)

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

"She said (paraphrasing) episodic writing is when one scene happens then another and another and so on but there is really no point to the scenes. They end up trumping the overall story arc but do nothing to move the plot forward."


Hey, there was a Seekerville post from 2008, from Myra, on what Melissa Endlich told ehr was episodic writing. Under that name.

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Oh, I see Tina already said that...


:D

Shirley Jump said...

Oh, wow, thanks so much for the mentions and the links to my classes! I was so honored and flattered! But truly, you gals do the work, I just drop a nugget on the ground to help you down the path :-)

My classes are also on my blog if my site gives you fits: www.shirleyjump.blogspot.com

Shirley

Julie Hilton Steele said...

Yes, Tina, the power to succeed and taking advantage of a sale on "big girl panties" can work wonders.

Peace, Julie

Audra Harders said...

Not only did Tina give us a great, insightful post, but the comments are could be a post of their own!

Nancy, I love the Michael Crichton quote, but really, seventh revision doesn't touch the iceberg of my meandering thoughts.

So glad Tina mentioned classes by Cheryl, Shirley and Alicia. I absolutely love them! Talk about getting continuing education in writing.

Audra Harders said...

I mean the comments could be a post of their own. Please delete the "are" LOL!

Cindy Regnier said...

Great post. I have alot of AHAs but the one I remember most is finally getting what an agent wrote on one of my submissions. "Love your premise." Imagine my surprise when I figured out what a premise was. I thought she misspelled "promise."
Premise-promise, kind of the same. lol

Faye said...

Awesome post about AHA moments, It's fun to learn how so many people came to theirs :) Mine usually come when I should be sleeping. lol

Tina Radcliffe said...

Oh, Cindy!!! Love that. LOL

Amy Magaw said...

I have many AHA! moments in my line of work-a pastor's wife and teacher. My desire is to be a published writer, instead of a self-published writer. My latest AHA! Moment came when I realized that most Christian Romance Authors put their panties on one leg at a time, just like me, and that if I want to know how to do something, I should ASK! So, instead of being afraid to reach out to the "untouchables", I closed my eyes and sent a friend request to Mrs. Mary Connealy. When it was approved,(thanks) I mustered enough courage to be myself on a Giveaway entry, and then was blessed to win it! And that is how I found out about Seekerville. AHA! "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:" Matthew 7:7. AHA! You can't learn anything if you don't ask questions!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Great AHA moments posted today in the comments also. Cindy that was funny.

And yes Amy, we do put our panties on the same way except Ruthy pulls wedgies on us sometimes. You've got to watch that Ruthy.

Amy Magaw said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sandra Leesmith said...

Seekers our hand sanitizers have been a super hit.

Except in FHL meeting someone was allergic.

But people flocked to Debby's table signing tonight to get some. yippee.

Everyone saying "Great idea".

Becca Minnick said...

I had an AHA moment recently...

I had just moved from my apartment, here in Cali, to a new house with my husband and four kids. While going through a box of journals and books, I found an old, leather back, journal that I had been writing in before I moved to California from Illinois. When I pulled the journal out, some old, folded sheets of notebook paper fell out...

I was working on the weekends at a local Historical Museum in my hometown as a student employee. It is an old house, built about 12 years after the end of the Civil War in the States. While spending my weekends there, and after the visit of dear friend, Julie Lessman, to my "weekend home", I wrote a 28 paragraph outline (synopsis) of a fiction story on some old notebook paper that was in the house.

I opened the papers and read them. Suddenly I was like, AHA! I thought they had been lost! And then a full scene came to mind, and I began writing it!
One day, I do plan to submit a story, book, article, SOMETHING to be read, published, and something that will touch lives and hearts of people near me and all around.

You guys are all inspiration to me, and I look forward to any experiences that you share, because we all learn from each other...and I dearly love to learn!

marybelle said...

As a reader I'm sure I've had a few such moments. I can't recall any such epiphanies offhand, but I know they do occur.

marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Darlene Keith said...

I often write devotionals for my own enjoyment and they usually come from an AHA moments which lends special meaning to them. One such was written about an experience singing in choir and realizing that not only mortals worship but angels also. It was a flash [in living] color and I still can pull it up in vivid intensity!

spangldlady@gmail.com

Dawn Crandall said...

My AHA had much to do with the deletion of a beloved prologue at the beginning of my first manuscript... which was written completely on my own before I'd joined ACFW last year (and didn't know any better). :D I realized after cutting it that the "less info given" created even MORE suspense in the rest of my story. The things that happened IN the prologue are still a very important part of the story, but it is even better to let my readers put the pieces together on their own instead of just hand them all the answers at the beginning. Another AHA I've had in the last few months (which is more of a DUH, actually...) is I've learned that writing with the help of an amazing CP makes the experience 100x better in all ways possible. :)

Missy Tippens said...

So much helpful info!! Thanks for compiling this Tina!

You know, I've had some of the same aha moments. I think maybe most of us need to have most of these "aha's" to grow in our writing.

Tina Radcliffe said...

So many new faces!!! Great to see you. Don't forget to stop by Saturday for today's winners. In fact all of the week's winners will be posted Saturday!!!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Amy!!! I am so impressed by your enthusiasm as you dive into the DEEP END OF THE POOL!!!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Becca, just read your comment. That is so cool. I hope once you found those papers and that scene came to you, you didn't stop writing and writing and writing.

Bonnie Leon said...

This was fun. And some of these Ah Ha moments gave me some of my own. The learning never ends.

PatriciaW said...

Catching up after a week away.

A-HA: You can learn a lot just by reading other writers' A-HA moments.

To some, I nodded in agreement. Others made me stop and say, "Really? Wow. Didn't know that."